Forget It

Carrying a purse wasn’t something that came to me naturally. When I was little, I recall mimicking the adult women in my life, but it was a prop. It didn’t hold my valuable life possessions. When they were done with them, my sisters would hand off fascinating things to me—old lipstick containers, perfume bottles, and jewelry. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.

As an adult, I carried a colossal wallet that I had stuffed with everything I could fit into it for years. It had various compartments and slots that were not at all orderly. When it would start to burst at the seams, I would dump out all the contents and rid myself of all the unnecessary stuff I was lugging around. The mound of receipts and loose change became a nuisance when I tried to find something I needed. And, if I happened to drop it, it was like a slot machine paying out.

I was in a store looking at something on a rack, so I placed it in front of me as I moved merchandise. I left without purchasing anything, and I walked all the way to my car before I realized it was not with me.

There is nothing quite as nerve-wracking as when you have to sprint back in, dodge shoppers, and hope what you left behind is still there. It was like I had abandoned one of my children, but it also had all of my identification in it. I had images of someone walking up to it and taking it. What would stop anyone from doing that? I didn’t carry a lot of cash, but I had a credit card. No one would go crazy with my library card, but I didn’t want it to fall into the hands of anyone else.

Luckily, it was still where I had left it, but before I walked away, I bought a purse. I learned right then that I didn’t want to do that ever again. I had almost lost something of great value because I had been careless with it. At least I could put my wallet in something and sling it over my shoulder. I was actually at more risk for theft, and I can be my worst enemy.

Since then, I have gone through multiple handbags. I found out that I am really tough on them. By the time I need one, the former one looks like I have used it to defend myself against an army of muggers. Straps are falling off, and pieces of material are falling everywhere. I had a black one that started to shed like a dog. Everywhere I went, I left a trail of dark flakes.

It seems that a hole always forms inside one of the pockets. When this happens, that puts me over the edge and makes it easier for me to discard it. I will throw my keys in it and then when I go to get them later, I cannot find them. The search then begins. Did I really put them in there? Or are they on the counter? I start checking around the house to see what madness I have created for myself. All the inhabitants of my home are aware when I cannot find my keys.

If the car is in the garage, I know I got home with them. That is the first reassuring thought. The second one is not. What if I threw them away? No, why would I do that? Even in half sleep-deprived state, I would not do that. What if I accidentally put them through the wash? No, I don’t think I would do that either. I would have heard the metal clinking in the washer, I reason with myself.

After not seeing them, I return to the drawing board, pick up the purse, and shake out all the contents. I turn it upside down and violently dump out everything. I usually find something that has gone missing that I need. So, it’s a momentary victory, but what comes next is not.

I can hear my keys, but I cannot locate them with my hand plunging in and trying to grab them. They are in there, but they are stuck inside the liner.

I have had this happen numerous times where I have to figure out how they snuck through an opening I was not aware of, and now are tucked away out of reach.

When I have to go somewhere and give myself seconds to get out the door, which I usually do, this is not a pleasant experience. I have not been against getting a scissors and cutting out my keys so I can leave. If my accessory is going to fight me that much and is causing me a problem, it’s time to get drastic.

I might carry it with me for a few more weeks, and usually, I am given a new one for a birthday or a Christmas present.

The last one that I was given has a zipper on the side. If I put my hand inside of it, the pocket is deep.

“That’s for a handgun,” my daughter said after she gave it to me.

“Really?”

“Yes.”

I don’t have one, but one day when I was walking through the living room, I said,

“So, if I had a gun, I would have to unzip this and pull out a gun like this?” I dropped the whole thing at my feet, trying to demonstrate it with my fingers shaped like a pistol.

It will make a great place to put my keys, so I don’t forget where they are.

Having a new purse is terrific until you go to that familiar place of the old one to get something, and you realize nothing is the same. For months, and maybe even years, you have had things in the same spot, and the familiarity has been comfortable in a way. Yet, by the time you bid it farewell, you couldn’t bear it anymore.

It’s an adjustment. That small pack of tissues you never used was tucked safely on the side, and now you need them. You forgot where you put them. You had a special place for your pens, and now they are not where they always had been because this new design is not at all like what you had. Your phone has a pocket now that is nowhere near where it was in the old one.

But, the change was necessary. If you had not gotten rid of what wasn’t working anymore, then you would have continued to put up with what no longer served its purpose.

I used to hang on to things until they were so beaten up and they were taking me down with them. Why buy a new pair of shoes if the ones you have can still be tied? Yet, they offer no support?

I came across a life-changing thought in one of the many books I have read. It was written by a woman who used scripture as ‘medicine’ to help people who found themselves in unpleasant situations. Her advice was that if a person wanted to add something to their life, they had to rid themselves of what no longer had a purpose. They had to make space for it. This made me evaluate what I was not letting go, and how I wasn’t allowing God to bring me what He wanted me to have.

She lived from 1871 until 1940, but her words apply as much today as they did then. When an acquaintance of hers wanted a new residence, and there wasn’t one in all of New York where they lived, she instructed her to go out and buy a welcome mat to set the intention that she would use it in a new place. She had to mentally let go of where she currently lived and acted as if she were moving. Her new apartment manifested itself very quickly. What you get ready for, God will bring it.

