Category Archives: Moving Forward

I Am Worthy

I am worthy of love. I am worthy of belonging.

I am worthy of someone shouting from the rooftops and even stupid fucking social media that he is my partner.

I am worthy of respect.

I am worthy of someone not running from me in fear.

I am worthy of commitment and fidelity.

I am worthy of being held when I am crying in the dark, even if it’s because I spilled all the Q-tips on the floor, or I am having period cramps, or my uncle is dying.

I am worthy of someone loving me for ME – for exactly who I am, this very exact moment. Even if I’m not 115 lbs or have conquered an extreme sport; even if I have grey chin hairs and a fleshy tummy.

I am worthy of love because I am already loved: wholly, completely.

I am worthy of being in relationship because I am a really good partner. I am a good friend.

I am a good girlfriend. I have the desire and potential to be a good wife.
And I will hold out for someone who wants the same things I do.

Who wants me for me.

And that is that.

16th UNiversary

Moments before I walked down the aisle, sixteen years ago.

Sixteen years ago today, I got married.

My dad walked his 22-year-old daughter down the aisle to a majestic organ in a beautiful sanctuary on a hot afternoon. I carefully recited my vows and promised my fresh-faced groom I would love and honor him until death did us part.

I meant it.

The reception was small: held in a petite garden area next to the church parking lot. We served sparkling apple cider and charcuterie from Costco. A jazz band comprised of fellow college students played quietly and a budding filmmaker captured moments on Hi8 tape. Due to the unseasonable warmth of the day, the homemade wedding cake melted before my new husband and I could ceremoniously cut it. He proceeded to smash a piece all over my face, anyway.

There was some confusion over the remaining few hundred dollars of the wedding bill, which caused the last of my makeup to be cried off. We left for our honeymoon in my 1997 Toyota pickup truck; the remnants of the fallen cake streaked all over the vehicle. The back window jokingly read, “Mr. and Mrs. Spencer”.

It wasn’t the wedding I wanted, but it was the best I could do.

We were so young.

Today, the sanctuary has been torn down and made new. The garden has been replaced with church offices, where I spent almost five solid months in marriage counseling after discovering my husband’s infidelity.

The organist recently received a heart transplant, the musicians all have steady, successful careers and the videographer became a widely recognized director and won a million dollar Superbowl commercial contest.

And I am happily divorced.

*****

“It’s not the wedding, but the marriage that counts,” they say. If my wedding was any indication of the sort of marriage that followed, I should have bolted the opposite direction down the aisle at the very first note of the processional.

But I believe in marriage. I think it’s amazing, difficult and utterly courageous to make that kind of commitment to another person. Certainly, I was young. Perhaps too young. But I wasn’t afraid. And when my marriage went to complete shit, I held on and fought for the concept – and the person – as long as I could.

I admire that girl. I’m proud of her.

The person and the girl are now gone. But I do not regret the commitment, if only for the role it played in giving birth to the woman I have become.

So today, on my 16th Universary, I do not mourn the loss of a marriage, but cheer for forgiveness and the freedom that accompanies it. I honor growth, wisdom, vulnerability and true, selfless, mature love.

I celebrate the gift of a second chance.

Tagged , ,

Thirty-Eight.

I did it. I had another birthday.

With each passing year, I have become more aware of how precious and fragile life truly is. We make mistakes. We fall. We get hurt. We recover. Shit happens to us. We feel a loss of control over our circumstances. We beat ourselves up over not being perfect: size, shape, friend, lover, parent, role, career. We want to turn back the clock and have a do-over — sometimes at entire decades.

Yet we wouldn’t be who we are today without those mistakes; circumstances; wounds; scars.

A good friend recently told me, “The etymology of character comes from the Greek word for ‘scar’. That’s what gives us character.”

I very much believe in living life to its fullest. This means falling at times. What is more: learning how to fall. It also means being brave. Living in the moment. Accepting grace. It means loving and being loved.

I have been overwhelmed this birthday by how loved I truly am. On Saturday night I was surrounded by family and close friends who purposely sang “Happy Birthday” as loud and off-key as possible. (They know me so well!) Yesterday I floated in the ocean, rode my bicycle, savored homemade cuisine and rocked an impromptu living room karaoke party with the neighbors.

It has been the best birthday, ever.

I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I am ever grateful for my life and the amazing love I have in it.

Confession

I have a confession about editing my blog-turned-book, “The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.”

It makes me raging angry.

