Embracing chaos might be the journey we take to finding peace.Rachel Hollis, Girl Wash Your Face
Life doesn’t always end up like you expect. The choices we make and the consequences that follow can either enhance your life, or they can cause you to take a major step back to work on yourself. The latter is what I have been doing.
I am navigating through a divorce. I’m sure that comes as a shock for some of you that follow my blog. I thought my marriage was restored and I wanted it to be restored. I tried, as did he, but in the end it was too late. I also had fallen in love with someone else, and we have been in a relationship for the past year.
Needless to say, this last year has been incredibly difficult. There is a reason scripture says that God hates divorce.
I hate divorce, says the Lord, God of Israel. I hate it when one of you does such a cruel thing to his wife. Make sure that you do not break your promise to be faithful to your wife. – Malachi 2:16 (GNB)
Divorce rips apart family, friends, and children. It is ugly and painful. Bitterness, resentment, and anger start to take root in your heart, and if your are not careful, those three things will spread and contaminate all aspects of your life. I have experienced great shame and guilt that I continue to struggle with because of the choices I have made. I am finding that the only way for me to try to forgive myself, is accepting the forgiveness that God has already given me. It is a process.
I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25 (ESV)
I tried to be as transparent as I could be in my prior posts, and yet I held back the deep and dark secrets of my heart. I cannot fully express how sorry I am, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.
I mentioned earlier that I took a major step back and worked on myself. I was diagnosed with a mental illness in April 2019, and since that time, I have been in therapy. Therapy was a long time coming, and I should have taken that step years ago. I am finally able to start working through my childhood, past traumas, and life as it is today. My plan is to share some of my journey with you.
I have revamped this blog, and will share and discuss numerous topics. I originally started to create a new blog entirely. I found myself having a mental block. Something just didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what I was going to do with Living By Grace. Finally, after talking with a dear friend, the answer was obvious.. I couldn’t delete my story. No matter how things had turned out, or what I should have done or could have done, it was still my story. I wasn’t supposed to start over. I was called to continue sharing the messiness of life and all its blessings.
..the answer was obvious. I couldn’t delete my story. No matter how things had turned out, or what I should have done or could have done, it was still my story. I wasn’t supposed to start over.
So now here I am, starting over in more ways than one, and excited to share and talk about life. Real life. Real struggles. Real blessings. I hope you will join me!
What a difference a few weeks can make. How one minute I am publishing a blog on the stages of grief and how far I have come; to a few weeks later, waking up after 15.5 hours of sleep, and not remembering anything.
I didn’t expect my grief to return with so much force. I didn’t expect to literally not be able to wrap a single gift without breaking down. I never anticipated not caring if I celebrated Christmas at all. I also didn’t plan to come home one day and give up…and take too much of my anxiety meds; because I had become so tired of fighting through the struggles and pain.
Last night, I looked at my husband and asked him why I continued to struggle. I have prayed incessantly, begging God to remove this pain from me. I have cried out that I am just too weak and that I have no fight left in me. Why hasn’t He answered? Why am I not fixed? Jason told me that He is very much still with me. I laughed, and then asked the one question that so many people ask, “If God exists, and is such a loving God, why is all of this still happening?”
If God exists, and is such a loving God, why is all of this still happening?
This morning, I shocked myself. I actually got ready and went to church. My family was going to light the advent candle this morning and give a reading. I went to bed last night, and didn’t care one way or the other. Jason and the boys could do it without me…but I woke up and felt like I could go. I don’t know if my pastor gave the sermon he originally intended; but I do know that he gave the one I needed to hear.
First the advent reading and lighting of the advent candle, love. As I read the assigned scripture, I felt a stirring inside my heart,
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. -Luke 1: 46-48
“He has looked with favor”… this is Mary, the one chosen to be the mother of the world’s Savior. My pastor’s sermon spoke on how the punishment during that time, to be an unwed mother, was death. That Joseph was probably criticised and ridiculed by his peers for staying with Mary, be he defended her and loved her. That sounds alot like my story…I have a husband who has stood by my side, despite the ridicule of those who just don’t understand how he could.
