Posted in healing, Life Lessons, Love, Truth, waiting, Word, Writing

Girl, Lift Your Face

My mind wandered this morning to John 4 and the woman Jesus spoke with at the well. I’m often reminded of her when I look in the mirror in the mornings. Why had she come to this well to draw water alone? That was an activity the women usually did together. For safety. For social interaction.

I’ll guess why she was there alone. She felt shame. She was hiding.

Hiding from other women. From society. From her soiled reputation.

Guilt will always point out what I’ve done (which is healthy), but shame sneaks in and replaces my own name.

Hello, my name is (fill-in-the-blank).

  • Adulteress
  • Fat girl
  • Single Mom
  • Divorced
  • Lonely
  • Heart-broken
  • Insecure
  • Flawed
  • Unwanted
  • Ugly
  • Annoying
  • Unworthy
  • Useless
  • Stupid
  • Unlovable

Has shame ever replaced your name with something else?

It has replaced every one of the above names for my name at times throughout my life.

So there she was – sneaking away to get water, and that’s when she met Jesus – the man who would change the course of her life.
Jesus was sitting there alone, waiting on his disciples to get back from town with food. He asked her to draw him some water and you can almost hear her audible gasp.

“Who, me? I’m (fill-in-the-blank).” (Paraphrasing here.)

She actually said:
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Let’s stop a sec.

How many times over the past 16 years have I been asked to go get my husband? By a salesman? By a snarky married woman who knows I don’t have one? By a mean girl? I know what this feels like.
And the answer stammers it’s way out of my trembling mouth. My eyes glance down, or away.
I, I… have no husband. He left me for someone else he got pregnant.

Then Jesus spoke a truth that walked right through the solid, heretofore impenetrable walls around her heart:
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

Ouch. Yep. There it is.
But let’s be real. I’ve often wondered if there was a more shameful truth exposed here.

Can I just be honest? Every time I read this story I put myself in her place, but I imagine Jesus’ answer to me would be more like, “You’re right – since your husband left you’ve had 2 other women’s husbands and 2 boyfriends you let act like a husband.”

The fact that Jesus knows everything and chooses to forgive anyway and offer a second chance at life always astounds me. He did this same thing for me when I was in a similar place as that woman.

Forgiveness heals.

I want to address something else shame has done to me over the years. Because I was sexually assaulted, shame has said I’m damaged – permanently.

I hope you’ve never endured a sexual assault of any kind, but something tells me someone reading right now either has or knows someone who has.

It was not your fault. It wasn’t.

Shame likes to whisper that it was. Shame likes to whisper that if I just wouldn’t have opened the door it wouldn’t have happened.

That’s a lie.

Girl, lift your face.

Enter Jesus who replaced my name with who he says I am.

My name is:

  • Chosen
  • Redeemed
  • Righteousness
  • Beautiful
  • Daughter
  • Lovely
  • Loved
  • Lovable
  • Pure

The Samaritan woman in this story had looked for love all her life, but was handed counterfeited love. I’m not sure what happened. Like me, did her husband leave unexpectedly and take her hope and strength and dignity with him?
Jesus gave me back my hope and strength and dignity. And he wants to do the same for you.

I had to stop going back to the places I thought would give me the love I want so badly. It just made me thirsty for more so I just kept going back.

But I was never satisfied, because that was not love.

My Jesus met me where I was – even though I was trying to hide my shame from everyone. He gave me all the love I’ll ever want.

Trust me. I know what you might be saying. “But I want a husband’s arms to hold me and love me.”

I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to admit because I want that kind of love, have it to give, yet have no one to share it with.
Oh darling, I know.
But each morning I choose to meet Jesus and allow His love to restore my hope, strength, and dignity. THAT is why I walk in joy and peace.
Do I want a husband?
Yes, I absolutely do.
Oh, but not if it costs me even one precious drop of the love Jesus gives. I’m not giving that up. No way.

Drink up, sister. Drink deeply of His love. Nothing else will ever satisfy.

Hello, my name is: Melissa, Loved, Beautiful, Hand-crafted, Adored, Poetess, Daughter of God.

Posted in heartache, Life Lessons, Love, Truth, waiting, Word, Writing

Lookin’ For Love

My mind wandered this morning to John 4 and the woman Jesus spoke with at the well. I’m often reminded of her when I mentor single moms. Why had she come to this well to draw water alone? That was an activity the women did together. For safety. For social interaction.

I’ll guess why: shame.
She was hiding.

From other women. From society. From her shame.

