Is There Anything You Can’t Do?

I used to lead Women’s Ministry and I have three children and then one day I was playing guitar on a worship team at church. One gal came up to me afterwards and said “Is there anything you can’t do?” I laughed and said, “I’m not the best housekeeper!”

I think back to that and I’m in a different home that is easier to keep clean (kids are older too so that helps) and yet I realized to my sorrow that there is one thing I cannot do.

I cannot be the wife God intended me to be by design.

Oh, I am married on paper with vows taken before God, and have been for 22 years. But emotionally I’ve been distanced from my husband for eight years since his abuse has escalated and behaviors have prevented and hindered intimacy of any kind. I stopped wearing my wedding ring years ago because emotionally I had disengaged from the marriage. At that time my husband was not even sleeping in our bed. It seemed a farce to wear a diamond when I felt like trash. (I do wear A ring on my finger to signal I am unavailable)

I’m faithful. I keep house and buy groceries (when he stoops low enough to honor me with the resources to do so). I prepare food for him to eat and wash his clothes. I take care of the children and I try to stay as far out of his way whenever and wherever possible and limit my communication to him to only what is most essential in managing our various calendars and the needs of the children.

That’s not a relationship. It isn’t. It’s more like a business transaction but with someone you don’t trust and don’t like.

It’s not  a marriage.

The hardest part is feeling like I am unworthy of being loved (after all that’s what he tells me). After listening to some single people talking about match.com I thought about how I cannot even look for love.

God has not seen fit to rescue me from my despair in spite of my prayers for rescue or release.

So I wait. I pray. I cry. I journal. I write and try to do trust God in His perfect timing for the end of this pain.

How about you? Is there anything you can’t do?

Lilly Grace

Three Weddings and a Funeral

Yes, I know , the movie staring Hugh Grant was actually FOUR Weddings and a Funeral. But this isn’t about Hugh Grant, even though he is cute and has a lovely accent and is fun to watch in the movies. My life has not been quite so comedic although I did plan three weddings.

Today I woke up unsettled as I kept feeling like August 17th was supposed to have some meaning to me. Like it was important somehow.  I checked my  calendar. Nothing written down. No birthday or anniversary or anything even really scheduled.  As I sat spending time in God’s Word and praying and journaling and reading some other great authors on faith – it hit me.

Today is the day I had originally scheduled my first wedding.  I felt grief and sorrow hit me in the gut. See, I ended up marrying that man a few years later after much heartache. I look back on that young 19 year old girl and see now that the patterns for abuse that I experience today –were already germinating back then. They were even set in place long before I met this man I would eventually marry. I despise how desperately needy I was for love that I didn’t see it and felt I didn’t deserve any better.

And I despise the fact that the enemy keeps telling me those lies even now.

The engagement took place on Valentine’s Day, and the wedding planned for August. Why wait? Except that the big surprise was that my fiancé, the one who surprisingly proposed to me, ended up calling it off.  I was heartbroken. He of course blamed me, saying I was forcing him to marry me. Really? I don’t remember holding a gun to his head to propose. But my undervaluing of my personhood by my biological family only affirmed that yes, I was not worthy to marry this man (or any man for that matter – who would ever want me?). I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough and obviously, according to this man,  I was too controlling.

Hindsight makes me want to weep at how wrong my fragile young  heart was.

We did get engaged again,  and I called off that one on the day of the wedding.  We eventually did marry a few years later after much more abuse I was too ashamed to admit to because after all, I was a Christian.  I was so used to taking the blame for the negative things that happened to me. I felt the weight of someone else’s sin as if it were my own and shame prevented me from speaking about it.

So I planned three weddings,  went through with one, all to the same man. I’ve stayed married to him through better and worse. Mostly worse. I keep seeking God’s wisdom and truth about who I am in the midst of my challenging circumstances.  And I pray for rescue.

See, I believe if God wants me out of my marriage He can do it. I don’t pray for my husband’s death, but I have thought about what life would be like when that happens.  Practical things like liquidating his business and frivolous things like finally buying the bed that would be best for MY back.  God could also bring my husband to divorce me, and I would consider him as an unbeliever and let him go.  God could also decide to change things in my marriage as well.

So far there’s been no funeral.

Does that mean I should never consider legal separation? I don’t have biblical grounds (in the truest sense) to justify divorce. My husband, I believe, is mentally ill. I married for “in sickness and in health.” He won’t get treatment and is blind to his foolish ways and won’t seek wise counsel. I pray for God’s leading and guiding.

It is hard not to long for escape.  Today I grieve a young woman who did the best she could in her circumstances 26 years ago.  I weep for her vulnerable heart and I grieve for the loss of many dreams – primarily of being loved and cherished by my husband.  I have to believe my “happily ever after” ultimately is with Jesus and my lack in this life and marriage forces me to depend on Him in a deeper way than I probably would have otherwise.

Do I sound foolish to you? Many would say “Leave” but it really is not so easy. However I am praying a different prayer now. Not just one of “rescue” or for a job or some other way to survive. I’m praying that for the sake of the glory of God and His name and power shown through my life, that He will break the bonds of control that are currently holding me captive. Not just that I would endure them with grace, or that I would try to break them on my own (realistically, it would not happen even with a divorce or separation, no matter what a lawyer might tell me).  My heart has to listen to my God and that can be a difficult voice to hear amongst the negativity, grief and old message tapes that tell me I am unworthy of the love and devotion of a godly man.

In realityI have the love and devotion of a godly man already. His name is Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, if I were not struggling in the way that I am, I would not be as driven to seek my value, worth and love from my Creator King who also says:

“For your husband is your Maker. His name is Yaweh of Hosts – and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like wife of youth when she is cast off.”  (Isaiah 54:5-6)

I am loved and cherished and worthy of that from the One who made me and will use me for His glory, in spite of my pain and suffering. If God can be glorified in me today, then I will be grateful that I was found usable by Him.  I may not see the impact. I have to trust the outcome to Him and cling to my Husband and trust Him for everything else. He’s my God. He can do it.

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