it has been three years since the walls of my life and my marriage started crumbling. we had laid a very faulty foundation on which we built our life together. and while we are both guilt of having laid a poor foundation, i am the one who rushed construction, throwing up walls here and there. masking imperfections. sweeping dirt under rugs. constructing a beautiful facade in which to hide. i did this with my marriage. my life. my heart. more of a mirage than a facade, because what others saw was not just deceptively beautiful, it ceased to exist as you moved closer to it.
after a divorce, there are reconciliations to be made. with family. with friends. with God. with ourselves. out of our great love for our children, we easily reconciled our relationship to one of friendship and as co-parents. reconciliation with God wouldn't come so easily. for either of us.
the end of our marriage was a battle. emotionally. spiritually. we had been caught in a repetitive cycle of trying and failing and giving up and trying again. like my relationship with Christ, chris and i went through that vicious cycle - of confession and repentance and then, inevitably, failure - my failure - more times than i can count, each time more brutal than the one before. until there was nothing left - nothing for him to give - nothing for me to take. until we were both standing in the midst of the rubble of our life together and each waving our own white flags of utter defeat. and then, we retreated. he, into anger and bitterness, and me, further into darkness and shame and failure.
the finality of divorce came as a great relief. i now envision two soldiers at the end of a battle, barely alive and waving their white flags of defeat and surrender. relief washes over them as they realize they are actually going to live. that the war is over. but this relief is temporary and as it fades, the reality of the loss sets in. wounds begin to heal, but the magnitude of the loss will remain and often, becomes unbearable to face. so we don't pause to reflect. we rush to move forward. to put as much time and space between ourselves and the past as we can, hoping the distance of the memory will somehow diminish the pain it created.
i think, in some ways, i naively believed that God would somehow, finally leave me alone now. that i had somehow disappointed Him past the point of His forgiveness. i would be own my own, able to choose my own path for my life. it was my first legitimate taste of so-called 'freedom' and yet, it didn't feel like freedom at all. in fact, it felt just the opposite.
for the last year, i have busied myself with life, my kids, with friends, exercise... with anything and everything i could. i moved at a pace that never allowed for a quiet moment. i couldn't bare the thought of lying still. i was terrified that of what that moment would bring. and of what i would feel. i didn't want to feel anything. i used everything and everyone in my life to self-medicate and avoid anything below the surface. if i was hurting, i wouldn't let anyone, least of all myself, become aware of it.
needless to say, no one can move at such a pace for too long. and the moment that i paused to reflect, to allow myself to see even a glimpse of my own heart, it was even worse than i'd feared. and the heartache was compounded by the resounding reality of finality. it was too late.
i was divorced. i was a single mother. these are the circumstances - no, the consequences - that i would have to live with, that my children would have to live with. indefinitely. maybe forever.
i did what i do best: candy coated this harsh reality for myself and for others, making it shiny and sweet. i consoled myself with how much worse things could have been or could be still. and this worked, for a time - from time to time. but it was clear to me, as it had been for years, that God really was not going to leave me alone. "i - we- have made a terrible mistake", i finally, reluctantly confessed to Him - and to myself - one night in prayer. yes, you have. it wasn't an audible answer, of course. nor was it harsh, but more of a simple, emphathetic nodding - the same way i imagine a real father, like chris, would comfort his daughter, like our chloe, after realizing she had made a tragic, life-altering choice.
He ached not only for me, but with me and i felt it. but i also felt something else. something that had been foreign to me for some time. hope. "hope only in Me", He said, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (Romans 12:12 NIV)
joyful. patient. faithful. hope. affliction. prayer. i contemplated these words. affliction. check. i had one out of six down... i'd have to work on the others...