There are choices in our lives that we make, which will determine the direction our lives will go and may impact generations to come. Some choices are as simple as the hair do we have on senior picture day…the one we must look at forever, that generations will look at forever, the hair that will say my grandma was a total fox, or my grandma was a total nerd. Or maybe the choice is what college you’ll attend? The one that takes you clear across the country where you find yourself and decide to live abroad or the choice to attend the local community college where you reconnect with your high school love and have 3 babies together before your 30? There isn’t always a right or wrong choice, but there is still a choice to be made that will alter your future. I have made choices like those my entire life, but none have had such an impact on my life and the life of my children then when I choose to forgive the woman my husband left me for.
It is no secret my first husband fell for another woman. I feel as if I can say that outloud because we’ve recently shared our story together on our YouTube channel #teammom. So I will be frank when I say, it was freaking hard to deal with for awhile. I remember having that feeling that you see in movies where people get so upset they feel like they are going to throw up. I always thought that was a made up thing to add drama to a movie, but sure enough I found out the hard way that it is legit. On a positive note, I’m pretty sure it helped me lose like 15lbs because I never felt like eating…so I mean it did do that for me!
When you find out about another woman it’s hard to explain the flood of emotions. For me personally it teetered somewhere between personal loathing of myself and complete hatred for her. The thing is I knew her before all this. I liked her a lot before. She was my friend. It’s hard to just shut that off. Granted I did at first. Oh believe me y’all I was not this sweet woe is me wife at first. I cringe when I think about the things I said to her. I’m so embarrassed that I was capable of saying such things, and if I could choose my words again I’d definitely go back and cut those ones out of my vocabulary.
I probably get asked the question I know you all are thinking more than any other question. How did you forgive her and become friends again? It all comes back to those choices. I didn’t make that choice right away. I was very self absorbed for awhile and I laid all blame for everything that went wrong in my marriage on her. As terrible as it sounds I used her as a scapegoat to many other issues that were happening in my home. It would be years before I took a long hard look in the mirror and realized there was a lot of blame to go around…all the way around, like some definitely landed on me.
It wasn’t until we all moved to New Jersey that my perspective started to change. More specifically when I started going back to church. If you don’t remember I fell away from the church when all this happened. Again, choosing to blame everyone (including the LDS church) for all that went wrong in my life, and so it took a bishop (yeah same bishop who told me to Pray for Them in a previous blog, let’s just say he has some guts!) sitting me down and being as frank with me as I am trying to be with you. He gave me a choice that day. He said, you can either keep living with this hate and anger and sadness, or you can give it up to the Lord and move on with your life. I even remember him saying “who knows what will happen”. If he only knew!
It wasn’t easy for me to admit defeat. Up until this moment I had been playing my own game of mortal combat with “Her”, My opponent. I was almost to the part when it says “finish it!” and I would win the game, but then ugh…she had a sudden refuel of energy and her lifeline grew when my bishop said “give it up to the Lord”…game over Jessie.
I remember very vividly being on my knees asking God to show me how to move past all this. To give me the opportunity to change my way of thinking and to show her love. She was after all the stepmom to my girls, I was the stepmom to her son! We were in this together. I have only prayed one other time in my life as hard as I did that day, like full on wrestling with the Lord kind of praying, and that was when I found out my marriage was over. I asked for direction and to show me the path I should go both times. I didn’t listen years ago and I choose a path away from God. I would not make that mistake again.
It wasn’t long after that, when she asked me to go to dinner with her. It was there where tears were shed and forgiveness started. We left it all there at that restaurant that night and moved forward as a team. I know that the choice I made to let it all go (ugh yes just like the song from Frozen, now it’s stuck in your head right?), was the best choice I have ever made as a mother. I know that God put us in New Jersey for a reason. He led us to our ward family and our bishop because he knew I needed to hear those words. He knew that if presented with the choice, I’d make the better one.
I could of chose to continue to live a life of bitterness towards Lindsey, but all that would do would make my kids live’s miserable, my husband Brandon would never have found forgiveness or his path to the church either, and I would have hated myself years from now when my kids or heck even grandkids asked me why I was such a hypocrite and didn’t practice forgiveness?
What this choice has taught me about “the other woman” is that she is an amazing woman, who is kind, compassionate, and was harder on herself than I or anyone else was on her. She has owned up to her choices just like I have had to do. Lindsey was also baptized not too long ago and as I’ve watched her grow closer to the Lord, I’ve realized that we can all change. We are not perfect people and she has taught me how to forgive and be forgiven. Ultimately she has made me a better person and especially a better mother. We have grown closer together as mom’s, and as friends, and sisters in our church.
When I think of that phrase now…”the other woman” it means something different to me. She is the other woman in my kids lives who loves them fiercely, who looks at them with that Christ like love that every kid should be looked at, and I am just so grateful she is not only in their life, but mine too. I can’t change the choices I made early on and neither can she, but we can go forward together and choose a different path, a road that is filled with love and kindness towards one another.
Christ chose to die for us so knowing we would make bad decisions. And I have personally used that atonement in my life to change my perspective and to choose a better path. A path that has Lindsey and I together as mothers, sitting together at soccer games, counseling together about our 11 year Old’s mood swings, someday at our children’s weddings, or when our grandkids are born…together as mom’s supporting not only our children, but one another.
Lindsey and I have decided to share our experiences with the world, and hopefully spread our message of hope. Hope that someone out there will make the choice to forgive and let go as well. So I invite you to come along with us as we continue our coparenting journey. Check out our Vlog at #teammom to see how our choice to be friends and an amazing mom force has helped our families and us…maybe it can help you too.