My friend Elizabeth is a beautiful picture of grace. I have been cheering and praying for this lovely woman as she rebuilds her life. I'm always amazed at her trust in God, her cheerful acceptance of difficulties and her open forgiving heart. She challenges me to make room in my life for all people.
A reliable dinner date
I no longer shred my cheddar cheese.
I used to buy those 2-pound blocks of cheddar and they would be eaten in a timely manner between family suppers, husband lunches and late-night nachos with friends. But the other day I found in my fridge a crusty, too-orange block of a mere 8-ounce bar of the stuff. From that day forward, I started buying bags of pre-grated, subpar cheddar for the blah quesadillas and noodles I regularly make my kids.
A bag of the shredded stuff is now a near-daily symbol of divorce to me. It’s one of a dozen small things that continually hit you upside the head, reminding you that your life is a lot different than it once was or than you had planned. I have tried to look at the silver lining around the cheddar-cheese bag: As a single mom -- heck, as a mom of two young boys -- there's not a lot of time to shred cheese. For that reason, thank goodness for bags of the overpriced, shredded stuff, right?
This month's holiday weekend escorted in another reliable reminder that I'm in singleton territory. In the married life, my husband and I always had big family plans for days like the Fourth: There were no broken divorce schedules to accommodate, and we could have a yearly tradition with extended family. I've lost that. I've lost all of the family traditions I had. I've even lost a social life we had with friends who still adore me. When you become a "mom and kids" and are no longer a man-carrying family, your event inclusion or hosting possibilities change. I totally get it: I now offer a mom-and-kids playdate vibe. Former friend-families aren't to be faulted. I have had to leave the married world and am a different puzzle piece since the divorce. Like me, some of my friends aren't sure how how I fit. (Whoever figures that out first, let me know. We’ll make nachos to celebrate. I'm on the cheese.)
Another one of the little things that reminds you that you are living in the Twilight Zone of your life is the small talk you find yourself engaging in when getting a pedicure. Suddenly, being asked if you have a husband takes on new emotion and silences the conversation. At least you hope it silences the conversation. One time, answering, "No, I’m recently divorced," spawned the question, "Did he leave you?" After I nodded yes, my nail technician commented, "Oh. You need brows done! You can’t let yourself go downhill now." Awesome. Those beauty experts have tried to get their hands on my brows for years. This one thought she had a new angle.
I didn’t let her touch my eyebrows.
Divorced people don’t just lose a spouse, deal with divorce-related kid drama and have new monetary considerations to iron out -- or new monetary considerations that leave them feeling smacked by an iron. The small, every-day things change, too. Like one’s social life and interactions. And how you buy cheese.
My boys questioned the lack of block-cheddar a while ago: "Don’t you have any you can slice?" they asked when I gave them a small handful of the grated stuff on a plate with some crackers. I must say, it looked pretty sad. What would the Oregon members of the Federation of American Cheese-makers say? A recent article by Michael H. Tunick, a research chemist with the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and author of "The Science of Cheese," said the federation made the largest cheddar cheese ever in 1989. It weighed 56,850 pounds (25,790 kg). And I can’t even house a 2-pound block?
Handing my boys little piles of grated cheddar to go with their Wheat Thins feels less than ideal. It is. But God teaches us that life's circumstances are often less than ideal. The Bible is full of stories of betrayal and hardship. However, the common theme in those stories is even more rich and wonderful than a block of Cougar Gold, the award-winning cheddar; God never leaves His people alone in an unfair storyline, betrayed or abandoned. And we never have to eat subpar quesadillas alone.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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