First of all can I say thank you so much to all of you for reading this series and encouraging me with your comments and visits to this page and the facebook page of the Hope Diaries. I began this series thinking it would be mostly for my own benefit, little did I realise how many others would read it, and I still pray that God would use my story of brokeness, mess, redemption and hope to demonstrate to others that we are utterly loved always. Nothing can separate us from God’s love.
I am writing about past events and emotions at the moment, but it’s true that some of the emotions and struggles remain part of my current reality too. I was speaking with a friend yesterday about the co-existence in our lives of things which are seemingly opposed to one another. We are good and bad. We are strong and weak. We are decisive and confused (or confusing). We are hopeful and desolate. I could go on. One of the things I have learned in this period of marriage restoration is to accept the dichotomies. This has been really hard as I like to know that something is one thing or the other; but that approach leaves me in a tangle as life is never neatly divided in that way.
Today I want to tell you about a day, a few weeks after the poetry writing weekend, when I was struggling with the clash of uncertainty and hope. It was our wedding anniversary. Most of our wedding anniversaries (and we are approaching the end of our second decade of marriage so there have been a few) had gone entirely unmarked by my husband. Needless to say I was carrying huge amounts of hurt from all the uncelebrated occasions. My husband was doing all he could to work towards restoration of our marriage and so he had made plans for us to have a night away. He had arranged for the care of our children and booked a hotel.
I wrote in my journal ‘I’m scared’. I had completely mixed emotions and that was the cause of my fear. I was going away with my husband to ‘celebrate’ our marriage, and yet I didn’t really even want to be married. I wanted to go away and do the things he’d planned, but I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do them with him. I was frightened of my enjoyment of things being taken for a whole hearted 100% re-commitment to our relationship and an indication that all was now well.
On the morning we were due to go away I was writing in my journal when a verse from a friend arrived by text;
“ My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.” Psalm 72 v 6.
I texted my friend to thank her and she responded immediately with surprise as she had sent the text about 10 days beforehand. I didn’t need it ten days beforehand. I needed it at the moment it arrived.
I realised an important lesson that morning as I thought about the verse. Yes, relationally things were really difficult, but things were not ‘either or’. My heart and flesh could fail and God would still be good and giving me strength. I was being told that these contradictions would be part of my life.
With that in mind I remembered something another friend had sent to me a few days earlier. Someone else who’d lived through mess and understood the co-existence of uncertainty and commitment, pain and joy, hope and despair. He told me to do this…
“Count your blessings. Discover fun. Feed the body. Nurture the soul. Share your pain. Wonder at beauty. Explore your questions. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.”
Co-existence. Lights in the darkness.