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This is what it means to say that “life is about the journey”

My fiancé and I both got a seemingly random shot of good news today. As we were discussing the details via phone, I half-jokingly said: “Babe, we are going places. Not sure what places, but we are moving, no doubt.”. He laughed and responded in his laid-back, easy-going, Matthew McConaughey-esque way: “Babe. It doesn’t matter where we end up, it is about the journey we enjoy together.” Well, of course, this deeply prophetic statement stuck out like a sore thumb in my writer’s always half-full water well, beautifully priming the pump of inspiration.

Justin is so right as he will be pleased to hear. While the destination is important to define, there are a million ways to get there. Often, throughout the journey, that very well planned, laid out, specific destination takes the form of a completely different final product than we could ever imagine. I know this to be true. I have lived it.

My perfect little dream shattered

All I ever wanted was to graduate college, get married, have babies and spend my life raising those babies. I did not give much thought to the world beyond my neat and tidy little package of perfection. That beautiful dream was dramatically shattered when I experienced my first pregnancy, followed by my first miscarriage. The innocence no longer intact of my seamless imagined vision, I had to re-plan, re-evaluate, re-work my mind to accept that which became those dreaded words we have all heard post-pandemic, my new normal.

Turns out, the miscarriage, while devastating and heartbreaking, did not kill me. It defeated me for a time, a rather long time it felt, but we eventually went on to have a very healthy, very large, very perfect son, just months later. With the birth of our second child, I had to pinch myself to be sure I was not dreaming. I was married. I had two amazing sons. I lived in my dream house and I got to spend my days playing with the sons I prayed for years to receive. I was back on target with my perceived destination. Until…

This “journey” was kind of awful at times

My then-husband pestered me with a ridiculous divorce decree. I was pissed. Who was he to shoot a hole in my perfectly planned life, when I had finally reached the peak of that mountain I fought so hard to climb? I fought him tooth and nail. He won. We divorced.

Again, I sat at the precipice of failure; wondering how my destination could have gotten so far off track from my hopes, dreams and the reality I had come to know. I hated him for taking my perfect life and holding it hostage. What I did not know at the time, was that his decision opened a Pandora’s Box of blessing I was too narrow-minded and stubborn to see at the time.

Oh sure, those blessings did not come right away. I went through struggle after struggle; selling my dream house, going back to work, putting my sons in daycare (which I swore I would never do; only, I did not account for the fact that I might not have a choice). Life was emotionally treacherous for a season or two.

My faith grew during this journey

Then beautiful changes began to take place. Not only did my faith strengthen and intensify, since I had never fully relied on Jesus in the way I had to when I hit rock bottom, but like a phoenix rising from the ashes, I emerged a totally different person.

This antisocial, stay-at-home-on-a-Friday-night-and-crochet-a-blanket-mom-of-two, started to find her way. I made new friends. I dated. I went out and realized I actually enjoyed being social (when it was not in the shadow of my former husband). I was interesting and vibrant enough on my own; I did not need a professional man to shine his light so bright that I was hidden in the shadows.

I fell in love again. Finally, my wrecked life, had become a treasured fantasy I never even dared to dream. I went on trips, ate at fancy restaurants, got to do things I never would have done in my original picture perfect planned life. More than the excitement I experienced at this time was the love of a man that appreciated me for who I was, what I had been through and what I had become due to the difficulties life had presented. He saw me as strong, fierce and passionate. He saw me in a way I wanted to see myself. I loved him all the more for loving me back to life.

Life continued to throw punches

Then he died. An unreal, unplanned, unfortunate death that catapulted me back to the depths of depression. The walls of pain, hurt, shame and failure closed in on me once again. Only this time, I was buried so deep I could not see the faint ray of light, which would come to be my saving grace. All I knew to do was hold on. Barely holding on, going through the motions, grieving, angry, hostile, thoughtless, passionless motions, until one day, I saw the sun.

I felt the warmth. I was able to remember without breaking down. I was able to appreciate without shaking my fists at God. I was being reborn….again. How many times can a person be reborn in this life? (Ask me at the end of mine because I am quite sure this was not the last time).

Focusing on small wins

Slowly but surely I gained a bit of momentum. Small steps, Baby Steps as Bill Murray’s character in ‘What About Bob?’ would say. I focused on the small wins of the day: picking my kids up from school, making it a whole day without crying, laughing at something I did not necessarily find funny, but it was better than the ugly cry I had mastered full-force. Eventually, I grew strong enough to decide I wanted more than to stay stuck in the holding pattern in which I found myself.

I started getting out again. I started dating again. Hell, I even put myself on a freaking dating site (which I said I would never do; until I realized I did not have a choice). After a few entertaining dalliances, I met someone unlike anyone I have ever known. I met The One.

The very man I mentioned in the first paragraph of this reminiscent rambling. The man that would come to love my children as his own. The man that would take my hand and introduce me to adventure I assumed had long ago passed me by. A man who, for the second time in my life, loved me back to life with a fierceness, voracity and passion coupled with an enduring, gentle, sweet spirit of flame that I know, from the depths of my soul, will never be snuffed out.

With joy comes fear

We are planning to be married this fall. Again, on the peak of the mountain, overlooking the valley far below. I fear this season of joy. I fear it because every time I have felt it, it has been violently ripped from my very waiting, wanting, needing hands. I do not want to fall from grace like I have so many times. Yet.

This time feels different. This time it feels like we are on the same page. We want the same things. We desire to build a dream together. While we both have future aspirations we speak of, dream about and hope for, we are content in the present journey in which we find ourselves walking side by side. We love the daily monotony, we laugh at the annoyances that used to send me over the edge of sanity, we daily hold hands, inhale deeply and wait for the unexpected journey of life to unfold. To give us a hint toward the destination we will someday know.

Breathing in the present

Only this time, I am in no hurry to arrive at my dream’s show-stopping, epic conclusion. I am in no rush to wake up and find my perfect life is no longer Out of Order and has been restored to perfect function. I really just want to breathe in the present, exist to love and be loved, grasp the simplicity of everyday and bathe in the normal routine of life.

For so long, it has been the highest of highs followed by the lowest of lows. My passion has not declined. However, my desire to reach a destination has evolved. I am now content to slow down, smell the roses, take the hand of my lover and enjoy every step of this precious journey. The destination, a surprise I know will be greater than my imagination could ever fathom, can wait. I am too caught up in what is, this amazing, unknown, exciting, adventurous journey, to focus on what comes next.

The destination will find you

Please do not be like the me I used to be. So focused on the destination that I forgot to enjoy the journey. Life is about the journey. The destination will find you, when you are ready.

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