That’s when she met Jesus – the man who would alter the course of her life.
Jesus was sitting there alone, waiting on his disciples to get back from town with food. He asked her to draw him some water and you can almost hear her audible gasp.

“Who, me? I’m detestable.” (Paraphrasing here.)

She actually said:
“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Let’s stop a sec.

Single momma, how many times have you been asked to go get your husband? By a salesman? By a snarky married woman who knows you don’t have one? By a mean girl? You know what this feels like. I know what this feels like.
And the answer stammers it’s way out of your trembling mouth. Your eyes glance down, or away.
“I, I… have no husband.”
Then Jesus spoke a truth that walked right through the solid, heretofore impenetrable walls around her heart:
“You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
Ouch. Yep. There it is.
But let’s be real. I’ve often wondered if there was a more shameful truth exposed here. I’d be willing to bet more than one of the 5 wasn’t her own husband, but someone else’s husband. Just keeping it real.
But Jesus knows everything and chooses to forgive anyway and offer a second chance at life. He did for me when I was that woman.

Forgiveness heals. You. The other person. It heals.

I know this hits more than single moms, but that’s who is on my mind today.

Girl, lift up your face.
I’ve done worse than you. Don’t believe me? Sit down for coffee with me one day. I’m not afraid to tell you about my past anymore because it does not own me. But hearing about it might just set you free.
Because if God can know my heart the way it was, forgive me anyway, give me a new heart, and offer me forgiveness and fill me up with love, He can and will for you too.
The Samaritan woman in this story had looked for love all her life, but was handed counterfeited love. I’m not sure what happened. Like me, did her husband leave unexpectedly and take her hope and strength and dignity with him?
Jesus wants to give you back your hope and strength and dignity.
Drink deeply of His Word.
You keep going back to the places you know will give you the love you want so badly, but you get thirsty again and just have to keep going back. And truth be told, you do the walk of shame all the way there and all the way home. Because it’s not love.

Enter Jesus.

He’s waiting to meet you and give you all the love you’ll ever want. Trust me. I know what you might be saying. “But I want a husband’s arms to hold me and love me.”

I’ve cried myself to sleep more nights than I care to admit because I want that kind of love, have it to give, yet have no one to share it with.
Oh, I know.
But each morning I choose to meet Jesus and allow His love to restore my hope, strength, and dignity and THAT is why I walk in joy and peace.
Do I want a husband?
Yes I do.
Oh, but not if it costs me even one precious drop of the love Jesus gives. I’m not giving that up. No way.

Now a man who loves Jesus and drinks deeply from His love, I’ll walk with THAT guy forever and five days.

Seriously: drink up, sister.

You’ll never thirst for love again once you’ve had the real thing.

Posted in addiction, Cancer, Friends, Life Lessons

Addiction and the Single Parent

If you’ve come here under the guise of an incognito web search on addiction and single moms or single dads or single parents, it’s okay. You’re welcome here. In fact, I was thinking about you when I was sitting at the coffee shop starting this blog.

I didn’t come into this single parent world 16 years ago quietly. When my husband of 8 years left me (for his pregnant girlfriend, now wife) I cried for a month. Seriously – a month. I wandered around muttering things like – “divorced? me? how did this even happen?”

Looking for Love In All the Wrong MySpaces

And then I quietly began the first addiction – the internet and online dating. I was looking for love in all the wrong MySpaces. (Now if you didn’t laugh…)

Back in the early days of social media, of Yahoo 360 and Multiply (aka: pre-WordPress meets pre-Facebook) and way too many chat rooms, I began writing out my feelings. I couldn’t sleep at all that first month, so I was online – a lot. It wasn’t long before men began to charm me and to sweet talk me with words that sounded scrumptious to my starving soul. It wasn’t long after that until I began meeting them. This may sound innocent or non-addiction-sounding. Let me clarify:

I once chatted online for 24 hours straight. My heart was so empty that any contact would suffice.

A person who is full tramples on a honeycomb, but to a hungry person, any bitter thing is sweet.

Proverbs 27:7

That summer I was sexually assaulted – twice – by men I didn’t have any business meeting online. The first time was the day I was going to file for divorce. He seemed like a great Christian businessman and father.
I’ve never really discussed the particulars of what happened next with anyone. The next time was at a party you can read about in a previous blog.

I’m not suggesting the internet is only populated with creepy people, on the contrary, I have some amazing friends (men and women) I’ve met online.
But please hear my heart:
Just because we’re divorced, widowed, or are single parents for whatever reason, we are not that desperate. We do not need to fill the void in our hearts with anyone. Period. Whether they treat us well or not, we have kids that need us to be safe. We have kids who need our time and attention. And when we start trying to fill the void in our lives with anyone instead of asking God to come fill that void for us, then we are destined for more heartache.
My best advice here, if I may: fill your heart with good, trustworthy off-line friends. Find yourself in the Psalms or a good book. Get a hobby.
Be full; otherwise, even what is bitter will begin to taste sweet.

