in Joy, Notes of Encouragement

That we’ve come to God through tragedy, not by doing things right but invariably by doing things wrong, is a gift.  We’ve learned so much more by our mistakes than we ever have by our successes… Dissolution is the only thing that allows the soul to go to a deeper place. –Richard Rohr, The Divine Dance

The legal dissolution of my marriage took place on July 14, 2009, Bastille Day, the Fete Nationale celebrating the liberation of France, a fact not lost on a Francophile like me. For reasons forgotten to me now, I went alone with my attorney to the courthouse and appeared before the judge confirming my wish to end my marriage. The Former did not show.

For those not familiar with the process, the judge called me up to the stand, I raised my left hand, placed my right hand on the Bible offered to me, and swore an oath to be truthful in my testimony. He asked if it was my intention to dissolve my marriage, and I affirmed. He wished me luck and effectively slammed the gavel on the woman I had been up to that point.

As my attorney hugged me goodbye in the parking lot, I kept thinking, “Is that it?  What now?  Am I just supposed to get in my car and go home?!” I drove home in silence, didn’t pick up the phone to make any calls. I went to the backyard and sat down in my swing and marveled at the nonevent of the day’s proceedings. The next moment came and went, and I just kept moving forward, with myself and for myself.

The next three and a half years held a lot of living. I kept my eyes open for the stepping stones. I read a lot of important books that charted my course for recovery from The Dissolution – the dissolution of my marriage to The Former and the dissolution of the person who had created a life that so easily unraveled. I came to understand exactly who I was meant to marry in the course of dating several really wonderful men who came into my life, made me laugh, loved me well, and taught me some invaluable lessons before moving on to who they were intended to be with. I laughed a lot and cried more than I ever thought possible. I walked a lot of miles with my dogs and with my best friend. And, I came into my faith by acknowledging and connecting with the things unseen that were at work so beautifully in my life.

One particular evening during this time comes to mind. Rather than my usual dinner with friends, I had gone to the farmer’s market for the first time, and smitten with all I had purchased, I whipped up a really beautiful meal for myself. I set the mood with some French music, artfully arranged my food on one of my pretty plates, put out a cloth napkin at the table, and poured myself a glass of wine. It suddenly felt a little awkward, as if I were on a date … with myself.  Someone I truly was trying to get to know. And a person I really wanted to come to love and enjoy.

I began the Practice of Joy in finding contentment with myself. In finding that contentment, I opened the door to forming a relationship with the person I was put here on Earth to be and dissolved the pretense of all that I thought was expected of me based on my family, my past experiences, my position of birth, and on and on. In learning to be truthful in my testimony, I had to make peace with who I once was, to be content with who I am, and to be hopeful for who I daily have the opportunity to become.  

You will begin the Practice of Joy in committing to know and appreciate yourself exactly as you are, to be truthful in your testimony, and to come to know and understand the desires of your heart and exactly who put them there. Joy comes in being content with the beauty and the pain of where you are and letting life unfold exactly as it is meant to.

You are loved.