…..is a lie. It’s a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better, and it’s a lie we tell our friends and our counselors and our recovery groups and our next partners to make us sound healthier and yet more victim-y than we really are or were. We usually say it with a sigh and a shoulder slump to invoke further pity and knowing nods of approval.
I have never really done the best that I could. On any day of my life. I am human. And I am lazy. And I am selfish. And I am self-centered. And I take the low road. And I over-promise and then I under-deliver.
I let people down. I say that I’m loyal but then don’t show up emotionally. I say I want peace but then I revel in the drama. I say I love you but then I put myself before you, time and time again.
And I have said those words, “I did the best I could,” probably hundreds of times, specifically regarding my marriage. But I didn’t.
It’s deceiving when I say that. And it’s deceiving when you say that.
Yes, I tried hard. Yes, a lot of the times and on a lot of those married days, I did some right things, some unselfish things, some holy things. But then, also, a lot of the times and on a lot of those married days, I was mean, and I chose to hurt instead of keep my mouth shut, or I chose to not do what my counselor or mentor or that book said to do, because it felt better to do the more selfish thing or to maybe try to hurt back just a little.
I think we make our past selves better than they were. We were hurting and we made a lot of mistakes.
Why do we feel the need to build this false perception of our heroic efforts?
We didn’t do the best that we could while our good-for-nothing exes languished in their own sin. No. We both did some right things and we both did some wrong things.
And if we want to move forward in freedom, we’re going to have to look in the mirror and admit that. And it might as well be sooner rather than later.
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.
Absolutely! However, would you agree that this revealation takes time? When I was in shock and devastation “mode,” I wasn’t ready to hear this. In fact (in some sick way) I needed people around me to say things like, “you didn’t deserve this, it wasn’t your fault,” etc. It is so interesting reading your e-mails about your journey. Mine started 6 years ago, but the insights you have are still relevant! Thanks for sharing your pain and victories with us!
Gianni, absolutely…I felt for a long time that I had done the best that I could…it’s only been with time going by that I can own that I didn’t always.
well written and TRUE!
Been there, done that as well…now focusing on learning on how I contributed to the mess
So very true. And Gianni, I agree. Been right there. When you’re hurting, you need an arm around you to get you through to the place where you can begin to see the whole picture. Its hard for me to admit that I have played into this whole mess! I am so thankful for God’s grace 🙂
While I agree that this statement can be a precursor to a victim mentality, using the entire statement of “I did the best I could with the information I had at the time” is closer to the truth. So many women live in shame and being able to state that they did what they could with who they were at the time and what info they had at the time is absolutely true.
Certainly, all of us know that we could have reacted in a more positive way, we could have shown more grace, etc – but we may also have been deceived at the time and so the truth looked differently than it looks now.
Thank you Elizabeth. This is truth. None of us – ever – are without blame in the demise of our marriages. I know I’m not. I appreciate you going to these difficult topics that will inevitably get difficult feedback. Our marriages did not happen to us, we were/are broken participants in a broken marriage.
Elisabeth, I have benefitted so much from your encouraging posts. I think I get at what’s at the heart of this one, but I would state it a bit differently. As we are all sinners, we all contributed to the problems in our marriage. But the scripture says in Malachi 2:16 “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,”says the Lord Almighty.” God does not take the “it’s both of their faults” approach in this text, but recognizes that one spouse (the husband in this case) was to blame and actually committed violence on his wife by divorcing her.
I believe that I was faithful in my marriage to do what God was calling me to do. I was imperfect and unloving at times, yes. It was his choice to end the marriage. I was willing to stay and work out any problems on my side of the fence. He was not willing to work on his side or allow me to work on mine. I did not give up on him. He gave up on me. Did I do the best that I could? Yes, humanly speaking. Do I still have a lot of things to work on so that I can be in healthy relationships with others? Absolutely! Thanks for letting me share.
I am so very thankful to have come across your site on Crosswalk. I have always said that Crosswalk never has any “real” information for people truly experiencing tough times due to addiction , divorce, or other taboo realities in the world that Christians do endure. I was in a marriage for 22 years that I had to get out of due to drug addiction. Most of it was filled with rehabs, jail , and prison time and not togetherness. We did have about 6 years of the total 22 that was easy and full of good things such as church and friends with our 4 children. I have lost everything twice and still just trying to stay afloat as my ex is still in prison now due to addiction issues. However, after 3 years, he has convinced me to give give it another go. After a disasterous dating experience, and much prayer, I have decided to see if he has truly changed as he seems to have had a true heart change. My story is much too long to tell, but I just want to say thank you for writing to Crosswalk and letting others know that Christians don’t always have the ideal fairy tale life and despite this, our faith is just as strong as any other “normal sheltered” Christian. I am exstatic to have finally found a resource, a Christian resource.
Thank you for your blog, I am actually going through a Divorce and as much as I want to blame my husband – I also feel responsible for my own reaction to his bad behaviors (multiple affairs).
Probably there is no going back and I somehow have this fantasy that he will get better and realized that I am best thing and would never hurt me – but I know that its wishful thinking and that maybe the best thing is for us to go our separate ways. Neither have initiated the Divorce, but is only a matter of time. I am not sure that I can ever trust him nor trust myself to believe in him. When you loose complete respect for someone – even if they do come back the relationship may not work.