Today is hard. I won’t lie to you or myself. To make it to 10 years in a marriage is a blessing, something sacred and beautiful. It represents 3,650 days of laughter and love, therapy and heartache, a lot of work and a lot of reward. And, we didn’t make it. I wish I could explain why, I wish I had more answers, I wish this wasn’t what I was writing about.
But, I am. This is the realty, as painful as it is. And trust me, it is painful. In fact, the last 6 weeks have been the hardest 6 weeks of my life. The most pain. By far.
As the wave of emotions have been lingering over me as this day, October 29, 2020, approached, I wanted to lead with anger and hurt and fear and scream to the world how unfair this is. How this is not supposed to be what I am writing about for my 10 year wedding anniversary. How hurt I am and someone rescue me and I hate this and please MAKE IT STOP. Wake me up from this nightmare!
But, it's not a nightmare. This is real life.
And God whispered to me…what are you grateful for, Ann?
And in that moment, my response was equal parts “God are you serious right now?! COME ON! Let me continue to be filled with this pain, let me curl up in bed and cry until I have no more tears left. I am not grateful.”
And the other part of me was, “Oh, well that is an interesting ask. That feels like a better approach. That feels, perhaps, freeing and healthier and more honoring to you. Okay, God, I get it.”
I’m choosing the latter. Choosing to focus on gratitude. Because what I have learned in the suffering is that daily, multiple times a day, I have choices. Choices that impact my heart, my mind, my daughter, my health, my community, my family. But, mostly those choices impact the wholeness and trueness of me. And choosing gratitude, while some days it feels impossible, is the better choice. This is discipline. This is obedience. This is, simply, the better choice.
I'm kicking and screaming, but, it's the better choice.
I don't want to do it, but, it's the better choice.
Gratitude as a practice will always be the better choice.
Alas, God asked me what I am grateful for in the last 10 years of my marriage so, here are the 10 things I am grateful for.
People. The people on the journey. There is no question that over the last 10 years, the people I have met as a result of being married to Rick have made such a difference in my life. Rey and Barb. Barbara and Sebastian. Willy and Ramon and Vega. Rayah. Auntie Yum and Uncle Roy. Irmaliz. Christy. Carla. Bill. Zach and Sienna. (Zach, thank you for letting me be your step-mom...you are a gem and I love you). Rich and DC. This blog isn't a long enough forum to list out the hundreds of people that have impacted me. From family that is now my family to friends all over the world, I am better because of these people.
Travel. We saw the world together. From India to Turkey, London to Paris, Seattle to New York. We traveled thousands of miles together, exploring new cultures, challenging our tastebuds and experiencing some of the most beautiful places in the world. I am better because of each mile traveled, making me more educated, more open-minded and more appreciative of Gods incredible world.
Miami. I hated Miami for two years. Hated. It was a really hard transition to say the least. But, I didn't give up because I didn't really have a choice as this is where we came for his job and we were staying. And God made a way as he always does. I love it here today. I have fallen in love with it month after month and feel at home here (most of the time). 6 years of the people (of which have become like family to me), the culture, the sun and the rainbows. Oh, the rainbows. I never thought I'd be a rainbow chaser but I am, thanks to you, Miami. I'm grateful we moved here.
Vous Church. Had we not moved to Miami, I wouldn't know this church which truly feels tragic. Vous Church has been one of the most sacred, holy, beautiful, creative, life-giving, encouraging, spiritually-charged representation of Jesus I've ever experienced. The church is a people and these people, they are some of the most remarkable humans on the planet. Pastor Rich and Pastor DC, my love for you is wildly fierce and I am forever grateful for how you have actively cared for me, my family, this city and the world. I love you.
Ann Ueno Interior Design. To own and run my own business has been a dream for years and I won't forget the night on our front porch a few years ago Rick telling me to go all in. I had been side-hustling long enough and after many of talks and convincing, I left corporate America to pursue my love of interior design, being a business woman and helping people love their homes. The best is still yet to come for this business. I believe it.
Growth. In 10 years, I have grown. I have grown more than I knew I needed to and more than I knew possible. Some of the growth healthy and good. Other growth hard and painful. But, growth nonetheless. I know that being married to Rick caused me to become the woman I am today with all the mess, all the love, all the hard, all the joy, ALL OF IT.
Laughter. While the last few years the laughter had lessened, I have such vivid and abundant memories of laughter in my marriage. Just because today isn't that way, doesn't mean the memories don't exist. They do. They are there. And I am grateful for smiling and laughter and being silly and not taking life so seriously. I pray that all comes back for both of us.
Zoey. 3 years, 4 miscarriages and a 5th pregnancy leading to a miracle child, making me a mom - there is just no greater joy. She is the best. The best blessing. She brings joy to me, to this world. She will change the world. Rick was in it with me, for our marriage, on that journey and he didn't give up, even when it was hard on our marriage. God honored it all and gave us the absolute best child on the planet. Zoey Ai Ueno.
Me. This one is hard to fully write about but I have been awakened to myself. From the moment I met Rick (which was the moment I said I would marry him) to today, my marriage has allowed me to know me, to honor me, to love me. If I am being honest, the last 6 weeks have opened my eyes so wide to who I am - and who I am not. In God. My identity. My hopes, dreams, desires. My flaws, failures and fears. I am grateful that I am uncovering who I am through all of this. I am grateful that God tells me who I am. I am grateful that I am on a beautifully painful journey of self discovery. I have been since I met Rick and am still today. To know ones self is arguably what we all crave and few pursue. Well, I'm on the pursuit. Have been and will continue to be. Now, in a new way.
Jesus. Most of you know our story, a lot of you don't. It's too long for now, but, here are the cliff notes: We fell in love and then fell on our knees, surrendered because of affairs and heartache and immense pain. I stepped into a non-denominational church for the first time in my life in 2007, was baptized in Lake Michigan, learned to know and have a relationship with Jesus and my life was radically transformed after meeting Rick. God used that mess to meet me in my brokenness, meet me on my knees and pick me up, carry me and love me. He had a plan for my life and gave my life to Him in 2007. For nearly 14 years, I've been walking with Jesus. Imperfectly. But perfect in Gods eyes. If this was the ONLY thing I could look back and be grateful for, I would do it all over again. A hundred times more. Because having Jesus and saying yes to Jesus and knowing Jesus - worth every moment of pain the last 6 weeks, the last 6 years, the last 13 years. All of it.
Today, on what would be my 10-year wedding anniversary, as I navigate divorce and sit with pain and heartache, I am choosing gratitude.
Choose gratitude, friends.
Even when it's harder than hell. Choose it.