“I love March,” she asserted with enthusiasm. It was the day after St. Patrick’s Day and people were furiously filling out their brackets for March Madness. Despite having celebrated with an “Irish for a Day” temporary tattoo and sipping a Jameson on Monday, I muttered that March might be my most challenging month.
When March arrives, I start expecting spring. I expect the days to get warmer, the grass to get greener, and my mood to get better. I expect the sky to get bluer, the buds to begin showing, and the asparagus to be on sale. I expect to start getting happier.
My March expectations are like all of my other expectations: the source of my disappointment. Instead of being thrilled when the high of the day is above forty degrees—a temperature I would have treasured in January—I am disappointed that I haven’t seen the sun all day. When my neighborhood looks gray and brown from the winter’s toll I watch my mood drop, instead of appreciating the absence of snow on the sidewalk and ice on the roads. When the calendar says that this is the first week of spring and I have not yet seen my first crocus, I am disappointed.
This is the nature of our mind. When we have expectations, we constantly compare the present moment to our thoughts of how things “should be” and then are disappointed. I complain about wind that howled for hours last night. I lament that the redbud trees in my neighbor’s yards are neither red nor budding. I bemoan what feels like a never ending winter of gray skies. I am disappointed.
When I can wake myself up to what is right before me, my March world is transformed. I cheer on the birds who awaken me as they chirp outside my bedroom window. I notice the preciousness of the tiny blossoms on miniature daffodils in the pot in my kitchen window. I delight in the daylight still beaming after the dinner dishes are cleared.
And so it is with living through divorce. Do we focus on our expectations of how our life was supposed to be, or do we focus on what is right before us? Do we compare this season with the one that we dreamed of, or do we recognize that we are at the end of one season of our life and on the brink of another which might be even more beautiful? Do we step forward in faith with this knowing, and in the meantime appreciate what we have?
For most of us, divorce is like the month of March. One day we feel the warm sun on our face; the next our eyes tear from the bitter wind. One moment we feel hopeful, the next we feel doomed. We struggle to embrace what is.
I have lived to see the seasons of my life change over and over again. I have faith that spring will come. It always has and I trust it always will. And until the hour of its arrival, I will be sure not to miss what is here in its place.