Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Next Chapter

I’m writing this from an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was driving back from Virginia Beach to Roanoke, and decided on a whim to take the parkway home. It adds a few minutes, but a lot of beauty, to my drive, and I don’t mind.
Right now in Roanoke, a major chapter of my life is coming to a close in a bittersweet way. Instead of it ending on a high note, it’s ending on a rather sour one, which makes it both hard to let go, and easy to not look back at the same time. In other words, I’m more sad than happy, but accepting that this is how it ends.
It leaves me free to open the next chapter of my life without attachments or remorse. And I’ve don’t nothing but think about what that next chapter will be for the last few days.
One year ago when I left Northern Virginia for Roanoke, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly never foresaw the confusion, stress, and pain of the past year. I had expected one friendship to be waiting for me when I arrived, but instead, that person was the cause of much of my angst.
A year ago, I said goodbye to one particular friend and fully expected at that time for that to be the last time I would ever see or speak to that person. Here we are a year later, and that person and I communicate almost daily- far more than we did a year ago at this time. And now there is a chance we’ll have to say goodbye again, and I wonder how that will change things.
When I left NoVA I had a crazy idea for a small book. I didn’t even think I had enough material to make it a full book. I figured it was more like a really big pamphlet. But I wrote it, tried it out in a class, and submitted it to a publisher. By the end of this week that book will be in bookstores across the country. By far my biggest book release yet. My first book to be sold in the mainstream, and not just in LDS bookstores. (I’m a little overwhelmed at the thought.)
You probably figured it out before I did from my blog posts, that I really lost my identity this past year, maybe even before that. I haven’t been at liberty to share the details of the difficulties I’ve dealt with, and I am still not. Maybe by saying this much, you’ll understand why- when the lawsuit is over, maybe I can share my side of the story here. But I may not choose to share the details, if I think saying anything will make it harder for other parties to heal.
I think I am in the clear enough to say that for nearly a full year now, every single aspect of my life has been criticized. At work, at church, and as a writer. It has taken its toll on me in every possible way. I’m as fragile as they come these days. I’m defensive and suspicious (something I never was before). I expect that everyone and anyone I meet is going to think the worst of me or tear me down (because they have so many times).  Never before have I felt more single – no partner, no person to share my burden and cares with. I know many people see my struggles, but there is little anyone can do for me. My problems are mine and mine alone to carry.
But I know this one thing to be true- that the Lord knows and cares for us. No matter the load we are forced to bear, we are loved and never forgotten.  Jeremiah 31:3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.”

I do not carry my burdens alone. I have the strength of a loving Heavenly Father to help me along. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30.)

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