I found out in April. I can’t even remember the exact date. Even though I thought that would be one of those dates that would be forever singed into my mind. I do remember it was a Saturday. I probably could find the date if I traced back, but I’m not sure I even want to anymore. April. That seems enough. Just April. A time that is supposed to be about new growth and revitalization. And all April brought me was death. An end. The only beginning to speak of was a beginning of the longest journey of my life.
It’s true what they say. You really do never think it will happen to you. It’s always someone else’s hushed whispers and silent torture. Always someone else that we feel such pity for and do our best to comfort and offer words of quiet condolence, all the while sitting methodically in our bubbles of nevers and can’t happens. And then it happens to you. And you realize that the coats of immortality and exemption that we all so haughtily wear are stripped from you, and you are left raw, bleeding, and naked. Empty. Stripped. Broken.
So is my story.
Turns out my husband is in love with another woman. At least with the fantasy of another woman. There was a time when I would be reduced to a pathetic puddle of tears at the thought of even hearing the admission of that by me. But I’ve been living this for a good 6 months now (and that’s just counting the time that I’ve known about this torrid affair), and I’ve pretty much moved on to accepting this as a way of life for me…at least for the time-being. In the past 6 months, I’ve prayed. I’ve screamed. I’ve cried. I’ve reduced myself to becoming one with my bed and only exiting it for days on end to perform the necessaries. And don’t think I didn’t contemplate just throwing up the middle finger to those every once in awhile. I’ve reached the lowliest of places a human life can reach. I’ve believed lies. I’ve not believed lies but pretended to believe them just for the sake of survival. I’ve yo-yo’ed back and forth between being an exemplary parent to my children and being a mother that was 10 o’clock news-worthy. I’ve questioned God. I’ve turned my back on my family. I’ve embraced my family. I’ve lost friends. I’ve lost all trust in humanity. And I’ve found an impeccable strain of people with hearts of compassion and gold. I’ve lost my faith. And then I found it again. I’ve hated my husband. And I’ve fallen in love with him. Several times. To say that extremism has been my mantra wouldn’t even begin to do this period of life justice.
And yet I’m still here. Still breathing. Still standing. And sitting. And showering. And dressing. And blow drying my hair. And all the other things that I swore I was totally incapable of doing when I had myself sentenced to a bed-ridden state of depression. It really is the little things……
Right now, my husband doesn’t live here. I guess if truth be told, he hasn’t really lived here for 6 months….or the months before when his heart was somewhere else. Oh, sure, he still has some underwear in his drawer and clothes fill the hangers in his closet….but he hasn’t really lived here. Nope. Not really. For to live somewhere, you have to consider it a home. Anyone can STAY somewhere….but it’s a whole other matter to LIVE. He’s just been taking up space. Breathing similar air. Occupying an area. No, he hasn’t lived here in ages. But, for all technical purposes, he isn’t staying here right now either. I’ve slept alone in the bed that was ours for 2 weeks now. I’ve awakened to stillness , and I’ve slid my toothbrush into a slot in the holder that used to hold 2 brushes…now just 1. I’m only washing clothes for 4 these days, and I’m only cooking food that suits the tastebuds of people that haven’t hit puberty yet. Minus the 3 little people in my charge….I’m alone.
And it might quite possibly be the loneliest time I’ve experienced to date.
What? Even worse than the initial days of shock?
Yep. Because at least then he was here. Even though he had given away everything that was mine, he was still here in body. I could touch him. Trick myself into believing he was real. That we were going to make it. That our story would be different.
Now he’s not here.
And I miss him. I miss the way he smells. I miss the way his body curves perfectly around mine while we sleep. I miss the routine method of clockwork precision that is his getting-ready-in-the-morning regimen. I miss the sound of his truck engine in the driveway in the evenings. I miss goodnight kisses and subsequent snores coming from the side of the bed closest to the door….because he knows I can’t sleep by the door.
Now I sleep by the door.
It doesn’t matter how far away I scoot to the far edge of the bed, I’m still by the door.
And I hate it.
And I want to hate him for it. Hate him for making me sleep by the door.
But I can’t.
Believe me. I’ve tried. Because somehow this might all be easier to stomach or to be a mature grown-up about if I could just hate him.
But I can’t.
Quite the opposite really.
You see, it would be safe to say that no less than a multitude of very well-meaning onlookers and observers have experted themselves out to me to give me what appears to them to be advice from the floors of Heaven itself. Leave him. Do not stand for this another second. He’s scum. Take your boys and run. Divorce. Make him pay. Stick it to him. Do not let him anywhere near you. Be a bitch. Pull out the gloves. Fight. Show him what he’s missing. Move every stitch and stick of his possessions to the curb. Make him feel like crap. All to which I say….oh, how my flesh wishes I could.
What sweet relief to watch him writhe in pain and discomfort. How pleasing to sit back and watch him suffer and be abandoned and left with absolutely nothing. Watch him crash and burn. Boy, that’d show him.