Then the mic drop moment happened, as I sat there in the pew trying to keep it together. Pastor talked about Emmanuel, which means God is with us. My mind went back to last night and how I had laughed at the thought. The reminder of this specific name, was a moment of light in the darkness that I had been living in again.
He then asked the very question I asked Jason the night before, “If God is so loving, why does He let bad things happen?” He shared a story and began talking about the gifts we are each given by God, and maybe it was time to stop giving in to peer pressure, or what others think, and just be us. That is really all I remember of his sermon, because I began writing right there. Maybe my prayers had already been answered, He had already equipped me with what I needed. Writing is my gift from God. Writing is the avenue He has given me to work through and process my pain.
Maybe my prayers had already been answered, and He had already equipped me with what I needed. Writing is my gift from God. Writing is the avenue He has given me to work through and process my pain.
I would like to share with you what I heard spoken to me during that moment. It didn’t come from my pastor… it came from that inner voice, that I believe is the Holy Spirit, and left me with questions that I think we all should ponder,
Maybe it is not a loving God that allows bad things to happen; but a fallen world. A world where people are failing to extend God’s love to those who are broken. Are we doing our part? Are you showing the love of Christ to your Muslim neighbor? What about our President who you may not agree with, are you extending grace and praying over him? How about your neighbor, the single mom with five kids who needs government assistance? Or, the family who is hanging on by a thread?
What is your response? Who can you choose to show love to today? We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. He has equipped each of us with certain gifts…
Maybe it is time to starting using those gifts, in all of their forms, to help heal, comfort, and lessen the burdens we all carry.
By His grace,
The holidays were fast approaching, and I found myself struggling with how I was going to get through them. A big part of me didn’t want to host Thanksgiving this year, but I also wanted to spend time with my side of the family. A decision of who was hosting or where my family would go, wasn’t made until four days before the day of thanks. My children were a big part of why I decided to host my family again. The boys enjoy having a house full of people, and watching their daddy fix the turkey.
The day of, as I stood in the kitchen cutting potatoes, I became overwhelmed with tears. My mom would not be there, and I said softly to myself, “Mom, I don’t think I can do this without you.” As quickly as the tears came on, they vanished. I finished cutting the potatoes and had a peace within myself. Why?
Because I knew she was with me.
Memories flooded back throughout that afternoon, and in my mind I could see her smile and hear her voice. I am quite certain she was happy to see all of us together, and that she would want us to carry on with joy in our hearts and continue making memories.
It is our family tradition, the day after Thanksgiving, to go to our favorite Christmas tree farm and cut down our tree. It was a great day! The following day we got out our Christmas decorations, and I froze. I couldn’t decorate the tree. I didn’t want to. Although I made it through Thanksgiving seemingly ok, the start of the Christmas season felt like a nose dive. I sat on the couch, and watched my children decorate the entire Christmas tree.
So, how does one find joy when their heart is broken, and they miss their loved one deeply?
First, let’s take a look at Paul…
May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace. Philipians 1:2
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter to the Philipians, while he was imprisoned for spreading the news of our Lord Jesus. How can one write a letter or book about joy as they sit in a prison cell? Because the joy Paul speaks of, and the joy I know, isn’t found in things of this world, it is found through Jesus.
Seems simple enough, but grief is a strange thing. The five stages of grief* are:
- Denial– Life no longer makes sense. We only accept the thoughts and emotions we can handle at that time.
- Anger– Feel it, because it is necessary. This is the time where I became very angry at God. Anger is an emotion that I know well, and it felt good to actually feel something after coming out of denial. The thing with anger, is there is usually an underlining reason for it, and in the case of loss, it is pain. Our anger shows us just how much we loved that person.
