Alignment didn’t mean anything special to me until Jim and I married. We graduated from Moody Bible Institute on Friday night and were married the next morning at 11 a.m. in the backyard of the professor who officiated. He and his wife even hosted my mom and me overnight. After our 30 guests joined us for a lunch-reception and the cutting of the cake, Jim’s parents rode back to Texas with Jim’s Uncle and Aunt loaning us their car for our three-week honeymoon road trip.
As we traveled to Ohio to visit my family, friends and home church, experienced a couple of wedding showers Jim mentioned alignment a couple times with concern that the tires needed to be realigned to produce a smoother ride. We proceeded to Odessa, Texas to return their car and visit Jim’s extended family. Jim’s parents drove us to Waco, eight-hours away, in time for us to find an apartment, buy a car and enroll Jim in Baylor.
Alignment Definition: restoring or changing a previous or different position, aim, go to; bend, verge, determine; steer for, set one’s sights on, hold a course for, be bound for; on the road to: hither, thither, whither: straightforward. Realignment: To align again; to readjust for smoothness.
At a used car lot located close to the Baylor campus, Jim’s eye fell on a 1941 Chevy, in A-1 condition. singularly owned by an elderly woman. He thought it would work for us. I knew nothing about cars. My previous mode of transportation was walk, bike, bus or hitch rides with friends. Jim had had a year of automotive college before he went to Moody, so he was not only car-savvy but had driven butane trucks while he was in high school and home in the summers qualifying him as a seasoned mechanic.
After the manager interviewed us and learned about our ministry-trek and that neither of us had established credit, had no access to a checking account, and no one to vouch for us, he took a chance and offered the car for $400, arranging for us to send him $25 a month. Such trust. Jim was delighted with our very first joint purchase. I was a bit apprehensive since I didn’t have a job, yet.
Unbeknown to us, like everyone experiences, we were blindly embarking on a lifetime of alignments and realignments for smoother living pertaining to physical, emotional, financial and spiritual adjustments which aptly describes the intention of this blog as L’s roller-coaster story underscores.
My life has been very rocky the last few years for different reasons. After I separated and then divorced, I learned to become a person in my own right, adjusted to living alone, supported myself, purchased a condo and desired to become the person I thought God wanted me to be. I developed a platonic relationship with Earl involving our social life. Both being soft hearted, we were comfortable with our friendship, but it bothered him that I needed more people and purpose than he.
With the sudden passing of my mother, and being an only child, my life changed drastically curtailing my social life to primary caretaker for my dad who had serious medical problems. Parting with my condo and condensing two households into one small house was difficult but it was the right thing to do.
Then came the Pandemic and we learned to live with those restrictions. Church fellowship by streaming came into play limiting seeing friends. Ordering groceries became a normal part of life dispensing with seeing friends at the grocery store. But like everyone else, I put up with the adjustments.
Retirement during the pandemic brought other changes to my life with excess time on my hands but erased work-related social involvement and purpose. Fortunately, for the first time in many years I had extra time to read, especially spiritual books and the Bible. I experienced a new excitement and felt God's gentle pull upon me. I also had extra time to do more things with my friends that I hadn’t had for years.
But as others have experienced, it was my lot to have a medical need which would entail needing someone to assist my dad and me for a week or more as I recovered. Alice, a close friend for many years, came to my rescue. I was totally shocked when Earl took an entirely different attitude about my personal needs, refusing to show any empathy and also objecting to Alice’s staying with my dad and me. He actually sabotaged his and my relationship and started making allegations that had no substance. After several ugly encounters I felt I needed time apart to evaluate whether or not this relationship could or should be salvaged. This change has caused several things to happen. When I didn’t see Earl for a couple of weeks, instead of missing him, I actually felt relieved and had refreshing clarity. Through friends and Bible study the Lord helped me to see exactly what I needed to do--end a longtime relationship. I felt a new peace with God. I know right now that my main concern and purpose is taking care of my dad to the best of my ability and enjoying the extended time God has graciously given us to be together. I will continue to read and to study so that I can continue to grow spiritually. L
Did you count how many realignments L had to make in a brief amount of time? How does your personal story read? Now that L has had time to reflect, she realizes that her life had become Earl’s life. Her friends were the only friends he had; he was piggy-backing even on her spiritual life. He even admitted “Without you, I have no life”. Earl was jealous of Alice who assisted her and her dad. He became indignant and accused her of stupid things. She felt like he was sucking all the life out of her.
Others experience a copy-cat lifestyle. Some people prefer ‘to ride the robes’ of more popular or more successful people. Distancing yourself from these uncomfortable situations demands courage and honesty and a willingness not to let guilty feelings dissuade you. ‘Hanging in’ will bring welcomed smoothing out.
Be aware that there’s a difference between enabling or empowering. Listening gives a struggling person an opportunity to hear themselves talk which often triggers their own solutions. Simple assistance by offering books to read or urging they go for counseling is excellent help.
If you cancel your social life so that you can take care of someone it may lead to an unhealthy enabling situation. We do not want to do all the thinking for a person for whom we are helping. Sometimes, it’s okay to make sacrifices for the people we care about but this doesn’t always mean you’re enabling someone. Always check your motivation and whether or not you are stopping your life completely to give the one you’re caring for a better existence. The caregiver risks losing their identity.
Separating for a while, or even finally, is one of the best counseling approaches. I have dealt with married couples who just get so tired of each other that they do not feel the original love that they previously experienced. Some couples get so involved in their children, work, extended families, church, hobbies, etc. that they don’t even realize that they have quit growing as a couple. If a relationship is not growing, it’s dying. Relationships do not stand still. Often, a couple of counseling sessions is all the stimulation needed to smooth out, restore and sweeten a relationship.
For His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me, is a well-known spiritual song that continues to be encouraging in my adjustment to Jim’s absence and attempts to accept realignment to smooth out ‘life’s ride’. The following verses continue to encourage me.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deut. 31:6 (NIV)
Your loving kindness Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness reaches to the skies; Ps 36:5 (NASB)
When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. Isa. 43:2 (TLB).
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths. Prov. 3:5-6.
And let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Heb.10:23 (NIV)