Alone

I met a young mom the other day quite by accident. I had prayed and listened to her over the past few years as she struggled in her marriage. She told me how her husband had taken her out to dinner and told her he didn’t want to be married anymore. He came home and told the children that Daddy didn’t love Mommy anymore. The kids were devastated.

Then he filed for divorce.

She is struggling because hasn’t date in so long and doesn’t want to. She said she is lonely and afraid she will die alone.

She told me she would rather go back to the verbal abuse of her marriage than live this way.

He’s treating her nice now. He’s spending more time with the kids with the visitation. He grumbles but doles out his child support.

She said if only he could have been this way while they were married, then maybe. . . .

I have a couple of things to say about this.

  1. She didn’t choose the divorce. She knows she messed up in the marriage and is counseling for that. He didn’t want to do the work. He made the  choice.  My suspicion is he is not a Christ-follower. My hope is that others will give her grace and not let her divorce status, something she did not seek or want, be a negative mark to her identity.
  2. She gave up going to church. I encouraged her to come back. Worship. Be with other believers. She won’t feel quite so alone.
  3.  I gave her information on Divorce Care and another support group of women that gather socially. She hadn’t been sharing much with any one out of shame – so she was missing key resources that could benefit her.
  4. She was borrowing trouble from the future. “I’m afraid I will die alone?” That could have happened while married too. You just have to die when no one else is around. The fact is, we can’t predict the future and will she grow old and be single? Well, a lot of widowed women do it too and survive. Being single is not a death sentence.
  5. This woman’s grief is still raw. She has a long journey ahead of her.
  6. She may be alone but her kids finally get a dad who is paying attention to them and she is finally being treated with respect. It’s sad that she would trade that for the agony and abuse she had experienced, just so she wouldn’t be alone in bed at night.  She’s in a place many divorced women would envy.

I’m pro-marriage. I really am. The fact is, just because we choose to stay and work on our marriage doesn’t mean our spouse will. Sometimes the choice is taken out of our hands. Sometimes a door slams in our face and God gives us a clear way out of the marriage. As painful as it is to let go of what is familiar, my prayer for this young woman is that she can embrace the good things she will learn and gain from this time as a single mom. She’s not alone. Ever. And she doesn’t need to distance herself from her church family either.

Work hard for your marriage, but realize that it takes three. God is working with you towards reconciliation, but your spouse has a role to play in that too an if he drops the ball and walks away from the game, it’s over and no on wins.

Someday, that could be you or me. I would hope for love and compassion should that happen just as I would hope for it now by staying. Our paths are unique as we seek to obey God. There is no one way to walk this path in a difficult marriage except for this: Obey Christ and seek to honor and glorify Him in every aspect.

Blessings,

Lilly Grace

Abuse of Emotion

I often felt alone, even as a child, even though I had several siblings quickly added to our family.

I was a girl, three boys followed and it seemed that they were more special than me. I also have two much younger sisters that came later.

My mom didn’t  know how to cope with my frizzy mop, or my hyper-sensitive nature. I developed asthma and I think now that it wasn’t due to allergies (although there is a component of that) but that it was due to anxiety.

I was told just how much my medication cost a month and how they couldn’t afford it. What I heard was “You are an unnecessary burden to our family and we resent you for it.”

Ah, the travesties of childhood.

I would walk a mile home from school and I can remember dallying on the way. Spinning with my arms wide open and looking up at the sky hoping that maybe, just maybe, God could see me and that in spite of messages I heard, HE loved me.

I was told later by my family that NO ONE would love me. I picked scabs (probably an obsessive-compulsive behavior as a way to cope with stress). I was told no one would love me with those scars.

In puberty I gained weight. Potato chips were a comfort food given early on when my mom didn’t want to deal with my emotions. No human comfort was available but food soothed. Then I got messages like: “She would be really pretty if she weren’t so fat.” I would be called “bubble-butt” and “thunder-thighs” and led to believe that my weight made me unlovable. Ah, but this wasn’t bullying in school. This was my daily home life.

As I struggled with depression as a teen I was told, when I fessed up to my feelings, that I was being manipulative, trying to get attention.

With all that rejection, there wasn’t much motivation to try hard. No one cared about my grades, or my successes. Getting a top score in solo-ensemble I was still told by my mother that I didn’t support my voice enough. Nothing I ever did around the house was good enough.

