Last April, when I was feeling in a low mood and finding it hard to see any progress in my life, I came across a verse of scripture I’d written on a notecard:
“Forget the Former Things
Do Not Dwell on the Past
See, I am doing a New Thing
Now it Springs Up: Do You Not Perceive It?
I Am making a Way in the Wilderness
and Streams in the Wasteland.”
Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV
I wrote a blog post about how I couldn’t see that “New Thing” being formed within me A New Thing Springing Up. My life had been so overwhelming, so completely changed since my divorce from my husband of forty years. It was hard to see anything but the difficulties that I was experiencing through the lockdown of the pandemic. It felt like I was stuck in struggle and would never move out of it. While I had a long-held Christian faith and had many examples of God’s work in my life, it was hard to see it when I wrote that post.
But like all of us, I had no choice but to keep moving forward on my life journey, putting one foot in front of the other, walking my uncertain path. By June, my dancing venues reopened and I eagerly embraced the dances I’d attended regularly in the past, and added new ones. Afraid we’d go back into lockdown, I immersed myself in lessons and more nights of dance than I’d ever before.
Meanwhile, I continued with my online dating experience and all the highs and lows of that world. Gradually, I learned to weed out most of the scammers and to be more efficient in choosing which guys to respond to– which had any potential for a relationship. There were mostly first dates or ‘meet-up’ dates with guys who were fine for someone– but not for me. Nevertheless, each one of those guys–which I affectionately refer to as “toads” ( see Testing Toads: Online Dating) had some role to play in teaching me something on this dating path.
This year moved more quickly than 2020 and soon I found myself in the midst of fall and a more continuous relationship with one toad. There were many nice things about him, but he had said that he wasn’t sure he wanted to be in a relationship; his behavior seemed to indicate that was true. He relied on texting and rarely called; while in-person times were planned, they were quickly blown off for something else he chose to do. He seemed content with this type of relationship, but for me, it kept me tied to someone who was not fully available.
Many would say, “Why would you keep at a relationship that is so one-sided?” But when you have some connection and enjoy contact with that guy, it’s hard to give that up to be left with nothing. At that same time, it was keeping me from moving on emotionally to someone who wanted a relationship. After sorting it out, I decided I had to let him go so I could move forward.
At first, I felt a loss with not having that connection, not having anyone else. But eventually, I felt at peace about my decision. I had an assurance that things would work out for me at the right time–I just had to trust the process and wait–including through another holiday season; Thanksgiving was just days a way.
Around that time, I was listening to a radio station while driving along I-40. After they played a set of Christmas songs, it returned to regular music and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” by the Eagles. I sang along and realized that I did feel more at peace than I had in a long time; I was no longer struggling with the emptiness I felt after letting go of the last guy.
Soon after that, I had my monthly therapy session. I spent some time before that journaling to pull my thoughts together, to reflect back on all the developments since our last session. It helped to have that quiet space to allow myself to observe my life–more objective after some time and emotional distance.
I told my therapist that I’d made the decision to end that relationship. He said something like the following:
“You sound confident about that decision,” he remarked. “What accounts for how you were able to get to that point?”
I thought for a while about the things I’d written in my journal concerning the past month; images of my dancing since June projected onto my mind.
“I’m more confident now,” I told him. “The dance lessons have helped me to put myself out there– whether it’s on the dance floor or with the online dating sites.”
I paused for a bit, and realized that confidence had helped me to know what I wanted; it helped me to be more intentional with how I communicated with guys– online and in-person.
“I couldn’t move on until I let go of him; we don’t want the same thing,” I told my therapist.
“You sound grounded, Connie,” he responded. “Like you’re at a good place.”
I remembered that a few months after we’d started working together, I’d shared the scripture from Isaiah. We were dealing with my struggle over “do not dwell on the past.” It was early in the divorce process and I couldn’t see how I’d ever get past the pain and regrets.
“Hold on just a minute,” I said to my therapist. “I need to get something.”
I left our Zoom session and then returned with the index card with the verses from Isaiah.
“It occurs to me now, that I am finally feeling that new thing springing up; God is transforming me,” I told my therapist. “It’s happened physically– by being in better shape I’ve been able to progress in my dancing which has impacted my confidence. And it’s happening emotionally– as I’ve let go of a relationship that was holding me back, I feel free to move forward.”
When we ended that session, the peacefulness continued; I had reached a new benchmark on this journey. I could step forward and continue through to Christmas and a new year.
Now, I turn to focus on you.
What do you need to leave in the past? What are the desires of your heart that you would like to experience in the new year?
My wish for you is to let go of what you no longer need to carry and to lean into the new thing springing forth within you.
May God bless you richly in 2022!