Friday, June 22, 2012

the decision that changed my life


photo:conundrum by alice

When you look back on your life, what do you see?

Are you understanding how you got to be who you are?

Years ago, I discovered that everyone has a bit of mystery that unfolds when they explore the deeper parts of their life story. I know, because I spent many years listening with a keen ear. That was my job.

And I learned there are some experiences in our lives that are like torn photographs. Our experience only makes sense when we attach the missing pieces, when we put our face and our feelings and all our choices where they belong. And then we can see the whole picture and look back and say, “Oh, I’m so glad that happened, because then it led to this….”

I think this is how it works with our glaring mistakes, the ones that left pie all over our face or burdened us with a load of guilt that’s still hard to shake.



Let me give you an example: when I was twenty-two years old I was engaged to be married.

And it never happened. Now there’s a lot of complicated, teary, anguished parts attached to this episode in my life, but I’ll keep it simple and say this. In the end, I had picked a guy that everyone loved. Especially my family. And although things looked picture perfect from the outside, there was one big problem. I wasn’t in love.

And the whole thing was my fault because at the time, I didn’t know myself. Not really. Up to that point, I had spent too many years focused on pleasing others (mostly my mother) and trying to make other people proud of me, and it kept me from fully knowing Me. So in the end, my engagement was one more “I should,” on my list.



Only I couldn’t do it. Eventually the queasy feeling in my gut became a pounding message in my ears that I couldn’t ignore. And I called it off. Which actually was quite astonishing considering the lilac colored bridesmaid dresses. And my seven bridesmaids. And the deposit on the ballroom and of course, my own lacy, beaded wedding dress that I had so meticulously selected.

There are too many awful moments to choose which was the worst. But looking at his face and telling his family had to be an emotional nightmare for a natural born people pleaser.

Yet it was a decision that changed the entire trajectory of my life.

If I didn’t stop. If I didn’t halt the gigantic momentum that was pushing me toward marriage to the wrong person--a kind, sweet man who did nothing wrong--then these other pieces of my life would never have happened.


I would never have had a chance to rebel and discover who I was meant to be.

I would never have thrown caution to the wind at age twenty-six, and followed the “bad boy” down to Los Angeles. And we would never be celebrating almost twenty-four years of marriage in a few weeks.

I would never have spent seven idyllic years in Los Angeles with my love.

I would never have landed my dream job on the Eating Disorder Treatment Unit at Glendale Adventist Medical Center, and discovered a world of secrets and emotional pain and a fulfilling profession that lasted for eighteen years.

I would never have been transformed by the hundreds and hundreds of real stories that I listened to in that tiny office at the end of the blue carpeted hospital unit.

Nor would I have looked into the eyes of all those courageous women who put aside their shame to tell me their struggles.



I would never have learned so many lessons from a world that was filled with woman who were smiling and looking beautiful on the outside, when inside they felt emptiness and sadness.

I wouldn’t have seen firsthand, what happens when truthful feelings are hidden and buried behind the words, “I feel fat.”

I would never have learned how to let go of my “perfect childhood” in order to see the pain and the beauty that was much more honest.

And I would never have learned that choosing imperfection and truthfulness is the only way to discover what’s really there, beneath the pretty little image in the mirror.


via loosboosandshoes.blogspot

I think that sometimes we have to look back… to be grateful for how far we’ve come.

What do you think?

I wish I could know your story.





Unknown said...

This is absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing your voice at The ALOHA Friday HOP... in a sea of voices it really, truly means the world that you chose to link up with us today-- thanks for that.


Unknown said...

Oooh, and also... following ya now and looking forward to watching ya grow, grow, grow...


Christi said...

At first I thought you were telling my story except for I was always pleasing my father and I married that guy. Now, I tried for 4 years to make that marriage work for I never believed in divorce, but it just fell apart more so after the birth of our son. I rebeled at 26, divorced, and found myself. If I wouldn't have been down that road I would have never finished my education (which I quit on several years before). Got my job in a law firm and have not meet the love of my life, which we are going to be tying the knot on 8/25/12. I reflect on my past and how I got to where I am today. I never regret any of it and am finally where I always thought I would be.

