The LL Challenge – Day 11

We’re eleven days in, how are we doing? Are you still with me?

Well, I told you I’d be posting periodically throughout the challenge to show you what’s in some of that pile-o-stuff. Unfortunately a bunch of stuff got in the way, one of them being whether or not I should even let you in on what I’m putting in that pile. I decided, however, that I have nothing to hide, and I’ve made a commitment to being real with everyone, so that includes you!

So, here’s a little bit about the very first item I pulled out:

{a.k.a. maybe one of the hardest posts I’ll ever write…}

This Easter-egg-yellow sweatshirt from Tennessee represented something absolutely major to me. But now, it’s become something that I’m also willing to let go of.

This was not pre-orchestrated. I had absolutely no intentions of pulling this sweatshirt first, nor did I even realize it was stowing away in the first drawer I opened. But there it was.

My Tennessee yellow. My emblem of freedom.

{Story}

You see, you may or may not know that once upon a time, what seems like a lifetime ago… {wait for it… wait for it…} I was married.

Gasp!

Neither the relationship nor its subsequent demise is something that today I am particularly proud of, nor frequently talk about. But let’s be honest for a minute, ok? I can’t change the fact that I was once married and am now divorced. I don’t announce that proudly, but neither can I ignore that it is the truth. It has now become a part of my history, just as much as is having had a pet hamster named Smoky when I was 10. I’m not trying to be humorous about it, I’m simply stating facts. Praise God that even through that season of darkness in my life {the divorce, not the hamster}, He saw fit to redeem me from really what felt like a grave. Thank you, Jesus. You are my Redeemer!

{If that’s going to cause you to stop reading and enjoying my blog right here right now, then that’s your prerogative. To which I would say, that’s also your loss.}

But let’s get back to that yellow sweatshirt.

When my marriage ended, I went on a long journey. It was quite a special journey, never to be replicated… One U-Haul with one car on the hitch, one iPod, one GPS, one loyal brother, one exasperated mother, and one very reflective, melancholy, brokenhearted, lost, deluded, troubled girl. And together, we drove. We sang, we cried, we ate, we yelled, we talked, we cursed, we sang, we shouted, we laughed. And we drove. Actually, my brother and I drove most of the time just to avoid having to sit spread-eagle in that middle seat, which wasn’t really a seat at all. {Sorry, Mom…} And when we got to Tennessee, things got a little chilly. So I browsed through the Cracker Barrel shop after dinner one night and found this. It was warm. It was a happy color. It said “Tennessee” on it, and I had never been to Tennessee, and so far, I thought it was just beautiful. It was the place where the first few real smiles had emerged from their hiding spot. I wanted to remember Tennessee.

Did I have to have it? No, probably not. I didn’t really think I had to have much of anything at the time. Life was just sort of swirling around me, dizzying me. Numb.

But it was late fall, a crisp wind was in the clear night air… and when one tiny thought suddenly flashed through my mind like a white-hot bolt of lightning in a summer desert sunset, it was settled.

I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to purchase it.

You see, he and I didn’t have any sort of mutually-trusting financial arrangement. I made a lot of money, and he made a lot of money. But I was not the accountant of the money, so the arrangement was pretty much this: If I wanted something, I had to ask first. And if anything was purchased outside of that arrangement, things didn’t bode well for me, which in turn didn’t bode well for the relationship itself. I will spare you the details, because this is really about that sweatshirt.

I didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to purchase it.

I looked – ok, gawked – at the price tag. {Remember friend, I’m in the Cracker Barrel gift shop. Who buys sweatshirts there? Apparently I do.} I bought it because I didn’t have to ask anyone if I could. Surrounded by the glorious colors of fall on that early evening in Tennessee, I found my new leaf, this yellow sweatshirt-of-a-leaf, and turned it. That sweatshirt represented freedom for me. Hope.

Please don’t go thinking this post is all about women’s lib or how I must not be obedient to Ephesians-Five-Submissiveness. This is not about philosophy, feminism, or theology. This was simply one quiet act of acceptance that a very dark chapter in my life was nearing its close, and I was about to embark on a new one. A happy, yellow one.

Here’s where it gets a bit interesting. Naturally, I wasn’t eating well, wasn’t sleeping well. I basically had to remind myself just to breathe. I had lost so much weight through this ordeal, through my pain and heartache. Not by trying, mind you – that’s not my style – but just because. I already had major self-image issues due to the expectations of perfection that he had for my appearance, which didn’t help the fact that I wasn’t eating well. So I felt awful, and felt as if I looked awful. As it was, I was the skinniest I ever recall being.

But, oh the irony. That sweatshirt? I bought a size Xtra-Large.

I put it on right there in the Cracker Barrel gift shop and wore it for what seemed like another lifetime. But I was swimming in it! In fact, I think I kept myself hidden inside it for the rest of the trip.

Now, when I look at that sweatshirt, I see a lost, skinny girl who thinks she’s huge and feels like a $50 purchase is some sort of act of rebellion. No wonder I don’t wear it anymore. I certainly was pathetic.

I’m so thankful that God has pulled me out of that dark muck and mire that was tearing up my soul. Since He has put my feet on solid ground, He has helped me come to learn that:

  • The end of that relationship was not the true freedom I needed. Yes, it was not a good relationship for either of us, but my prison was much larger than the relationship itself. I want to make that distinction clear. I am free – not because I am no longer married, but because Christ has set me free. Jesus said, “if you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” {John 8:31}
  • Beauty does not depend on the size of one’s body, yet whose attention should I really be striving for anyway? “For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. {1 Samuel 16:7}

Dear Jesus, thank you for my Tennessee yellow, and the token reminder it was to me of the turning point I was going through. Thank you that it represented a new lease on life for me during my darkest days. I pray that it finds its way to another cold person who needs it more than I do and blesses them with warmth. God, I thank you most of all for allowing me true freedom which comes through you and you alone. O Lord, truly I am your servant; you have freed me from my chains. {Psalm 116:16} You are my Redeemer. Amen.

Do you feel like you are truly free? If not, do you want to be? What are the chains that are holding you back from experiencing true freedom? Just something to think about…

Ok, on to living lightly!

xo,

jen

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One thought on “The LL Challenge – Day 11

  1. Pingback: A few thoughts about advice | Made wonderfully

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