In Isaiah 43:19, it says,

Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert. (NIV)

Heaven will do its part if we do ours. Bless your past, move on and forget it.

(Time for the purse cemetery)
(You just never know what lurks at the bottom of a handbag..what is that coupon for? I have no idea but it says to keep it…so I did)

Wedding Bells and Empty Shells

“She is dating a co-worker of mine. I see them together everyday while I am here and they flirt with each other right in front of me.”

“And you have been married how long to this woman?”

“A month.”

“So, you were married a month ago and already she is cheating on you?”

“She says she isn’t, but at the end of her shift she goes home with him for the night.  She has told me that nothing is going on.”

“Have you known her for awhile?”

“Yes. We have a two year old son together.” He pulled out his phone to show me a picture of himself and an adorable red headed boy.

“Was she like this before you got married?”

“She flirted with men, but it wasn’t like this. She won’t let me touch her or kiss her. She is like a totally different person.”

“Who helps you with the baby?”

“Her parents do.”

“Have you discussed her behavior with them?”

“Yes. They don’t approve but they told me that they love their daughter and it wasn’t their business to get involved in our marriage.”

“Did you tell them you might divorce her?”

“Yes, and they told me to go ahead with whatever I felt was right.”

He continued talking about how miserable his life was with this person.

“She tells me that nothing is going on, and that I am being unreasonable about all of it. She took off her wedding ring because she said she has a rash on that hand and can’t wear it. Everyone here at work knows they are together. This guy has had four kids with four different women.”

Alarm bells and red flags!

“Why are you still with her? I know you just got married a month ago, but what keeps you in this marriage?”

He shrugged his shoulders.

“I love her.”

“That is admirable of you, but do you see that you are being used? She is carrying on with another man while you are working, raising your son and she is making you out to look like a liar while she is cheating.”

He fiddled with his wedding ring spinning it around on his finger. “I know, but I love her.”

“Are you happy? Is this what you consider marriage?”

“No. But I love her. I want to punch the guy in the face everytime I see him.”

“What about her? She is participating along with him.”

“I know.” I saw a few glints of tears in his angry eyes.

“I am not trying to tell you what to do. I have been through a divorce and it isn’t fun at all for anybody. This person is married to you and using it as a front to be with someone else. Is this really what you want out of life?”

“No, I didn’t think it would work out like this at all. I thought things would be different.”

“Then maybe your next step should be to pack it in, start fresh, raise your son and move on and let her find her way.”

“I can’t. I love her.”

No matter what I said, it came back to this same answer. This conversation began when I had gone to the front desk of the resort where we were staying to pick up a card that would offer me discounts on area attractions. Little did I know that the representative behind the desk would begin telling me his whole life story.

I had simply asked for my card, told him the neighbors above our unit were extremely noisy and the next thing I knew he was unloading his pain on me in massive doses.

“If you are this unhappy now, what will it be like ten years from now?  Will she go to counseling with you to get help?”

“No. She claims she isn’t doing anything wrong so she won’t go with me.”

“What if she gets pregnant with this man?” At this, his neck became red up to the roots of his hair.

“I am worried that might happen.” I sensed the slight tremor of fear.

“You have to take some time and think all of this through,” I said. “I have to say you are doing the best you can in a very tough situation.” He thanked me for listening, and I began my walk down the long hallway.

I have had situations such as this happen over my years where someone I don’t know very well will begin to spill very serious and intimate details of his or her life. Usually, my inward reaction is shock, and I want to check my shirt to see if it reads: Please tell me all your problems right now!

I cannot explain it fully, but while those emotions are going on, something else takes over. I often feel a calm settle over me as I listen, ask questions and try to sort through the mess. On the outside it appears that I am cool and collected while many times I am thinking,

“What is happening?!?”

As I walked away from him I began to think of how I had ‘trapped’ myself into situations over the years. I think many of us get our hearts set on something and even when it is going very badly, we cling to it hoping things will change.  We make up stories in our heads and dismiss the fact that our problem is in fact our unwillingness to look things squarely in the eye and make a decision to save ourselves from agony.  Sometimes, as in this man’s case, it is too painful to acknowledge the pain.

I believe in prayer.  I do believe miracles can happen. I have experienced prayers being answered in ways where things that were not serving me were removed. I have prayed for burdens to be lifted and to walk in freedom only to find that I was hindering my own progress by not letting go.

As I approached the door of my condo, I saw a couple walk by holding hands and having a lively conversation. You know the kind where you can feel the electricity in their attraction as they talk and walk. I thought of the wounded and dejected guy behind the desk. This is what he was longing for deeply but missing it because his partner was not on board.

I thought about the vow he had so recently taken about being together “until death do us part”. I never used to think of it this way, but there have been times in my life where something has ‘died’ so to speak, and I have not wanted to part with it.

Relationships fizzle out when one doesn’t reverance and honor the other party.  A picture comes to mind of a shell on the beach that has washed up without the creature inside. The housing still exists but the contents are empty. It appears that you have stumbled upon a treasure but when you flip it over you realize that whatever lived there before is gone. The shell is just a remnant of the life that was.

I send my best prayers to this man who so deeply loves a woman who does not love him back.  He deserves a good outcome that is more than living life like an empty shell.

shells