Sunday, December 27, 2015

Of death, trust, and fear

I've been home with my parents visiting for about a week now, with one more week to go.  I simply couldn't face the idea of Christmas spent with my husband, who no longer wants to be my husband, pretending that everything is ok so my kids could have a good day.  Maybe it was selfish to take them away for two weeks over Christmas and New Years.  Maybe it wasn't.  Either way, it has meant that I'm not dealing with the death of my marriage alone.  And for that, I am grateful.

I wish I could express how stormy my heart is right now.  I'm riding this crazy ocean of peaks and valleys, and the waves of grief are tossing me around pretty intensely.  In one moment I feel like my heart will never recover, in the next I feel like of course God hates divorce, but perhaps He will use this to bring someone stable and Godly into our lives way down the road.  In one moment I feel completely hopeless and fearful, in the next I remember all of the little ways God has shown His care and provision along the way.  I feel intense anger for the instability my kids will now have to face, and intense gratitude for their uncle, godfather, grandpa, and friends who will be there to pick up the slack and show them what a Godly man looks like and how how a husband and a father should be expected to be.  It's a giant mess, basically.  My heart.  Full of contradictory and ridiculous thoughts and feelings.

One thing I know for sure is that I'm in the overwhelming process of mourning.

I'm mourning the loss of a husband that I have loved for eight years.  I'm mourning the loss of the instinctive trust I put in people because of my husband's infidelity.  I'm mourning the loss of a stable family for my kids, and the knowledge that both parents will be there when they go to sleep and when they wake every day.  I'm mourning the loss of the man I used to know, who has been replaced by a complete stranger who is bitter and hateful and cruel.  I'm mourning the girl I used to be, full of life and spirit and confidence.  I'm mourning for my husband's heart, because I'm watching it turn to stone and ice right in front of me.  I'm mourning the loss of a lot of things.

It feels overwhelming and scary.

It appears that the Lord is going to use this situation to ask me to learn how to do something that I've never done particularly well: trust that even though nothing is stable, and I have no idea what the future holds, that He will take care of me.  I hate not knowing what is going to happen.  I hate surprises.  I hate mystery.  I want to know what lies ahead of me both literally and figuratively.

That's a luxury I no longer have.

You have no idea the level of anxiety that produces in me.

I believe that this isn't what God wants.  I believe that He means it when He says that no man should separate what He has joined together.  I believe that He mourns with me, that He would have restoration and healing where the devil would kill and destroy.  I believe that this is not His will, but that He will absolutely bring me through it and bring good out of it.  This is a situation brought on by sin and unforgiveness, selfishness, and lies.  None of those things come from the Lord, so I can't blame Him for this mess.  I blame myself.  I blame my husband.  I blame the devil.  But I don't blame God.  He has made sure I've seen His hand and His mercies along the way.  I believe He is reminding me that even if I can't see where this road will take me, that He does, and He is already preparing the way.  That my kids and I will be ok.  Better than ok.  Maybe not now, but some day down the road.

I never thought that my life would hold this.  I never thought my husband was capable of any of this. It breaks my heart to watch the man that I love give up everything that made him good and amazing and kind.  It breaks my heart that my actions had any part in helping him along this crappy dark road. But I can't take responsibility for anyone's heart but my own.  I can't do anything for his but pray. Pray and tell myself that this isn't a nightmare, it's reality, and I can't ignore that it's not going to work out the way I hoped it would.

I'm struggling to trust the Lord.  I'm struggling to believe with my heart what I know with my mind. God isn't like my husband.  He is never fickle.  He is never cruel.  He will never leave me or forsake me, no matter how screwed up or depressed or broken I am.  He will never withhold forgiveness or the chance for redemption.  He is not going to leave me hanging with just the bare minimum amount of effort or provision that He has legally required Himself to provide.

He is abundant and great.  Loving and kind.  Merciful and just.  He has hope and a future for me no matter how bleak it looks in the moment.  My Daddy will work even this for good, because He loves me, and I love Him.  I just keep praying that He will help my unbelief.  Take away my ever-growing trust issues and help grow my heart in trust and the knowledge that He is bigger than all of this garbage.

