Question: “I have to see my ex-husband at a special event and I’m totally nervous. Any tips?”
I can completely relate. My daughter just got baptized and it was the perfect storm of it being held at our former church, of being up on stage all together as if we’re still an intact family, of being upset about things that we were in the middle of (including something that had just happened the day before that had my blood boiling). I was sick to my stomach for weeks in anticipation.
But things like this, well, we’re just going to have to get used to them. So, here are a few things I did to prepare myself.
First, I awful-ized the situation. This is a Jan Silvious tip and it runs counter to what we hear a lot of the time. We usually hear not to imagine the worst case scenario – not to be so negative, but I’ve been trying this for a while now and it really, really helps. I was with a few of my girlfriends and I listed off every single horrible thing that could happen and by the time I was done with my little story, we were all laughing. I made it completely outrageous. But seriously, if you can awful-ize the situation and then ask yourself honestly, “Okay, so…so what if that all happens? If that’s the worst that can happen, will you live? Will you survive it?” The answer is always pretty much a resounding YES. Will it be horrible? Umm, probably. Will you get through it? Yes, yes you will.
Next, I made a plan. I asked a friend if I could sit with her and her husband during the church service, and not only did I sit with them, they let me sit between them. My emotional bodyguards. And they chatted me up and kept me laughing and kept me distracted and made me feel safe. And he called me Bethie, and I love when he does that.
Prayer. I prayed about it every time it came to my mind. And I asked for prayer. A lot of prayer. I asked some girls who are still at that church to pray for me and my daughter, explaining the awkwardness of the situation and all of my fears, and they were on it. I also asked my private Facebook group, and those girls can pray! I was covered.
The night before, I went to my new church for our Saturday night service. Then I came home and picked out a cute dress, did my nails, and went to bed somewhat early.
The morning of, I made sure to get up early enough to have some solid time with Jesus, where I asked him to fill Sara and me up with his peace and courage and strength, and for a special verse to get me through. “Fear not, for I am with you…” (Isaiah 41:10) is what he gave me; so perfect. Just kept saying it over and over. I ate breakfast, though nauseous. I popped some Tums, because of said nausea. I asked God for a good hair day. (The best revenge is looking cute, I believe the Psalmist once said…) And after not being able to find a very specific worship song on my iPod that I was looking for, I sang along with Ace of Base’s “I Saw the Sign” on the way to church as an anthem. Yeah, I did.
And then, well, I just made myself go do it. I got in my car by myself and drove to the church by myself and walked inside by myself, where one of my best friends was waiting to give me a hug (she gives the absolute best hugs), along with my sweet daughter. And I walked the short walk from the lobby to my seat in the back row, where I got another few hugs. I was surrounded with love and support.
Afterwards, I texted some friends, and I took a walk (where I cried and talked out loud to myself), and then I took a nap. Aftercare is just as important as preparation, girls.
Was it still hard? Yes, we only made eye contact once, we didn’t speak. It’s all still so painful and fresh and raw and awful. Some of the worst things I made up in my head actually did happen, a couple things I hadn’t even counted on that were bad ended up happening, but it was really all about one thing: Jesus and Sara. And that golden moment of her coming out of the water because she wants the world to know that she loves Jesus…well, I would do that kind of hard any day for something like that. And you can too.