Deep Breath. This post isn't hard to write. It is just hard to hit the Publish button.
I'll start this off with background.
I was married. I had three kids. I got divorced.
When I got divorced I felt like a failure. I went off the deep end and did things that I am not proud of. (Nothing illegal, just so far out of the realm of.....well, me.)
I was ashamed. My parents weren't divorced. My friends weren't. I was a Christian. I was so filled with absolute guilt I quit wearing a cross. As stupid as it sounds now, I was consumed with the feeling God didn't have much use for me. That's a pretty low feeling.
During this time I did do one thing right. I started going to church more. My ex and I had never seen eye to eye on church and I figured if he was always my excuse for not going..then I no longer had an excuse. So I went. Honestly it was mostly out of spite.
I got the kids and myself involved in church. During this time Tan Man was in kindergarten and they were having a Christmas program. After work that day I rushed to get him and Saigie from day care and pick Ty up from the bus. I got them fed and loaded up to head to church for the Christmas Program. As I pulled into the church parking lot, late, I noticed all the other kindergartners were dressed up as either angels or shepards.
"Tanner", I said, "Are you supposed to be a shepard?" He replied as if I should have read his mind that, yes he was. Luckily for me my van always looks as if a family of six has been living in it for a week. I managed to find a dirty towel. I stuck the towel on his head and secured it with a plaid scarf and off we went.
Tanner went to line up on the risers and I sat down to watch. I am fairly sure we had some family there, but I am not really certain. It seems now that I was the only one there. I watched Tanner. I was emotional, probably even more emotional than just the divorce would have warranted, because it was Tanner.
Tanner and I had been through A LOT. He had a heck of a toddler-hood and he was having a heck of a kindergarten. Between various sensory issues it does no good for me to label and allergies from heck, it just felt like I was constantly "dealing" with Tanner - his tantrums, his illnesses, his never ending path of destruction. Without getting into our marriage or divorce it just felt like many times I was dealing with him all alone, or having to desperately call my mom for help. His children's choir director had already asked me if his meds had worn off by the time choir came around (he wasn't medicated) and if I wouldn't consider letting him have a coke or coffee before practice as the caffeine would calm him down lest be expelled from church choir.
As they started to sing I smiled watching Tanner. Then I laughed. He quickly lost interest in singing and started "boinging" an angel's halo. Then he started messing with the one on the other side of him. Then he would alternate. I knew he was not obeying and I knew he was being disruptive. But it was the cutest, sweetest, most "Tanner" thing I had ever seen. I was just so glad he was there.
When the program was over one of the older associate pastors got up in front to greet the parents. He said that his favorite part of children's programs was not watching the kids, but watching the parents. Then he went on to describe what I am sure is exactly what I looked like. He said the parents no matter what part their kid had, or what they were doing all the parents had looks of sheer love and adoration on their faces. He said no mistake could be made about how we felt by looking at us. I chuckled because I knew I was mesmerized by Tanner, and even though he was acting up I was so proud for the mischevious little imp to be mine.
Then he went on to say the kicker. He said that God looks at us the exact same way, with the exact same love and adoration.
That was a simple statement, but it was a HUGE eye opener to me. I had done things wrong. I had given up on my marriage. I was ashamed to tell people I was a Christian because I was afraid I was making God look bad. But I realized right then that was never the way God felt about ME. I was His child. Maybe his heart was breaking for me because I didn't obey him and let him protect me, but he still loved me just like I loved Tan Man.
I am not saying my life changed after that and I had no struggles. I still did. But the simple words the pastor said changed my perspective on what I was doing. When I remembered God loved me like I loved my own children...I cleaned up my act. It was easier to do when I realized I was NOT a huge disapointment to Him. I stopped doing things that were hurting me and started trying to hear God's choices and plans for me.
Lately I have been feeling compelled to share this story and I don't really know why. I just know I lay in bed at night and think about writing it.
It's hard to go out on a limb and write a whole post about being a Christian when I make so many mistakes on a daily basis. It's hard when friends who are going to read this have had a front row seat to witness my mistakes.
Maybe someone needed to read this though. Maybe someone else is where I was. Maybe this will help.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.