I’ve been living away from my home and my husband for four months. And today is Christmas. I’m in Brian Head, Utah with my sister and her family. Nine feet of new snow has fallen since we arrived. It was supposed to come with howling gusts of ominous wind but instead, it ever so gently covered us with a blanket of pure white powder; each flake uniquely created. And there were billions of them.
Since I’ve been away, I’ve had days where I defiantly denied my pain, denied my fear and chose instead to live completely in the moment. Other days, I wallowed in bed for hours unable to dress, eat, or sometimes even to think clearly. A numb mind and heart were easier to cope with than the fierceness of my rage, desperation of my heartache, and boldness of my undying love for my husband. And when I say undying, I don’t mean the kind that is applauded for at the end of romantic movies. In my mind my husband is undeserving of the loyalty of my heart. This love was of a stupid woman who couldn’t see the facts for what they were and chose instead to remain fused to the thing that caused so much hurt.
It’s almost unbelievable to me that I have been gone 4 months without him in my daily life and yet so much of my heart is unshaken in its yearning for his presence. One tiny sign of him going toward recovery and it’s as if the chances of my winning the lottery have gone from 1 in 500 million to 1 in 10. HOPE is eternal in my heart for this man, for him to see what is truly good for him and to stop all the things that he did in secret that hurt his life with me. But that is what I want…I don’t know what he wants.
Why this unfailing love? Why when time and time again it would be proven wrong? Freely offered, and as if to thumb my nose in it, harshly rejected with each revelation of wrong doing. Despite his declaration of love for me …his actions continue to walk and sometimes run in the direction opposite anything remotely restorative and toward a bottle instead.
This furious battle wages within me. The days I am able to feel a sense of freedom are strong days. I go out. I meet new people. I work out. I listen to a nice band. I speak to a nice friend. I run. I let myself imagine a life without more pain, more destructive behavior, more rebellion against God. Maybe even a healthy, strong relationship, blessed by God. The weak days are days I witness from afar the destruction that alcohol can do in a person’s life. It rips my heart to shreds. It leaves me weak from attempting to will it away on my own or through other friends who I recruit to do my bidding.
And then, I’d hear about something he’d done from someone who didn’t want to hurt me but thought I should know…and my mind would scream at my heart…”you fool. You utter fool!”
Three weeks ago, I told him again how done I was. How this time, I would not even entertain the thought of coming back. I would be moving permanently to Nevada to start a new life. I said the words. I meant them at the time. I mean them now. I do.
My heart is like a game of tug of war. The day I moved out I was determined to win, but had no idea how it would play out. At first I pulled harder to free myself. Then my love for him pulled harder, I listened to his tears, his cries for me to come home…my own heart who missed him. Then confirmation would come that I was right all along and we were clearly not on the same team and I had to fight again for my self-respect, my dignity, my sense of well-being, my health. And it’s been like that for four months. But this time I really do mean it. And he knows it. I know he knows it because he’s stopped asking me to come home.
A friend told me the word he hears me use often when I talk about my day is “distraction.” And he’s right. Everything I’ve done since I moved out has been an attempt at distraction. The distance. The entertainment. The exercise. I’m trying to deny what I know to be true in my heart. Even though I moved out four months ago I still haven’t left him.
I’ve said all the right things. And my actions have matched my words. So my question is…why is my heart taking SO LONG to catch up?
I feel like I’ve been dumped off a boat in the middle of a storm and this shiny new boat has come to my sure and safe rescue and for some reason I keep allowing myself to drift back to the embattled vessel from where I fell.
Today, the sun came out for about an hour in the afternoon. The Christmas presents were stacked and the paper discarded into trash bags. The Christmas music replaced with the familiar playlist of my favorite tunes. I decided that I needed some alone time with NO distractions. Just me and God. We had some things to sort out.
I bundled up to brave the 9 degree weather and forged out on my own. The snow crunched under each step but that is all I could hear besides a faint howl of the wind moving between the trees and my own breath. I asked God for help. I asked God to show me what I should do. Should I reach out for this new life and keep swimming in that direction? Or should I try to save what surely seems so helplessly lost at sea? As I walked I looked out over a valley of evergreens. As the sun lowered onto the horizon I could see the glint of each of those snowflakes as they lay on the ground still frozen as perfectly as when they were formed. Some of them were tossed up into the breeze and they flashed like glitter in the sky. And I had my moment with God.
He didn’t audibly speak to me but this was what I understood. God loves each one of us as unique as we are, just as we are, no matter what form we take. No matter how many times we reject him, hurt him, or deny him, He loves us still the same. He wants us to be whole and accept the victory and forgiveness he offers in Christ. But He gives us a free will to make our own choices. I’m making mistakes. My husband is making mistakes. We all make mistakes in this life and some mistakes have dire consequences. We have to live with those. But God loves us still. He will never stop. And just as God loves us unconditionally, it is ok for me to love my husband that same way. It’s ok that I still love him. It’s ok for me to admit that I do. Because that kind of love is the love that wants the best for him. That is the love I have for him. I’ve always loved him that way and I always will.
And God showed me what a picture that is of His love for me. How many times have I thumbed my nose at His free offer of love and chosen my own path instead? Too many times to count. It left me humbled and grateful.
My heart can love my husband. My head can know that I should move away from him because he is choosing to remain in dysfunction, and I can move toward something that offers promise and heals my wounds. It’s God’s job to do the saving not mine. It’s my job to honor Him with my choices and live the best life I can knowing only what I know; making mistakes along the way because I am the human and he is the God. I’ve heard this before, even in my own mind. It was nothing new to me…but today it was very clearly expressed. As Elsa says, “Let it go.” Yes I went there for some poignant comic relief.
God also gave me a very firm conviction that I need to also keep waiting. Even though four months feels like forever and I want to move forward with my life. He told me – clearly – not yet. He didn’t say no, he didn’t say run back to your husband, but he said wait. I don’t know why, except that when I left I told my husband I would give him a year. Maybe if only to put a clear line between my past and my future, He wants me to honor what I said. A year won’t be until next September. What could God do with another 8 months? And will those months feel like howling gusts of ominous wind, or will they be like the snow of this weekend, gently covering me with a blanket of white? Will it be different for me if I’m walking in purposeful obedience?
Standing on that hill looking out at the magnificent beauty that God created, I know that nothing is impossible for God if it is His will. God is bigger than I can imagine. The intricacies of each snowflake alone should give us all the confidence we need. If God can make each one so unique and perfectly formed, we need to trust Him that He is who He said He is, and He is the one with the power. SO I’m choosing to believe and trust His prompting on me today. I don’t think it will be easy. I’m going to have to count the cost of obedience and trust it will lead to something I will understand later.
The angel told Mary in Luke 1:45 “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” I can only hope I can be a woman who believes and will be also be blessed.