There were things I refused to think about. I struggled to keep my memories compartmentalized. If I focused on the good stuff and turned a blind eye to the barely tolerable, I figured I could keep the status quo. But once in awhile, the things I tried to keep secret, even from myself, would seep through the cracks in my resolve. Late at night, sleep would elude me as I whispered desperate prayers, begging God to help me. And rescue me.
“Please, God. Show me what to do.”
Relationships have ups and downs, I told myself. The cruelty that made me cringe and shrink back echoed the self-doubt and insecurities that often occupied my thoughts. There was an element of truth in every accusation.
I used to argue with him. I am NOT stupid. I am NOT worthless. But eventually I gave up. Resigned myself. I couldn’t change what he thought about me or how he treated me. He decided my worth. I damned myself to the emotional and verbal abuse I must have deserved. I asked for it. Didn’t I?
He shoved. I stumbled. He spit. He shouted.
Oh, the messy parts of our stories can be painful to talk about, write about, and even remember. Sometimes there is no way to wrap it all up in an easily digested, blessedly resolved grace-filled palatable package. My marriage was messy. My story is equally messy. In spite of my prayers, God did not ride in on a white horse bearing a sword to rescue, reconcile, and redeem me, my husband or our marriage. At least not in the way I hoped for, prayed for, and preferred. Because God hates divorce, after all, doesn’t he? And that must mean if I were to divorce and escape an abusive marriage God would hate me, I reasoned.
My marriage failed but God has not labeled me a failure. In my brokenness I did not find a condemning God but a loving savior who heals broken people. I found his grace in the middle of my mess. I found the freedom only he can give.
There’s a fine line between wallowing and remembering for me. The remembering is best done on my therapist’s couch. A glance back gives me plenty of fodder for my blogs usually without the wallow. It’s hard to look back and embarrassing to write about. But in reflecting I can see how far I’ve come, how far God has brought me. I get a glimpse of what God has done while I’ve been reluctantly traveling through the valley.
I found hope in God when there was no hope in my life. The important things, everything I worked to preserve to keep me secure and safe, were taken away. Layers have been peeled back; wounds and insecurities have been exposed.
Each step and challenge, each revelation has been preceded by dragging feet, embarrassing amounts of whining, floods of tears, and sleepless nights. And that was just yesterday. But I am learning to put my hope and trust in God and not my shifting circumstances.
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55
The freedom I found in leaving my abusive marriage has not been the “and she lived happily ever after” part of my story but the “once upon a time” part. It has been a new beginning with a renewed faith and the assurance that nothing can separate me from God’s love. I am finding the freedom to let go of the labels put on me by others and accept the label God gives me: daughter of the King.
There is the literal freedom I have found.
“He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” 2 Samuel 22:48-50
The restoration, redemption, and reconciliation that God offers us in the middle of our messy lives may not be what we expect. But Jesus’ promise that we will be set free is for all of us, whatever our circumstances.
“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32