- Bargaining– The “what if” game. I try to not let my mind go there. I know it won’t change the out come, there was nothing I could do, and I end up having sleepless nights filled with anger.
- Depression– “The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.*”
- Acceptance– This does not mean that I am ok. I don’t think I will ever be the person I was before I lost my mom. Acceptance is accepting the new reality of life without her. Finding my place in this new family dynamic, creating new memories, and continuing to live. I have more good days than bad.
These stages are not a check off list. They overlap one another, and sometimes I think I have moved on, only to be found back in anger or depression. That is what happened the day of decorating our Christmas tree.
My relationship with God has changed. I was angry towards Him for awhile. I didn’t understand why mom was diagnosed with such a rare and devastating form of cancer. I questioned His goodness, and why He chose to save others but not her. Now, those intense feelings towards Him have passed, and I know God did not give my mom cancer. We live in a fallen world, and when He created it, it was perfect and good. Cancer did not exist, but when sin entered the world, we all became broken. Could God have placed His hand on mom and saved her? Yes, but His answer was no. I don’t understand the why’s, but I am not meant to. In Isaiah 55: 8-9, it says,
My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts, says the Lord. And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
It has been in reading this truth over and over, that has helped me find my joy this holiday season. Whatever happens (in my life), rejoice in the Lord (Philipians 3:1). Instead of finding peace and comfort through things in this world, seek Jesus, and allow the Prince of Peace to settle in your heart.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:4-7
By His grace,
*information by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and Dave Kessler at https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/
Three major things happened that changed the course of my plan.
Although Jason and I had separated, I had agreed to marriage counseling with him. I went into it with my mind made up on where our marriage would end up; however, I was willing to open myself up to it and take it seriously. The first meeting was uncomfortable and maybe even tense to a degree. We had been through some hard stuff and having to relive those feelings wasn’t easy, but we also learned that we had made assumptions on both sides that were very wrong. One thing we didn’t do that first session was fight or point fingers. I realized that I still cared for Jason more than what I had been trying to convince myself of and I left that day with not only an open mind, but also an open heart.
Counseling gave us the courage to begin opening up to a few close friends and family. We had been keeping secrets and been living a lie for years because of fear. Fear of what others would think or say, losing relationships that meant a great deal to us, and judgement. What we found was quite the opposite.
We found that those who truly love you, who know the grace of Jesus and the meaning of unconditional love, they don’t judge you or turn their backs on you.
The people we shared our pain and story with, embraced us. They prayed over us and with us, encouraged us, and simply loved us through this journey. A huge weight had started to lift from both Jason and me. We recognized that had we not allowed fear to rule our minds, we may have never reached rock bottom…but we couldn’t go back. The only way was to look up and say, “God, this marriage is in your hands. Let Your will be done.”
Women of Joy
I had already planned and paid for Women of Joy earlier in the year. It was taking place in August. I wanted to go. Counseling had been going better than I thought. Jason and I were starting to heal some old wounds, and I was starting to truly forgive myself. The very first speaker, Sheila Walsh, said these words that spoke directly to my soul..
Guilt says you did something bad. Shame says you are something bad.
I had never heard guilt and shame described in that way before, and it rang so true to me in that moment. It was such a simple explanation, and yet, something started to thaw inside me. The hard shell I had built up over the last year began to break. Mark Lowry was the guest comedian that evening. He was funny, and I hadn’t laughed quite like that in some time. It felt good. He also gave some really good advice…
When you reveal your scars…that is when people can relate.
My mind started reeling. I had a blog. I had a blog that I had stopped writing on because of guilt and shame. Yet all in the first night, I am told how God doesn’t want me to walk around in shame. That when I confess to Him and ask for forgiveness, that my sin is covered and I am free from it. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me through Mark Lowry, and I was being nudged to write about my story.
