Day 31: It’s not the end

It’s the end of the series, but not the end of the story. The series was ‘hope for a messed up marriage’ and you have seen that there has been hope in abundance. Pressed down, yet still overflowing. Appearing when I needed it most. Lifting me back on my feet and holding me as I walked.

I told the truth to the elders in my church. To those who I felt needed to know. They were loving, and kind, and understanding and non-judgemental and accepting. I was released from shame.

I am still with my husband and I do love him again. It took me months to say those words. I don’t find things easy. I don’t feel emotionally connected often, but I do want his good. I want to support him. I want to see him grow. I want to be there for him. I value him, his character, his judgement, his humour. I love how we parent together. I adore our children. We are making plans for the future.

I am not yet free of the past. I still struggle daily. I keep wrestling. I keep leaning in to God. That’s all I can do.

I love God more than I ever have before. Why ? I told Him that He had to become everything to me. I told Him that I needed tangible confirmations. I told Him I would do total honesty and I’d see if He could take it. He’s met my challenges. My arrogant demands. My need to be loved. My need to be understood. My need to be known. He’s got them all. His words to me in the bible are life, and strength and hope.

I will continue to write this blog. So if you want to keep walking with me I would be honoured to have your company.

Just in case this is the last time you come here I want to share some really important things I’ve learned through this very painful season.  

God is enough.  More than enough.

But this is really easy to forget and you will need to be reminded of it frequently.

Tell people in your life, who you can trust, what the hard things are.

I have not had anything but love, acceptance and support from those I’ve told. I didn’t expect that, especially from those who knew everyone involved. Why did they respond like that? I think it’s because we are all flawed, broken people. I am like you; you are like me. We don’t need to hide our flaws from each other. You will still be loved even if the cracks show. And showing the cracks is the way to stop them from becoming larger.

Be honest. With yourself, with other people.

This is hard, but so important. If I accept my weaknesses I can better protect myself against them. By way of example, over these past few days there is something I’ve wanted to do but I’ve known it was not right. It would have been an action born from hurt and would have caused hurt. I told a few well chosen friends what I was thinking about doing. I knew that in telling them I would protect myself from carrying out the behaviour. Not because they  tell me I am horrible, or bad, or they will ‘like me less’ if I do it, but because once they knew, they were standing with me, arm in arm, helping me to resist. I don’t actually want to be someone who behaves badly, and hurts others. But I’m human and hurting. My friends know this, and so they just take my hands and help me to stand firm.  They couldn’t do that if I wasn’t honest with them.

Set shame aside.

It’s not something we should carry. We are redeemed and loved, and that is our status. This is another hard thing to believe and an even harder thing to live, but it’s true.

Marriage is bloody hard work.

It takes so much effort and so much commitment. You are not failing if this is how it feels to you. I think this is pretty normal. Talking about this with other people helps, as it can normalise our difficulties and stop us feeling like we are the worst person in the world for feeling like this.

Failing and sinning and messing up does not stop God from using you to increase his Kingdom.

It is ok to let friends who aren’t followers of Jesus know that you, as a follower of Jesus, are a total or sometimes, mess. My weaknesses will not stop God from being God. I have a friend who has been through a very similar situation to me. She would not have called herself in any way a person of faith.  We have met and talked, and cried together. We message each other on bad days. We keep reminding each other why we are working to restore our marriages. She thinks God is working in all of it. She’s seen Him. despite my mess.

Hope is not wishful thinking or crossing your fingers.

Hope is not putting a positive spin on things and pretending that life is all ok. Hope is Jesus, who died in my place, who rose to life, and in doing so proved that there is something stronger than the darkness which can threaten to overwhelm us. Hope means I can overcome. I will find joy. I know the truth and the truth has set me free. 

So if you carry on with me I will be glad to have you here. If you want to get future posts then you can sign up to receive emails, or ‘like’ The Hope Diaries Facebook page, and you will know when I post.

If this is where we part company then thank you for being here, but for now, goodbye, and go well.

Caiobhe xxx

 

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Day 30: How can you be proud of me?

