This past week I was asked to write a post for Justin and Trisha Davis’ blog Refine Us. They asked me to write on redemption and how that fits into my story. I decided to post it on my blog today just in case some of you missed it. There’s a great discussion going on over on their blog. You can join in there.. or here. I hope it’s encouraging to you…
Not everyone who goes through a divorce has the exact same experience. Mine… well… it wasn’t easy at all. As you can imagine, it pretty much sucks and can suck the life right out of you. But what I didn’t expect was the blessings that came out of my divorce through the redeeming moments I’ve been able to experience over the past 5 years of being a once-again-single-guy.
Redemption takes on many forms. For me, I needed some sort of task to get me through the transition of married guy to divorced single guy. It’s not a place I ever planned to be in life, but here I was anyway. I was one unhealthy human being, not just physically, but mentally and spiritually. I knew this about myself and it was time to get healthy, own my mistakes and learn to live my life again.
What I have learned about myself and what I really believe about God has been more eye opening than I could ever imagine. One thing is for sure… Break-ups, no matter if you are dating or married, are tough and all come with memories of good times and bad times. It’s what you choose to do with those memories that will help you move forward in life in a healthy or unhealthy way. I choose healthy.
Sometimes memories are like scars. They each have a story and you might see some of them everyday even though you may not pay attention to them like you once did when they were forming. Even though I sometimes I forget about the tattoo on my back, every once in while I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror and remember why it is there and that it will always be with me.
So what do you do to avoid the emotional roller coaster of memories when you walk into a room where there was an argument, a tough conversation… or a memory that left you feeling helpless and lost? And what about those times when you remember the happy moments and get upset because you know… this isn’t the way it was supposed to work out.
Well for me… ending 8 years of marriage and finding redemption took on many forms. What I’m about to tell you is ONE way I dealt with my past so that I could live in the present. Again… this is just ONE way of many things I did to grieve and bring redemption into my life.
Since I travel a lot, there were quite a few times where the struggles of our marriage were dealt with on the phone while I was on the road… or sometimes when we traveled together. Depending on what we were dealing with at the time magnified the memory of that place. As in… “I was standing in this spot or in this building or looking out over this view when ‘XYZ’ happened. It was a hard memory that I’d rather not revisit.”
For someone who travels to the some of the same places year after year, you have to imagine there are a lot of memories wrapped up in even an airport, an arena or looking out over the mountains… or… places in town you would go for a date.
Over the past 5 years of being single, I was able to travel back to EVERY place in the world where we had had some hard moments and arguments… and even some places where we had happy moments together.
What I decided to do was to redeem those places and times so that when I visited there again, I knew in my heart there was healing and closure. Now when I go back to any of these places or times. The emotional impact of those moments has changed and been replaced with something that allows me to celebrate a new memory. However… Remember you never forget what happened… you just know that you dealt with it… and now that part of life has new meaning.
For instance, I was able to go back to the city where we had our honeymoon. I was with a group of friends and I decided one morning to go for a run alone. As I was running I found myself crossing this major bridge that led to the resort ahead. As I ran to the middle of the bridge, I stopped… looked out over the city and the water below and thought about that honeymoon week… and in a short moment I was in complete tears… great, big, alligator, sobbing tears. Grieving for the loss of a marriage that I played a part in losing. It wasn’t supposed to be this way… but here I am single, no kids and starting life over. So as I cried it all out, I looked out over the view, took a few deep breaths and did as I had been doing all along the way of the healing process and decided to make this moment one I can celebrate. It’s almost like burying the old life and starting a new one. My cousin told me this was going to be the biggest ‘do-over’ ever and he was right.
I knew I was there to enjoy this particular moment now and not run from it… So… I ran into it. I continued my run… literally, took in the sites along the way and created some new memories that day. By nightfall I looked at one friend and told him what a tough but great day it had been. I got to re-live a few moments of my marriage, grieve over them and appreciate the place they held in my life because this is where the honeymoon was…not to be forgotten… but to be recognized as a significant part of my life that is now gone.
Other redeeming moments I’ve experienced haven’t always been as emotion filled. But they are still redeeming moments.
Let me tell you… this journey has been really tough at times but has been refreshing, healthy, and a huge blessing. It doesn’t matter if I’m doing this in Nashville, Franklin, Rome, Monterey, Australia, the UK or a little town in Texas… I’ve found redeeming moments everywhere and I always told myself I would deal with them when they came up no matter how tough it might be. There’s no use in letting the past get you down when you have your own chance of making new memories.
I still believe in marriage and I still believe in love. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if I hadn’t gone through the divorce. I learned a lot from my marriage and I learned a lot from my former spouse. We experienced some great memories I will always have with me. Including the happiest memory I have with her…
August 30, 1997.
It was our wedding day.
I was so excited and, at the time, seeing her walk down the aisle was the happiest moment of my life. The smile on her face and grin in her eyes is a picture I will always remember… I was smiling so much my cheek muscles hurt! Everything… and I mean everything was right in the world for that moment and we were both beaming.
With such a great day as that, how could I possibly redeem the anniversary and memory of our wedding day?
It wasn’t easy at all.
The first few years, those anniversary days were really dark and quiet. I grieved them as they were very tough days to get through. Now I cherish the memories from that day, but I still wanted to redeem the day by doing what I thought was the impossible.
Now when I see that day… I know this.
Yes… it was my wedding day, but on August 30, 2009, what would have been our 12th wedding anniversary… was the day I became an Ironman.
That day was a proving ground for me. Not just physically… but emotionally. I did what I thought was the impossible. I finished the greatest physical challenge of my life and got through it with a physical and mental strength I never new I had. Just like going through a divorce, I never thought I would ever go through one and come out of it alive. But that day gave me closure for a significant moment in my past and quietly replaced it with another significant moment filled with happiness, tears and a whole lot of sweat!
Now I can inspire others to go on their own journey of redemption and create their own redeeming Ironman moments… literally or figuratively.
I can honestly say… If I can do it, you can too.
UPDATE ON JANUARY 18, 2012: As I look back and re-read this post, I though I would tell you the most redeeming part of this story today is that my former spouse and I are friends again and have had some significant healing through redemption. I’m proud of her and what she is doing in life and know that we are both much better people for walking through a really tough part of lives.
So here’s the question for you… Are you redeeming parts of your life that you need to take back for yourself? Are you owning your part so that you can move forward and live life to the fullest?
If you aren’t, now is just as good of a time as any to start.
If I can do it, you can do it.
Time to redeem those moments…