Lysa Terkeurst…if you haven’t heard of her then please look her up. She is one of my favorite speakers and authors. I have heard her speak before, but I was more interested in seeing what she would share today. I was aware that her and her husband had separated and had filed for divorce. He had been having an affair and dealing with substance abuse…all of which rocked her to the core. She shared with us at the end of her talk, an update regarding her marriage. Her and her husband had reconciled, it wasn’t easy, but she knew God was in the midst of it.
I left that weekend knowing two things:
1. I was going to start blogging again.
2. My marriage was not over.
Women of Joy was the weekend of August 11…and on August 15th I published my chapter one.
The Great Banquet
Enter in the invitation to The Great Banquet. An invitation that I had turned down for several years; except this time, Jason and I both said yes. It was there that I fully surrendered to Jesus, and allowed him to begin transforming my heart.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalms 34:18
I finally had opened myself up to receiving and accepting God’s forgiveness, grace, redemption, and the overwhelming, neverending, reckless love of God. Which leads me to what He has done. Reckless Love was our theme song… those of you who were at our church when Jason spoke, may remember that was the song he played that morning, which was over a week before my banquet. A friend of mine wrote me a letter while I was there… at the very bottom she said,
“Remember, He will leave the 99 to go after the one.”
That is a line in this song and it comes from the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7). She had no idea that was our theme. My banquet numer is 76…that was the year my mom graduated high school, and the color notebook that was at my assigned seat, was my mom’s favorite color, teal. My assistant table leader, shared a story very similar to my own as an adult. I heard another woman share her testimony, and it was the same as my story…daddy’s girl whose parents divorced when she was young.
There is a very intimate and freeing moment that happens during the banquet. I can not share with you what that is exactly, because my prayer is that I will be blessed to maybe sponsor one of you someday, but this moment left me feeling like something was wrong with me. Yes, it was beautiful, but I wasn’t having the same response as the other women. I spoke with my table sisters about it, and they tried to assure me that we each have something during the weekend that will speak to us.
The following morning of the banquet, at least I think it was still morning because we didn’t have access to a single clock, we eached received a rock with a word painted onto it. Each rock had been prayed over and included a different word, along with a note that said by the end of the day, you will understand why you received this word. The rocks were handed out randomly and my word was JOY. I had started to worship in a new way that day. My arms fully extended and sometimes with tears streaming down my face. So I thought, that must be it. At some point later that day, I was able to read a letter from my husband. I won’t share all the intimate details, but I will share the incredible redeeming power of God.
That same moment, where I felt that I was lacking during the banquet, was the very moment Jason shared with me that he was able to fully surrender all his hurt and pain to Christ. He told me that in doing so, he had found JOY. I knew in that moment, our marriage was restored. Praise Jesus!
I will wrap up with one final God moment that occurred on the way home that evening. I still had letters to read. I didn’t know who had written me until I opened the letters. On the ride home, I opened one from my daddy. He had written, in his own way, that he was sorry for how his actions affected me and asked for my forgiveness. The next morning, I received a call from him, and I was blessed again by having another relationship restored.
I experienced authentic healing from my weekend. Healing for my marriage, my past, my dad, and the loss of my mom. I left it all at the Cross.
Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again. –Psalm 71:20
We are all broken. Our brokenness is uniquely different from person to person. The reminder of this truth helps keep my heart in check when I find myself wanting to cast judgement onto others. Brokenness is also a beautiful thing. It is what forces us to look to our Healer and surrender to our humanness to allow Him to do what He does the best…use all things for good. When we allow God into our circumstances, that is when we find His hope and strength to reveal our scars and junk. Once we share our story, and show the beauty of God’s redemptive plan, that is when people can start to relate, and hopefully yearn for a relationship with our Lord Jesus.
Just because we have surrendered fully to Jesus, and have learned to fully accept His forgiveness and grace, as well as, extend those same attributes to others, does not mean we are perfect. We are still human, and troubles and temptations will still come up in this life. What we do have though, are the tools to face and fight those battles with the armour of God.
