I’m overwhelmed by the response of my last post: Hi. This is the real me. Thank you to everyone who posted, shared or sent me a personal message. I see you. You responded because the real you has been where I have been or where I am at or you are walking through it right now. The human experience is a funny thing. We all experience so much of the same pain, desires, needs, disappointments, uncertainties and hopes - yet we find ourselves tempted to isolate and retreat when the realness of life hits us. There is nothing more freeing than living in the light. There’s also nothing more vulnerable or terrifying. There’s always a price for our freedom.
Two days after I had my amazing epiphany at the concert, another bomb dropped in my life. This was one I knew was coming. The holy spirit had told me details about this bomb, but I didn’t think it would come this soon. As I watched his lips utter the words, with our three year old sitting in between us, I felt the pangs of rejection deep inside my gut. It is a feeling I know well. It’s visceral. It’s real physical pain. I sat for a moment in the pain and then I went numb. This is shock. I know this feeling too. Like old friends, they all came flooding into my mind and body. Hello, pain. Hello, rejection. Hello, shock.
I tried to steady myself. I tried to keep my words in a tone that would not alarm Berlyn. But I felt it welling up inside of me. The disbelief was overwhelming and the words eventually found their way to my lips. I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was losing it. Right in front of Berlyn. She tried to console me. She told me “daddy loves you” and “I love you”. I felt embarrassed, weak and enraged. I felt cheated from expressing my feelings.
I spewed some choice words out of desperation to pass off some of my pain back to him. This is selfish and wrong, but it was instinctual for my sin nature to do this. I don’t know if the vacant look in his eyes was pain, guilt, remorse or just that - vacancy because he had checked out. I really didn’t care. To be honest, I was attempting to dull the pain by getting what was inside of me out. Like a knife stuck in a wound, I needed to get it out so I could tend to the wound.
Eventually there was nothing else to say because words can’t take away actions. So he left. Berlyn wanted to play. I wanted to cry. I just needed a minute. I just needed to catch my breath. I was sitting in the midst of the rubble of the aftermath and I just needed a minute to process. But Mom’s don’t get a minute to disappear. So I just sat there and felt the familiar feelings of my past in the present moment and instead of allowing them to overcome me and drown me - I reminded myself that I was not going to die.
No, Amber. You are not going to die. You are going to make it through this, just like you have made it through every other thing that you swore would obliterate you. You are going to rise above this situation and choose to not make a messy situation any messier. You are going to trust God that He is going to take care of you, Brian and Berlyn.
But my pep talk didn’t stick. I gave into my flesh. I had buffered what I wanted to say in front of Berlyn, but it was almost as if I would explode if I didn’t get it out of me. There was so much ‘wrong’ about what just happened and I felt I had been held hostage from speaking my truth and the truth of the situation.
So I called him. I shut the door to the bedroom. I let him know exactly how I was feeling and all that was wrong with what just happened - because it was so wrong, even if he didn’t see it that way. And then I hung up. I felt better. I felt lighter. I felt like I could breathe again.
I wondered why I felt better. In the past when I had a heated argument with Brian, I felt better in the moment when the words were flying out of my mouth, but then I always felt guilty afterwards. I have realized that the guilt came from coming from a position of manipulation (to try to prove my point, get my way or change who he was). But this was different. I was heated. I was angry. But I spoke the truth. I think sometimes we can forget that there is healthy Godly anger for the things of this world that are unjust, evil and cruel. Jesus flipped over tables in the temple because they were selling and bartering in His Father’s house. He literally FLIPPED out. Because it wasn’t right. It was not the way God intended it. I feel like that is what welled up inside of me and spewed out minus the few choice cuss words added for emphasis. I’m only human.
It can be hard to control our emotions in the heat of the battle. We go into survival mode and often words are used as weapons and also as our shield. We have to ask ourselves if it’s a weapon for the enemy and a shield from God or the other way around. Because the truth is that our battles are not against flesh and blood.
Hurt people, hurt people. This has been my mantra over the past few years as most of the pain and upheaval in my life has come from people who were inner-circle kind of people. The people that know the deep parts of my being. The people who can hurt me the most. I keep repeating that to myself over and over and over again. It is also these types of rejection (and only these types of rejection) that cause me to reflect about where to put my trust and hope. I mean, if my partner that I have pledged an oath and covenant to fails me, who’s left? Each rejection of my life has added to the evidence that I can only put my full trust in what is perfect (Jesus) and accept people for what they are - imperfect. What about you? Where do you place your faith and hope?
So here I am, hurting again. Feeling as if I am back to square one, learning forgiveness, love and mercy all over again. But that is a lie. Here is what is true.
- The pang of rejection hit me like a sledgehammer, but it didn’t last.
- The anger bubbled up inside of me, but it didn’t erupt like a volcano although it did release some smoke and heat.
- I didn’t manipulate the situation in order to get validation or confirmation of my worth from the person who just hurt me.
- I attached what he did to who I am for a split second and then I spoke that nonsense off. It actually felt ridiculous to me.
- I have an unshakable identity in Christ that can’t be revoked, despite what is done to me I am loved, blameless, saved and redeemed.
- The news knocked me back a couple of steps, but it didn’t knock me down.
- I cried, but I didn’t do the ugly cry.
- I was able to laugh later that evening (not a fake laugh, but a real belly laugh) with my daughter.
- I didn’t sleep well that night, but I slept the next night.
So, no I am not back to square one. I am stronger, braver and bolder than what I was before. I was prepared for this battle and although I faltered on some points, I didn’t blow it and totally give into my flesh. So, I will take that win and accept the grace that is mine as a daughter of the Most High. Someone needs to hear this. You may be struggling too...again. But you are further down the path than you were before. Don’t let the enemy steal your victory and negate the messy but perfect process God is leading you through!
I recently listened to a great and timely podcast by Andy Stanley called Address the Mess (check it out). Our response to our mess becomes a permanent part of our story. Most of our messes come with bad options. It’s literally a question of, what is the best of the bad options I have available? In the center or our messes we can decide to have a break-down of virtue and add to the hurt or we can choose honesty, self-control and purity. Because here is what is true. We don’t clean up a breakdown of virtue with a failure of virtue.
So, as I walk through this painful process of grieving the death of my marriage, I can decide what story I want to tell. I am choosing to tell the story of how I overcame my pain and grief with an imperfect journey of humility, forgiveness, mercy and grace. And my story will have the ongoing theme of hope. I have hope for the future. I have hope for redemption and restoration. I have hope that God is making all things new. I have hope that how I live my life is not for worldly treasures but for eternal treasures. I have to continue to believe that what I do and how I do it matters and the same is for you.
I hope this lifts someone up who is in a mess that just seems to get messier - surrounded by less than ideal options. Stay on the high road. Wrap yourself in the love of the Father and the armor of God.
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit,which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:10 - 18)
The last thing I want to leave you with is the power of prayer and community. I had my amazing sisters from my discipleship group pray for my heart as I could feel the anger stewing inside of me. Although what was done was wrong, it does not warrant unforgiveness or anger to remain. I have been set free, but I felt the shackles. As their prayers flooded the heavenly realms, my heart broke open. I was flooded with compassion and empathy and a deep love. The next time I saw him, I embraced him and held him for a few moments. I took a deep breath and exhaled a release of all that I was holding onto. I once again surrendered and laid the situation at the foot of the cross. I took ahold of the peace that has been promised to me and asked Him to once again bring beauty from my ashes. Thank God that His mercies are new every day...for me and for you!