Novella: Installment #3: Independence Day

fireworks

Josephine was having a surge of all things freedom. She wanted to take out her own little freedom flag and set it alongside the little American flags that would be lining her walkway for the 4th of July celebration. He had left the country for two years. It was a blessed relief after having to deal with so much divorce drama for so long. After several tumultuous years, it was time for a little peace.  So before her house filled up with friends and family for the holiday…Josey took some time to think about about her temporary freedom.  She took a hard look at how she had arrived at this point in time…and what she could learn from it all.  After all, she had fought so hard and was so close to moving forward with her life, she had better make sure that during this respite she regained her strength enough to eventually keep it. Well…maybe the word should be independence.  She had been fighting for freedom and she better make sure that once she had it – she treasured her independence.  That’s much better.

Regardless of what Josephine was feeling about where she was at this point, she knew that she had contributed greatly to the sense of deep sadness that had engulfed her life over the past several years.  All brought on by a series of choices during her divorce. Josephine had broken some of her own rules, disregarded her own advice – and had been involved in a train wreck of her own making. Her train had come to the end of the track, and she had seen the abutment looming in front of her.

Matter of fact, she had seen it coming for some time. But, just like so many things that we do in survival mode on psychological autopilot, when the world is numb and colorless, Josephine had held on until the undeniable end – without bracing herself for the impact. She had held onto some spark of hope that she wouldn’t continue to barrel forward so dangerously and that something would kick in and the emergency brake would stop her just before she hit. She had believed in what she was doing…even though every warning siren was sounding and red flags were being waved in front of her rose colored glasses.

Josey had slammed at full speed directly into an emotional brick wall, and it had taken her all of the way down. Wiped her out – emotionally and physically.

Josephine was exhausted.

Every lie has an expiration date. Every lie is in a big hurry. When someone has lied to you – and they need you to believe their lies – life is in a big rush. Chaos. They keep you upside down and backwards – fighting one drama after another. They know that It’s just a matter of time before you find out whatever they are hiding – and the expiration date will come – losing whatever the truth protects.

Josephine floated on the top of the water – on her back, with her ears under the water. It’s how she liked to float – watching the Summer sky – feeling the heat on her face – watching the wind rustle the canopy of trees. Josey couldn’t handle lies. She just wasn’t made of the right stuff to deal with them. The truth, it has all of the time in the world. It’s not afraid of the unknown. It can handle change, be tested by fire…and survive. The truth has integrity and strength. It is what it is, and makes no apologies. When we are truthful, our foundation in life stays solid. Lies, however, start creating cracks that will bring it all down.

Perfection isn’t for Josey. The truth only. After all, if you are going to ask someone to climb onto a crazy train…it should be their choice whether they get on…or off.

Our Josephine spoke from experience. When she was younger, she was married to a man with no self esteem. Talented and handsome…he just hadn’t ever been taught to believe in himself. He drew strength from Josey until her strength could no longer hold him up. They were young. She saw the truth before she married him, but was inexperienced and had the optimism of youth. He hid his fears and insecurities from her, and when they surfaced…it took down their little family. Josephine had been given a choice…she just hadn’t recognized it. She chose against her intuition, and she didn’t recognize the train wreck until she had suffered the impact and damage. Through innocence and immaturity…she had climbed willingly onto that train wreck, and then crawled away injured and devastated when it crashed.

Josephine had worked long and hard to recover her life. Stabilize the world and be a strong and loving single parent to her beautiful children. Professional successes and failures, in addition to strong surges of emotional and spiritual growth. She was strong, grew stronger, and entered a season of prosperity that lasted many years. Josey and her kids had as perfect a little world as you can create with the imperfection of divorced parents, two households and blended families. She hadn’t wanted to remarry – but for some reason she had. Now, on the eve of a second failed marriage, Josephine had to acknowledge some truths about herself.

“Josey, why do we ignore our intuition about a situation? Our intuitions are amazing, but we ignore them. When will we listen – and when will we act on what we know?” In other words…”When will we let the train wrecks in life pass us by?”

Josephine had no desire to be a train wreck. Instead, she had a desire for peace and stability. Josey knew that each day she made choices, and they affected her life and that of her children, friends, and family. Each day her choices affected her ability to deliver to her present and her future. A day wasted, turned into a week wasted, a month, and then a year. When she chose a train wreck, her life became one.

Experience has value, if we learn from it and hopefully, apply. Learn from it, and share it with others…so they can apply. Josephine’s experiences had taught her something absolute.

When Josephine listened to her intuition, gave it over to the Holy Spirit, she chose the right track, and rode it successfully…in all areas of her life. When she didn’t listen, it usually came to an unfortunate or costly end.

So what is it when we don’t listen? When we ignore the red flags, the uncomfortable feelings? What drives us to deny ourselves, and choose something destructive?

Emotional violence and self-sabotage is a train wreck, not a life steeped in Technicolor. Josephine didn’t want any more train wrecks…Josephine wanted independence. Independence from the hidden emotional drivers that pop up at the wrong time and color our decisions, shadow our intuitions. Independence from depression following devastation. Independence from the would haves, should haves, could haves in life that riddle us with silent regret. Independence from self induced melodrama that keeps our lives in turmoil, as we willingly let it all in.

Josey loved the Fourth of July…it reminded her of long days spent outside, and drinking water out of the spout on the back side of her Pappy’s house. Lemonade, homemade ice cream, watermelon seed spitting, sparklers, and jumping into the cool water of her parent’s swimming pool. Josephine thought of how her parents and grandparents raised her. All of the values she had been taught in Church, in school and in her home.

Josephine had been raised to be strong, confident, and independent…and she had spent her life being just so. No need to change her foundation, or get a self-esteem problem at this stage of her life. She hadn’t been raised to be anyone’s emotional, verbal, or physical doormat. No need to let someone start using her life, her love, her time and her heart to proverbially wipe off their emotional dirt. No need to surrender. Matter of fact, she had never raised the white flag of surrender in any area of her life…other than with God.

Josey had learned her lesson. Her lesson about train wrecks and choices. She had set it all free, and grabbed her freedom back in the process. It was Independence Day, and she decided to celebrate it to the fullest. And on this day, she would again be immersed in a sea of loved ones, and she would thank God that she had been so blessed.

Today she would float. She would let the cool water surround her, and cover her ears…so that the only sound she could hear was that of her heart beating. She would float and look up at the Technicolor above her. The vivid blue of the sky, and the soft clouds drifting by. The light as it passed through the canopy of the trees.

I was a hot, summer day in Texas…perfect for floating. It was the Fourth of July. With a pool full of kids floating beside her, ribs coming off of the grill, Lynyrd Skynyrd playing in the background, and the sounds of her friends and family talking, laughing and enjoying the day, Josephine decided to celebrate the good and be free from the bad. She would cherish the love, and learn from the entire experience. It was Independence Day…and independence was a freedom she wouldn’t take so lightly…she wouldn’t so easily forget…she wouldn’t so easily give away. All of this knowing, that there are some things that once you have given them away, lost them, or destroyed them…you have to fight like Hell to get them back…or they are lost to you forever. It’s all about choices and where they lead us. Josephine chose independence, and she trusted that God would lead her where she needed to go.

But for right now, in every area of her life, she’d just float. Just float and wait. Dreams were already starting to materialize into reality, and they were based in the truths of who she has always been, and who she always will be. No rush.

The truth has all of the time in the world.