Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Chapter Sixteen of Making Lemonade A Spiritual Journey Through Pain and Divorce

Triple Blessings From the Father

All around me people were getting blessed with the things I wanted. One of my favorite evangelists preached a sermon on how God will bless the people around you, sometimes with the very things you want, in order to judge your attitude. My neighbor next door, the one who checked in on me, was buying a house. A girl at work announced rather loudly one morning that she was engaged. Good for them, I thought. Other little things began happening around me as well.

“God,” I said, “I don’t care if you bless the whole entire world with everything I want, because I know my turn is coming. If you’re blessing those within my sight, then I must be standing in the right line, and my number is coming up!” I kept my attitude pure because I wanted to be happy for them. Everyone deserves to be happy.

I want to go on vacation. It came out of nowhere. The desire to get away and do something I always wanted to do was growing inside of me until I thought I would burst. Five months of grieving and healing left me exhausted. It was May and a time when the world was reborn and renewed; therefore, it was time to shed the death garments and be rejuvenated myself.

I felt free for the first time in my life. Living and surviving without my ex-husband became a reality. I was adjusting to the change, just as I always did when he was on deployment. My walls went up stronger than before.

Mexico. That was where I wanted to go. I wanted to see the ocean, walk the beach and leave the country. Always wanting to see the Mayan pyramids, I booked a trip to Cancun for the first part of June.

Unable to contain my excitement for the next two weeks, I started smiling for the first time in nearly a year as I prepared for my adventure. My coworkers begged me not to go by myself, fearing that something would happen to me. I didn’t share the same fears. I figured that if anything did happen to me, it was while I was having fun and living life. I was tired of missing out on life and regretting that I never adventured or took chances. I wanted the ride God promised me.

As if going on vacation wasn’t enough, God surprised me with something unexpected. Sunday night in May, I drove home from the 7:00 p.m. service. Thinking of all the blessings God wove into my new life, I smiled and began to pray. On that night I fired my fairy godmother and enlisted the God Father.

“God, I really am thankful for all that you’re doing. I’m beginning to see a new life,” and then the tears came. “But, God, I’m so lonely. And I need help. I can’t do the things you’ve asked me to do on my own. It’s too big. Please, if you do have someone better for me, then I accept it.”

I pounded the wheel in emphasis. “Go out and find that perfect person for me, God. And when you do, I want to know. I want to feel it. I want you to write his name in my heart; write my name in his. Thank you.” My weeping eyes looked to the glowing stars overhead. “Oh, and since I’m a paint-by-numbers faith person, make sure you put a neon sign on the guy so I don’t miss him.”

Tears continued to flow, and I let my heart pray because I didn’t know what else to say. I simply didn’t want to hurt anymore. Then it happened. One block away from my duplex, I felt this indescribable sensation as God touched my heart. I knew God found someone for me. Even though I knew not the letters he penned, there was a name tattooed upon my heart. Heaven responded to a daughter’s desperate prayer.

A new girl came to our block in May. Her name was Aimee, and she was a friend of Kirk’s, who came to help us. As I got to know her, I was amazed by her insight and view on God. She seemed a remarkable, strong woman who glowed with confidence, a natural beauty with a fun smile and alluring, azure eyes that see straight to the soul. Although I didn’t really know her on a personal level, she invited Kirk, Nathan and I to her and her two friends’ birthday party that was going to occur at the end of the month.

At first I felt odd about going since I didn’t know her beyond a few encounters on the block and some lunches, but I thought this would be a great opportunity to get out of the house, maybe meet more people and get to know her better. Within the next few days my ambition diminished and I really didn’t want to go. I figured my pity-party, party of one, would be more satisfying.

Nathan became upset when I told him that I didn’t want to attend the party. “Pit Bull, why?” Nathan’s distressed eyes tore at my heart.

“I don’t know anyone, and I just feel odd going.”

“That’s the point. You can meet more people. You’ll have fun. And…” He put his arm around me. “I was hoping I could catch a ride with you so I can go.”

Sighing, I gave in. I knew Nathan wanted to go, and I was his only transportation.

At the time I walked into the house and joined the affair, I didn’t realize I was about to become a gift for someone’s 35th birthday. The house bustled with fifty or more people from inside to outside. Food festooned tables and counters. Turtles and exotic birds roamed a small section of the back yard. Nathan took me around introducing me to a few people.

