Finding Freedom Serendipitously

Sometimes the things we count as blessings weigh us down.   Is it nice to have an easy life where you don’t have to worry about much? Absolutely, yes! However, I wouldn’t trade this year for anything.  Once I lost a few big puzzle pieces to the things I considered “my life,” I came to the realization that what we have does not make our life what it is.  The circumstances we live in today might not be the same tomorrow.  This is not always a bad thing. Sometimes losing things reveals what is really important.  A lot of good has come out of all I lost this year, and I’ve been thinking about all I have to be thankful for. I’m thankful for losing my job, losing my home, and losing my marriage.

I lost my job one day before I was scheduled to move out of my house because my husband and I were separating. I already signed the lease when I found out the job I based my entire budget around was no more. This year has been challenging. The week before school started I still had no hope of a teaching job. Then I got a call to teach algebra at my old high school. I did that, and then a month later a job opened up for a special friend that needed me to take over her elementary class because she was ill. The result of this is what I am thankful for. I got to teach 100 students this year instead of just the normal 24. I got to network with over 50 new teachers, and I made friends along the way. I found out exactly who my friends were at my old job. I saw my teachers from high school and made new memories with them. I got to see the room where I met one of my best friends at my old high school. Realizing that my job as a teacher did not make me a teacher, and as a result I was a teacher even without a job was empowering. I taught things I never thought I could teach, did things I never imagined I could do, and I loved teaching something I would have never guessed I could love. I have taught in a better environment with better morale, and I have gotten to teach with one of my very best friends. I got to sit in other people’s chairs, and see things from a different view. That was a blessing. I’m thankful I lost my job.

Losing my home was hard. Being asked to leave when I had no real direction was very sad, and then losing my job made it seem like I lost all sense of home. But 5 and a half months later I look back at all I gained when I lost that house. My apartment has allowed me to see just how little I need to be truly happy. My kids call my place home, and it doesn’t matter they go back and forth from sharing a room here to having a cavernous 3,000 square foot house every other week. My place is warm and cozy. I have had great times here with many friends that I would never have invited over before because of the atmosphere at my old house. My new place has seen love at its best, grief at its rawest, and hope at all times. I’m thankful I lost my home.

Marriage is supposed to be forever. It’s supposed to end with side by side tombstones, with the dashes between filled with love and laughter. Mine ended in October and instead I received paperwork, a bill for court costs, and a sense of cluelessness at how my life had turned out like this. I was hurt, and pretty badly, at just how little the last 15 years of my life meant to someone who was supposed to be my best friend. But, once it was over and the dust settled I realized I gained so much from it. This year I reestablished my sense of self. I made new priorities. I got closer to my kids, and had new experiences. I was a responsible adult. I made mistakes. I realized that I am, aside from any other person I could be attached to emotionally or legally, a complete person. I am thankful I lost my marriage.

It’s strange to feel a sense of joy in loss, but if what you gain is greater than what you lose, than I guess the tradeoff is worth it. Anything can weigh you down.  You can have too much of a good thing.  Finding joy in the journey to where I am now assures me that no matter what life throws at me, there is always a new page to be found.  Turning the page is painful, grief-ridden, and ugly.  The result is a freedom that comes from surviving something you never thought you could and coming out on the other side a new creation ready to take on anything life has to offer.  That is pretty amazing.