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. -Genesis 50:20
To God be the glory, forever and ever…
By His grace,
This post was almost finished a few days ago. Now I sit here, staring at the computer screen, and ask myself how far does He really want me to go? I have shared my junk. Jason and I have received so much positive feedback, private messages, love, and encouragement since sharing our story… until Monday. It came in a form that I definitely did not expect, and knocked me down. Doubt and depression started to surround me. I have not felt that way since my chapter one. In fact, with each click of publish, I have been able to let go, and it has been extremely freeing and therapeutic.
Jason and I both knew that some people just would not understand us. Some have questioned why we are sharing something so personal on social media. Some are angry because they feel lied to, and that is true. Lies and betrayal are definitely part of this story. Others are hurt because neither of us turned to them when things were getting bad; or, they had to find out thru this very blog. We all are emotional human beings with feelings that we have every right to express and process. I ask that you don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.
Perhaps you think we’re saying these things just to defend ourselves. No, we tell you this as Christ’s servants, and with God as our witness. Everything we do, dear friends, is to strengthen you. – 2 Corinthians 12:19
January 2017. I suffered my second miscarriage four days prior to the great loss of Jason’s dad. This was the first death experience for my boy’s that affected them. My children had a close relationship with their grandpa; and trying to navigate thru this feeling of grief was sometimes difficult. (if you want to read more about our miscarriage, click here https://livingbygraceml.com/2017/01/09/this-was-not-how-i-intended-to-start-the-new-year/ )
February 2017. Our four year old goldendoodle, Mr. Bennett, was diagnosed with cancer. He had numerous vet visits and surgery, only to be determined that he would eventually need to be put down. He was started on several medications in the hope to prolong his life. My boy’s were so attached to him and they had just lost their grandpa. We were able to enjoy Bennett for three additional months. (That June during Summer break, a time to relax and have fun, we would have to say goodbye to our fur baby. Jason and I remained with him. He was calm, and laid his head in my lap, and went to sleep forever.)
March 2017. Jason, Noah, and myself were up late watching the NCAA Basketball tournament. Noah had fallen asleep next to me on the couch. He had been battling strep throat, but had not been running a fever. Around midnight, Noah sat up and looked at me. I could tell he wasn’t awake, and told him that he was on the couch and it was ok. Something changed in his face at that moment, it contorted and he let out a groan… he then had a seizure. Noah was convulsing on the couch, drool coming out of his mouth, and he had urinated. I told Jason to put him on his side and I called 911. We do not have a landline, and I wasn’t aware that when calling from a cell phone, you may not be calling your county. While I am trying to get to the right person, Noah starts turning blue. I hand the phone to Jason, and begin supporting Noah’s airway, this entire time, he is still seizing. It felt like forever before the paramedics got to our house. By the time they arrived, Noah had stopped seizing, was breathing on his own, but would not wake up. He was actually snoring and very hot and sweaty. It was suggested that it was a fever induced seizure, I didn’t agree. He had been on an antibiotic for two days and had been fever free. I rode with Noah in the ambulance to our local hospital. Noah finally woke up when being wheeled into the ER. He was confused and scared. We were referred to Riley. In April of 2017, after an overnight EEG, Noah was diagnosed with Clonic Tonic Seizures. His results showed several misfires in the left side of his brain throughout the entire day. His neurologist said that she couldn’t believe Noah had only suffered one seizure. Noah started medication, and was told that he could no longer play the one sport he loved… football. Jason and I now had to learn how to adapt to having a child who has the potential of having numerous seizures. It was extremely scary and stressful.
Vet costs, ER bills, and bills from Riley began rolling in and we knew we were in trouble. I was really ready to give up. It seemed as if no matter what we did, how we planned, or what we would sacrifice… things just kept getting worse.