It’s difficult to re-read and subsequently re-live that shitty, shitty time in my life. It doesn’t hurt like it once did, but I’m almost embarrassed at how long I held on and fought for someone who so clearly wanted nothing to do with me or our marriage.

Love is blind, that’s for damn sure.

I wish I could go back in time and sit with that scared, hurting, angry, confused, married Christian girl. I would give her a long, empathetic hug and allow her to cry for a spell. Then, I would take her hand firmly in mine, look into her eyes and say,
“Dry your tears. Get up, walk out the door and never look back. You have a beautiful, fantastic, adventurous life ahead of you. It will not be trouble or pain-free. It’s certainly not going to be fair, but it will be far better than you can imagine. And it most definitely doesn’t include that guy.”

I don’t want to be angry anymore. In fact, I really don’t have to be.

So, in honor of the girl who once was, I will keep going. It’s probably the hardest work I have done. But I will do it. I will edit. I will not censor the truth. I will keep writing. Even though I have to look back right now, I know the outcome. The ending is the happiest one of all.

Because grace — oh, amazing grace! — has set me free.

Four Years

I have officially been divorced four years.

The day – March 3rd, to be exact – came and went without incident. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me until this morning that another year had gone by. It feels so damn good to have that time behind me.

March 3, 2011

I’m guessing Marjorie must have gotten tired of signing her name.

 

The past four years – six, really, if you count from my discovery of X’s infidelity – have been the most difficult, refining, tragic, incredible, horrible, deep, dark, elating, wonderful opportunities of growth. What is more, they have been saturated in grace.

I never mean to treat or speak of divorce flippantly, nor do I advocate running out and getting one to find new meaning in your life. But I do think any arduous road or suffering, if faced with honesty, vulnerability and grace, will inevitably bring surrender, acceptance, peace and maturity.

But it’s fucking hard. And there are consequences; results. I still have questions.

Did I marry the wrong person?

Given the fact my husband cheated on me and got remarried four months before we were divorced, my knee-jerk reaction is, “Absolutely! That guy was and still is the worst kind of idiot douche!”

(Side note: as initially painful as it was, the fact I had a Sister Wife will always be ridiculously funny. And true!)

I can argue that I was young and immature when I got married. Sometimes one will make choices that aren’t conducive to marriage. People change. I can also say all the work I have done in therapy over the years has helped me identify my own issues, how to deal with them and exactly what type of person/relationship to avoid.

Yet I have seen young people get married and stay married. People change for the better. I have seen couples stay together after an affair (or two or three). Staying married is a daily choice. Love, itself, is a choice. It takes two people to make it work, long after the romance has faded; when the cellulite is harder to battle; when it takes more than one match to cover up the foulness in the bathroom; when arguments and disappointment are a daily occurrence; when the snoring gets louder and a good night’s sleep is infinitely better than sex.

In his book, The Meaning of Marriage, Tim Keller writes,

“Both men and women today see marriage not as a way of creating character and community but as a way to reach personal life goals. They are looking for a marriage partner who will ‘fulfill their emotional, sexual, and spiritual desires.’ And that creates an extreme idealism that in turn leads to a deep pessimism that you will ever find the right person to marry.”

As much as I want to re-write history and celebrate the fact I have been given a second chance at love (and perhaps marriage), I do not believe I made a mistake in choosing the person I first married. I walked down the aisle in 1999, excited about my future. The young man I married that day had great potential. I loved him. He was my friend. We saw life as an adventure, together. That was enough.

But people make choices. X chose his path and I chose mine. And because God is good, there is a copious amount of grace for us both.

What about the children?

I did not have babies with X. For that I am truly grateful because I would forever be tied to him. I would have never been able to pick up and move to New York on a whim. I wouldn’t have the freedom to travel and do what I love for a living. What is more, I would have to co-parent with someone I do not respect. Most of all, the children would suffer the effects of divorce, perhaps more so than I.

I will never feign to understand what it truly feels like, but I mourn with those of you who have kids and are enduring divorce. I hope each party can be kind to one another. I pray personal issues or suffering will never, ever be used to manipulate children into turning against the other parent. It is child abuse.

I still mourn the loss of my sisters and brothers-in-law, and my nieces and nephews. I was in the operating room when two of them were born, via C-section. Unless the photo albums have all been thrown out and memories erased, there are fourteen years of documentation I was their aunt. I was X’s wife. I was a daughter-in-law. I was a sister-in-law. They were my family.