I am a new follower and can't wait to read more. Thanks for sharing.

Whiskey Tales by Beach Waling in the Desert said...

This was an absolutely amazing post! Thank you for dropping by my blog and inviting me over here to visit. I am so glad I did, because your writing style is wonderful. I'm adding your blog to my reader and I am going to give a good deal of thought to the question of "the decision that changed my life."
~Maria @ Beach Walking in the Desert

Millie said...

This is a beautiful and inspiring post and exactly what I needed to read today. I am so happy that I found your blog at the Happy Aloha Friday hop.

I am looking forward to following your blog. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Anonymous said...

Hi from Richly Middle Class. I am coming over from The Friday Hop. Have an awesome Friday. Please come check us out as well.


Christina Morley said...

I want to follow both your blogs, but I'm not sure how to follow the other one.

Thank you for this beautiful post!

My husband and I both believe in championing women. We were a part of a denomination for about 10 years that frowned on women preachers, but my husband didn't hesitate one moment when he told the group that Joyce Meyer was his favorite teacher. I still smile just thinking of it! :)

We share a blog called Real Church Life at

If you're interested in my thoughts on women in ministry then go to categories on the left-hand side and with the drop-down click on women in ministry and then be prepared to be blessed! :)


Kat said...

Hi! I love your blog! Following you from the Aloha Friday Blog Hop! I would appreciate the follow back! Thanks! -Kat

Empowered Momma J said...

Speechless...amazing...inspiring and post. You followed your heart and gut and stood your ground. Now you are with your true love. Thank you for sharing.
Thanks for the follow, I gotcha back.

Unknown said...

wonderful post-so much fun to blog hop and find blogs that inspire and are interesting reads. new follower to you and here is to making ourselves happy as well!

TracyZLesh @ Then I Got To Thinking said...

Leslie, what an incredible story. I can't imagine going through what you did, especially as a natural born "people pleaser". I loved how you described it - truthfully, I am the same way. I have always wanted to please others, sometimes at the displeasure of myself or what I need. What a journey you've been on - listening to others reveal their insecurities, hurt, and trying to comfort and encourage them. You have such a wonderful life story. What a beautiful life story. :)

Kristen @ The Chronicles of Dutch said...

Wow! What a beautiful story. So touching. I'm also a pleaser and only now, at 32 and with help from my husband, have I started doing what I want and not making apologies for it.

Go, us!

Tanja @ Postmodern Hostess said...

What a beautiful, insightful post. Thank you for sharing your story!

Once upon a time, I too left a very nice man who did nothing wrong (and blogged about it here), and I'm so glad I did because of all the ways my life has changed for the better. I'm sure that life with him would have been really nice, but it wouldn't have been the life that's best for me, and the one I've since been able to find.

Congrats on making such a tough decision, and for seeing the many positive things that came from making it!

Barbara Bussey {The Treasured Home} said...

Hi Leslie,
Oh, the choices we make, especially in our youth! I stood at the alter saying to myself, "I don't think this is the right man for me", but I didn't have your courage, earlier on, to stop the train and get off. Part of it all was knowing, or not knowing myself. There should be a "class" on that in school!
Enjoying your blog!,

Anonymous said...

What a BEAUTIFUL post! After reading it, my heart is in my throat. Your courage is an inspiration. I need to return to this post and read it often. I have a piece of paper pinned to my bulletin board, right above my computer, on which I scribbled, "Live your own truth. Life is really short."

Thank you.

Holly @ Down to Earth Style said...

Leslie...this is the first time to read this entry. What a smart woman you are...creative, smart and real! Helpful and very true. Getting older is great in the way we can look back and see our life more clearly - even understand ourselves a whole lot better. xoxoxo

Tamera Beardsley said...

Leslie ... what a fabulous post! I am enthralled with your story ...

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