August 2017. I had to remove myself from a friendship that I realized was toxic. Truths were revealed and what had been hidden for years came to the surface. Don’t get me wrong, you by now know that I also carried many secrets; to some extent, we all do. People can make a choice to change and sometimes a friendship can be restored; but, sometimes a person isn’t able to own their mistakes and denies their part for so long, that they no longer remember what is true. This ending of a friendship caused my children, Jason, my extended family, and myself to witness and live thru something I never thought would be a part of our lives… ever. Trespassing, stalking, manipulation, lies, damage to property, car chasing, protection and no contact orders, multiple police reports… My children were scared, and I honestly didn’t know what this person was capable of given what I had witnessed before these events ever took place.
There was a connection we could have easily broken, and looking back we probably should have done so. Our marriage wasn’t in any position to help someone get out of their own abusive marriage. We were struggling, stress of bills, ex-friends, and my vulnerabilities were a perfect recipe for temptation.
Stay alert! Watch out for our great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8
November 2017. My mom had started to feel sick. She had just retired in August, and we had begun to spend more time together. We were crafting, and were toying around with the idea of maybe having our own side hobby/business called “The Wise Old Owl”. We wanted to go to festivals and sell our crafts, mainly to just be together, but some side cash wasn’t going to hurt either. It was Thanksgiving Day, we were hosting it at our house, and mom made the comment that she was going to watch what she ate. My sister and I responded that of all days, allow yourself some freedom to enjoy some food! I noticed mom had tears in her eyes. I think I was annoyed, but a small voice said that something was wrong.
December 2017. She had begun feeling much worse, and was having pain in her stomach. All of us insisted she try to get in to see another specialist. It was suggested that her symptoms could be related to her liver, but the specialist she was scheduled with couldn’t see her until the end of January. Mom wanted to wait. So, I stopped pressing her. I rationalized with myself that if she was really in that much pain, then she would try to get in anywhere. Christmas was my moms favorite holiday, and her home was usually decorated immediately following Thanksgiving. That wasn’t happening, and she asked me a couple weeks prior to Christmas if I could help her. It was the best day!! I hadn’t helped decorate a Christmas tree with my mom in fifteen years. It was a day I will always cherish.
Christmas day my mom asked me to feel her stomach. It was fully distended and firm. I immediately looked at my mom and said you have to go to the hospital. She did the next day, and had over 6 liters of fluid removed from her abdomen.
January 2018. The appointment was finally here. She was diagnosed with Non-alcoholic Cirrhosis of the Liver. She was instructed to change her eating habits, exercise, and a small chance of a liver transplant years later. Despite her being compliant with the doctors orders, mom’s symptoms became worse.
February/March 2018. Mom missed my niece’s birthday party. That was something mom just didn’t do. My step-dad came and told my sister and I that mom wasn’t feeling well, and he thought we really needed to go see her. I was stubborn. I didn’t go, and how I wish I would have gone that very day. Mom began vomiting daily, retaining fluid in her abdomen that again had to be drained, significant weight loss, and trouble breathing. I then knew something was definitely wrong. The doctors were missing something, and it was big. Finally, the liver specialist felt a mass in mom’s abdomen after she had the area drained for the third time. My mom had been trying to tell him about it since her first appointment. He referred her to IU Hospital. That Sunday, mom was admitted. Two days later, after multiple tests, mom was told they thought she had ovarian cancer. The oncology gyno team came in and we had a plan. Mom would go into surgery to have a full hysterectomy, would have probably six months of chemo, and the prognosis was good.
We were called into the conference room after mom’s surgery. We walked into that room with hope, and left it with fear. Mom did not have ovarian cancer. In fact, her reproductive organs were healthy. What mom did have was a rare form of cancer that is estimated to affect about two people per million…Appendix Cancer or Pseudomyxoma peritonei. Her cancer had obliterated her appendix, had spread across her abdomen, and had “frozen” a part of her intestines. That was why mom couldn’t keep any food or liquid down, was not getting any nutrition, and as for her liver… no issues.
