Category Archives: Christianity

Heartbroken but not sorry.

Not sorry Boug

My marriage is over and I am heartbroken.  I am heartbroken but I am not sorry.

I am heartbroken because I committed to it with all my heart for the rest of my life. But I am not sorry that it is over.

For over a decade, we rode those waves with high hopes and (speaking for myself) great determination.

We have two gorgeous kids, I wanted more but he did not and I stomached it.  I loved and I prefer to be happy.

We had unending challenge but I chose to think of all the other good things we had.  And there were many.  I prefer to be happy.

Twice I dug my heels in and said, “Beyond this place I CAN NOT go, unless choices are made and changes come.”  But both times I gave in – because I loved, and I prefer to be happy.

In the end there was no marriage left to save.  There was nothing to do but sweep up the glass.  And it is heartbreaking.

But divorce causes you to think.  To think hard.  I myself am no walk in the park.  I have tremendous faults like everyone else: I fail to communicate;  I assume parity;  I hold my breath and then explode.  I “prefer to be happy.”

However, what happiness is that, truly?  Suppressing my heart to control a marriage working?  I rescued the other without rescuing myself, so that’s on meI denied me the vows that were made and I reaped that choice. I didn’t want it to stop so I kept on going.  So who is really responsible?  Certainly both of us.

Being a divorced mother is a sad thing. It’s awful. I cannot be chirpy about it, but I can grasp the reality of it.  And here’s the thing: it takes one person to divorce, but it takes two to marry. And I chose my marriage.  I chose it.

Had I said, “No!” a long time ago, could I have changed the course of our river?  Maybe. But who knows?  There are so many unknowns and the what ifs will kill you if you don’t kill them first.

So, here I am.  After everything I am heartbroken.  But I am not sorry.

Because even though I am not sorry that the marriage is over, I am also not sorry that we married in the first place.  I loved greatly. And I would not lose those years, those memories, that laughter, that growth, those children and, so often, real joy.

I refuse to be sorry for any of it: simply because it did not survive in the end.



What are the Thin Places really?


I have a friend who recently went to Ireland to visit some of the Thin Places.  Another friend wrote a beautiful blog about them.
I know they are places in the world where it does indeed feel like the distance between Heaven and Earth is less.

In my life, however, Thin Places turn out to be something else entirely.

They are the places I run from God.  When I’m too angry, too hurt, too not-understanding, too exhausted, too overwhelmed, too perplexed, too furious.  I. A.M. M.A.D. and I. A.M. D.O.N.E.

You see I’ve tried. I’ve been available, I’ve been focused, I’ve been aware, I’ve been faithful, I’ve held onto hope, I’ve persevered… AND NOTHING.

NOTHING apparently.  And so I run and I run and I run and I run.  Knowing all the time that God is right there with me, tracking, clocking, waiting.

I am running as fast as I can on a treadmill which (if I stopped to think about it) is on the flatbed of a moving truck.  I am losing oxygen, the air is thinner, I’m seeing stars, my muscles are breaking down, my thoughts are escaping, I’m dehydrating, I can’t hold onto a plan. I am exhausting myself because I am just going to show Him.

Really, Josie.  And what exactly are you going to show Him?  That you’re just going to do it on your own now?  That you’re just going to take your life back because even you could do a better job?

Poof, Good Luck with that.

When I finally give up running, exhausted, sweaty, furious and extremely put out, I discover this:  I am in the thinnest place of all.

I have used up all my own resources which has left me with nothing to hide behind.  I have nothing.  I have.  Nothing.  There is nothing left to separate Him and me.

I can almost hear Him waiting.  His presence seeping into my cells as the moments tick by.  As my breath slows and there is only silence left.

And I hear it. The still small voice.  No “answers,” no “revelation,” no “solution,” but Presence.

“Are you ready yet, Josie? … No rush.”

Sigh. “OK.”

“OK. There’s a view coming up I want you to see. Take a break?”

With jelly legs and weepy eyes, I step down off the treadmill. I climb up front and drop into the passenger seat.  I look at my Companion and the tears well up even more.

I lay my head against His shoulder and close my eyes.  I have simply come back to where I was before all the running began: safely in the embrace of The Driver.

Maybe my own Thin Places aren’t any different from those others after all.


“True pain is quiet.”


My friend dropped the comment into our conversation almost as an afterthought and I felt the truth of it plop down into my spirit like a small pebble into a deep lake, the ripples going out and out and out.

