Friday, January 9, 2009

My 2008

I was thinking the other day about what a crazy year I’ve been through. Of course I usually say that at the end of each year, but 2008 was a roller coaster. And here I am now beginning 2009, not knowing what the future will hold. Again. So what happened in 2008? Let’s review:

I began 2008 living back in Utah with my parents. I had been home for about 2 months and was working a seasonal job that was (forgive my conceit here) completely beneath me. I was wondering what God was going to do with me and yet I was still upset at Him for seemingly abandoning me altogether in 2007. I was in the middle of a horrifically messy divorce and I was learning the hard way that just when you think people can’t get any more nasty and ugly inside, they turn around and one-up themselves. (I’ve gotta say, when the devil gets a hold of someone, he gets ‘em good!) Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I was bitter and angry about the way my ex had treated me, and yet ashamed that I was getting a divorce. Ironically, I don’t believe in divorce. But when you find yourself asking the question, “Would I rather wake up dead, or wake up divorced?” It becomes a little easier to make that choice. Sigh. Still, not part of the plan. I thought that I had done everything I was supposed to do and that as a result of me being faithful to God and obedient to His direction, that I would be richly rewarded and live happily ever after. Yeah, not so much. Not that it’s not a good idea to be faithful and obedient to God, but as far as being in a marriage, I’ve discovered that both parties need to be on board with that. If not, like me, you will discover a whole new meaning to “hell on earth.” And then you have to face the music. “What are people going to say? How will they ever understand what this has been like for me? How could I have been so stupid? Where is God when you really need Him? I’m never trusting anyone again!” These are all things I would say to myself on a daily basis. Not exactly uplifting I guess. But that’s where I was. I couldn’t figure out how to get past all the ugliness that I had allowed to consume me for so many months. The unfairness of it all was choking the life out of me. But of course we all know, life isn’t fair, right?

I wanted desperately to have a “real” job again. I had been hired as a Flight Attendant back in November of 2007, but had been sorely disappointed when they put their training classes on hold for 6 months. It began to seem like I would never get out of the rut I was in. I was able to make the break from my mindless job as a cashier and go work for my sister-in-law Amber at a restaurant she was managing. Waiting tables again was not really what I wanted to do, but I felt a little more productive at least. After a few months, I resigned myself to the fact that those were the cards I’d been dealt and so if I was going to wait tables, I was going to do it somewhere that I’d get paid a bunch of money for it. It didn’t take me long to get a job at Tepanyaki. It’s one of those Japanese steakhouse type restaurants where people go for special occasions and things like that. I was pretty excited about it since I knew I would finally be making some good money. However, my very first night of working there, I got a call from the airline I hadn’t heard from in months and they told me that they wanted me to report for training in two weeks! Whoa! That came as quite the surprise, but it was what I wanted to do and what I had been waiting for, so I said, “Sionara!” to Tepanyaki. I knew it was a risky maneuver. I knew the airlines were all in trouble and the gas prices were skyrocketing. But somehow, in my heart, I knew that God would work it out. The bible says He is faithful. And He is. In Philippians it says that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…” I knew that God had begun something great with me and that He wouldn’t let me down. Not after everything I had been through. I knew that in spite of the fact that we were not on the best of terms, that He had something better in store for me.

It was the end of April by then and I was still in an emotional funk most of the time. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything with anyone because I felt like all they would want to do is talk about my award-winning misfortunes. I just wanted to be left alone in my humiliation. My life had become a living example of a Lifetime Original Movie (which started out as a joke, but it was really more true than not). I was one of those women who had been beat down and had to rise from the ashes kind of a thing. But you know what? Actually going through all that and having to do it for real? Well I’ll tell ya, it’s a bitch. It’s not as easy as it looks on TV. There came a point when I looked in the mirror and was like, “How do I get past this? How can I not be like this anymore? What do I do?” And the answer was not what I wanted to hear. I knew that to get back to my “old self” or be able to embrace my new life, that I needed to forgive my ex. And I didn’t want to. And to be honest, I didn’t know if I even could. How do you forgive someone who’s not even sorry for what they did and doesn’t even care how much you suffered as a direct result of their actions? That was a big pill to swallow. I had to think about that for a while.

Everything changed in May. I started my training class in the middle of that month and although it was a rigorous schedule and an overload of information, I managed to do quite well. I was even able to keep my skeletons in the closet for most of that time and no one was the wiser. My divorce was in its final days as my training was coming to an end and things were definitely looking up. I ended up confiding in my two roommates Donna and Tisha about what I had been going through and they were a great support to me. The day my divorce was final, I wanted to break down and cry with sheer relief. Even though the divorce did not go the way I wanted it to and my ex came out smelling like a rose, I was just glad it was finally over. As fate would have it, my friend Erin was over the day I got the news and as it turns out, she had been in the same situation previously. My conversations with her really helped me to understand that there would be life after death (so to speak). I didn’t know how, but I knew things would be okay.