April 2018. Due to the rarity of this cancer, there isn’t a lot of research material or statistics out there. Mom was moved to the Simon Cancer Center and was given the option of chemotherapy. She wanted to fight, and received her first round. Those three days were the best my mom had felt. There was a new light in her eyes. Hope had returned.
It was short lived. You see, throughout all of this, I thought I had to be the strong one. I looked at this from a clinical standpoint. I could see that those around me were crumbling, and I told myself that one of us has to keep our heads and retain what the doctors were saying and be realistic. I think I saw the writing on the wall well before anyone else did, and this was how I handled it. So, when we were given the news that nothing more could be done, I went home and wrote my mommy’s obituary. I started saving photos from her FB and phone, and I started going through photo albums. I made a list of songs, scriptures, and pallbearers.
Mom was moved to Hospice care in Columbus. I was going to go see her the day she was moved. Jason had bought us tickets to a concert that night for my birthday. I wasn’t going to go, but after speaking to some friends of mom’s and my step-dad, I did. Mom had sent him on a few Starbucks runs already, she was tired, so I made plans to visit her the next day.
April 22, 2018. The following morning, my step-dad called and said I needed to come. Jason and I made arrangements for the boys, and headed that way. I walked into her room and knew that she would not wake up. I told her that I was there and that I loved her. She took two breaths… and was gone.
Summer 2018. My world and life became a pit of darkness. I fully embraced my sinful nature. I had created an out for my marriage, and Jason and I separated. I had stopped praying and refused to step foot in church. Shame, guilt, regret, doubt, anger…I welcomed. I convinced myself that I could never change, that I was a burden to my children and family, and that the only way to relieve them of the pain I was causing, was to eliminate myself.
So, I made a plan to take my life…
By His grace,
PRIDE: preferring self-will to God’s will.
That was me. We had become disconnected. I thought I could just fix the problems myself (pride), and never sought out help; or for that matter, never turned to God. I was too embarrassed to ask for help. I didn’t want friends or family knowing our business. I put too much weight on what others thought and their perceptions. So I had to build a facade that would look like a happy marriage. Misty was diving into her faith and trying to allow God in, to help our marriage. I wasn’t completely on board with that. It’s not that I didn’t want to, He just wasn’t a priority.
The reality, my marriage started to fall apart well before Misty’s affairs. When it came to our finances, she was concerned with my ability to budget and make sacrifices in order to live the way we wanted to. We would have conversations, and I would tell her everything was going to be ok, but I wouldn’t change. I just wasn’t willing to make the sacrifices needed. Misty worked her butt off and for the majority of her time working, she enjoyed it. She was a very dependable, loyal, smart, hard worker. There were two or three times where she also worked a part-time job. She enjoyed those too but it all started taking a toll on her. The long drives back and forth each day to work, the time away from home with me and the boys, the normal everyday chores that needed to be done around the house, etc. I was the one who should have lifted that burden from her and gotten more serious about where our marriage really stood. I needed to be that spiritual leader she was looking for in me. I also should have been the one to take on other jobs, not her. We had started to drift apart, but I was in denial.
I remember Misty having a conversation with me while she was working, about marriage counseling. Her work had a program that was offered to their employees. We talked about it, but never pursued it. I thought,
“Why do we need counseling? Our marriage is fine. I am happy. We have both our boys and living our dream. We haven’t had anything major happen in our marriage that we can’t handle. I am a man. We don’t need counseling.”
Man…what I would have given to have knocked PRIDE out the door then!
Later, after multiple arguments, Misty told me that she thought she needed to have an affair in order to get my attention. She said that to me, and I was speechless. I was shocked but at the same time, I didn’t think she was serious. She wouldn’t do that! Several weeks had gone by since she had told me that. She was sitting on the couch waiting after I had put the boys to bed. She was starting to cry and told me she had an affair. I went numb and asked her to say it again. She was crying uncontrollably and my first thought was to console her. I just walked over to her and held her. I was in shock and disbelief. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I wanted it to be a nightmare. She continued to cry and apologize. Actually, we both were crying and apologizing. I asked myself how in the world did we get to this point?