But they are now strangers. That is deeply sad.

Will I ever marry again? Have a family?

Hell if I know the answer to that question. I have days where I am beyond grateful to be single and childless, living some watered-down version of a Sex and the City episode. There are other days when I wake up to the noise on 5th Avenue and desperately wish I were being smothered by the weight of a good man. If I had a baby, I can assure you I would be the biggest offender of saturating social media news feeds with his or her every waking moment. Ad nauseam.

But marriage is not the answer to life or its problems. It is not the completion of self or fulfillment of happiness. Nor is birthing or even adopting baby humans. I worry for people who are waiting with bated breath to start enjoying their life when marriage and/or family happens. These things are no more guaranteed than the next minute of time.

I sincerely wish we – especially the church – would stop placing marriage and family on a pedestal. Isn’t it enough to be alive, demonstrate love to those around us and acknowledge we, too, are loved?

Easier said than done. But it should be.

When will I fully heal from my divorce?

I believe healing happens in process, and is different for everyone. I was an absolute insane person the first six months after I recognized my marriage had fallen apart. Looking back, I wouldn’t necessarily blame X for wanting out since I reacted to every little thing he did. I felt mortally wounded. A nonstop rollercoaster of fear and emotions drove my words and deeds.

I was a different kind of hot mess after I filed for divorce. I needed to feel free and allow myself to act irresponsibly. I needed to explore what it meant to be single in my thirties, after having been married for the majority of my adult life. I needed space and time to ugly cry, get drunk or laugh heartily. I needed to feel safe. I needed my community. I needed support. I needed therapy. I needed to experience healthy relationship. I even needed to withstand more breakups.

And then I needed to pack my bags, move across the country and start my life all over again.

I’m not sure anyone is ever fully healed from divorce. It is an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual trauma. Initially it is a huge, gaping, seeping wound that needs constant monitoring and care. Sometimes it requires life support.

But eventually the wound scabs over. It becomes a scar. And whereas that scar may never go away, it – along with the memory of the trauma – fades.

****

So, wow. Divorced four years. Separated for six. Soon enough, I will have been divorced longer than I was ever married. The scar remains, but is slowly fading.

X and I have both moved on. We have completely different lives now, and I (think I?) genuinely wish him well. It still strikes me as odd that I was married to someone for ten years, yet I cannot remember the sound of his voice or the touch of his hand. Sometimes he has a cameo in my dreams. Other times I will regale a funny story about my old life with one husband, two cats, three dogs and four chickens in an old house on a rocky hill in sunny Los Angeles.

“That’s so not you!” my new friends gasp, as the Chrysler Building twinkles behind us in the warming spring sunlight.

And they’re right. It’s not me — anymore.

X was my first love. He hurt me deeply, but in no way did he destroy me. Neither did my divorce. If anything, I am free to love more fully and deeply now, and without fear.

Divorce has not defined me. It has refined me.

Spring is Coming

I am absolutely transfixed by the snow falling out my window at present.

Huge flakes gently drop to the earth. Some dance in circular motion before standing completely still, then change direction. Each is individual and dances with purpose. Some attach themselves to the bare trees, decorating them with leaves of crisp, frozen white. The rest fall to the ground. Eventually, the accumulation will be shoveled aside or melt. The unluckiest flakes become curbside slush, dirty ice or – gasp – yellow.

Yet, in flight, snowfall is the most peaceful, magical sight.

Growing up in California, snow was a rare phenomenon. As kids, we’d be corralled into the car and drive for hours just to touch a few inches of the white stuff. We made crude snowmen with whatever we could find and tossed around a few small balls of ice, but that was about it. Back into the car we went, fighting over our favorite seats. (More often than not, I shrewdly won, threatening carsickness.) We were anxious to get back to the sun, warmth and familiarity of home.

When I moved to New York, it was my first experience living in snow. Everything about it was exciting, even the wind chill factor. As the months dragged on, however, the thrill quickly wore off.

January. Yay, snow!
February. Ooh, snow.
March. More snow?
April. You’vegottobefuckingkiddingme SNOW.

It was cruelly cold and biting, and I suffered the worst: improper shoes. I became frustrated and anxious. I didn’t want to go anywhere. Yet, unlike Los Angeles, New Yorkers don’t cancel anything due to inclement weather. I found myself becoming withdrawn, maybe even a little depressed. I missed the sun. I missed the warmth and familiarity of home.