‘Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5 v 16-18

‘You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord.’ Jeremiah 29 v 13-14 

‘For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.’  Romans 8 

These are truths.  I can testify to their truth.

After the Sunday I wrote about yesterday, I felt as if I had moved another step along the journey. I felt released from things that were holding me. I felt more myself, and I felt a contentment with what I had and where I was.

I had been working hard on truth with my husband for months.  I was aware that there were a few other people who I felt should also know the truth. I didn’t like that some people, particularly within the church context, didn’t know the truth. I felt they should have an explanation as to why I hadn’t been attending. The situation was actually incredibly complex because of the others’ behaviour and position.  We had a group of friends who had been praying for us for months, in particular about when and how and who we/ I should tell. On a number of occasions I’d wanted to tell, but all the pray-ers had come back with a ‘no, not yet’.  This time everyone came back with a ‘yes’. Part of me really wanted a no.

I made an appointment to see an elder on a Sunday afternoon. That morning  I stayed at home,  when my family went to church. I wrote in my journal,

‘I’ve contacted [   ] after he asked about me in a church context and we are going to meet. I feel sure it is the right next step but it feels awful.  this morning I felt I just needed Jesus to ‘love on me’ .

I was feeling full of self loathing. I despised myself. I was preparing to tell people whose respect I had previously enjoyed, that I had been involved with the other. As I sat praying, I felt God was telling me that he was proud of me.  This made no sense. I wrote this,

‘How can he be proud of me?………. I think maybe it’s like when your child does wrong but then you see their character develop and their heart show as they work to change, to restore, to make reparation. God knows how hard this next step is for me and he will walk it with me. I’m not alone. ‘ 

I thought that I had done things that put me outside of God’s love and care and concern and yet I found myself more aware of God’s love than ever before.

‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God’. Nothing.

Lights in the darkness. 

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Day 29: What to do in the waiting

I stopped going to church regularly from September 2013.  The other was part of the same church community. He left towards the end of the year, but the circumstances around his leaving, the lies he told about me to others and the impact that that had on their responses towards me, meant that I felt that I couldn’t attend. Occasionally I tried, for the sake of my children, but most Sundays whilst they attended church, I sat with my bible and notebook and read and prayed and sobbed.

I missed so many things about gathering with other christians. One Sunday I went to a different church – I was so ‘thirsty’ I had to go, despite it being hard to explain to my children why I was going to church but not to ‘our’ church.

I sat at the back and a man got up and talked about gardening. He said that it can be hard to dig the roots of something out, but if you let God put the fork in and loosen the soil then the roots will come out much more easily. He continued, “God wants to do this because of the great work he wants to do in the next stage of your life. He wants good soil in order to have really good ground for growth”.

The question he asked was ‘What do you need to let go of? What soil is God wanting to stick the fork in to get rid of’?’

I knew the answer instantly. I needed to let go of the other. I had my notebook with me and I wrote these words as I sat in the service,

‘I need to let go of him [the other]. Totally. Forever. completely. I need to let go of what was. I need to let go of wondering about his present. I need to stop thinking about what he’s doing, how he’s feeling, whether he wants me, whether he doesn’t. I need to let go of future stories which include him in my story.

That’s too hard. 

So now I’m listening to the sermon for my answers’. 

The person preaching took as their text Titus 2 v 11-13

‘For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “no” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope- the glorious appearing of our  great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’. 

I should have known by then that as soon as I wrote something like ‘I’m listening for the answers’ – I would be given them.

The question posed by the preacher was ‘What do we do while we wait?’  That was the question I wanted the answer to. I was waiting for the same thing those early Christians were waiting for. I was waiting for the end and all being made new, and the struggle being over. I didn’t know if I could wait.

The preacher continued – he  said that the first thing we should do in the waiting was to hope, and he defined hope in this way,

“Hope is a confident expectation in God. The object of hope is God himself. We can have hope because God is sovereign, victorious and returning. The basis of our hope is God’s grace to us in Jesus. Our long term future is settled and so we can cope with the hard things now. It frees us in the present. Put your hope in God.” 

