This is the last post in the series and rather than writing I wish I could look you in the eye and hold your hand ( if you’re a person who doesn’t mind being touched), and I would tell you that we’re in this together and I believe in you.
I can’t do that, so I hope that what I write this morning will reach out to you and somehow bridge the gap between us, and will give you some of my heart.
I wrote this series because I want to encourage and support anyone who is struggling like I was struggling. I wrote it because I want to share hope and life and light. I hope that it has given you some of those things.
So here’s what I want to say to finish: Somewhere along the line, whatever has happened in your marriage or relationships, you need to make peace with the past.
This is a weird and vague phrase, but here’s what I think it means.
- You stop endlessly re-running scenes from the past and giving them different endings.
- You stop hating yourself for the things you did that you wish you hadn’t done.
- You allow others to be flawed, just like you allow yourself to be flawed, and you accept that even when you wanted other people to make you a priority in their decisions and lives they didn’t.
- You accept that other people’s treatment of you is not actually the measure against which you determine your value.
- You accept that you are not your past, your decisions, or your mistakes. They are things you have experienced but they are not your core essence.
- You realise somewhere along the journey that after the hurt (which is survivable even though you neither want to, nor believe that it will be) there may be anger, and anger actually does you more damage than anyone else.
There will be some signs that you are beginning to make peace with the past:
- You can tell your story without crying or wanting to punch someone. Not always, but sometimes.
- You’ll find that the hurt and the anger and the confusion return, but less frequently, and when they come they cause less destruction than the time before.
- You will begin to believe that you are an ok person.
- You will not feel that your infidelity, or neglect of your spouse, or weeks in marriage therapy is something you need to tell everyone you meet so that they can have full facts on which to judge you.
- You will have plans and dreams for your future again.
I’m not there yet, but I am a long way down the road.
Things I’ve found helpful in getting there have included:
- The Book of Forgiving by Desmond and Mpho Tutu
- Marriage counselling and individual therapy
- The Emotionally Healthy Woman by Geri Scazzero http://www.eden.co.uk/shop/the-emotionally-healthy-woman-4297176.html
- Reading The Psalms in the bible. They are basically poems where different people write about what stuff ups they are, or how angry they are that people are treating them badly, and then they quite often process their feelings through their words and get to a place of feeling a little tiny bit more hopeful. http://biblehub.com/niv/psalms/1.htm
If you have experienced major breakdown in your marriage or relationships I want you to hear these things from my heart to yours today:
Firstly, this may not be the end for your marriage. Read this series and you will see that there may be choices you can make that will allow you to figure out whether there is any way of rebuilding or starting again with your partner or spouse.
Rebuilt marriages are not second best. They are best. They are built on gut wrenching honesty, bloody hard work, love of the deepest and most real kind, and the tears of unicorns. Well maybe not the last one. But they could be. I didn’t believe a marriage after infidelity could be better than it ever was before – even in the early days when you thought everything was perfect about your spouse. But it is. It is so much better. It’s so real and solid and good.
You are not your past or your mistakes. You are not the hurts that have been caused to you. You are a person of infinite value and beauty and that is non-negotiable. And if you have made the difficult decision to stay and rebuild a relationship you are a total legend. You have all my respect and I think you are amazing. For real. And if you have struggled and have had to walk away I also want you to know that you are valuable and beautiful. These things are hard.
There is room for you at the table. I am part of a church (two churches in fact) and what I love about where I currently find Christian community is that it’s a place that tells the messy stories. We share REAL life, not pretend glossed over life. Because whatever your story, your struggles, your faltering faith, your screaming doubts, there is room for you at the table. Jesus invites all who are weary and heavy laden to come to him. He promises rest. He promises life. I’ve got to tell you that in these past 4 years I have tested those words like never before in my life. I believe. I believe in Jesus. I believe that life with a relationship with God is more rich and free than life without. If you’ve never explored your spirituality then can I encourage you to do so. You are so welcome and you belong round the table.
Please keep sharing your stories and your lives. Be real with your spouses and partners. Don’t hide from those who love you. Believe that relationships can withstand the painful conversations and agonising truths.
You are loved. You are forgiven. You are precious.