Just when I was ready to give up, spring burst forth, like your favorite boisterous, bosomy, bellowing aunt. She’s the life of every party and always has good gum in her purse. The ice and snow melted away; bare trees slowly budded again and new life emerged.

This happens every single year.

As the flakes outside have turned into a slanted, steady pelting, I realize I have finally learned to live in – and enjoy – the winter. I even have proper shoes. (Two pairs!) I never truly appreciated spring until I fully endured winter. Perhaps it’s because I had it so easy in California. More often than not, you can drive up PCH with the convertible top down; work on your tan and even swim in the ocean in January.

It’s no wonder why people move west. Winter tests our strength and endurance. It isn’t easy to live in such fluctuating weather. No one hands out awards for getting through the difficult season. You survive it because you know spring is coming.

The metaphor here may be obvious to the point of cliché, but I am in the thick of grieving right now. It is dark. I am no stranger to this season. I have survived before. The odds are in my favor: I will survive again.

But I am exhausted. My heart is worn out. And as the obnoxiously loud sanitation truck plows the snow off 5th Avenue below, I declare my resignation. Love is for the most reckless of fools. I give up.

I don’t want sympathy, encouragement or advice. Fuck the poetry of it all. I’ll be fine. Keep that well-meaning horse shit to yourself. (I just made myself laugh. See?) In fact, I’ll encourage myself. If I write the words, they will eventually mean something.

I trust I can get through this. I can trudge through the dirtiest slush and endure the pain of the most freezing rain, sleet or snow. My skin can take the most whipping wind and biting cold. I hope to find the beauty in this season. This is my home now. I trust the sun will re-appear. I trust warmth is waiting. I trust healing will happen. I trust I can love again.

I trust spring is coming. And she damn well better have strawberry bubble gum in her purse.

Thirty-Seven

On August 30, I celebrated my 37th birthday.

I had a very small gathering at a cozy, candle-lit wine bar in Greenwich Village, called 8th Street Wine Cellar. It was the same place I celebrated my 32nd birthday, just one day before moving home to Los Angeles and discovering my husband’s infidelity.

I remember pacing the sidewalk, arguing with X over the phone right before my party started. I didn’t understand why he was so volatile. I didn’t understand why I was so angry with him.

We left the conversation unresolved. He mumbled “Happy Birthday,” and I hung up. I walked down the stairs, into the cool cellar where my friends were waiting. Almost immediately, I was happy again. I was loved. I was celebrated. And I felt torn. I didn’t want to leave New York but I had to try and save my marriage.

*****

It would be more than two years before I returned to New York City. And every time I did, I arranged social gatherings at 8th Street Wine Cellar.

In December 2011, my boyfriend (at the time) surprised me with a trip. I was beside myself with joy. I took him to all my favorite places, including the wine bar. We shared Malbec and charcuterie with my friend (and future roommate), Christy.

In December 2012, I sat in a corner booth with Christy and cried.

“I want to move here,” I blubbered, as tears streamed down my cheeks. “I have to live in New York. But I am so afraid.”

Christy took my hand. “I believe you belong in this city,” she said, gently. “I know God will make a way for it to happen.”

And He did.

In December 2013, after having just found our current apartment, Christy and I sat in the very same corner booth and sketched living room designs on a Tempranillo-stained napkin.

Last Saturday, I celebrated my 37th birthday at 8th Street Wine Cellar. What is more, I experienced a miracle. A full circle. I celebrated God’s kindness in restoring me from the pit of divorce; the ashes of pain and loss. I rejoiced in the fact that even though my marriage failed, I had not. I proclaimed God graciously carried me back to the city where I had begun to find my true identity. I applauded the goodness of singlehood. Over wine and in candlelight, I laughed with my friends at horrible dating stories, parenting snafus and work crises.

I raised a glass to healing and hope.

Thirty-seven is the year of surrender. I know not what the tomorrow may bring. What I do know is that I am fiercely loved. My future – whatever it holds – is bright and full of life.

Thanks be to God.

August 14

August 14 is my ex-husband’s birthday.

On August 14, 2010 — the year I filed for divorce — I went on a date and had a wild makeout session with an old college crush. It was the very first time I had kissed another man besides my husband in the heat of passion. I remember feeling exhilarated and awkward. It wasn’t X or his body. It was exciting and strange, all at once; totally unfamiliar. I felt like I was doing something wrong.

I cried the entire next day and never saw the guy again.