I have a lot of fear.  I'm scared of what this will do to my kids.  I'm worried that their lives will be unstable and scary, that they will feel responsible no matter how many times I tell them otherwise.  I fear the probable poverty that they and I will now live in, and the struggles that will bring to them.  I am incredibly scared of dying alone.  That no one will ever find me worth loving the way I have always hoped to be loved.  I worry that my daughter will never fully trust her future husband to stand by her no matter how hard life is because her father didn't stand by her mom when things went from better to worse.  I worry that my son will not feel the weight of his responsibility and the weight and holiness of his marriage vows and quit when it feels like there's just not enough in it for him anymore.  I worry and worry and worry.  Worst case scenarios play like a silent film in my head almost constantly.

I don't yet know how to surrender all of those fears to the Lord.  I don't know how to loosen the death-grip I hold them with.  I don't know how to get over any of this.  Or even how to start.

I suppose I now have plenty of opportunities to learn, and for the Lord to show me how to trust Him and how to give it all to Him.  I just need to remind myself that I'd do anything, and I will do anything to make sure that my children's lives are beautiful no matter what happens.  And I don't possess even a fraction of the love of my Heavenly Father.  So how much more will He do anything for me and my kids?  I wish that there were no ashes for Him to create beauty from, but I know that He will.  I'm choosing to believe that He will.

Lord, help my unbelief.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015


Ever since I was a little girl, I had a rebellious response to hurt inflicted by those I love.  Whether the hurt was intentional or not, if I felt it deeply, if it felt like an attack on my inherent worth as a person, I put up a wall fortified by rebellion.

Let me explain what I mean by that.  When I was a child (I can't have been older than jr high age), my mom took me clothes shopping.  We were having a good time, trying on clothes in the Kohl's dressing room when she made a small, offhand remark that I'm sure she immediately forgot.

"You'd look so cute if you lost five pounds!'

My poor mom.  Mom, if you're reading this, don't worry- I'm not holding any of this against you, it's just my earliest memory of putting up rebellion-based walls.

Anyway.  It was one short sentence, but it echoed throughout my heart like roaring thunder.  I heard "You're not cute now.  If you want anyone to love you, you need to lose weight.  You're not good enough the way you are."  And in my heart, I made a vow.  It shouldn't matter if I lost five pounds.  It shouldn't matter if I gained 50.  If someone couldn't love me for who I am rather than how much I weigh or what I look like, they simply weren't worth my time, energy, or consideration.  And that vow set me down a path of doing exactly the opposite of what my mom suggested.  My weight is still, and probably always will be, a huge struggle for me because I spent so much of my young adult life rebelling against the sentiment that my value was measured by my weight or beauty.  I gained weight and gained weight and gained weight but I didn't care.  If the right guy couldn't love me despite that, he wasn't the right guy.

A wall fortified by rebellion.

I'm thirty one now, and I still do this.  It's an incredibly unhealthy defense mechanism, but incredibly hard to break.  It's playing out similarly, yet differently now.

I love my husband.  Despite everything.  I want to fight for our marriage.  I want to do everything I can to make things better.  But the fear... the fear is crazy.  It says "What if he only decides to stay and fight for you because you were being a 'good little girl,' and the second you lose it, he will leave again?"  It says, "He should love you and be committed to you no matter what!  Screw him if he's not! How dare he expect you to be perfect when he has done so much damage!"  The fear shakes my heart and  yells that vulnerability is foolish.  That he has no right to be angry because of my anger.  And so, when I'm longing to be vulnerable in a tough moment, there's this battle going on inside of my heart. The old voices scream "If he can't love you when you're weak and depressed and exhausted... if he can't love you when you are struggling and need love and support, then he isn't worth it.  Push him away.  Make him show you his true colors.  If he doesn't want to fight for you even when you are being a straight up crazy person, he's not worth your heart!"

So I put up walls.  Fortified by rebellion.