After my divorce was final and I finished my training, with a lot of help from God, I finally allowed myself to forgive my ex. He didn’t deserve it and wouldn’t even know that I had done it, but I knew it was the right thing to do. If God can forgive me of all the horrible things I’ve done to hurt and dishonor Him in my life, the least I can do is to try and live that example in my own life. Once I did that, an amazing transformation took place within me. I was no longer a bitter hag. :) I developed new friendships with people. I repaired the friendships in my life that I had allowed to dissolve. I jumped into my job and gave it everything I had. I was happy again. I was free. I was traveling a lot again, which I loved. I got to meet tons of cool people and see lots of places I’d never have seen if I hadn’t decided to take the risk and switch jobs.

In August, I was still making my peace with God. (It was kind of a process) I was out with my friends a lot and learning all I could about my new job and just trying to settle in to my new rhythm. I wasn’t “living it up” necessarily, but I was learning how to laugh again and enjoy myself. It was a good time in my life. I had allowed myself to heal from those hurts of the past and was embracing the “new and improved” me, as Jolene called it. I wasn’t back to the old me, I was a new me and I was better. :) I guess that’s when God decided it was time to shake things up a bit, because that’s when I met John.

John was the captain on one of the trips I had been assigned. I couldn’t imagine it at the time, but meeting him would change my life. Neither of us was looking for a relationship. I certainly wasn’t looking to hook up with a pilot, nor he a flight attendant. How cliché would that be? But in spite of my best efforts, he started to grow on me. My friends told me to run fast and far from him because he was a bit non-committal in the beginning. I tried. I even said a couple times, “I’m done with him, he’s being dumb.” (Of course he wasn’t really being dumb, he was just cautious – rightfully so.) But there was just something about him. I saw a depth to him that he kept locked away. I just knew there was more to him than met the eye. There was just a real goodness to him. And holy cow! When I’m right about something, I’m really right! :) It took a couple months, but we both slowly came around. When we decided to date exclusively, most of my friends had actual heart attacks I think. I don’t think even I saw that coming. But I’m glad it did. What a fool I would have been to walk away from such an amazing man! He’s nothing that I was looking for and yet everything I could have hoped for. I honestly didn’t think that men like him existed anymore. I believed that so much, that when I finally met his mother, I thanked her and John’s dad for doing such a great job with him. (People just aren’t born great, they learn it from someone.) Admittedly, the first few months we were together, I kept waiting for him to drop the ball. I kept waiting for the “real” John to emerge. The one who’s really a big jerk and who is just putting on a show to get me right where he wants me. But you know what? That guy’s not in there. I already have the real John. And he hasn’t dropped the ball. Ever. When I found out last month that my sister had breast cancer, I was a mess. I was shocked and angry and terrified and I felt deeply all of those feelings that go along with that kind of news. Most guys would duck and cover in the face of that kind of raw emotion, but he was a pillar of strength for me. He still is. He reminded me that it’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes. He reminded me that God is still in control and we have to trust Him, too. If I believed in luck, I would say I’m the luckiest girl I know. But since I know better, I’ll say that God really loves me and has given me the greatest blessing of my life to date. John is living proof that God not only wanted better for me, he wanted the best! I don’t know what the future holds for us, but at present, things are pretty great. I’m thankful for him every day and sometimes I just can’t believe how blessed I am. God gives the best gifts!

So the end of the year ended up a lot better than it started. There were definitely some struggles there when Jolene got cancer, but she is doing well after her mastectomy and the cancer hasn’t spread. My job is still going well and I really enjoy what I’m doing. I worked like crazy in December, but I’m thankful that I have a paycheck.

To this day, I don’t know why God allowed me to go through all the things that I went through in 2007 and 2008, but I also know that my ways are not His ways. He’s got a plan. I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s hard for me to trust people, let alone a God I can’t see. But I know He is there. And I know His plan is “to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11) I remember what my life was like without Him and I’ll never go back to that. True, I’ve had to walk some pretty rough roads. Once I decided to become a Christian it seems the roads got even rougher. At times I wanted to yell and scream up at the sky, “You left me! Why weren’t you there for me?! I trusted you!” But the truth is, that He was there. It could have been much worse. He did protect me, and He did have something much better for me. I just couldn’t see it at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that…

As for 2009… what can I expect? I don’t know. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, God will throw you a curve ball, so I’ve learned not to speculate. I thought I was going to be single for the rest of my life and be one of those old ladies with like 4 dogs. And then John showed up and ruined my plans. :) I think I’ll let it slide. If nothing else, it will be an interesting year because that's just how life is for me. :) Things didn't turn out like I thought they would last year, but they're better than I imagined. I have a renewed faith in God (and man) and I'm hopeful for a great future ahead. I'll keep you posted on the rest...


Scott H said...

Mandy... great post, and glad you are doing so well. For the record, I never thought you were a "bitter hag", but if you were I'm glad I missed that part. ;-)

mmilius said...

It's amazing what you can survive through. I'm sorry that I wasn't more supportive when you needed me. You are one of my dearest friends and I cherish our friendship! I love you lots! You are a fighter!