2011 saw me finally divorced, traveling and kissing men in France, yet still angry X got away with infidelity and bigamy. In 2012 I was mourning the loss of my first post-divorce relationship.

As the years continue to pass, dates that connect me to X are just not significant anymore. They still exist, but we have both moved on with our lives.

This year, August 14 almost slipped by without incident. I worked a day gig on the Upper East Side and started to pack for my shows in Pittsburgh the following week.

Somehow, I mentioned X to my roommate Christy that evening, as we conversed over a lovely bottle of rose.

“We should raise a glass to him,” she smiled.

“No, I don’t want to do that. Fuck that guy,” I immediately responded, out of habit.

And then I softened.

“No, actually, you know what? You’re right. Let’s toast him. He does not hold the power to hurt me anymore.”

We lifted our glasses into the light. Outside, on 5th Avenue, sirens from the fire station up the street began to blare. A school of yellow and green taxicabs flashed by in a flurry. A double decker bus full of tourists on a sunset drive floated by. And the trees swayed gently in the summer breeze.

I closed my eyes and let the words fall out of my mouth.

“Here’s to the boy who was;
the boy who is;
and the man whom only God has the power to change.”

 

Having It All

Recently, I asked a friend of mine how many breakups he endured before he got married.

He thought for a moment.

“About eleven,” he answered, matter-of-factly. “I remained friends with just one of them.”

My heart sank. A couple of months ago I ended my second post-divorce relationship. It was a good, brief courtship that simply could not withstand distance. It didn’t end as dramatically as my marriage, or as passionately as things did with my first boyfriend. There was no fight, nothing. It just went away with a phone call.

Afterward, I dutifully prepared myself for a roller coaster of emotions and the five stages of grief. When it finally hit, I felt (in no particular order) relieved, frustrated, listless, sad, depressed, numb and raging angry. I burst into tears on sidewalks and airplanes. I had put everything into this new relationship and it didn’t work out. I cut myself off from social media. Then I cut him off. I deleted any and all evidence we existed as a couple. That was the saddest part.

I now feel resolved.

And, for the love of God, I cannot imagine having to go through this nine more times.

*****

I just so happen to be in Los Angeles for the album release show and party with Louis Prima Jr. and The Witnesses, so I figured I’d pay a visit to my shrink.

I’ve been seeing my therapist five years now – from the initial discovery of my husband’s affair(s) to the very day my earthly belongings left on a moving truck across the country. She’s seen it all. Lately, our visits have been jovial and celebratory.

“I’m really proud of you,” she told me in March. “You’re a miracle.”

This morning, I sat in the center of the familiar floral couch and shared the latest news: gorgeous apartment a block from Central Park, breakup, Japan tour with Brian Setzer and new album and tour with Louis Prima, Jr. I verbally processed how, since moving to New York over a year ago, my lifestyle has become less stable (for lack of a better term), but I now have a solid home base in the city I have always wanted to live.

I have been greatly hashtag blessed with my home, career and community. One thing is still missing, however. I want to share my life with a partner.

“I just don’t know how I will ever meet anyone,” I mused. “I am on the road a lot. I refuse to date online. I did it for years and hated it. I tried a long-distance relationship and it crashed and burned.”

My therapist nodded her head.

“My hope for you,” she said, “is that you’ll meet someone who has his own thing going on, and, at the same time, is flexible and supportive.”

I hummed in agreement, but left thinking, No such man exists.

*****

There’s a huge part of me that is annoyed and angry that I am such a dynamic and talented person. It feels weird to write that without sounding narcissistic, but it’s my truth. For example, if I weren’t so passionate about — and good at! — singing, I wouldn’t be on the road so much. If I were less independent, opinionated, divorced or foul-mouthed and a bit more submissive, googy-eyed and/or mousey, I might land a date with a guy from Christian Mingle who isn’t threatened by my accomplishments, or very presence.

Perhaps if I had a “real” job I’d have time to join a community group at my church in NYC and finally meet someone in the city, get married and have babies. But I won’t do it. I won’t quit what I love just because it’s what everyone else is doing. Other women my age are corralling their two toddlers while the newborn sleeps soundly in a sling tightly wound against their breast. Their husbands still gaze after them adoringly and actually write Facebook posts about how much they love their wives of two, six, 15 or 20 years.

Interestingly enough, neither my ex-husband nor two ex-boyfriends ever acknowledged a relationship with me on social media. No photos. No kissy-face pictures. No adoring posts. Nothing.