And then... when my husband doesn't scale those walls, I'm left wondering if they had the desired outcome.  Did they actually protect me?  Or have I hurt myself further?  Not my husband, but me. Have I hurt myself?

Here's the thing I'm coming to realize.  My walls don't keep the pain out.  They don't create a barrier that pain and hurt and disappointment simply bounce off.  They keep it locked up with me.  My walls give that pain no where to go.  No where but deeper into my heart.

It's not been an easy lesson to learn.  In fact, I'd say I've just barely begun to chip away at some pretty big, bad habits.  All too often I respond to pain or fear with harsh words that are meant to push the man that I love away.  Because I'm scared that if I try to draw him in and he rejects me, that I may not make it out whole.  I'm scared to be real, and let my brokenness be seen, because I feel like it's part of the reason that we're in this mess in the first place.  That my struggles and brokenness and depression were just too much to handle.  A perfectly played assault by the devil, really.  Get the girl who doesn't like to be weak to show her weakness, and then use that weakness to create cracks in her marriage due to various circumstances, and then deal the death-blow.  Get her husband to reject her because of her weaknesses.  Because of her brokenness.  Because she simply couldn't be strong anymore.

Please understand- I'm far, far, far from perfect.  I've inflicted as much pain as I've sustained.  I totally know this.  The difficult part of humanity is that we are only able to see our side of the story well.  We can try to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and feel their pain, and understand why they acted the way they did, but it never sticks quite like our own pain.  So hear me when I say that in my brokenness I was not a very good wife for the last part of our marriage.  I was barely there.  An anxiety-filled, exhausted, strangely rage-y person who should have taken herself to the doctor to talk about postpartum anxiety and depression way before I finally did.  A story about the wounds I've inflicted I will save for another day or this post will never end.

What I'm getting at here is that I know my worth.  With my head.  But when those I love make me question it, it hurts.  A lot.  And I don't respond well.  Instead of bringing that stuff to the Lord and asking Him to take it, I build up huge walls.  But they have never actually protected me.  They've never made me strong.  In fact, they've weakened me because I'm so busy trying to keep those voices out, trying to shout over the din that "I AM worth it!  No matter what you say!" that I have completely missed the still, small voice of the one that truly matters.  I've been so angry and so adamant and so rebellious, that my heart is never still enough to hear the way He sees me.  It's never quiet enough to hear Him tell me of my worth.  And maybe that's the worst part of all.

How many times have I simply shushed the Lord when He wanted to tell me that I was beautiful, or kind, or precious?  How many times have I stopped up my ears while He was whispering that sometimes strength is letting yourself be vulnerable even if it may hurt.  How many times have I missed Him telling me that I am a daughter of the Most High King, and I am loved by the One who is not just good enough, but the best because I was too busy building up those walls?

Regret is a pretty debilitating force.  And I have quite a lot to regret.  All of those walls, all of the rebellious tantrums, and all of the times where I simply chose not to turn to the only source of truth, acceptance, love, and the only being in existence who truly, truly sees me and knows my worth.   The thing is, I think I've chosen destructive coping mechanisms long enough.  I'm not going to add regret to the list.  At least I'm fighting not to.  Just like I'm going to have to start tearing down the walls I've built, and fight against my urge to continue to build them in this situation.  Which is going to be a huge struggle, and it has been.

I am trying to remind myself that when the people I love most in the world hurt me, it is probably because they have been hurt too.  And I can add to both of our hurts, or I can ask the Lord to help me choose love and mercy and grace.

I want to choose the latter.  I'm going to fail more times than I would like, but I really want to choose love.  Not rebellion.  Why would I want to rebel against a Daddy who has provided me with every good thing, and who loves me beyond what any mortal man is capable of?

Life is messy.  And painful.  And grief isn't rational.  But God is bigger than all of that, and He's certainly not left me.  I know that none of this is what He wants.  That He grieves with me.  And that's why I can say that I'll be ok, even if I don't build any walls and am still rejected.  Eventually I will be ok.  Because He loves me.  He loves me, and my worth is in Him.

My worth is in Christ.