I emailed an old friend with some questions because I had a rough idea in my head of an article I wanted to try my hand at writing and I was looking for some insight from my past. He graciously responded quickly and thoroughly and in the middle of the email I read these words:
“The Beth I knew…”
And he kindly went on to share a concern. He said it respectfully and he said it because he cares about me, but those words caused me to catch my breath. Interestingly, they didn’t sting because of the context but because something very sad occurred to me.
Maybe he didn’t really know me, as close as we were.
Maybe my life was a lie.
Maybe I didn’t even know myself.
I’ve been thinking back to that time in my life and how fundamentally different I feel that I am now from who I was then. I mean, the big things – they’re the same. I still believe in God and that the Bible is Truth and that Jesus died for me and he loves me. I have the same kids and I love them fiercely. Most of my friends are the same and we love each other deeper and better than ever.
And yet, I don’t resemble the Pharisee that someone recently told me they thought I was back then. And I lean much more towards grace than judgment if there’s a continuum. And if you’re hurting and you need a hug or to talk, I’m much more likely these days to not really care about the details of how you got into the mess you’re in than I used to.
It hurts my heart to think that the person I was back then maybe wasn’t the real me. In fact, I’m not sure the old me would like – or at least wouldn’t understand – the new me. The old me would’ve judged the new me.
How many people did I mislead – myself included – in that life I had constructed while trying to keep my thumb in the dam?
And yet, there is some consolation. Because I think the me that I’m becoming is more like Jesus, even if just a little bit. At least I sure hope I am…tougher and stronger in some important ways, and yet more tender and gentle in the ways that really matter. And that’s all that I should care about now.
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Elisabeth, I LOVE reading each and every blog post. Your story resonates with mine. And once again:) I too could have been described as a text-book Pharisee:) Recently, thru prayer and study, the Lord revealed to me that he has given me a new name – mercy and compassion. I fully believe it is only because of my walk thru some difficult and dark, dark days that I can speak the words of mercy and compassion to others experiencing similar difficulties. So…keep talking sister, the world needs to hear!!
This is beautiful, Lisa. I’m so glad you have felt God give you a new name…just beautiful.
Elisabeth; I can most certainly identify with this. Completely. The old me definitely would have judged who I am today – and I’ve described that to others. It’s helped me to accept their concerns (and their “judgements”) by thinking: yes, I would have said the same thing to myself six years ago. Today, though, I accept these statements/comments with a gracious heart, understanding that we’re all on a journey, and once you’ve been through something as difficult as separation/divorce, your heart changes. Your responses change. You do become more gracious (or you CAN, I should say, if you’re willing), because you understand more vividly what it means to be treated with grace.
Thank you, again, for sharing these thoughts.
I so appreciate your blogs and being part of your self-discovery. So often your writing helps me to clarify my thoughts and emotions on this journey.
I am currently separated from my husband — but the challenge is that he is the one who began this process and yet he doesn’t want to get divorced YET. We have been married 32 years. He refuses to consider marriage counseling, and he saw an attorney before he ever told me that he wanted to separate. So we are living in the same house, separate bedrooms, and I am trying to live as Christ-like as I can in this situation. My husband is not a Christian, and I am on a merry-go-round of trying to decipher exactly WHAT God’s will is in this situation…. do I stay and continue to love him, or do I leave and try to carve out a new, albeit it a more financially difficult, life for myself?
But I think that this journey is to help us become more Christ-like. Like a snake, we are shedding old skins and becoming more patient, gracious, loving, and more dependent on Christ in the process. I hope that the woman I am becoming will be able to minister to others more effectively. And I hope that my faith will become deeper, my knowledge of the bible greater, and my compassion more encompassing. While I cannot change my husband (and how I have tried!), I hope that the changes in my life will be positive despite how sad and heartbreaking this journey has become.
Roberta, thank you for sharing a bit of your story with me. I’m so sorry for the painful turn your journey has taken. It sounds like your heart is so totally in the right place, trying to honor Jesus through it all. Keep walking the hard road. Elisabeth
Again, you write and I am blessed and I learn…I feel…I relate…and I understand. I share your blog with many friends – and this one deeply touched me.
I am a new person – now. I now see how I was and I don’t like that OLD self. Through a crisis of faith, through God’s grace and mercy….my heart was broken by my husband – but God healed it. However, I first broke God’s heart with my spiritual infidelity….therefore, I knew instantly, I had to forgive – much.
Anyway, thank you for sharing your heart and your wise words. God uses you!
Thank you, Michelle!
Great words, as always, Elisabeth. My parents were visiting from out of town this week and somehow the discussion came up about me being more quiet and reserved, but that I didn’t use to be when I was young, that perhaps I had adapted to fit my former spouse. It made me ask that same question….who am I? Perhaps the Pharisaical traits emerged as a negative coping technique to the challenges you were facing. And what is the true “us”, what we are now or what we were before life molded us? Perhaps the answer is…Yes. 🙂
Glad I found your blog today. I greatly identify!
Thank you, Jamie!
Oh, Elisabeth! Forever and eternally grateful for your blog here. A verse comes to mind –
Philippians 1:6. 2 songs – I’m Not Who I Was (Brandon Heath) and What If (Jadon Lavik).
I did not grow up in a grace filled home and have been such a judgmental person for so long. Basically, most of the things I have judged other people for God has let me experience in one form or another the past 5 yrs. especially. I am 50 years old and just starting to taste grace – it’s pretty good 🙂
You are a beautiful person and God is doing wonderful things with and in you. Blessings
Thank you, Rebecca!
Hello.This post was really motivating, particularly since I was investigating for thoughts on this issue last Wednesday.
Responding to this post again – received a “compliment” from my husband a few weeks ago – he said I was not the same person I used to be. Well, Praise God!!! Now, my husband doesn’t see that as a positive right now because it is changing everything. But that’s okay because the change will eventually be for the better for all of us. Keep up the good work!
Praise God for sure, Rebecca! Even if he didn’t mean it as one, I’m glad you can take it that way! I totally get it. -Elisabeth