Once again it was confirmation that the juxtaposition, the co-existence of hope and difficulty in the present is how it is expected to be for us. That loving God, following his ways, having faith, DO NOT make life easier in the day to day struggles. What we do have is a hope, a certainty that this is not all there is. ‘Our long term future is settled’.

He listed 7 other things for us to do in the waiting – they all spoke to my situation. He said that the waiting was analogous to child-birth. Something is being birthed in pain that we can find, and will know joy in.

It all tied together for me. I knew what had to be dug out. I knew that I was right in holding on to hope. I began to believe in the possibility of God preparing the ground for future growth and my life not being only about damage, and survival and sadness.

I went to pray with a woman at the end. I cried and told her that God was telling me hard things. She prayed and then she said this,

“I don’t know what the particulars of your situation are but I think that God wants you to know that He will meet your deepest needs. He says that you are not to look for those to be met somewhere else. By someone else. He loves you more deeply than you can understand.” 

That morning proved to be another significant turning point on my journey. I will write more of that tomorrow.

Lights in the darkness.  They were becoming brighter. 

 

 

 

 

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Day 28: Finding the Light

Every morning I turned to my bible and my book of daily readings. Thinking about things now, I don’t know whether  because I was turning to the bible NEEDING it to speak to me  that I found so much meaning in it?  I’ve been reading my bible for most of my life and often it has felt like a routine chore which just has to be done. I am realising now that maybe at those times I wasn’t actually seeking direction or correction or wisdom from it. The lack of connection was on my side.

I wrote on a day in June, having just written about wanting to do something/ almost doing something which I knew was, in anyone’s view, very wrong ;

” I haven’t read my bible in the past 2 day. It makes me aware how weak my hold is unless I intentionally place my hand into the hand of God each and every day. I must keep doing that. I was thinking about the Morning Prayer this morning. ‘Do you seek Him with all your strength?’ My strength isn’t to go into trying to make my marriage work or pretend or anything, it’s got go into seeking God. That’s where it should be used and if I am doing that then the rest will follow. I must keep remembering that.” 

That was a really significant realisation. The reality of life at that time, as I went on to record in my journal, was that I wasn’t sleeping, I was attempting to reduce my anti-depressant medication without much success, I’d developed a stress related skin problem and I still didn’t have any real hope that my marriage would recover. I was struggling to manage work and family responsibilities. I didn’t think I could ‘try’ any harder. It was a relief to realise that the strength I had was not to fuel my attempts to fix things. Rather it was to keep seeking God. Read my bible every day. Pray. Be open. Listen.

As I read my bible this verse spoke to me:

‘Though I have fallen I will rise.

Though I sit in darkness the Lord will be my light. ‘

Micah 7 v 8 

If we seek God we find the light. We don’t have to generate the light ourselves.

morning sky

This photo was taken one morning, many months ago. The sky was lit with glorious light and colour for only a few minutes before the clouds masked it’s brightness. But behind the clouds the light was still there. That is how it is so often for me. I know the light is there. I have seen dazzling explosions of light. Magnificent colours. I have been so awed by its beauty that nothing else matters. All I want is more of that light. And then the clouds come. I need to keep remembering that the light has not gone. It’s still there. I need to keep looking with eyes of faith to what lies beyond. To know that the certainty of hope has not changed, no matter what clouds appear.

Seek the Lord with all your strength.

Lights in the darkness

Post script : I am nearing the end of my 31 day series Hope for a Messed up Marriage.  Even though the 31 days are almost complete, neither the hope, nor the mess have gone! Prior to writing this series I wrote this blog as a diary of hope. I am thinking about how to continue on from this point.

My heart is to keep sharing from my brokeness in an honest way so that you and I can know that to follow Christ is not about pretend and perfection. It’s about love and grace and leaning in. 

If you have been following this series, or the blog for longer, I would really appreciate knowing what it is that you keep coming back for ?!  In some ways my story for the rest of my life will be a story of marriage redemption, but it will also be a story of other things too. I would like to keep writing, but I really am praying about the way to take things forward from here. Please, please, let me know your thoughts – I have valued conversation with you all so much in this month. Thank you for walking this part of the journey with me.  Caiobhe xxx 

 

 

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