It’s so difficult to move on from the bad situations in life. To let them go completely and be truly happy in the good that you have now. I realized this suddenly after writing about expectations last week. Moderately uncomfortable backstory is required here. I was married for about ten years to a man who was unkind. While never truly physically abusive there was, looking back, clear emotional abuse as well as…I struggle to know what to call it…a sense of less-than-ness. I was never harmed, but often felt isolated, in a position of powerlessness. The word I want to use is broken, though that seems overly dramatic. My marriage and my life were very normal from the outside looking in, but when I made a request, when my opinion was given, when I had a need or even a strong desire, I was shut-down, put in my place, quieted.
Please, don’t feel sorry for me, all of this was my choice. Sure, it started with an uninformed choice when I was very young, but then I continued to choose day after day to live broken, silent. Until one day I didn’t. I knew that I had the ability to change my situation, he was never able to convince me that I had no way out, no reason to leave, no chance of escape from him. Like I said, it was my choice and so several years ago I made the change that was hard and good.
I often get stuck back there mentally though. Even though I am now married to a good, kind, loving, considerate, thoughtful (I could go on all day) man, I forget. I become mired in my twenties where I had no voice, no opinions that mattered, no requests that were important. I forget that now the mere mention of my sadness over a finished book allows this man an opportunity to remind me how well I am loved by him. He is the love my Father in heaven has for me.
Now, before any of you out there get too worked up, the Christian I am needs to say that while I believe the Bible and know that my divorce is sinful, I also believe that God loves me, has forgiven me, and has nothing but good for me to come. I don’t live stuck in that sin, it has been forgiven, forgotten because of the love of Jesus. I don’t doubt that even from my sinful place of leaving He was there working in and around me to make my choices good for my future. You can judge me on this if that’s what you need to do, the truth has been spoken into my heart and I live without fear of this sin.
So, why all of this confessing? After I wrote last week, my husband was concerned about the Expectations post, he wondered if the two of us were not communicating well or if he was missing cues. He was probably wondering what exactly I was talking about, though that’s only my interpretation from our conversation. He is really good at loving me. At knowing what my heart most needs. While he is no mind reader, he understands that I will eventually have a tantrum and need to get out of this house for a day. He buys chocolate and heavy cream and wine and other little things that are not necessary, but that bring me moments of joy. He is observant of what I like and what I would like. He is, honestly, much better at this than I am.
See, I had forgotten, or overlooked my current joy to reflect back on how disappointed I used to be. Why did I do that? Why would I want to think about all of the times I had been let down, felt over-looked, or had been told that what I wanted was simply not important? I’ve been thinking about that and I suppose it is just all too easy to get stuck back there, in the sadness. Sadness is a very powerful emotion, and when you lived there for so many years it is sometimes hard to remember that you’ve left. I still find myself mumbling how asking for some want or need is unrealistic or selfish, when I know-like really, truly know-that if I even mention a random desire to my sweet man, he will go out of his way to make it reality for me. Whether it is a tangible item or an emotional need, he wants me to know how much I am loved.
This is now a heart issue for me. One that I fully recognize as such. I am working on living “here” and not mentally slipping back to the days when I was broken. I know that I have made new, good choices for myself and my future and I am attempting to leave the past choices back where they belong. When I catch myself living in that lonely place I actively work to remind my heart that I am loved. Are there still disappointments in my life? Of course. They are much smaller and much less frequent now though. I actually feel quite spoiled as I sit here thinking over all of the ways I am shown my worth by kindness, love, and caring. There should really be no question in my mind that my happiness is important. I am very thankful that this is where I live now.
As my small people once again stole my quiet mornings over the past few days I’ve had time to think about the words I’ve put down here and with that time I have also realized that my happiness does not come just from this man. Again, my choice brought me here. When I made the hard choice to walk away all of those years ago, when I make choices now that are good for me. Each time that I have put God in control, given Him the power that is rightfully His to work in my life in the way He sees fit, I have stolen joy back from those years of unhappiness. I know that it is the love of my Heavenly Father that I need and that I long for and that I have. And so I do move on from the bad times. It is hard and it does require many decisions be made that are often easier left unmade, but people don’t just grow, we have to work for that growth. I am doing that hard work still, each time I acknowledge the hard past and yet live in the present I am growing for good.
The year I turned thirty, the year of hard decisions, is a pivot point in my life, where in looking back I can see the change in direction I made in my life and it is as clear as day. When I made the choice to actually work toward joyfulness (what I’d define as contentment in all situations because of the love of a Savior) instead of happiness (pleasant, yet short-lived satisfaction with ones surroundings) I made another pivot. My attitude was no longer fearful or worried or anxious. My heart returned to a normal rhythm as I began to know that all suffering works in me to create peace. I lived in the book of Romans for quite some time, there are so many relevant and meaningful verses in this letter from Paul. The one that caused this second pivot is this; Romans 5:3-4 “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
As I think back over choosing to “glory in my suffering” I see that this shift brought me so close to living as the girl I am in my head and heart. This time of understanding the love that was available to me changed me so much but also returned me to who I really am. Trusting the good that has already been given me I am better able to revel in any supposed bad that comes my way. I am better able to love and give goodness and be less inwardly focused. It’s become clearer over the past week of waiting to finish writing that the writing will never be finished. That I will continue to learn and in learning there will be moments where I will make a conscious decision to turn. Sometimes those turns will be hard and scary, other times they will be such gentle curves that I won’t notice the change until I look back. All of the twists and straight stretches getting me to the end of my road in exactly the condition I needed to be in.
Awhile back I wrote about processing all of my feelings, about my failings as a person, and how I have become the woman I am now. I never posted it. It is an impossible thing for me to put out there into the written world where anyone could read it. I know that what I’m giving you today is part of that story, and I feel a little lighter having got it down on paper. There may be pieces of myself that I never share, time will tell. I am realizing that my story-my life-has a purpose though, God really will use my struggles to create in me as well as through me. All things working together for my good on this journey, if only I can realize it in the moment.