I can’t. It’s not okay. For some bizarre reason I’ve been called to sit and suffer through this maddening emotional abuse and be used for a human punching bag. And I’m a strong girl, too. Some of the time anyway. I have a ton of insecurities, but I think I could hold my own if I needed to. No, I don’t like people mad at me and I despise confrontation, but I’m a firm believer in good vs. evil, and I have no doubt that I could totally hop on the train that would lead me to come out shining like martyrdom gold and leave him a crumpled heap of nothingness.
But from day one, I’ve felt the insane need to ride out the meek and mild side of things and just take it. To do my best to exude grace and mercy and to walk a road that is shallow, dank, narrow, and just…hard. I’ve been equated to a doormat. To letting him take advantage of me. To being weak and scared and needy and desperate and dramatic and even likened to being a child….by friends, family, onlookers, and even the husband himself.
I’ll admit to acting like that here and there. I’ll own those attitudes. But, I stand by my calling.
Believe me….this is not where I want to be. I know that Biblically I’m totally justified in leaving, divorcing, starting over, and eventually finding a man that will cherish, honor, love, protect, and keep his promises. I could live the rest of my life guilt-free and be perfectly capable of looking my children in the eyes. On most days and in most minutes, this seems the much better option. I’ve even prayed for it.
But still the Lord says to wait.
The Lord God called Hosea to live a life such as mine. He was called to take an unfaithful wife and to cleave to her. To even accept her children that may have not even been fathered by him. What? What God of Precious Love does this to His children? Oh….right….a God that is Perfect in Infinite Wisdom. A God that doesn’t DO this to us. A God that has plans not to harm us but to prosper us. A God that never not one time promised easiness or freedom from trials, but promised over and over that He would be our source of strength when the hardships came.
I’m thinking of changing my name.
Hosea. It has a nice ring to it.
Back to the onlookers…..I’m still amazed at the wealth of knowledge that these people have on a subject that has never darkened their doorsteps. They are so eager to trade away or excuse my feelings of divine calling to walk this road of desolation with my husband as weakness and/or fear. How I want to scream, You think I’m taking the easy way out? You think that walking a path of complete humiliation and pain is what is comfortable for me? I’m a runner and a hider by nature. If I wanted easy and wanted out….I’d have succumbed to the fetal position up in my mama’s house about 6 months ago.
Listen to me!! I’m here because I can’t do anything else. I’ve been called to trust the Lord. And He says wait. I’ve prayed for a way out. Believe me. I have. I’ve prayed for strength to leave and go and run, and all I receive instead is the strength to stay.
(Now let me say that I totally understand the stance that some of these precious lives have taken for me, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t react the exact same way if I were in their shoes. There have been some people that have chosen to speak out of a place of ill-will for my family, but for every one of those there are many who are worried about me beyond comprehension, and their grief on my behalf is sacred to me. A very wise beloved friend of mine explained it to me this way: They may not be able to comprehend your grace levels and for a long time they watched you spiral out of control…so their insistance in wanting this nightmare to be over for you and for you to begin the process of closure and healing is their way of loving you. Oh so wise. And, like I said…I’m so incredibly grateful for their concern and care and advice and willingness to go to battle for me. But I will always speak honestly here, and the moments of feeling very misunderstood are very real for me. I have not always handled myself correctly with those that love me, but I have loved every piece of loving that they have bestowed on me whether I agreed with it or not.)
God is not done with our story. I’m overwhelmed with the desire for restoration and reconciliation. The thought of vengeful acts of retaliation on the other woman actually sicken and nauseate me. Please don’t hurt her or be mean to her. (I know…it doesn’t make sense to me either.) My ears burn at the sound of gossip. Don’t you see? This isn’t because I’m an amazing specimen of spirituality. It’s because God has placed a desire in my heart that doesn’t stem from the ways of men. I don’t understand it either. I just know it’s where I’m supposed to be…and what I’m supposed to do….and now is the time I’m to do it.
This is also what I know about God. And about sin. And about the world we live in:
God gives us free-choice. And He is not in the business of offering crystal balls. Our story is at the hands of so many factors. The husband could ultimately buy into the lies of the evil one and forsake truth; turning his back on me and his children and his God. His disobedience could lead us to a place where divorce and brokenness become a very real reality for our family. But, I know that that isn’t God’s plan. But, because God doesn’t desire robotic followers, He will let the husband choose that path….. BUT. Not after much work and conviction and pouring out of love and compassion and grace and mercy. I know that if the husband chooses against us, it will not be God’s fault. It will grieve Him even more than it will grieve me. I do know that our God is in the business of miracles, even though I don’t understand why sometimes the miracles work and sometimes they don’t….or at least that’s how it appears to my ridiculously pathetic human eyes. I know that I’m waiting for the husband to come home. And I know that I will be waiting with the ring and robe to place on him, and the fatted calf will be killed for the party. There will be no judgment or harshness. No punishment. Just love. True pure unadulterated love. Sigh. What irony. In the meantime, I wait. And hope. And pray. And watch. And wait some more. But, ultimately…. I just choose to trust God.
A very funny thing for a girl in my position to just be throwing around…..