“She was crying uncontrollably and my first thought was to console her. I just walked over to her and held her. “
I didn’t lash out in anger. Yes, I was confused and hurt, but I wanted to comfort Misty. She had come to me and confessed. I could see that she was in pain, had deep remorse, and was crying out for help. I didn’t feel like she had made this choice to hurt me. I knew she still loved me. I failed her and everything she looked for in me as her husband. We didn’t get much sleep that night, and spent the next couple of days figuring out what we were going to do. I told Misty I could forgive her.
We decided we were going to work through it on our own and not tell anyone. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and it would take a lot to gain trust again, but I was all about moving forward. Things started getting better. We did our own sort of counseling through devotionals. We were back at church. We were more engaged in each other as a couple and a family than we had been in a very long time. However, although things were much better for us we still hadn’t let anyone in on our broken marriage.
We had always had a goal for Misty to be a stay-at-home mom with our boys. We had worked hard and gotten ourselves out of debt. I remember how happy it made her, especially after the serious ankle surgery that she suffered through prior to that. Despite the hell we had went through already in our marriage, I was happy to be able to give that to her also. Misty ended up joining several women’s bible studies and led a few of them on her own. I was proud of her and started becoming more engaged with her about them. I was also jealous, because deep down I wanted to be able to have that kind of relationship with God too.
Misty carried guilt with her after suffering through two miscarriages. I won’t even try to compare a woman’s grief to a man’s grief because there isn’t a comparison. I will say though that I hurt so much for Misty during those times. I cried with her and cried alone. I tried to be there any way possible, but I knew there was only so much I could do. I also carried guilt. I questioned if I did enough for her in trying to help her through her grief.
I started to make sacrifices, and picked up a part time job. The goal was to do it for a year to get some debt paid off. I was going to have to give up helping coach Nathan’s baseball team and cut into coaching Noah’s football team. Plus my time at home was going to be more limited. It was also going to take away time for Misty and I to spend together. I ended up working a year and a half, the money made would have to go toward other hardships instead of paying off debt, and it put even more of a strain on our marriage.
Heartache is how I would describe the last couple of years. My dad, who I thought the world of, passed away four days after Misty’s second miscarriage. This was a very hard time for my family. Misty loved my dad dearly. She knew one of the things I always struggled with was trying to live up to the type of man he was. My dad was a man of faith, and those that knew him, felt that. Noah and Nathan loved him so much too! I didn’t realize it at the time, but slowly after my dad’s death and because of the things we were still trying to overcome as a husband and wife, I was becoming lost too.
I would continue to struggle with trusting Misty. Although, I had forgiven her, I still had bitterness in my heart. I had always told her she never had to worry about me getting revenge because I didn’t want to do that. I knew it was difficult for Misty to trust me despite that. I was aware of the struggles she had coming from a broken home. I was aware of the relationships she had been in the past that were not healthy. I also knew that I would never treat her like she had been treated before.
She started having her “girl’s nights out”. She needed a break, and I got that, but I would be critical every time she would go. I assumed she was doing things she shouldn’t be doing, and would treat her as such. I know there are many others who wouldn’t put up with it happening even once, but I knew Misty’s heart. I just continued to pray for her. I prayed daily and nightly. I knew she was lost. I witnessed many wonderful moments of her faith. New friendships she formed, coloring notes in her Bible, how passionate she had become about Jesus. I saw the person she had become when she allowed Christ in her heart! All I could do was weather the storms, fight as much as possible for my marriage, and continue to be the rock for her and our boys; while holding onto any faith that I still had left.
YOU GUIDE ME WITH YOUR COUNSEL, & AFTERWARD YOU WILL TAKE ME INTO GLORY. – PSALM 73:24
We would find out soon that the choice to not seek out God during any of this time or reach out to anyone else, was a huge mistake…
By His grace,