The Desire for Exposure

I met with a woman a few weeks back who kept going over and over and over the abuses her husband was doing to her. I told her she needed to stop focusing so much attention on him. I said, “I know you want people to see him for who he really is, instead of the charming facade he puts on, but you have to let God deal with him.”

YES! She shouted. That’s it exactly.

I am so there. Sometimes I “leak” out my anger and I don’t always have a good handle on my resentment of my husband for what he does–or doesn’t do–for me and our children.

I wish I had words of wisdom to bestow about this because I’m still in process myself. I probably always will be as long as my husband is alive. I’m not delusional enough to think that the abuses will cease if we separated or divorced. I would expect them to get worse.

So we lick our emotional wounds in private, and maybe tell a few close friends when what we would really like is for him to be exposed for the jerk he is. Does Maury Povich still do those shows?

I do not want to air my family’s dirty laundry on national television. I do want my husband to be confronted with his sin. Oh, wait, he has been, but is unrepentant. *sigh.*

There is a very real struggle that takes place inside of me that wants to wallow as a victim because I’m so desperate for love and affection and someone to understand my pain.

Sometimes I rise above and can stand as a victor, but I have no magic formula for getting there. I have some ideas though:

  • Seeking a deeper understanding of who God is — all His attributes and how much He really does love and delight in me. (you will get this best by spending time in the Bible)
  • Spending time forging a life for myself apart from my husband and using my gifts and talents for God.
  • Getting therapy to help me think right about the world around me and my place in it, because my husband sometimes messes with that due to his own twisted version of reality.
  • Pray and ask God to intervene.
  • Share with safe friends my struggle, but also being aware that chronic marriage issues are hard for others to hear too much of too often. Their thinking is often “Well, just leave him then.” That is not always the answer though and I need to listen to God and God alone for that step.

The holidays are especially tough when we might be with people who will see the dysfunction and disintegration of your marriage. It is hard to not talk and defend your position while at the same time not badmouthing your spouse. It is hard to shrug off that cloak of shame because so many people paint you with your husband’s behavior – as if you are him. (You are not).

Cut yourself some grace this season. If there is something nice you can do for yourself–do it. Even if it is only coffee with a friend. Or a long prayer walk. Relaxing with a good book. Know that you are dearly loved and you are not alone in your struggle.

God has your back. He knows what is going on in your marriage and you can trust him to whack your husband upside the head. Just remember to duck and stay out of God’s way.

What Kind of Widow would you be?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few years past I read somewhere an article written by a man who asked the question: What kind of widow will you (a husband) leave behind when you die?

The suggested choices were :

  • Grieving widow, incapable of taking care of all she would need to in his absence.
  • Grieving widow who missed her husband terribly but would be able to move on and live her life.
  • Widow who isn’t grieving but happy to be released from her marriage by death.

Well, the ideal of course would be number two, wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t a man want to leave behind a woman who misses him terribly but can at least function in caring for herself, the house and car and kids? That she would have great memories of  husband but able to live a fulfilling life? This is the ideal.

This gets at the idea of legacy.

As a woman in a difficult marriage though, being that kind of widow is a fantasy. I’m sure I’ll be able to handle the challenges that I will face. But I will not be grieving the loss of my husband. I would be relieved to be free of the bonds of  a painful marriage and would grieve what it would do for the kids, for all that I never was able to have while married and probably be thrown into devastating poverty as well.

Well, Lilly Grace, this is morbid and depressing, isn’t it? Not really.  Death is one way God can free us from a bad marriage and no, I am not plotting my husband’s demise.

Now the opposite question could also be asked. What kind of widower do I want to leave behind?

Separation or divorce do not bring complete closure on the pain and difficulties of a bad marriage. In fact the difficulties can sometimes increase. But death is permanent. We have no chance to make amends then. Even if love is dead, can our words reflect the grace of God even if our husbands cannot see it yet? What kind of legacy will we leave?

Blessings,
Lilly Grace

Love in Action

I have not previously posted links to other blogs, but today is an exception: The simple wife.

The Simple WifeOn January 11, 2011, wife, mother and writer, Joanne, suffered a stroke. Her daughter found her. She spent time in a medically induced coma and is now coming out of it. This is certainly a tragic and difficult circumstance for her family. I am aware there are other people who are suffering horrific health issues: children with cancer, husbands who have lost their wives and children in car accidents and so much more horror and suffering that goes on in this world and that my heart grieves over when I read about them.

So what is so unique about this one? Why would I bring this blog and Joanne’s story to you? I share it, because I am so moved by the love and dedication of her husband, Toben. He has been blogging on her page about her progress and every time it brings me to tears to see a man so in love with his wife, even when she is totally incapable of doing anything to earn or deserve that love.

When I see love like this modeled by a human, fallible, man it does two things to me.

First, it reminds me of how far from that I am in my marriage. I grieve because I do not have that kind of love and dedication directed my way. It highlights my loss and I pray even more for this woman who right now has no clue how loved she is. She may suffer a brain injury, but in many ways she is much more blessed than I am, although some may question my own cognitive capabilities at times! (I do!)

