Cleaning my house is something I detest in life. I put it off until absolutely necessary. Some women like it, I am not one of them. I dream of being rich enough to have an Alice. Remember her from The Brady Bunch? Instead, I was on my hands and knees along with my husband who took the day off to help me prepare our home for guests who were coming over for my 46th birthday party.
Going through a stack of papers stuck in the corner of my office, I came across an old yellow spiral ring notebook. In an instant, I knew exactly what this notebook was. I haven’t seen it for seven years. It was my journal I kept from December 2008 to March 2009 (before I started my blog) and covered the months leading up to my first husband leaving my home, marriage, and life.
Leafing through the pages casually at first I was taken aback. Whoa….I was desperately sad and lonely, I was desperately clinging to God to keep me alive. My plan was to save my marriage. I fought so hard and was not giving up. I thought that made me honorable. My first husband had already made his mind up to leave though. I know now that I was fighting a losing battle. Which meant this soldier was getting pretty beat up.
As my Harry stood at the sink, washing dishes, casual leafing turned into earnest reading of the journal aloud.
“Sometimes I don’t want to live anymore. Heaven seems so much better. And I do simply want peace.”
It’s been so long since I’ve truly felt welcome. All I feel is tolerated, not loved. So I yearn for more.”
“Im trying hard to just keep taking it all in and trying to figure out what else I have to change in my heart to know what else I have to do before this horrible feeling of isolation and rejection will end. I feel so unnecessary and unloved.”
“Night is so, so hard. Everything seems worse. And he just is so good at pretending I’m not there. That is the worst part, feeling invisible.”
“He bought wine and cheese for tonight – special cheese just for me. It was nice, my heart is sad but my hope is strong. I’m awkward around him because I don’t know what to say to him. So what I said was a bunch of small talk mostly. I asked him if I could hug him. He’s been hugging me hello and goodbye so I thought it would be okay. But he said, ‘What for?’ in a voice that was not inviting, so I just said, ‘Never mind’ and walked away.”
I stopped reading and said, “I’m sorry you don’t want to hear this.” And My Harry said, “No, it’s interesting, keep going.” So I did.
Page after page, word after word, it became more and more obvious to both of us how intense this time was for me. And how much my first husband had already shut down. As I read, I got choked up at times and stopped to say, “Wow, I forgot how sad I was.” I felt so sorry for this woman I once was. Often times when I read things I’ve written years before, I want to reach down and tell this woman who was suicidal, that things would get better. Much better.
“I feel like such a nuisance and this THING that won’t go away when he hopes and prays that I would. That is why I am suicidal. It just seems the easiest way to get him what he wants…but the kids. I don’t even care about myself. He told me I robbed his life and he regrets marrying me and everything I wanted I failed at. It didn’t matter the caring I showed, the hugs I gave, the love notes, poems, pictures, encouragement, in finding good deals, researching things, helping everything related to the kid’s school and the kid’s health. None of it matters to him because he wishes I was never a part of his life and that I would just disappear. But instead of raging like he expects, I am here. Doing more, helping more, loving more and he thinks it all for him, so he’ll stay but he’s SO WRONG! Sometime I want to be in the flesh and get mad and yell and logic says in my mind he totally deserves it. He doesn’t get why I’m loving him. It’s not because HE deserve it. He doesn’t. Not at all. It’s just because of Jesus. If it weren’t for Jesus I would be so gone. But Jesus died for me and I in turn died for him. My life is not my own. I gave it to the Lord and before the Lord I made a promise to my husband before my family and friends and I have not one desire to fail in my commitment. I’m praying every day, at every moment it hits me. That pain in my stomach, every time I feel the absence of a body hug or caress or a kiss. Letting go of all expectations but keeping my own tenderness in check. It’s hard.”
“He walked into our bedroom this morning after sleeping on the couch and I realized I would be ok if I lost everything. I won’t melt. I won’t disappear. I’ve never allowed myself to entertain much thought of him deliberately leaving me and not being my husband anymore.”
“I love him, but I give him completely to you Lord. Have your way with me and keep me pure in thought word and deed.”
