When my husband told me he no longer wanted to be married and was leaving me after seven years with little explanation, to say I was heartbroken would be an understatement. I was devastated to my core. I was shocked and traumatized. By far, it was my life’s greatest tragedy. I could not, despite my best efforts, envision a life that did not include him. The pain pulsed through me. It ran deep through the pit of my soul and permeated my whole being.
The divorce process was quick, simple and wretched. I didn’t fight it. And so it happened. Swiftly, quietly and quickly. And eight months later, I was returned to life unhappily divorced. Life as I’d imagined had been ripped away. It was the worst kind of hurt. Unexplainable. Unkind. And Unacceptable. The worst form of betrayal, it was an ending I never saw coming and had never considered. And so I did. I hurt.
Yet, even in those early days, love was there. Quiet and steadfast. Amidst my anger. Amidst my pain. Amidst my tears. Love showed up for me time and time again. In the simplest and sweetest of ways. Ironically, at that point in my life I was probably the most physically beautiful I’d ever been. I’d lost 40 lbs and had melted away to a cute little size four. I’d straightened my natural hair for the first time after two years of growing out my perm and my new hair was long, silky and straight. Long hair. Don’t care. It was all mine. And I. I was beautiful despite how I felt on the inside. I was modelesque and my physical appearance defied my broken reality. My outward appearance was a symbol of beauty, survival, strength, resilience and hope. And so there I found myself in the early months of 2007, outwardly beautifully and inwardly broken.
Did you catch that? At a time when I felt the most broken, unwanted, ashamed and ugly, God had transformed my outward appearance to its most beautiful form. And everyone seemed to notice. Strangers literally walked up to me throughout those early days with the kindest most random compliments. It’s as if people were going out of their way to let me know I was beautiful and loved. “Good Morning Beautiful,” a man would remark as I entered an office building. “My gosh you look so beautiful today, “ a lady would say at the grocery story. “Hello gorgeous.” Over and over again. Love was there. In the words and passing affirmations of others.
Love showed up for me in the gestures of sister-friends who stopped by to cry with me, divorced friends who took me out and gave voice to my pain when I couldn’t find the words and parents who literally picked me up off of the floor when the pain collapsed me to my knees. My parents tucked their 32 year old daughter into bed, kissed her good night and let her know she was loved. They waited out the storm with me and held me up to ensure I’d see a new day. In fact, I owe a large part of my healing journey to my family – my sisters, my mother and father loved me when I felt most unlovable. And they gave me grace and permission to dissolve, hurt and mourn my loss.
It was during those 10 months of returning to my childhood home that love overtook and shifted my heart. It’s hard to continue being angry when you embrace and begin to accept love in all the forms it is delivered. Love abounds. And love healed me in my family’s loving stories, in our laughter and in sweet memories that hung on the walls reminding me of happier times past and happier times to come. It was there in the southern comfort of my dad’s kitchen and through his home cooked meals that love found me. And it was the best kind of love. Unconditional.
So when I realized God was loving on me like this, I began to crave it. I looked for it. And it was right there. In fact, it had always been there. I just hadn’t taken the time to notice it. Love was literally everywhere. And it showed up for me over and over again. In unexpected flowers blooming in my yard. In encouraging note cards left on my desk and hallway conversations with clients and co-workers who, upon finding out what I was going through, wanted to let me know I was not alone. And through it all I learned that love truly never fails. Instead, it is up to us to look outward to see all of the forms in which it takes shape and it is our job to accept it when it shows up for us each and every day. If we are busy rolling around in our pain, we just might miss it. In every sunrise and every sunset. In every compliment we choose to dismiss and ignore. In the friendships we share and those we neglect. Love never fails.
And so I look for love now. When I am hurt and feeling sad, I look outward to acknowledge it. Thank you LOVE. I take hold of each and every expression of love and give thanks for it’s ever presence. For by thanking love each time she appears, I am released daily from my hurts and reminded how simply beautiful life can be even amidst pain. It really is that simple. And why shouldn’t it be? After all. God is. LOVE.