“Hey, Travis, happy birthday!” They shook hands and briefly hugged. “I want you to meet the bravest woman I’ve ever met. This is Pit Bull.”

Questioning eyes fell upon my thin, five one and a half frame. I saw the “porcelain doll complex” I always get when people try to judge me by my exterior. Although I was smiling, my eyes were barking. Yes, Pit Bull is my name, and I bite. That hand is looking mighty tasty, I thought, as I shook his hand with confidence and a slight squeeze.

“No, man. Seriously. Kirk had me take her out and explain our block. There’s a lot of hurting people and drugs out there, and we just didn’t want her to be overwhelmed with the experience. So, I’m explaining this one area and she turns to me and says, ‘Nathan, let me tell you something about me,’ and she’s pointing her finger at me. ‘I’m not afraid of the enemy. He can’t hurt me. I’m not afraid of anything. I am a Pit Bull.’ I just jumped back; you don’t talk to a two-hundred and fifty pound black man like that. But I tell ya, she’s the best partner. She has no fear.” He laughed in remembrance.

Somewhere in the conversation Nathan left, and I found myself standing there talking to Travis as he continued barbecuing hamburgers and hotdogs. I noticed his bright orange Phoenix Suns shirt and how it glowed in the flames. I was reminded of my prayer earlier that week. God, put a neon sign on the guy so I don’t miss him.

All the while I stood there I kept hearing, Talk to him.

About what?

Just talk to him.

I wish God had given me a subject. The entire time we talked, I continually stuck my foot in my mouth. One week I’m praying for God to pick out the perfect person for me, and the next I’m telling a complete stranger how I’m hoping to go back to my ex-husband.

We spoke of his divorce and of what we were doing now, and there were times he squished the hamburger patties down in anger when I explained the adultery and how my relationship was with my ex-husband. He thought I was nuts, to put it plainly, I even wanted to go back to such a person and such a life. Nathan called me in to eat, which stopped me from further disaster. After eating, I attempted to speak to Travis again, but he buried himself in his close friends, and I found myself surrounded by Aimee’s family.

The three birthday people were gathered to the front to give a short speech before cutting the cake. When I heard his, it nearly broke my heart. He was just as lonely and frustrated. I never got to say goodnight or even goodbye as I looked around and didn’t see him.

Travis was my first thought when I woke Saturday. I didn’t intend for him to be on my mind, but he was there. Why could I not get this guy out of my head? For four days I kept hearing, Give him your number, to which I finally surrendered. I planned to give Aimee my number the following Saturday to give to Travis if he was still interested in getting to know me.

The next Saturday, after meeting at Adopt-A-Block, our group went out to lunch, and I told Aimee to give him my phone number. After a few Cupid jokes, she text messaged him. He didn’t call. Instead, he came up to me and Nathan after Sunday night service, and we went to Starbucks and talked over banana frappuccinos. Being honest with him about God and what my life was like now, I was afraid I might scare him off. But I had to be honest with him and find out if he truly was the one for me.

The next day, the day before I was to leave for Cancun, he wrote me an e-mail:

Good morning, Angela,

Before I get too busy this morning, I just wanted to pass on a message to you and tell you how much I enjoyed spending time with you last night. You reminded me of how selfish I really have been in regard to a lot of things. God has really done a masterful work in your life, and you truly are a treasure of Him. I think you completely understand that and believe it. I saw it in your eyes.

I spent a lot of time thinking about you last night. Particularly how much of a bigger person you are than me. I'm flattered and honored that you would ask Aimee to give me your number. I'm glad to have it. I asked God a lot last night before I went to bed, "Why me? What can a woman of that caliber see in such a selfish man like me? There are a ton of better men at that church who do more for God and hurting people in a day than I do in ten years. Please show me, God!" I'm not trying to chase you off, but there is stuff you don't know about me yet and things I'm afraid to reveal to you. There are some things that I haven't completely let go of and things that I'm too afraid to let God work with me on for the sake of convenience.

I know who I am in Christ, but I feel that there is so much unlocked potential in me that continues to remain dormant because I've had nobody in my life with the right key to help unlock and release it.

I also drove away last night wondering how could your ex-husband not see the beautiful, caring, loving, loyal, honorable woman before him! How can any man neglect the woman that you are? How could he walk away from what you had to offer him?

Anyway . . . I just wanted to pass on some encouraging words. Thanks for the time last night. I hope we can do it again soon.

