For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.... for my hope is from him. ~ Psalm 62:1/2, 5b ~
Sometimes we need the rumble... and sometimes we need the silence.
In and after trials the silence may help us to assess and process.
IN the trials, as we are often undone, we have the wonderful opportunity to see how God, in fact, holds us together.
After, we can digest and begin healing.
Eventually, however, it is time to testify.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.... ~Psalm 40:10 ~
I have started, so many times, to type this post. However, the pain was still too close. I know some will challenge what I am about to share. There will be a full spectrum of thoughts and injections. I finally feel strong enough to welcome the discourse though, whether for or against what I have endured. So here goes...
For the sake of space and time, I must condense my story. As a writer and lover of words, this is not easy. It could be summed simply by stating:
Girl meets boy and feels desperate for love and companionship. So desperate, in fact, she is willing to overlook certain behaviors. She was not a Christian at the time, but she was devoted to making family and home.
Boy meets girl and he was looking for an escape. Recovered addict, he knew that staying in the city he had lived for nearly 27 years would steal his soul and, perhaps even his life.
Fire and Ice.
I was raised in the Midwest in a traditional meets modern family. Most of them not Followers though most were devoted to tradition. I had older aunts, uncles and grandparents who stuck-it-out in their marriages and modeled servant hearts and devotion. My parents had divorced when I was young and while I had a rounded life when my mom remarried early, I still longed to recreate something more stable than weekend parents and a split existence with all the emotional strain involved.
He was raised in the Pacific Northwest by two wild and free Easterners. Extended family was nowhere near. His tumultuous childhood abruptly ended when the toxicity of family life devolved to divorce in his early teens and he was forced to grow up young. Abuse, abandonment and the path to addiction clouded the years most kids look back on and remember first loves, first dances and dreaded school exams. He had no model to follow. Nothing which exemplified love and devotion and perseverance. Only emptiness, leaving and crutches.
This was us.
Yet both of us wanted family. Me, for what I had seen modeled and him, for what he never could grasp. In our lost and wandering ways we couldn't have understood the unity and companionship the Trinity models as God plants these desires so deep within our being.
From "I do", on, our life together was always a roller coaster. The bad was often pretty rough: him detaching from us, gravitating to new addictions, namely gaming, and me self-isolating and trying to fill the voids for our children. We disagreed on more than we agreed. But we always found a way.
Early on, Jesus grabbed my heart and, again, the short-story version, HE saved our marriage and grew me to become a better wife. Not perfect, mind you, but one striving to serve and love better.
Ten years after my YES to God came his. It was God's answer to my daily prayers for a husband I could pray with and a new challenge to learn how to live with a man who I suddenly had more in common with than less.
Living in missions, raising and homeschooling 4 kiddos, doing life... we were good at us, mostly. But then the hurt.
Church abuse, human rejection, and job roller coasters piled on once uprooting and resettling outside of missions. Slowly the tug-of-war resurfaced. His denial and dismissal when I tried to approach an issue and my shutting down and switching to self-sustaining mode. As midlife set-in and the big 25 approached, our coping mechanisms seemed more strained than ever, especially when new life-stressors correlated to this transition of life. Soon after his 50th birthday, for the first time in all our years of ups and downs together, of sticking it out together, I heard those dreaded words, "I want a divorce."
If I could count on one thing in our unreliable life, it was that he would always 'be there'. After experiencing abandonment he always swore allegiance. Yet, here we were. I took these periodic statements at the end of an occasionally bad fight as an empty threat. Loosing Christian community left us with no support system. Family problems had me questioning which downward spiral was feeding which.
For two years the push-and-pull persisted. His focus shifted to self-pursuits and my coping came in aligning more with the kids than with my husband. Unbeknownst to me, this direction only compounded our problems and fed both of our feelings of isolation.
I tried to coast.
I tried to believe that if I just kept plugging ahead, seeking personal growth in God and continuing to try and serve my family, all of the problems would work out. By fall, however, feeling marginalized and rejected by my husband coupled with the stress of starting F&H Publishing and putting out my first few books.... PLUS getting a puppy and all the training that involves.... all of life's other stress piling on made me grumpy and even more distant.
Add to this, our arguments were not resolving and instead began to fuel my husband's dissatisfaction.... and then it all came to a head.
There is no easy way to say this. I don't want to over or under state but the simple truth is: infidelity crept in. Him feeling abandoned by me as I threw up walls to cope with feeling dismissed by him and the additional life stressors going on primed the ground for walking out all the wrong. We were spiraling downward. He was tired of coming in second so he started to search for someone who would put him first.
Without reliving and rehashing the trajectory of that period I will say this much: God prepared me beforehand and it is to Him alone I must give all credit and glory.
For 25 years hubby and I had done the dance of isolation and rejection. Perhaps midlife was what changed the game-play for him. For me, however, I leaned harder into the ores of prayer and study. God gave me resources and passages and taught me how to stand strong when the ground all around was shifting and folding. He taught me, too, how to fight for my marriage with grace leading the charge.
I'm so grateful He did.
It has been 4 months now since my husband and I hit, what we call, the "reset" button. For the first time in all of our years together, we are finally learning how to be a healthier WE. He is listening better, willing to self-assess and compromise appropriately. I am learning to prioritize him better, speak up when I feel hurt and let down walls when I am feeling insecure. Our combined actions are helping us to be more open and realistic, to stop problems in their tracks before they can fester and fuel bitterness or resentment.
Are there trust issues as a result? Yes. In the beginning they ran quite deep. He had a hard time understanding the depth of betrayal I felt.... and I had to fight constantly to not relive the hurt or let mistakes keep us from moving forward into healing. Each week and month that passes by, however, proves our 'new' to be truly well rooted and right-focused. God has not stopped guiding it all.
I'm not justifying infidelity. I fight bitterness on a regular basis. I could have been unfaithful, but I wasn't. A spouse should never give up on praying for and fighting for their marriage, so why did mine? But the fact is, there is no point in "blame" and bitterness. God doesn't point blame once forgiveness is sought. He casts our sin "as far as the east is from the west". He clothes us in grace. He admonishes, "Go forth and sin no more", NOT, 'Go and find blame and keep reliving the past'.
Forgiving what society says is unforgivable is the true measure of Godliness. It is the truest reflection of a most enduring and loving Savior. And honestly, it has been the most liberating release as we move forward.
WE have moved so far, in fact, I agreed to do something I swore I never would:
We got matching tattoos (his idea!) as a symbol of our devotion and re-commitment. First and last and done for one reason only: to magnify God's grace and goodness. We have already had opportunity to share our testimony a few times and our deep devotion to have NO escape hatches (i.e. the "D"-word or infidelity) but rather to work things out, no.matter.what and no.matter.how.long it takes.
The silence, for months, has been the process of pain and of healing. Of thinking my life was being torn away to healing from that tear and watering deeply into the new before I let myself be 'out there', authentically, for the www to see.
David endured much, made mistakes, repented, renewed and found great blessings. God was gracious to him and in the end, David's stance? Testify. Don't leave the lessons in our heart alone, rather, share them, that others may see the hand of God working and come to know Him better as a result. Our mountains after 26 years together were impossible to scale.... then God took hurt and turned them all to rubble... producing something so much better than any of my prayers could have imagined.
Are we perfect yet? No. That is impossible until Eternity. But God is still good and He is not done working.