Secondly, it highlights the beauty of love that is modeled on Christ’s example in Scripture. He loved us when we were unable to return that love. Grace, compassion, tenderness. God’s love reached through time to woo and win the hearts of those He created. Our sin put us in a coma, totally unable to see the depravity of our situation, and still, He came to nurture us and heal us and bring us to Himself. Toben, a mere man, exemplifies Christ in his actions and in his honest blogging as he tends to his wife and cares for his two daughters.

It is good to remember that there is such a thing as this kind of sacrificial love when some of us are so desperate for it. I may not have a human husband like this here on this earth, but I do know that God promises to meet us in our pain.“For the LORD has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife in youth when she is cast off.” (Isaiah 54:6 ESV).

Toben may never read this blog, and that’s fine. I still pray for him and his family and know that God is crediting His faithfulness to him. I am blessed to be someone Toben has touched as he does what God has called him to do, faithfully love his wife.

Blessings,

LGB

A Faithful God

While I know that Thanksgiving is a great time to meditate on all God has done that we should be grateful for, I am seeking to find daily more and more ways to recognize and live in the light of His faithfulness to me.

There are a multitude of attributes that we can seek to praise and worship God for. One of the ones that seems core for me and foundational in my relationship with Him, is His faithfulness. It’s funny to me with years of singing, that when my son was born, the only song that I could remember in the middle of the night was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Maybe it’s important to me because others around me have not been faithful to meet my emotional or even my physical needs. Yet God has repeatedly, through the years of my walking with Him, provided in amazing ways.

I am not always fond of His timing, like when it comes to checks arriving (or not) in the mail. It is humbling to admit that sometimes my emotions fluctuate with my bank balance. However, God doesn’t want my security to be in finances. As He continually leads and affirms my step into the world of writing, I am blown away by the words of affirmation He brings to me out of the blue. It is humbling to admit how easily discouraged I can be and how quickly the enemy can try to convince me that I have nothing worthwhile to bring to you, the reader. It’s only words and not very good ones at that, he will tell me.  Then someone will post a comment on a blog or my fan page or in an email that tells me that what I am doing IS making a difference – to them.  Or when loneliness overwhelms, and a friend calls or I get one of those priceless letters in the mail filled with affirmation. Or someone gives me a hug at church or thanks me for ministering to them when I didn’t even realize I had been doing.

This week something happened that surprised me. This fall I got a free tickets to three different events/conferences and somehow the money appeared for me to go.  My wi/fi on my laptop was repaired I won a contest through facebook that blew me away with the extravagance of God – toward me. Totally unnecessary – but the very fact that it was so out of the ordinary, reminded me again of God’s faithfulness.

I remember years ago studying the book of Ephesians at church. I have written in my Bible, at the beginning of that book that the word charis means “extravagant grace love.” It appears repeatedly throughout this book of the Bible.  Okay, Lilly, but I thought we were talking about faithfulness here? Stick with me.

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you , remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Eph 1:15-19)

The word “grace” doesn’t appear in these verses – but can you hear it?  What can be more faithful than a God would give us knowledge of Himself?  To be honest, this verse is truncated. There is more before and after and I would encourage you to read the entire chapter and ask yourself – how does this tell me God loves me and is faithful to me?

Faithfulness is an expression of God’s extravagant grace love.  I am not always faithful. I can be self absorbed, angry, and at times doubt that God can and will come through for me.  Then I consider how God has saved me from my sin and how Christ has walked with me through so much throughout the years, and continues to do so even now.  When I see that God has sustained me and even been able to use me to serve Himself and minister to others, I’m blown away by His faithfulness to one such as I.  Extravagant grace love is shown with every unexpected gift, every word of affirmation, every day I find that I am alive and able to get up and care for my family.

I want to offer you today a taste of God’s faithfulness. If you go back and read that verse, imagine me praying this over you (because I have done so!). Where the “you” is bolded, insert your name.   I may not know your name – but God does. It’s a part of His faithfulness that He can transcend the computer technology and take this prayer from His word, and my heart – and birth extravagant grace love in your life.

Great is Your faithfulness, Oh God my Father!

There is no shadow of turning with You,

Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not,

Great is Your faithfulness, Lord unto me.

 

Blessings,

LGB

Dream Bigger

I often ask God for things that I want or think I need. New house, new husband (hahaha!), healed son, health, financial security. The list could go on. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly stressed my prayers simply become requests for help or rescue.

But for twenty years rescue hasn’t come.

What if my dreams and prayers are too small? Maybe a house, which could burn down, would not ultimately satisfy me. Or if my husband were Brad Pitt or better yet Gilles Marini! Still, he may not satisfy (looks ain’t everything, gals!).

What if my kids were perfect angels, obeying everything, picked up after themselves and helped around the house? Okay, wait. I cannot find anything wrong with that!

