I Wouldn’t Choose You

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I saw a title of a book called I Choose You and thought, aww, isn’t that sweet. Of course it’s a romance.

And I’ve seen men and women post on Facebook how they would do it all over again with the spouse they married. Or how about those that even renew their vows.

At this point in my  marriage I wouldn’t renew. Part of me starts thinking that maybe I should even shock my husband when he wants to do something I don’t like by saying, “Well, that’s something to consider for when we separate.”  After all, he’s the one who twice threatened to divorce me via a letter. I never gave him the satisfaction of a response and he never served me papers. It was a manipulation tactic.

But the fact is, right now if he asked me if I was happy in our marriage. I would say no.

If he asked me to marry him again. I would say no.

I don’t regret the past. I made the best decisions I could for who I was at the time.

But now, given all I’ve experienced, I would not choose the man whose last name I bear and who has fathered my children.

Why then, am I still married to him?

Because while I may not choose him at this point, I have chosen God and He wants me here and staying for the moment.

And even when I have failed to be all a Christ-follower should be, God has never abandoned me. So I stay because I choose God.

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Blown Up Bridges

I’m going to say from the outset – I’m PRO marriage. I’m for sticking through it even when it is tough and feels hopeless.

I find it interesting though that those who have more tenuous reasons for divorce, especially over instances of ongoing verbal (which includes, emotional and financial) abuses tend to be pro-leaving. Now,  not all are like that, but I found it interesting when I was trying to get editors and agents to consider publishing my book, Lessons from the Trenches: Staying in a Difficult Marriage that women who had left argued for me to leave too.

I’m not judging them for divorcing. It may not have even been their choice. The end result though is that they are free from the ongoing assault and want others to share that freedom.

I get it. I really do. I know that verbal abuse can have health impacts far more damaging and long lasting than physical abuse and that it can escalate to physical abuse and that women who chose to leave find themselves in the most dangerous period of time ever.

But God hasn’t given me permission to leave and I first and foremost have to obey Him. It is painfully difficult. It wounds deeply.

I thought about how in wartime, enemies would blow up bridges to keep their opponents from moving forward. A marriage with a verbally abusive spouse is like trying to cross a blown up bridge. Planks are missing, the railing is gone and  the supports are broken. Sometimes you have to jump to get across the empty spaces and my legs are short.

In real life, no one would even attempt to cross a bridge like that. But in a marriage, when a spouse has blown up the bridge with his words and actions, it takes great faith to take those steps and not abandon the bridge. If this were a physical bridge – you would be considered a fool to cross. Even with the marriage bridge blown to smithereens, many would consider those who stay equally foolish. Grenades explode all around. Bullets fly. If we seek to walk as Christ did, we don’t abuse in return.

Sounds painful. Impossible. Insane. One therapist I saw told me I had to leave. This was toxic. And he was right – it is toxic. But we don’t criticize a family stuck in a house filled with black mold making their kids sick, because they stay. We can understand how hard it would be when you have a mortgage and you can’t sell the home and how are you going to live when your money is invested in a home that is worthless?

But isn’t it like that in a marriage? No one is going to bail you out and make it easy. I know from walking alongside friends who have made the choice to leave, just how gut-wrenchingly painful it can be. Sure they have some freedom from the abuse but they also carry other heavy burdens as well. The grass isn’t always greener.

God is faithful. He has been my support when the under-girding of my marriage has been decimated. He helps me over the gaps and helps fill in the holes with his presence. It still hurts. Many times I wish I could jump off that bridge into the world of single motherhood but to do so without His holding my hand would be suicide.

So I stay. And it hurts. And I despair the bridge ever being able to be rebuilt because my spouse refuses the tools available to him by the Master Bridge Builder, the only One whom I can trust.

Blessings. Stand firm.

Lilly Grace

My Island of Misfit Toys, Part II

Okay, so been thinking more about the misfit thing.  Then I remembered that Paul felt that way too.  Remember Paul?  He was a noted theologian of his day and righteously protecting the faith when all of a sudden, WHAM!  He encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus and was blinded by the LIGHT!

After that he had to go and wait three days, to meet a man who would restore his sight. (This is Acts 9).  Can you imagine poor Ananias?  God calls him to go to Damascus and meet with Paul (then called Saul) who was known to murder followers of Jesus.  Yikes!  Talk about faithful obedience.  Ananias went, and Paul received his sight, and chose to follow Jesus. He went to join the other believers in Christ.

He had a little problem though.  His reputation preceded him everywhere he went!  Leaders amongst believers in Christ were hesitant to embrace him. He no longer fit with the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day.  He was truly a misfit!  God obviously made a good choice though in this strong willed man who was grounded in Scripture and had converted to becoming a follower of Jesus.  He persevered, was eventually accepted and embraced by the budding young Christian church and went on to become one of the most powerful forces in spreading the gospel.

Peter writes about us being as sojourners and aliens (some versions say exiles) in a foreign land.  (1 Peter 2:11)  Hmmmm.  Another translation might be misfit!  When Christ calls us out of darkness in to His glorious light, we are adopted into His family.  We learn a new way of living and thinking and obedience to Him doesn’t always make sense to the outside world. Our new home is heaven.  We’ve just got a job to do before we reach our final destination.  Scripture if full of misfits.

Jesus himself did not have a home the three years he wandered Israel teaching and leading and healing. . . He too was a misfit. Scripture says in Isaiah that there was nothing in him to draw us to him. He wasn’t the handsome surfer dude we sometimes see depicted.

So, do you feel like a misfit, sometimes?  If so, then you and I are not alone, but instead fall into some mighty impressive company!  I’m so glad that God doesn’t make cookie-cutter Christians.  We don’t have to look alike or wear the same clothing or even serve with the same gifts. God’s glory is magnified through the unity expressed in diversity within the body of Christ, His bride, the church.

I need to remember this when the world tells me I need to be a certain size, or that my children need to be raised in a perfect manner and that my home should be decorated, just so.  My kids are not going to grow up perfect. NO matter how hard I try, that is not possible, so I can relax and trust that as I obey God, HE will do HIS perfect work in and through me and my children for HIS glory. My home could be gone in the short span of one fire – it’s all just “stuff.”  And my body size – I’m glad God knew I would be the way I am right now today and loves me just the same!  We may all be misfits in some way, shape or form, but maybe that’s exactly what will set us apart for God’s glory to shine to the world.

The world doesn’t take kindly to those who march to the beat of the Holy Spirit’s leading. Paul was  crucified upside down.  Will you be brave enough to follow?  Ananias was.  Because of that one choice to obey – the Good News of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection spread throughout the world.  A ripple effect that continues in and through us today.  Wow.  Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be a misfit after all?