First of all, I want to lament that I lost an iPhoto library. I think I accidentally deleted it. Kaput. Gone. Into oblivion…or Bolivia, which is what first came to mind.
Now, I know that what I am about to talk about will not illicet a lot of comments. I know that some of you may not even like what I have to say, but it is all I can think about today. So, I will share it in hopes that God is glorified and that by some chance it encourages a fellow sojourner. Mind you, I am going to be very honest here.
Exactly one year ago today I asked my husband to leave until we could figure this marriage thing out due to evidence of his extramarital affair. He never came back. I was tossed aside like trash in favor of a woman he had met three weeks earlier. We had built a life together. Not a particularly lovely and fulfilling life, but it was ours. I had the expectation that I would be with him until I died. Things were so hard, but I knew that God could be glorified and that there was always hope. When I realized what was going on I called one of my best friends and said, “If you’re 99.99% sure that your husband is having an affair or about to have an affair, do you fight for your marriage [which is the right thing] or go ahead, let it happen so I can be free of this?” See, I told you I would be honest. Are you shocked? My very close friends know what my life was like. I did not give up. I was hurt and angry, but I did have hope for awhile. I even called him while he was at the beach with her and said that I believe our marriage is worth fighting for and that I love him. He did not share that sentiment.
I am not writing this to tell you of the ways he failed me as a husband. I failed him as a wife and friend in many many ways. I didn’t adore him as he needed to be. I held bitterness in my heart toward him. I never truly forgave him for the hurt he caused me. I did pray for him, but certainly not enough. Sometimes I wonder if I would have prayed more if that would’ve changed the outcome. I was angry. I was not always easy to live with. I’m sure my friends can attest to more of my shortcomings, but I didn’t come here to talk about how we failed one another.
I’ve come to talk of the faithfulness of God.
I don’t remember what I’ve said before so bear with me if I’ve repeated some. Lots of encouraging words have come my way in the past year, but honestly, if it wasn’t an email or instant message I won’t be able to recall it as easily. I talked to countless people those first few weeks. I was covered in prayer. I am so thankful for that. Thank you for bearing my burden with me. One friend wrote, “You are not alone. And you are beautiful. You are loved, truly and deeply.” I did not believe him. He still says those things to me and I laugh, but not out of disbelief. Around that same time I wrote this to my dearest friends, “Again, I am fully aware that [he] and I may never be back together, but God can change us both in such radical ways that we will be unrecognizable. New creatures. I am walking in faith and believing the victory is the Lord’s even if I don’t know what that ‘victory’ may look like. God fought Gideon’s battle, I expect Him to fight mine. I am scared. I don’t like not knowing what the future will hold for my children and me.” It is true. It is not my battle. At this time I do not seek nor desire reconciliation, but as I read that sentence I find no room for objection. My lovely sister-in-law gave me this word, “God put his words in my mind – “Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.” Strength will rise as we what? Wait upon the Lord. I don’t like waiting. Here’s on last thing I’ll share with you that I wrote to my pastor during that time, “Oh, I wanted to share a picture the Lord gave me. I saw complete desolation of the land after a fire or volcano and how black and charred everything looked. There was no beauty in that. However, underneath the destruction there was a little seed that only germinates in such cases. It begins to grow. Those places begin to grow all kinds of vegetation and the wildlife come back. Within a few years it is hard to imagine that there was nothing there. I’m holding on to the idea of that little seed in my life. Hoping it will grow.”
Guess what has happened? A few weeks ago that picture came to me again only there was some vegetation growing. It was no longer desolate. I am no longer desolate. I am growing and changing and God is making it all beautiful. Not me, but things in my life. There were countless times that I’d say to God, “Hey, will something grow here? I’m waiting. I’m tired of hurting! Are you listening?” He was listening and I am still tired of hurting, but the pain is not as sharp.
Oh wow. I just remembered that my friends brought me meals for a bit. That was amazing. I’m sure my kids were so thankful since they were left to fend for themselves while I felt like I was dying. Something in me was dying. But it had to and now I feel like I am coming alive. It’s like the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. It has to be totally broken down and made into something new.
Today a friend told me I inspired him. A few months back another friend told me she thinks I’m amazing. All I can say is that it’s all Jesus.
Oh, one more thing before I go. First, go listen to this song, then come back here. We sang this in church one day and I this picture came to me. I’ll give you a little background then go into the picture in my head. So in the beginning my friend asked me “Who are the men in your life that fight for you?” I didn’t know what he meant so he said, “How do I fight for you? I give voice to your needs before God. Intercession, lost art of the warrior. You will also know that a man fights for you when he speaks Gods word over you. In order to recognize that, you’ll need to know God’s word to you.” In light of that, here is the picture.
This came to me in a form of storyboards for a movie. The background is white, the drawings are rendered in charcoal. The people are in stick figures. First scene: Tight shot. The setting is a battle field. There I am in a fetal position in the center of the battle. There is a sword and a shield lying next to me. My eyes are tightly shut. My friend is standing next to me brandishing a sword in his right hand. In his left is a shield that is over me. Next scene. A bit wider angle. There is a battle raging. I open my eyes and see the destruction. I am scared. I will not move. My friend is still standing over me speaking to me, but he is listening to someone he calls the Captain. He’s passing the Captain’s words on to me since I can’t seem to hear the Captain clearly. Next scene: Wider angle. The Captain is dancing around us and He is singing. I incline my ear. I still can’t quite hear him. My eyes are on the battle. My friend is still talking to me and telling me to look to the Captain. I am not in such a tight ball, but I am still lying on the field. Next scene: My hands are slowly reaching out to my sword and shield. I am beginning to hear the Captain for myself. So I listen more intently. Next scene: I am on my knees, still clutching my weapon. I am watching the Captain and listening. My friend is still speaking the Captain’s words. I can hear both. Next scene: I am up, back to back with my friend. Fighting the battle. My eyes on my Captain, Jesus, my ears inclined to His song. My friend still speaks the Captains words to me and I to him.
Isn’t that what we do as brothers and sisters in Christ? We bear one another’s burdens? Others, besides him, have walked with me in this. I am so grateful. I have made a few new friends who are as faithful as though they have always been with me. Many older friendships have grown more tender and intimate. Godly men have come out of the woodwork to speak life into the lives of my children. I have learned to not hide so much. I still hide and I still hurt and I still do foolish things. But I am learning something. I am learning to climb. When I feel stuck on this journey I just continue to climb. Sometimes I sit for a rest and let others fight for me, but I eventually get up. I am thankful for this past year. I am not who I was.
I feel free. I feel alive. I’ve even felt happiness and joy for the first time.
In the past year since my husband has been gone my life has drastically changed. Hope is more real to me than ever before. I have spent month walking in faith that the things He says really are true and desperately hoping that I get to see them come true. Faith is real. Hope is real. The Captain, my Refuge, my Protector, my Friend…He’s real.