I’m a flawed human. That much was clear from early on.

Sometimes I think back to that little girl with frizzy hair and two pigtails that curled in frizzy ringlets who looked up to heaven for approval and I cry. God? Can you see me? Can you hear me? Is my picture on your refrigerator? Does anyone think I’m special?

All these years later I still struggle. It wasn’t “safe” for me to share my emotions, much less my hopes and dreams then. It’s not safe to do so now. Sharing emotions and dreams only leads to abuse from people who were “supposed” to love me.

And I struggle to be a healthy person in the midst of an unhealthy, emotionally abusive marriage. I haven’t found the balance. How do I experience my emotions in away that is safe for me? Holding them in and feeding them potato chips or sugar doesn’t make the problem better. Sharing them puts me at risk of more abuse. S0metimes I feel so needy and I”m afraid to overwhelm friends with that lest I find that they too are put off by me.

I’m not sure what the answer is. Sometimes I avoid journaling because I’m afraid of my feelings. I get discouraged at the chronic nature of my difficult circumstances. Will I ever NOT grieve the loss of a dream of a man would love and cherish me? I’ve come to the conclusion that no matter how thin I get neither him or my family will love me for who I am. It’s a losing battle to even try to curry their affection.

And God? He loves me just as I am. Right here. Right now. Muddied emotions, scars and flab. HE looks beyond it all and he values my hopes and dreams because HE placed them in my heart. He values my efforts to serve because HE called me and equipped me to do it.

Now if I could only get my head and my heart to live fully in THAT reality.

How about you? Have you struggled to deal with emotions in the midst of difficulties and lack of validation?

Lilly Grace

Husbands and Church

A friend was expressing frustration to me the other day about her husband who was not attending church. She said, “Every time he doesn’t come – that’s when he really needed to hear the message!”

I nodded my head. I understand. Totally. Then I said “Let me challenge you. Come to church and ask God to have the message be for YOU to learn and hear. Let Him deal with your husband.”

When all we do as women, is focus on the deficiencies in our men, then we have now made them our idol. Now often we think of an idol as something we worship and adore. But really, it is anything that predominates our attention and keeps us from focusing on God. That could be reading books, or watching sports or television shows or spending our time in certain activities. Even focusing solely on our fears, can make them our idol when they take our eye off the Most High God who is the only One who deserves our worship and attention. Anything that steals our focus from a life that is designed to be lived in service and worship to our King, Lord Jesus, can become an idol.

Even difficult husbands can become our idols.

So what do we do? How do we get out of that kind of obsession with our husband’s deficiencies? Basically, there are two parts to resolving this:

  1. Pray for your husband. Pray that God will do the work that needs to be done, and leave your husband to God to fix.
  2. Seek God with your whole heart. Not so that your husband can be changed, but so YOU can be changed. Let God meet you in your loneliness. Let Him take your hurt, and anger and resentment. Let God grow you in the image of the Lord Jesus Christ as you pursue holiness and a life devoted to Him.

That sounds simpler than it is. We are complex beings. Hormones and emotions can make it difficult. Living with someone day in and day out who doesn’t treat us as he ought (according to Scripture), is frustrating to say the least.

No one said it would be easy. Marriage is not about your happiness, it’s about reflecting God to a hurting world. Even in a marriage that is falling apart, if you choose to honor God with all that you are, you will bring honor and glory to Him, and find that your witness to the hurting and watching world around you will be even stronger because you are different, because you are faithful under adversity.

I usually attend church alone. I have to accept my husband’s choices even if I disagree with them. Those who know me best do not judge me for being solo. I do not have to carry shame when I go because I am not there to be seen and approved of, I am there to worship the King, and to serve Him. For those of you feel embarrassment over your singleness at church, please don’t. I understand firsthand the shame (which comes from our enemy) but give that to God and know that you have infinite value and worth in His eyes just for being who you are as His child.

I challenge you to chew on these things and seek God first and let Him be the husband to you that your own flesh and blood man cannot. Don’t do it to get the husband you want, do it to be the woman of God He has called you to be, and trust Him with the rest.

And in the meantime, we can pray and encourage each other on the way.

Blessings,

LGB

P.S. I am not advocating for a woman staying in the home with physical abuse. Please seek safety and get wise advice. Emotional and verbal abuse, please get wise counsel.