Friends in Low Places

When I realized that filling my life with men I met online had completely wrecked my life (literally – texting and driving on the way to meet someone caused me to total my car), I turned to something else to fill the void. I turned to alcohol. Please don’t stop reading yet, I’m not condemning a glass of wine with dinner or a cocktail with friends once a month.

I was already in the middle of this addiction before I knew it had begun. When the kids would go to their Dad’s every other weekend, I would go to my old high-school boyfriend’s apartment on those Friday nights for a glass of wine, his amazing lasagna, and to watch boxing. I still absolutely love boxing. But adding wine to the sauce led to sipping while making dinner, with a glass after, then three. And one night, when I was sitting at the band girlfriends’ table at the club while the guys rocked out on stage, I found myself surrounded by 4 empty glasses and a bunch of extremely offended women. I still have no clue what I said, but it was offensive.
Binge drinking had completely taken over these weekends.
I had only wanted to relax, unwind, and forget my kids weren’t there with me that weekend. But it had totally taken over.

What stopped me? Well, I had my son.
My son doesn’t go back and forth to another parent. He is all mine. I had to be home. I stopped drinking so much for the best reason. My son is amazing.

Again, from my heart here: instead of filling your life with meaningless, or dangerous fillers, fill your life with great things. Intentionally lose the reasons you need to go where your addiction runs rampant. If it’s alcohol, try a craft night with friends instead. If it’s drugs, flush them and lose your contact’s number. Find an AA or NA or CR meeting and work on the things that are out of control in your life.

Celebrate Recovery helped me with all of the issues I’ve faced in my life. But I had to take the first step. If you’re local and need to find a meeting or need someone to go with, just ask me. I’ll rearrange my life to walk into that first or fifteenth meeting with you. If you’re not local, ask a friend or just be brave and walk into a meeting. You’ll find you aren’t alone.
Remember: if I can, you can.

“Stressed” Spelled Backwards is “Desserts”

My last addiction was food. I think I grew up with a buttermilk biscuit in one hand and a piece of home-fried chicken in the other. And my bottle was probably full of homemade gravy. By the way, I make the absolute best cream gravy. But I digress.

All my life I have been an emotional stress-eater, but food addiction actually started providing a mask for me. I decided I didn’t want to be seen anymore, because being seen = being hurt. So I just ate what I wanted to eat. And I didn’t really care what other people thought, because I didn’t care either.

Here’s the thing, though – I found myself in 2015 topped out at 352 pounds. I realized I needed to stop when I went to see The ICE in Grapevine, TX and I couldn’t walk even halfway across the hotel without stopping to rest. My heart, my joints, my lungs hurt. My life literally hung in the balance. I had gastric sleeve surgery in April 2015 – just before my 40th birthday. I lost 93 pounds. But since I hadn’t sorted out the real reason I had gotten so heavy in the first place, my weight slowly crept back up. I regained 50 pounds. Through counseling for past sexual abuse, I finally figured out what the issue was for me. It may be different for you, but I highly recommend getting a professional and a really good friend who will keep you accountable.

In October 2017 I started having major female issues which led to my having a hysterectomy in May 2018. My doctor said that the extra fat I was carrying was causing me to have estrogen overload, which had caused Endometrial Cancer. My addiction could have cost me my life. The surgery was long and costly. Ultimately, they got all the Cancer. As I recovered, I realized just how much my emotional starvation had consumed my life. As a result, I’ve been working on that, and have lost 51 pounds since my hysterectomy.

Left – January 2015. Right – January 2018.

If you were sitting across from me right now and were struggling with food addiction, I would say this to you: “I see you, and you are stunningly beautiful.” And then I would say, “let’s walk through this together.”

The Next Step Forward

I’m asking you today to do one thing. Just one. I want you to identify that thing you are using to fill a void in your life. I want you to take the next step forward toward healing in that area.

I handle life with prayer. Before I hit “Publish” I prayed that if you needed to read these words, that you would somehow find this post. If you’re reading these words and have been looking for a “sign” or an “answer” – consider that you’ve found it. You got this. You are brave, bold, and beautiful (or handsome). You may stumble through this next step, but I’m telling you, you have what it takes to step over this obstacle, away from this addiction, and step through to a better life.

Now go! That applause is from me.