Question (from Facebook community): “How about the moment when you realize all you’ve missed because of how dysfunctional things were? How do you deal with losing who you were?”p since they didn’t realize I didn’t see it the same way from the inside. It was one dear couple who finally confronted me since both of them just couldn’t sleep after seeing how my husband treated us.
Living in a difficult marriage changes who you were supposed to be. It occupies your thoughts in a way nothing else does. My mind is so much emptier now (I mean that in a good way). What I mean is that I was always filled with racing, obsessive thoughts, always trying to untangle what felt unsolvable. I had headaches. I had anxiety. I was depressed. I had trouble sleeping. I had heart palpitations. It was the monkey on my back. It changed me. It took life away from me. I not only missed out on who I was as a person, but I’m sure my life circumstances would’ve been vastly different in another scenario.
So the first step is to grieve the losses, even if they’re ongoing. Each of us will end up with a different list but there are a few very specific and painful things that I know I gave up. I have had to give those things to Jesus. I have had to trust that God’s sovereign will was still being worked out in me and my life even though I felt like the life I was living was the wrong life. You know your list. Sit with it. Hand it over.
Secondly, acknowledge God’s sovereignty. At one point, during a pivotal decision in my marriage about our family’s future, I was broken-hearted over something that I had to lay down, something I had thought God was leading us to do but that I was told no about. The Spirit reminded me loud and clear that if I thought someone could thwart God’s plan for our family than I was giving that person too much power and credit, and not giving God enough. Somehow, his will was going to get done.
Thirdly, remember that God is a God of justice. Joel 2:25a says that, “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” He can turn anything around. He can use anything. He can refill. Just ask Job.
Fourthly, you can look at this new life of yours as a blank slate. I love the movie “Runaway Bride” (not why you think). I love that Julia Roberts’ character, once she realizes that she has sort of melted into each of her almost-husband’s personalities, goes on a hunt to figure herself out. One of the best scenes is where she has made every single kind of egg dish there is and she determines once and for all, her actual favorite way to eat eggs (because up til that point, she’s been eating them the way each of her fiancés were). This is that time for you. Rent videos that you want to rent. Go to museums and plays that you want to see. Take little trips to destinations that you want to go to. Learn who you are. Figure out your favorite eggs, darnit!
Lastly, hold onto some hope for what God has for you. Psalm 27:13 says, “I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” I believe that in our lifetime, God will allow us to see some good things come out of our hard things. I believe nothing bad happens without a super good reason backing it up. I believe in second chances. I believe in fresh stars. I believe in redemption.
Let me wrap up with some words of one of my current favorite songs, Someday, by JJ Heller:
One day you’ll feel the sun/ Warming your callused skin
The ropes will come undone/ No more wars left to win ]
Someday my dearest friend/ Someday though I don’t know when/ Oooo you will live in peace
Your battered heart will soar/ Your wounds turned into wings
No one will keep the score/ You wouldn’t care anyway
May you see redemption/ On this side of heaven, my friend\
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.