Saturday, September 29, 2012

I Am That Woman

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

I am the broken one who hides behind humor and a smile. I am the one who asks, “How are you?” and then coo's and murmurs and bathes you in empathy so serene you never guess the truth. Because I do what I do, you miss the vacant stare behind the smile. If I was still long enough and you looked closer, you would see the vacancy signaling a pain deeper than anything I can put into words. 

I am the one who labors in the trenches thinking tomorrow will be a better day. I go through the motions thinking hard work and perseverance can overcome this present pain. Until I know I have done all I can do until there is nothing left to do. Then, there is nothing left to do. But wait. Wait on the good God with the good plan to show me what is coming next.

The face staring back from the mirror is the statistic I never wanted to be: the woman facing divorce after almost twenty-four years of marriage. This has been a hard fought marriage with many, many counselors and an infinite number of prayer warriors all aimed at patching up brokenness that never seemed to end. From where I sit today, all the effort, mine and theirs, was wasted.

Time has gone and cannot be regained. The monster that has dogged our steps every day of marriage finally caught up with us and washed us away. Even a 2nd wedding could not patch up what was broken before it began. God hates divorce. His mercies are new every morning. Hope springs eternal. Random thoughts come and go. They always end with, “I am that woman now.”

I think about the days of death and dying and wonder why, “Fire on the mountain, run boys run,” does not pound through my soul now as it did then. I am just as numb with grief. I am that woman.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
My gift of words fails to describe my exhaustion. I sleep but do not rest. I wonder how long it has been that sleep and rest went hand in hand. I breathe deeply trying to quell the sadness and panic threatening to overcome me. I look back and know that all the hard things I have already endured have been my boot camp. 

This monstrous thing is hard. Suffocatingly hard. Watching your mother sign the orders to turn off her life support systems – that was the P90x of preparation for this horrible, nasty moment. I endured those endless days in ICU. I will get through this challenge the same way I got through that one. Intact. 

Instead of the relentless beat of the Marshall Tucker Band, the only words that come are whispered: 

So, this is what it is to be that woman. 

I wonder when the backlash will start. When will the Christians begin to whisper? When will the, “God hates divorce,” emails and phone calls commence? I am prepared. I will look into the eyes of the women who try to mop up my mess with their inexperienced words of wisdom, and I will know.

I will know that when they least expect it and believe their hard work has been sufficient to prevent it, they might find themselves looking into my mirror. And so, I will smile the smile that covers up the vacancy in my soul and coo and murmur and reassure until they forget their original mission.

I will do so to leave the door open wide enough for them to overcome shame and fear and come back again. When they look into their mirror and see my face, when they are shocked to think, “Now it is me, Now, I am that woman,” I want to know I left the door open for their return.

And now, now I sit and wait. I wait on my good God to be faithful to his good plan because no matter what, I believe. I sit with my sons, and we pray. There is a good God, and he is too sweet not to trust. So, we pray for the strength to trust no matter what.

I choose again today to trust him even with this pain that I could not out run. And, in the end, I hope to say for once and for all: Jesus is too sweet not to trust him. I can commend him to you because he was sweetest when the pain was greatest.

Many thanks to all who bear my burdens. You are too numerous to name, but you are Heaven sent gifts. Thank you for teaching me and inspiring me. Thank you for strengthening me. Especially to Jackie for uttering the words, “Jesus is too sweet for me not to trust him.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 (The Message)
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.


39 comments:

  1. I wish I had words, but I do not. I do have prayers. You have my quiet, but heartfelt prayers. <3

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    1. And I both feel and depend upon them, my sweet friend!

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  2. I am sad for you. God doesn't like divorce for the reason that you are writing about...it hurts. But He loves you no matter what. I don't know if I shared with you, that I am divorced too. Steve is my second (and last!) husband.

    You wrote that, "we pray for the strength to trust no matter what." I found that sometimes we need others to pray for and with us because it is just too hard...

    I'm praying for you sista.

    Sue

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    1. Oh, Sue. Words just fail to express how thankful I am for the sweet community God gave me at 2:1. I know you guys have my back. And I have yours! Much love.

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  3. You are this woman too-- a loyal friend, an intuitive and endlessly supportive mother, a patient teacher, a true warrior, a beautiful soul inside and out, and one smart cookie.
    You are loved!

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    1. It takes one to know one and I'm glad to have found on in you!

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  4. My heart is filled with love and grief. I don't understand what you are going through but I hurt with you.

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    1. I know, and your friendship means the world to me.

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  5. Though we have only just met, I felt a connection with you immediately. Please, please, know that that you have many sisters who love you and are praying for you.

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    1. Thank you, sweet Kelly. I felt the connection as well and am so thankful for gifts like you in times like this.

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  6. Oh my sister. Sometimes all we can do is cry and hang on through the storm.

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    1. And so, in our respective storms, we will cry and hold on together. You are never far from my mind as you battle on. May the one who created us bring the unique healing that each of us needs in our lives. I am praying and waiting for your good news.

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  7. Oh CA! I have been out of town at a conference, and have only now started to catch up. Praying for you so hard. Will call you tomorrow.

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    1. No worries and no rush. We will catch up. I know you love me. If not, you'da been gone 3 decades ago!