How perfectly put.  How much we register this truth in ourselves even though little mentioned or turned towards.

I know when my young children aren’t seriously hurt because they make an enormous fuss.  The moment I truly worry is when they are brave, and come to me with solemn faces saying quietly, “Mummy, I hurt myself.”

Our deepest pain is the one we can’t just talk about.  Even to ourselves.  So we pile it all into a trunk, cram it in, close the lid and hope to throw the key away far enough that it will never be found.

We bury it because we can’t kill it.  We can only bury it alive.

With the deepest grief, after cathartic wailing and public lament, we are left simply with grief itself.  Unchangeable immovable grief.  And we are alone.  Like sitting in an empty Norman church in the English countryside on a Sunday afternoon with the sun slanting through stained glass hitting the pew in front of us.

Light is visible, but it’s not on us.

We flee silence, because in the silence we can hear the quiet reality of pain.  Nothing to distract us or smother it with noise.

Or we seek silence.  The relief of being present to it but not having to say or do anything about it to put others at ease.

We know our own true pain.  Is it possible to hear one another’s?

Only if we are quiet too.  Only if we can settle ourselves to say nothing but sit and stay present to the relentlessness of it.

How often am I prepared to let the quiet of true pain present itself to me – either in myself or someone near.  To listen to its quiet, knowing there is nothing I can say to change it.  That there is simply value in keeping company beside it.  To look knowingly into each other’s eyes, stay quiet and stay put.

In my own pain, there is one more thing I know. That even when I am alone, it is never just I who sit in its quiet.

I have the One who is always with me, already listening too.

jsg/oct 14

How to keep your head (when all around you are losing theirs and blaming it on you).

Clean House

Or, to put it a tad less poetically, a short list of Don’ts and Do’s for handling the first years of motherhood:


1. DON’T assume everyone’s doing life/marriage/kids better than you.  Absolutely untrue!  Think about your own life behind closed doors, then think how cute you look if you ever make it to Starbucks?  Well, everyone else is faking it too.

2. DON’T accept every piece of advice you’re given – even when it comes from a sensible source.  They’re your children, it’s your house and your marriage.  If the advice fits, terrific!  Let the rest quietly drift on by.  If motherhood teaches you nothing else, it does teach you that the entire world has an opinion about how you should raise your baby and handle your marriage.

3. DON’T buy into the cultural schtick about parenthood and babydom.  Remember we’re talking about a TRILLION DOLLAR industry here.  Their job is to make you think you need everything, and they’re fantastic at it.  As a wise counselor said when I was about to give birth to my firstborn, “Remember they used to put babies in the bottom drawer.  What a baby really needs?  You and a blanket.”

4. DON’T forget who you are.  Just read an excellent article about maternal identity theft in the Huffington Post.  If you feel like you’re drowning in diapers, keep a visual clue nearby to remind you of who you also are (not once were).  I decided to hang my Yale Graduate Degree above the washing machine. Obvious choice.


1. DO keep perspective.  Of course it doesn’t seem like it now, but babyhood is a finite season.  The days are long but the years are short.  I look back now (my kids are 11 and 9) and all I can remember is how unbelievably cute they were.

2. DO see God in the everyday.  Breathe Him in.  Those years when you were single and enjoyed two hour quiet times?  HAHAHAHA. No. Forget it.  Time with God comes closest when you are grateful.

3. DO add grace liberally and daily.  Both to yourself and others.  If you can’t extend grace to yourself, how’s everyone else going to fare?

4. DO keep community.  Even when you don’t feel you can, get out and meet with other moms.  Who cares if you showered?  It takes a village and in these years the women in that village will be the ones who save your life and maintain your sanity.  Which leads me to…

5. DO keep a sense of humor. This is breathtakingly crucial.  It’s your friends who will enable you to see a ridiculously stretching moment as a hilarious one.  We take ourselves far too seriously when left alone.

6. DO keep the Sabbath.  There is a Sabbath rest for the people of God, so grab it! Enjoy your kids!  Eat whatever can be found!  Look above the dirt!  Wear what you like!  Do nothing! In the words of the song that rings through every household, “Let it GOOOOOO.” (And, let’s be honest, everyone does enjoy us so much more when we do?)

7. And, finally, DO give your husband/partner a break.  They can’t handle the changes in you and their lifestyle?  Send them out for a drink with a mate and let them moan there.  Remember, who is the baby anyway?

Follow all these and Kipling would be proud of you.  And what’s more?

You’ll be a Mum, my chum.

jsg/oct 14