Back when my first marriage was hanging by a thread, had someone said to me, We need you to agree to the following: eight adults will know every detail of your life and marriage; you will have to meet with two counselors, two mentors and a mediator weekly, along with the elders from time to time; we will give you lists of things to do to become a better person, Christian and wife (that you really should try to follow); and we think it’ll last about six months but probably longer and we really can’t say yet but we will occasionally stretch deadlines to give the Holy Spirit ample time to do his work and it will end up being fifteen months of living hell. You on board?
I would have said, No way. I’ll stay in this marriage as is. I can’t possibly do what you’re asking me to do. Nope, not in a million years. I’m done. And I’ll just shut up about it and learn to live in this pain. THIS PAIN has got to be better than the pain you are asking me to willingly walk through.
(Sidenote: there are two kinds of pain…useless, harmful pain and productive, healing pain. I was being asked to trade one for the other for a season.)
You see, I thought I was at Point A and I just needed to get to Point B to be healed. (My sweet little naïve self.)
I was right about one thing. I was definitely at Point A. Point A being utterly and completely broken in an utterly and completely broken marriage.
But the destination of healed was not Point B. Oh no. It was Point Z.
In fact, at the end of my fifteen-month church-led reconciliation attempt that ended in me being released to legally separate, well, that wasn’t even Point Z. Nope. That was maybe, oh I don’t know, let’s say Point H or so.
And my divorce date all those months later wasn’t even Point Z. That was maybe Point L or M.
In fact, all these years later, I’m still not at Point Z. (Point Z is when I’m with Jesus face-to-face, in my opinion.)
But here’s my point in all of this:
I wanted the pain to stop. And I wanted the pain to stop NOW. I wanted to be healed. And I wanted to be healed NOW.
But, my sweet ones, here’s what I know now that I didn’t really know then, something I have lived through and learned the hardest, hardest ways:
There are no shortcuts in recovery. You can’t rush your way to healing.
Yes, there are miracle, instantaneous healings in the Bible. Yes, I was even healed from my allergies several years back.
But my experience – and most of the experiences I’ve been privy to of other people – is that healing, especially emotional or relational healing, is not a NOW thing.
It is a slow process, uphill, in one direction, with missteps and stumbles back into who we are trying to move away from being.
It’s one conversation at a time. One appointment at a time. One meeting at a time. One teeny tiny choice at a time. It’s saying big and little yeses to good things, life-giving things, and saying big and little no’s to not-good, life-taking things. And not to be all cliché-y, it’s one day at a time, one moment at a time. Truly.
It takes work. It takes self-discipline. It takes more energy – for a time – to learn to do the right things when you’ve been so used to doing the harmful things, especially because the harmful things not only felt normal to you, they maybe even felt good.
It’s seeing the big picture. It’s trusting that you are not who you were just yesterday, but that you’re not quite yet who you’re going to be. It’s learning to be okay with not really being able to tell that you’re changing and growing and healing from one day to the other, but trusting that when you look back after a time, you’ll be able to see it.
And that’s all okay.
It’s trusting that even the tiniest bit of forward movement is causing angels to celebrate.
It’s trusting that you are not alone.
It’s trusting that you are not who you think you’ve been all your life (fill-in-your-blank with whatever horrible words you’ve been telling yourself).
It’s choosing to learn to believe that you are loved, and precious, and gifted, and filled with purpose.
And it’s trusting that God will finish what he’s started in you because he promises to.
I don’t know how long your healing will take. I am pretty sure you won’t feel all better tomorrow. But I can tell you this:
If you keep doing what you’re doing that’s landed you in the messes you’re in, you and your life will only progressively become worse, and sadder, and more unhealthy.
BUT, if you start today, with even the tiniest different choice towards light and life, and then you take another tiny step tomorrow towards light and life, you and your life will absolutely become stronger and more whole and more beautiful.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. -Philippians 1:6
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Thank you. Again. Another post written just for me, just for today. I want healed NOW. Yesterday, actually. All this yuck will be worth it when we reach Point Z with Jesus.
There is so much truth here as I am 1 week away from my final D day (at least I hope it is my final day and I get a divorce decree). For the last 10 month I have been allowing the Lord to heal me – two months at the beginning I was in complete rebellion drowning my pain in sin just to feel better – feeding the flesh made me feel better, but it was killing me at the same time. The Lord in His amazing fullness of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love started to show me in his Perfect Loving way that I didn’t have to feel this pain. He revealed to me that I will be someone’s biblical wife (which if you would have told me that a year ago I would have said – Um. .. NO WAY! Never again!). The Lord has softened my heart and begun to shine the light into the darkness that was my past and present to help show people His love.
So, each day I take step by step. I am much further a long than most because I dove straight into contentment and now am studying how to have a covenant relationship with Jesus. He revealed to me the other day He has some things he wants to show me, which always scares me because that means it is going to be a crazy ride, but totally worth it. I know I am “Set Apart” as a daughter of the One True God and I want to be where He wants me to be NOW, but there is so much more work that needs to be done. As soon as I think I am ready, he says, “Shhhh. I love child, there is so much more work that needs to be done before you are ready to serve. . . just keep allowing me to heal you.”. . . Thank you Elisabeth, thank you. Your encouragement is always well received!
Hey Elisabeth — this blog is RIGHT on. I admire how you walked it out. I was reading your blog and listening to you as I felt you were in my ear and circumstance when my marriage was in a pit. Mine however, there was a change of heart and my husband fully repented and came back to Jesus and eventually me. But God also allowed the heartache and hurt as I had idols and needed to surrender as much as my husband did. It has been 7 years since the dreaded phone call from the husband of the other woman — but we are beyond that. So now I have a question – from my perspective and what I watched you walked through – ( or what I read from the blog) it appears to me that you fought hard and exhausted every aspect. As far as your kids are concerned – that had to speak volumes. That when you face Jesus one day — he will say – “you did well”. I mean, I truly believe that your former husband could of made different choices and your marriage been restored – but it did not go that way. And… God has brought such beauty from your ashes — and I applaud you as you have used this media to help so many. So — again, I think you have blogged my answer already. I say that cause that is what my bottom line is to any and every women I counsel with now — I remind them they must seek counsel and mentors — but bottom line to seek God and DO what He asks. I have seem some awfully dead marriages come back to life but I have also cried and prayed with other wives that indeed, fought hard but their husbands just continued to hurt and defy what I know God asked of them. Anyway — just wanted to respond. I am going to be sharing your blog — and I loved the illustration about being at point Z – in heaven. I think I am about to ….S or T…. I realize the enemy will continue to throw darts but there is such healing — and it has taken time — amen BTW – please update my email link — LOL. Or I will!
Well said and I can really relate. 6 years post-divorce and I’m so much better, but I’m crying as I write this because of my kids and the ways they still hurt me and my loneliness. Keep doing what you’re doing.
I’m so very sorry, Alora. So painful.