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  8. I'm so sorry, Carol Anne, and mourn with you over your loss. I would like to recommend a really helpful Christian resource that has helped many people just cope, and get through this time of darkness - DivorceCare.org. I lead a DivorceCare group at our church and have seen how it has helped folks to have a safe place to go where they can take off their mask, get support, and that is a place where faith is central and there is no judgment or condemnation. Please let me know if I can help, and know that you are saturated with prayer from your many friends in Christ. The only statistic that counts right now is that you are, foremost and most importantly, a child of God, the most loving Father and He holds you in his embrace. <3

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    1. I have several friends who have participated, so I am thankful for the wonderful resource it has been for them. Reading some of the resources recommended by those friends now! You are a wonderful friend and a calming presence, so your group is blessed to have you in a time of crisis!

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  9. I continue to pray, Carol Anne. I am THAT woman too, only I'm 13 years on the other side of it. You will survive. God will prove Himself faithful to you in ways you never imagined. Look up Isaiah 54:5, Carol Anne. Revel in it. He is your everything, including the perfect husband.

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    1. Jennifer, I am thankful for strong, courageous friends like you who are holding my arms up in this battle. All my love.

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  10. Oh no, I'm laughing with you over that poster and then scrolled down to read this. It seems you handle things so much like I do ... laughing through your tears, and covering it all up so no one knows. I sure understand. Boy, do I understand!

    One day we've got to meet in person and talk. Now more than ever, I wish you had been at our lunch. I didn't know how much you were there in spirit.

    I love you. Praying for you and your boys. Thanks for sharing that Jesus is too sweet not to trust ... that'll be with me for a while.

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    1. I can share because a wonderful friend from BRMCWC shared it with me as she stepped away from her career of 20+ years to become a FT speaker/writer. Little did she know when she wrote them in an email how they would resonate in my soul during this pivotal time. I depend upon your prayers. And your willingness to share laughter. And chocolate. Mostly the chocolate.
      :-p

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    2. Yep, I laughed out loud. So glad you're depending on my prayers ... I want to do something to help. Yes, something even more important than buying you chocolate. : )

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  11. Carol Ann,
    I know how much you didn't want to write this and I'm sorry that you had to at all. I used to see things in black in white. But the older I get, the more I see the painful (and joyful) coloring of life. I hurt with you and am asking our Daddy to hold you and rebuild your broken heart.
    I love you,
    Beth

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    1. I love you too, darling. I am feeling the prayers more than I could ever explain. Please continue as this path will be long and hard.

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  12. It's hard, I know. I wish that I would have had your faith when going through mine, but God was still there, I know that now. He is faithful. He is trustworthy. No prayer is ever wasted, for God has known the outcome all along and He was meeting your needs in light of that fact. He is a big God, but limited Himself on purpose when He gave us free will. Keep the faith, as I know you will, you are an inspiration. God bless you.

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    1. Linda, my faith waxes and wanes depending on the day, time, and my emotional state. I thank you for your kind words/compliment and pray that I live up to your kudos. I am sorry you endured this same road and am thankful you find God faithful despite what you endured.

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  13. Praying for you and holding you close in my heart! {{{{hugs}}}}}

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    1. Thank you, Angie. I cannot tell you how comforting it is to know that I am literally drowning in the prayers of others.

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  14. I have been where you are. I know how painful it is. Even though my (ex)husband was both verbally and physically abusive to me, I questioned my right to divorce him. Because I wanted to please God and I had people telling me I couldn't leave, because it was a sin. They were wrong. Of course God hates divorce. But he loves us! He saved me from that abuse, because I cried out to him in my pain and he heard me. I deserved to be loved and cherished, just as my vows had stated. So, he gave me someone who would. I am so grateful for the pain I went through, because I can and appreciate more the love I have now. We live in a fallen world. Things don't always turn out the way they should. But, trust in God to make things right. He hears you, and you deserve to be happy.

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    1. You have an amazing story, sweet friend, and I look forward to seeing how your blog comforts and encourages others!

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  15. He is God. He is good, and He loves you.

    Those are the words that carried me through my divorce 10 years ago.

    I will add to them, "Your other sisters and I love you, too."

    Praying, Carol Anne!

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    1. Thank you so much, Sabrina. You are a real blessing in my life.

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  16. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through all this, Carol Anne. Take it one day at a time, or however much you need to break it down. God is with you through it all. Trust that, even when it doesn't feel like it.

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. You certainly set a high bar for me in regard to your faith despite difficult circumstances. I am thankful for your example of enduring faith.

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  17. Carol, I know your pain as I went through divorce myself. I also know there's nothing I can say to ease it. But I can tell you there is life after divorce. And, as He did for Job, God has blessed me more abundantly since. I pray you will see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that God will richly bless you if you focus on Him and not your pain. God bless and comfort you and your sons.

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    1. Bruce, from here to wherever I am headed seems like a long way tonight. In the moments grief would cave in on me, I do focus on the knowledge that prayers have engulfed me. I don't think past the next few hours. If I did, I'd prolly have heart attack. Right now, I just focus on doing the next thing. And the next and next. For now, that's working. sigh.

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  18. I have been absent and am caught up, and very sorry. Of course, I am a second wife so I have seen divorce and its repercussions. Yet, I have seen healing and restoration. I have seen God bring back the years the locust has eaten-- in part, if not in full. I'll wait for heaven for that. When I read, "God hates a divorcing," I don't think it is a command for compliance from an angry God, but rather a gentle, compassionate whisper, that tells us He is crying with us. Love from down in Georgia....

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    1. Oh, Elisabeth, I have waited for those years of restoration, and now they seem even farther away than before. You are a great encouragement to me.

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