If you like your life the way it is, never ever EVER pray for peace.
I had everything figured out. I would marry Joel and we would work together to be less miserable as time went on. I would rent two rooms from my Aunt and finally be able to use an organization system other than chaos. Then when Joel and I KABOOM-ed, I figured I’d be miserable for 3 years then find an okay guy as miserable as I was and live an okay life together. But I prayed for peace and everything I had figured out, changed.
The easiest to explain is the chaotic room thing.
First, you have to understand my 13-year old cousin has a rough life. His dad is in jail and his mom lives super far away and can’t take him in. He lived with my Aunt for several years, then moved in with a friend of his mom’s last year. But about a month ago that KABOOM-ed too. My heart aches for my cousin, so I’m glad that even though my Aunt’s town-home is small and full, she gave what space she could and opened up her living room to him.
I would give up a room in a heartbeat, but stuff filled both of the rooms I rented: the larger one was an office, complete with tall, matching bookcases, a computer desk, and super comfy chair. The smaller room was my bedroom, which was full with just a bed, dog kennel, and TV/console table. Both of the rooms are tiny, but when used together it’s a perfect fit.
This layout worked for about 7 months. But then we had 3 rooms, and 3 people, and one of them was sleeping on a couch. Something didn’t add up.
I could move out and rent a larger room for ~$500 somewhere else, but since one of the reasons I moved in was because my Aunt needed help paying the rent, that would leave my family in an awful financial situation. The best option was to move everything into the office. But it was not physically possible.
After lots of praying and measuring and 2AM drafting, the night before I left for a conference in California, I scribbled a layout that might smoosh the bedroom into the office. It would be tight, but if my measurements were correct, things could be moved around and I would have 2 inches to spare between the bed and bookcases.
After I got back from the conference, I used a vacation day to move everything out of the bedroom and into the office. To mine and everyone’s surprise, it fit. Finally, after over a month of waiting, my cousin had his own room. “I can’t believe I have a bed,” he said, and even though he’s shy, he gave me a hug and thanked me again several days later.
My new room still has that “just moved” look, with boxes and paper piled on every surface, and my clothes are still in his closet, but hopefully by the end of next week I will have everything moved and organized. I’ve never wished for Cinderella and Snow White’s superpowers more in my life.
I want to do more for him. Like maybe open up a bank account or some sort of surprise to help him build a better future. But for now, at least, I can give him a room.
While my life’s literal messes wait to be dealt with, matters of the heart wait for no one. My plan to spend the next 3 years lonely and miserable was spoiled by one guy you’ve heard about before: Jake.
Jake is the best example of a friend I can think of. He constantly does extra things to show people they are special to him, like when he brings their favorite soup when his friends are sick. Or he shows up at their work to help with their work project. And if a friend mentions that they like or need something, he will probably buy it as a surprise. He invests a lot in people, and for some reason he wanted to invest more in me.
Twice he asked if we could start dating, and twice I echoed a magic 8 ball, “Try again later.” Even though it was months after my big break up, I wasn’t ready to be happy—I actually felt guilty for feeling so good. I was determined to wait the proper amount of time to mourn a dead relationship, even though I had no idea how long that should be.
I talked with my Aunt, who lost my Uncle 9 years ago to cancer, and I talked with another friend who, despite being only a year older than me, has the foresight and gentle spirit of a wise, old lady. They both encouraged me that there isn’t a regulated time schedule for mourning. Things happen as they will happen.
But I was afraid. If I start another relationship what will people think? How will that reflect on me? On Jake? Ironically, on Independence Day I decided I was ready to be in a committed relationship again. I didn’t owe a waiting period to anyone, and in reality, I was the only person demanding one.
On July 5th I asked Jake, “Will you be my boyfriend,” and he answered yes before the last word left my lips.
Since then we’ve gone on amazing dates to the drive-in theater, water lantern festival, and even on a local mission trip. Nothing says romance like pulling a glob of rotting sticks and leaves out of a river together. (Actually, it was really cute because he tried to “baby proof” the river bank for me whenever I ran into a dead branch or tripped on a stick in the mud…)
We’ve also had several tough, uncomfortable talks as we discover things about our habits. Turns out I have a lot of emotional scarring from my previous relationships because we would do things like gaslighting and withholding affection as a punishment. Without realizing it, I was in and added to an abusive relationship. (I highly recommend everyone read the list on emotional abuse at the bottom of this page.)
The transition from stagnant relationship, to single, to a new start has been exhausting. On some days something as simple as putting on makeup would be a trigger. Something must be wrong with me, I thought. Then, while researching how to get rid of clutter, I stumbled upon this quote:
It takes courage to let yourself feel discomfort and unease in an endeavor that you know is for your benefit and gain. It takes courage to sit with the unexpected fears that bubble up throughout the process. And it takes courage to keep on going with the process in the midst of this discomfort.Karla Hildebrandt Kroeker, No Sidebar
The author wrote about the process of minimizing your possessions, but isn’t it perfect for relationships?!
Even though my room is a wreck, my classes get tougher every semester, I keep finding tears in my pants (and not the cool kind), and still have to remind myself “It’s okay to be happy it’s okay to be happy it’s okay to be happy,” things are good.
Life update: Life is good. Instead of a quest for Peace—although that’s great when it comes—from here on out I’m committed to the never-ending, mutual search/creation of #LaBonVie.