“I have peace, I feel like a tide is turning in me, a letting go – not of fervent prayer for my husband but of holding onto the thing I wanted, instead I want what God wants for me and will trust His plan that will complete His purpose. Today I may not feel loved but there is always the amazing hope for tomorrow in Jesus Christ who is so mighty and powerful and thankfully MERCIFUL. I thank God for His love that is never ending, steadfast, unshakable, unstoppable. Like the song says He is great in battle, wonder, king over all the earth.”
“I have lost my respect for him. He has failed me. I have no more illusions of him realizing his error. Not now. Not when he can plot his escape to leave while his family holds onto any thread of hope. You should hear my son and his confidence in the Lord that his Dad will honor his commitment and not leave. It’s so sad. I’m so sad.”
Remarkable to remember in my own words. I forgot how much of a spiritual battle I was in. I really didn’t want to fail the Lord. I thought giving up meant I was failing God. I struggled with holding onto every last hope possible. To be honest, I would do it the same way if I had to do it over again. Because at the end, I was able to hold my head high and tell my kids that I gave him every opportunity to choose to stay. It’s was my only choice. Until he chose to leave.
“There are days like today when I “get” and even “look forward” to being alone, starting fresh. Why not? But it’s not brave to quit. It’s not brave to say you can’t see a way to do what you said you would do. It’s brave to trust God and his promises. Because it takes faith instead a lack of faith. It’s easy to have “not enough”. It’s WAY harder to say – I don’t know how but I trust you to change my heart and that this is the best you have for me. I will not look at what tempts me from the world. I will not entertain worldly solution to a problem that has to do with the spirit!”
“Something happened to me the day he moved out. He went from being in my mind and heart my husband who I was dedicated to beyond measure to someone who crossed a line that I don’t know anymore if he can come back from. Not the man I thought he was. I have been accentuating his positive points for so long and would never even let myself go to a place where I really let myself see what I didn’t have. God gave me a contentment in who he was as a husband and a man but the day he took his clothes out of our house against the tears, pleas and requests from his family – Something died that day. And I literally feel like what God was shielding me from got lifted and I began seeing him for what HE WASN’T instead of what what he was.”
I continued to read the kind of man my first husband wasn’t. It was hard for him to forgive – he held grudges and was passive aggressive. He was in a constant state of self-restraint and my silly kooky self felt almost stifled by his personality. Not being able to say, “Who cares?!” led to a robbing of a childlike joy I had in my spirit. He was pleasing to the point of servant-status but did it for all the wrong reasons. His actions were pleasing – he needed to please – but he did it out of his own compulsion. He didn’t do it because he wanted to be loving to me as a man leading his home in love. He always subjugated himself to me. And he clearly was not putting God first. He put his own choices and needs before his commitment to God.
And I deserved more than that. I deserved a forgiving man, a man who would celebrate my uniqueness as a person not stifle it, a man who could lead in love and understanding, and a man who love the Lord above anything else.
At this point, my Harry put down the dish rag and walked around the counter to me sitting on the bar stool. He spun me around to face him and kissed me soft. He put his arms around me and then kissed me harder. As we kissed, I could feel his tears flow onto my cheeks. I could taste their saltiness. We put our foreheads together, both of us in tears, and holding my head in his hands, he almost growled,
“Know that I will always love you to the core of my being, and you will never feel alone like that again.” My face was contorted. I hadn’t had a shower, my hair was a wreck, I was wearing the shirt I wore the day before and had gone to bed in. But here he was looking at me as if I was the most beautiful treasure in the world. I remembered the pain, the despair. I realized the hope I clung to, the God I had prayed to, and the faith I held onto with every grasp of my being had led me through to this moment. I said weakly,
“I know. And I didn’t know it then, but you were the one I wrote about. You were the man I dreamed of. You are what I deserved in the first place and this is the best birthday present ever.”
We were sniveling but smiling and clung to each other in the deepest most intense embrace. My life was a disaster and God pulled me up from the rubble one day at a time and led me to a man He had prepared for me. I would never have imagined it then. But there is true Joy that can come from mourning. Life from death. And Light from darkness. If we don’t lose hope and keep ourselves in check to honor God with our lives, then, even in pain and disaster – HOPE prevails.