By Kenneth Justice
By Kenneth Justice
~ This past week at coffee I’ve been hanging out at new café in my area and the assortment of people I’ve met has been totally unusual to say the least. Yesterday a mid-50ish Orthodox Jewish woman sat down at the table next to me and immediately started asking me questions like, “So that’s a nice computer, what kind is it?” and “So what do you do for living? I am a….”
When I told her I had recently returned from the Caribbean she excitedly volunteered the information that she too had spent the last week in the Caribbean (a different country than I) and it wasn’t long before she began talking about her recent divorce, “It’s been almost one year to the day of my divorce,” she said, “After 25 years of marriage my husband decided he was female, he divorced me and moved out to live his life as a woman” she said
If it wasn’t hard enough to deal with the dissolution of more than 20 years of marriage to a husband that she had no inkling whatsoever to this side of him; because she is Orthodox Jewish, “We in our community still practice matchmaking and I can pretty much kiss goodbye the idea of any of my children marrying another Orthodox Jew……while we haven’t been kicked out of the community, there isn’t any family that will offer their son’s or daughter’s up for marriage to my children because of my ex- husband’s current lifestyle”
As the woman talked about the various intricacies related to all that had happened, her eyes became glassy a number of times, “Shortly before the divorce I suffered a heart attack and much of my body was paralyzed for a period of time…..I’m not sure but I think a lot of it had to do with all the stress of what was going on with my husband” she said
However, what stood out to me the most about this woman is how joyful she was, I even said as much, “I don’t get it, you seem so joyful and happy. What’s your secret I asked?”
“You’ve got to accept life and move on” she said, “There’s no point in me allowing all that my husband has done to me wreck the rest of my life…….hey, you don’t know of any 50 year old Orthodox Jewish men do you who are looking to date” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
Her husband moved out of town a couple years ago and yesterday, after not hearing from him in more than a year he sent a picture-text of himself as a woman to their teenage son……the boy had never seen what the father looked like and there was no explanation, no sentences, just a picture of the father….she showed it to me on her phone, “Can you imagine how my son feels. We’re all trying to accept the choice their father has made and out of the blue he just sends my boy a picture of him looking like a woman……its sh*t like that; if I obsess over it I’ll go nuts, so I have to take a deep breath and move on”
I’ve written a number of articles in recent months about disappointment, the dissolution of dreams, and failed expectations. For young adults like myself (even though I’m approaching forty I still like to think of myself as a young adult) we’ve been told our whole lives that we can do anything we want. Consider for a moment popular sayings in our culture;
—-) “The world is your oyster”
—-) “Just do it”
—-) “Be all that you want to be”
And while on one hand I would never want to shatter people’s dreams of grandeur……yet if we aren’t careful our ostentatious dreams could be setting us up for a big-time letdown. This woman I met yesterday was looking forward to a simple life; marriage, children, a nice little business that she ran……and everything seemed fine until that one day when her husband announced that he wanted to be a woman.
Can anything truly prepare us for a moment like that? I honestly don’t think so……and what it comes down to is our ability to stay grounded in the reality of the here-and-now and acquiring the ability to accept the hand that life has dealt us and move on.
My own life has had many ups and downs and if I’m not careful it’s easy for me to become fixated on the ‘downs’…….yet the true measure of our maturity is how well we accept and handle adversity. It’s not that we will never ‘mess up’……sometimes we might end up dropping a curse word at the wrong moment. But how well we pick ourselves up and move on with our life will determine the direction our life takes in our ongoing journey.
I appreciate meeting joyful people and it was nice to chat with the woman yesterday; she’s one of the most joyful people I’ve met in recent months……..”What can I say” she said, “I can only trust God that there is a purpose to all this and move on with my life”
Time for my morning coffee,
If you haven’t heard I’m currently on a national and worldwide tour of coffee houses meeting with readers and bloggers, my next stops include Atlanta, St Louis, Chicago, Philadelphia and more. Click on the Home page of my website for dates and locations.
Categories: Culture & Society