The bright side is this: it took less than a minute to erase the relationship and “unfriend” these men I loved. Realistically, I do not believe in the staying power of acknowledging relationships over social media. People come and go, which is why we should all choose our “friends” carefully. As C.S. Lewis says, “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose.” I’m talking to you, serial Facebook-relationshippers.

A true relationship doesn’t need social media to acknowledge, strengthen or sustain it.

*****

Today, I do not believe I can have it all. Based upon experience, I do not actually believe I can have a successful career as a singer and have a family at the same time. It only realistically works for Gwen Stefani and Beyonce, and they were already rich and famous before they met their also-rich and famous husbands.

I am not sure if I believe, at present, there is a man in this world capable of being my partner. Dating is like playing a game of darts with a bunch of squirrely teenagers. They keep trying to hit the bullseye, but their aim and technique is staggeringly immature; unfocused. The result? Consistently off-mark. And I lack patience for the players to become skilled at the game.

Perhaps I still have a lot of work and self-reflection to do. Well, go ahead and throw all the clichés and Christianese talk in the world at me. Tell me how much you think my life is cool. How hashtag blessed I am. How the grass is always greener. I will not argue with you. Yet, at the end of the day, I go to bed alone. My eggs are dying. I am starting to feel jaded. I certainly feel duped. At the same time, life does not owe me a damn thing.

So, right now, if I had to pick one, I choose my career. It’s all I’ve got. Christian Mingle can go fuck itself.

*****

Where is God in all your complaining, Leslie?

Listen, I don’t mean to complain. I prefer to think of it as verbal processing. I try to encourage myself with phrases such as, “This, too, shall pass.”

Jesus never said that, by the way. It’s just another cocktail of Christianese to numb the pain.

I’ll take a double, please. Neat.

Here’s what I do believe today:

  • God is in control. He has never abandoned nor disappointed me. I am not going to live anything less than a full life, even if — or when —  I want more. God is like the ultimate chiropractor. If I’m willing, He’ll adjust me so I’m walking straight again.
  • The two relationships I had post-divorce were real, beautiful and worth every moment, even the breakup grief. I am finally learning you can love someone and let them go. You don’t have to marry every person you love. It’s an amazing concept. I wish I had grasped it years ago.
  • I’m most likely 100% wrong about not having it all. You can have it all when you surrender your hopes, dreams and desires into the capable, loving hands of God, Himself. He may not give you what you want, when you want it, but He knows what you need. He can change your heart. He can mold your desires. You just have to be pliable.

I don’t think I’m ever going to stop desiring a successful career, a partner in this life to love, honor and cherish me (and I him!) and a family. It’s okay to want those things. Hope (and humor!) is what keeps me going. Even if that day comes and I meet a good man who will choose to lead me on the dance floor of life, I guarantee I’m going to continue to want more (I’ll start with a Grammy, please!).

After all, it’s what makes me endearingly human.

Dear 21-Year-Old Leslie

Image

Dear 21-Year-Old Leslie,

I came across a bunch of your journal entries today. I read through your pre-marital struggles, your very evident unhappiness in your two-year engagement to X, your breakup, re-engagement and your enabling and tolerance of his wishy-washiness about you, from early on.

I wish you would have had the strength to stay broken up with him, from the very minute he had doubts about you. I wish you would have heeded your instincts. I wish you would have truly believed what you wrote about knowing you could be happy without him; knowing you deserved better.

I wish you had never married him.

But you did, because you loved him. And that’s okay. I want you to know 36-year-old Leslie forgives you. Your struggles, your cries to God even this very day are similar. You crave love and partnership, but I’m proud of you for finally standing up for yourself. I’m proud of the woman you have become. I’m sorry for the pain and suffering that got you here, but I’m really glad you made it.

I want you to know it’s okay to have loved and lost. It’s good to love people. It’s okay to open your heart and be vulnerable. It’s scary and painful, but it’s better than the alternative, which C.S. Lewis so beautifully illustrates:

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.

Image

Leslie, I want to encourage you to keep believing in yourself. Keep moving forward. Look where God has brought you! Look at the cherry blossoms blooming in your gorgeous New York City apartment. You have prayed and longed for this city for years. And now you are here. It took time, heartache, tears and a massive leap of faith, but you are right where you are supposed to be.

Keep believing. Keep loving. Keep trusting your gut. Keep trusting the Lord.

God’s got you. He’s never going to let you go.

Love,

Me