Thriving is a lofty goal sometimes. Sometimes, when living in crisis mode, survival is what you must shoot for. I had a counselor tell me once that our bodies were designed to withstand short bursts of stress but not long bouts. And if you’re living in a difficult marriage – battling daily the effects of abuse or addiction – you, my friend are in a long bout. You are in crisis.
I met with someone recently who is in a difficult marriage and she shared with me that she realized, after talking with a few other gals who are also in difficult marriages, that we all cope with it in our own ways. Tell me if any of these sound familiar to you:
You might have taken up drinking, to numb the continual pain.
You might have developed an eating disorder, to attempt to control at least one thing in your life.
You might sleep more than the average person, because you are emotionally exhausted and it’s depleting all your resources.
You might, as I did, have acquired super bad habits in the area of anger, either for the obvious reason that you are just so angry all of the time, or for the lesser obvious reason that you are scared or sad and outbursts are the only ways you know how to express your pain.
There are so many other ways, as well. Shopping, flirtations, sucked into the life of romance novels and soap operas, and on and on I can go.
But I am here to tell you that those things may stop you from feeling the pain for a few moments, but they will not restore your marriage and they will never heal you and your broken heart. In fact, these things will simply drive the pain underground while the issues get worse, and you will wake up in a couple years even more fractured than you are right now.
So I am saying this with as much love and gentleness as I can: STOP. Stop whatever behaviors you are entwined in that are pulling you farther away from God and farther away from wholeness.
I am not saying this like it’s a piece of cake. I know how hard it is to stop something that brings relief or that you’ve been doing for years and years and comes as naturally as breathing.
It will be difficult and will take strength and courage. But you can do it.
Pray. Ask Jesus to help you overcome this, and to fill in those empty spaces with new, better, holier, healthier things.
Tell someone. Tell a trusted friend, mentor or counselor about the issue you’re struggling with. The moment you say it outloud, it loses most of its grip and power over you.
Listen, your life is hard. You have got to trust me when I say that I know that. And I also know the temptation to just let the tide take you under so you can skim through the next however many years until one of you dies. But that is not life. That is not the abundant life that Jesus is calling you to live, even in your hard circumstances. You were made for life. You were made for wholeness. Please get the help that you need to become the light you were intended to be.