God Bless!

Touched by his thoughts and reading his pain, I responded:

I follow God's commands and what he lays on my heart, and it has not failed me. Maybe I am the key to unlocking what I see in you.

Do not be afraid of me. I do not judge. I used to be self-centered as well. It took nine months to get where I am today, but I did not have a choice. I had to rely on God for my every need. Do not be so hard on yourself. I meet people for a reason, and God leads me to those people. I know you have been hurt, too, and are not as open as you would like, but I hope to change that.

I met Travis on May 26th. Memorial Day I asked my block captain and realtor if he could qualify me for a house. Buying my own home was symbolizing that I was moving on with my life, like crossing the line in the sand between the old life and entering the new one. Once this occurred, there was no going back or hoping for reconciliation.

All the while I drove up Hayden to the church, I asked God for my own house; I believed God for a house. I never knew when that dream would come to fruition. A few days later I spoke with a loan officer about my job history, divorce and my credit was pulled. Fully expecting it to end there, I was pleasantly surprised I actually qualified.

Off to Cancun I went. When I was planning the trip, I thought of finding ways to stay there. Now I was excited to come back. My time away from Phoenix allowed me to see the life that God was giving me. I may not have seen it had I not gone.

Although I went alone, I had a great time. I got to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to. I didn’t have to deal with my ex-husband wanting to take pictures of me. I could sleep when I wanted and wake when I wanted. I could walk on the beach and gaze at the stars and see the sights I wanted to see.

The only part of the trip that was a nightmare to me was the airport in Mexico City. I don’t speak Spanish, and they had absolutely no signs in Spanish or English. I had to rely on a kind young girl to help me since the airport personnel were not helpful and didn’t understand why I was stressing.

I loved Cancun. The ocean was breathtaking. Luminous turquoise caressed soft, white sand. My room had an ocean view. The soothing sound of the waves comforted me as I slept.

I treated myself to a massage, a facial and a day of relaxing on the beach my first day. The second day I was off to the Mayan jungle to see the ruins of Chi Chen Itza. From the time I read about the Mayan civilization in history class, I marveled at their science, their religion and the pyramid.

I was quickly adopted into a group from Wales when we stopped to eat at a resort in the middle of the jungle. Once at the ruins, I soaked in the scenery. Everything I studied in school paled in comparison to the lesson given by our tour guide as he showed us pictures of what the pyramid and the solarium did during the Equinox and Solstice. I imagined Indiana Jones uncovering some kind of new treasure.

I was touching the soil of history and of things I thought I would only experience in books. No more living life through television and magazines. I vowed to experience the world for myself.

The following day I found an interactive aquarium. Arriving late, I was unable to swim with the dolphins or get my picture taken with the large birds, but I did convince myself to enter a shark tank. From the cage you could feed the sharks and see them up close.

Unfortunately, the water was freezing. My wetsuit must have been taking a siesta. I couldn’t catch my breath and began hyperventilating. The walls closed in increasing my panic. Desperately, I tried to convince my mind to relax, but mind over cold box wasn’t working, and they had to bring me up. I emerged disappointed, but the photographer said he got a great picture of me and the Bull Shark. That was all I wanted anyway, so I was happy.

Everyone in Cancun was wonderful and friendly. The wait staff and male store clerks made sure I didn’t feel lonely as they flirted with me. The divorce made me feel ugly, especially when I saw who my ex-husband left me for, and I was delighted at the attention.

Careful of my souvenirs, I took home a Mayan Calendar painting done with vegetable oils on deer skin, a necklace and a few T-Shirts and glasses. I made sure that whatever I purchased couldn’t be found in the States.

It was time to go home. I was sad to leave and yet happy to get home. All the paperwork for my new house should have been done, and all that was required of me were a few signatures to complete it. I also had someone waiting for me.

A few days after I returned, Travis came over and I showed him all my pictures of my adventures. Both of my dogs came up to him. Baby was expected to show her affection, but I was amazed at Jasmine’s reaction. Normally she would circle, sniff and run back into the bedroom if she didn’t know you. Instead she tentatively, approached him, and as he knelt, she rested her face in his cupped hand. I nearly fainted. This had to be a sign!

Glancing at the picture of the pyramid, Travis noted the cloud over it that looked like it was boiling out of the top of the structure and immediately thought of Ghost Busters. I told him when I took the picture, I thought the same thing. Another sign?

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