I'm not dead yet. (For those of you that are anxious types, that's a Monty Python reference, not a threat.)
It's been quite a year (almost). I haven't had reliable internet in months and months, and things have been so crazy that blogging was the last thing on my mind. But I'm going to try to start again.
Tonight, listening to Jimmy at the gathering was such a hard thing. The reasons we don't see God in our lives...because we don't want to? Oh, yeah. That's my story. I know first-hand what that's like, and I'm starting to think that may be the biggest obstacle to following God for a lot of people. Even most people. So I'm going to tell a little story, and you may believe it. You may think I'm deranged (or worse). But I'll risk it.
I don't have to tell most people that the last five years or so have been very difficult ones for our family. We had twins who were eleven weeks premature, and hospitalized for 6 weeks. We went back to school, and had all the stress and financial burden that brings. We had Jonah, which we were neither planning on nor prepared for. We found out that Gabe fit the criteria for Autism Spectrum, and needed special education preschool. I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. And through it all, Jeff struggled with his own mental illness, hospitalization, and trying medication after medication with no lasting relief. We were a mess. But it got worse.
At some point, our marriage went from difficult to unstable to mutually destructive. I don't have a timeline for it; I don't know when things really got unhealthy for us. But we separated last May. Right around that time, God started calling me end our marriage. Out of compassion for both of us. Out of concern for our kids. I won't go into detail here, ever, but our relationship had become a really scary, ugly thing. And at some point, we both became so wounded that it was hard to muster anything at all for our kids. That was agony. But for me, the thought of giving up hurt worse. The thought that God was asking me to get a divorce made sense to me in light of what we had become, and what I believe God wants for us, but I didn't believe it. I outright refused to. Closed my eyes. Turned away.
So I spent most of last year vacillating. Not wanting to give up, but without the strength to go on. Hurting and being hurt. Saying, "Ok, God," then running away, angry and disbelieving. How could God? This isn't how God is supposed to operate. What happened to "'I hate divorce,' says the LORD God of Israel"? I felt incredibly betrayed, and it's a feeling I still struggle with, a year later.
Even knowing how hurtful our relationship was. Even knowing it was affecting our children. Even knowing that God's heart was breaking every day for us. The reasons didn't matter. I had decided how I wanted God to behave, and I was determined to hold God to it.
I prayed about it relentlessly and tearfully. I begged God not to let it happen, to find some other way. I begged God to make our family whole again. And amazingly, God said, "Ok, give it a try". The planets aligned. Obstacles melted away. We began living together again in November. Then God stopped speaking. All through our separation, I had frequent awareness of God's presence. Comfort. Guidance. More frequent and consistent than any other year of my life. And all that disappeared like a match dropped in a puddle. That worried me, but things were going alright, so I pushed it away. When things stopped being alright, God's absence became unbearable.
I spent a few hours telling my friend Michelle the whole story of our attempted reconciliation in January, after three months had passed, and our relationship had become destructive once again. Her response was, "Maybe God isn't speaking because He's already said it."
God let me try to force things to be fixed. He even blessed our efforts- the honeymoon phase was longer and more stable than I ever would have expected. Some good things even came out of those months. But we ended up back where we started.
And so, a month ago, we separated again, this time for good. God said, "Now do you understand? Now do you believe Me?" and internally, I kind of mutely nodded, round-eyed, like a chastened preschooler.
I was dying before, yes, but at least my life felt secure and predictable. Security and predictability are long-standing addictions for me. I think that if it weren't for my children, I would keep fighting to stay blind. But they deserve a mom who will do what she can to protect them, whether or not it makes her scared and sad. They deserve parents who are there for them, even if it costs them each other.
Having eyes to see is not the most comfortable thing in the world.