I struggle with this verse in Scripture:

“And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” (Mat 21:22 ESV)

Whatever? Really? But when? So I can ask for riches – and for my debts to be cleared away. Anything goes right? Does that mean that I can sin with abandon and ask God to clean up after me so I don’t have to face the consequences? See what I mean? It seems like there might be a limit to “whatever” even though even in the Greek it seems to mean exactly what it says. Oh, how easy to believe a false prosperity gospel based on that one verse!

Maybe the clincher is “if you have faith.” Maybe part of me doubts God’s willingness to rescue me in my difficult circumstances. That would be a sin of unbelief. Maybe my faith is misplaced in asking for things that are not in line with what God desires for me? That is probably the key. Faith means believing in what we don’t see. That God has some greater purpose and plan beyond my ability to know or understand. Even Abraham did not see the Promised Land and his descendants as innumerable as the sands on the shore or the stars in the sky. God promised and did it – but Abraham never saw it while he walked on this earth.

So maybe I simply don’t dream big enough. A house will burn or decay. My health doesn’t matter once I’m dead (and we all achieve that end at some point). Consider the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11 which ends thus:

And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. “ (Heb 11:39-40 ESV)

So we get whatever we ask – when we ask in faith – but even those who did, didn’t see the fulfillment of what God had promised. They got something better!

Maybe I need to pray bigger prayers. Maybe prayers that my children will overcome the generations of sin and spiritual bondage that have held our families back from impacting the world for the glory of God. Prayers that the work I do today, even in writing a blog, or a book, will in the long run, impact women, save marriages and strengthen the church in ways I might never see or fully understand. Maybe even one life will come to know Jesus in a real, powerful, life changing way and embrace Him as not only their Savior, but Lord, and in bending their knee and wholeheartedly following Him, they will have a great impact on people I will never meet this side of heaven.

Maybe instead of temporal things I need to dream of a bigger legacy of a way that God, right now, today, would reach down and through this blog and other words I might speak, or hugs I might give, extend His message of grace to a hurting world.

My circumstances might stink. Sometimes I truly do want to quit the fight. But then I think of things like this and feel emboldened to stretch a little further. To take just one more step today in faith, knowing that in heaven, I will see the fruit of my labor and rejoice because I will have received the commendation of God. That joy will far outweigh my sorrows here. Some days I need to be reminded of that, don’t you?

As I typed this, Chris Rice’s song “Deep Enough to Dream” kept going through my head. Maybe it will inspire you to dream bigger as well. Blessings,

LGB

Hope

For too long I have struggled in the darkness of difficult circumstances.  Felt the clouds of despair settle over my soul. Doom and gloom.  Kind of like Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh.  No hope.

Today I find myself feeling hopeful and even joyful. This is not a common state of being for me so I’m relishing it.  Circumstances have not substantially changed, except that my husband is in one of his “good places” for the moment which must have an impact.  And I’m getting wiser.  I realize that it’s not going to last and I’m bracing myself.  Hoping that when he crashes emotionally, I can withstand the impact.  Twenty years + of history – it’s inevitable, barring a miracle of God.

What else has changed?  Life has taken on a new “feel” in that I am finding new opportunities in which to invest myself away from my home.  Writing. Pursuing publishing. Dipping my toes deeper into ministry challenges. Realizing some things there cannot be rushed, and that not all good goals can be pursued with equal intensity, all the time.  Grace.

I’m learning to give myself grace.  And as I relax into the depths of who God says He is, I find greater peace.  I’ll admit that writing “Lessons from the Trenches” is not an easy book.  But I find joy in the writing, because so many of you have told me that you need this kind of book.  We all want a solution when we are hurting , don’t we?

There’s not a “marriage repair shop” however.  You cannot tune up one side of the car or put new tires on it, and with the other side of the car refusing repair, run smoothly.  It’s just not going to happen.  The new tires will wear unevenly and carry a heavier burden.  So true if you are in a difficult marriage.

So I’m glad that we don’t have to walk that road alone.  That when we park the car, we can have others around us to help re-inflate our tires and polish our hubcaps.  And maybe wash our window so we can see more clearly.  Even if we are in the passenger seat, which can feel so helpless, we are not without help or protection.  The Holy Spirit is our seat belt and airbag. No better safety and security than when we are secured by God!

I’m still working on finding an agent/publisher for my book, driven not so much by the desire to make a name for myself, or fatten up my lean checking account.  No, what compels me onward is the belief that as I write, I might be able to offer you hope, too.  The hope I’ve so desperately at times needed (and I’m sure I will need again!). Please pray that God would open the right door for that, if it is His will.  I want to move forward and help be there to blow the clouds of despair away, hug you with words that tell you “you are not alone,” and bring honor and glory to God as we persevere through difficult relationships.

“The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe”. (Pro 18:10)

Hope. Today it floats me.  Praying you find some of that for yourself this week as well regardless of what trials you are facing.  Let Jesus be your strong tower and hope in times of trouble.