I almost didn't publish this as it is soooo personal. But, I feel better when I write. I am able to express things much better and I usually feel better once I have worked it out and gotten it out. And maybe my struggles are not unique to me. Maybe someone else feels the same and needs the encouragement.
My heart has been calloused. Out of self-preservation, I fought to make my heart stony, so that I wouldn’t hurt anymore. It didn’t always work so well, as I still felt pain occasionally, but I believe I am still here today because I taught myself not to care. If you have read my earlier posts, you know that I went through a divorce last year. My ex-husband hurt me continually. Sometimes, when I would feel it getting to me and the tears would start to well up and I felt my heart breaking, I would steel myself against it. I would fight hard, telling myself over and over again, like a mantra that I did NOT care. I would fight back the tears so much that for a long time, I didn’t think that I was capable of crying anymore. What resulted was this calloused feeling that little mattered to me. Sounds harsh, and in some ways, I hated that feeling, but in others, I knew I couldn’t live without that wall that I could hide behind when I was scared. I COULD make it on my own. What’s the worst he could do to me? Leave me? I don’t care. Hurt me? I don’t care. Say mean things? I don’t care. Cheat on me? I don’t care. Even kill me? Well, then that just makes you my new best friend since you are sending me home, to a place where there is no more pain. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t.
Problem. What happens when you get remarried? Callous is still there. On one hand you want to let that someone in your heart and life, but on the other hand, you are TERRIFIED that if you open yourself up, trust, expose your tender underbelly, that he will hurt you too and it will hurt worse the next time. And the statistics on divorce for subsequent marriages bears that out. My new husband is wonderful. From the beginning, he made it clear that it didn’t matter to him how I felt (I’m sure to a certain extent). He believed that if he treated me the way he was supposed to, I couldn’t help but love him back. My love for him has come in stages or bursts. I loved him early on, but I held a lot of myself back. I was afraid to care too much, lest he hurt me too. Yes, of course, I knew he wasn’t my ex-husband and I wasn’t comparing them, but part of it was fear that all men were the same and part of it was fear that it was me. Maybe it didn’t matter who I was married to, maybe the problem was me and then it wouldn’t matter who I married, they would all leave me once they knew me. Regardless of the reason, I held out—and Scott knew this and accepted it.
Sometimes out of the blue, I have discovered that God has peeled back a part of the callous that encircled my heart and I felt more love for my husband and trusted him more. Those times have not been easy. Part of me wants to fight it because I am afraid. In my head, I know that Scott will not hurt me and wants only to protect me, but in my heart, I can’t accept it. I have all sorts of reasons why, which make sense to me and keep me resisting. The last couple of weeks, God has managed to remove a very large chunk of the callous—so much so that I think there isn’t much left to protect myself with. Ouch.
Satan hates us and wants to destroy us and our marriages. He wants to rob of us of our joy. He wants to wreck our families. He is out for our blood. I have felt him attacking me the last few weeks. At first, I couldn’t figure out what was bothering me. I had a general sense of unease and discontent. I felt tense and I couldn’t sleep at night. A few months ago, we had a Sunday school teacher that told us when she couldn’t sleep at night, she knew it was God keeping her awake because He wanted to talk with her and she would use that time to pray. My husband reminded me of that several times when I couldn’t sleep, so when this bout of insomnia hit, I began to pray. But, I guess I was praying about the wrong things. I prayed for others because I didn’t think anything was wrong. But, gradually, little things started to come up where Satan was undermining me and making me doubt. He started with small things. Insignificant, niggling little things that don’t seem to amount to much on their own. Nothing was really WRONG, but something didn’t FEEL right. These things piled up until I collapsed under the weight of them this morning as I sat in the floor of the shower, sobbing and praying. If my husband had come in at that point (thankfully he was at work), I couldn’t have articulated what was wrong: nothing…everything…a bunch of little, stupid stuff that would make me sound like a hysterical, raving lunatic! I would have been totally embarrassed at that point to verbalize the thoughts in my head that had me reduced to bawling in the shower.
God helped me to understand that the pain I was feeling was this large chunk of callous being removed. I felt exposed and unprotected, vulnerable, totally at the mercy of my husband. Previously, I knew I loved my husband, but I felt like I had held back enough of myself that if I lost him for any reason, I could survive it. Wouldn’t like it, but I could hold it together. Now, I am not so sure I could handle it. The pain of the callous being sloughed off my heart is, I believe, equal to the pain I was originally protecting myself from! So, what was the point of hardening my heart at all? It wasn’t even worth it because the softening of my heart is just as painful! It feels like a strange recipe: “to soften the heart, marinate in tears…”
God taught me today that even though I have this fear of my husband hurting me or leaving me, a fear so great that it leaves me sobbing in the shower, I have no control over the situation. I can’t control my husband and what he says and does. I can’t protect my marriage or hold it together by myself, which is something I learned from my last marriage. And worrying about it won’t change anything either. All that will do is make me miserable, as illustrated by the shower sorrow.
What can I do with that? I could live miserably scared and neurotic. I could harden my heart up again. Or, I can control the one thing that it is within my power to control: myself. First, I have to trust God. He is the only One that can protect my heart and my husband and my marriage and my family and my kids. He is the ONLY one that is 100% worthy of my trust and the One that loves me more than anyone else. I learned last year, as evidenced by previous song lyrics I posted on my blog, that when the entire world fails me, He is the One that is there to catch me when I fall. Men will surely let you down, but God will not. If I invest my trust in Him, it is safe. I can trust Him to protect my heart. I saw a play many years ago in which a young man offered his heart to God, but when a girl came around, he asked for it back. But she broke it. He picked up his heart and handed it back to God who fixed it up, but it wasn’t long before he asked for it back to give to another girl. The moral of the story was that his heart was only safe when he left it with God. If He feels it is necessary to soften my heart, He must have a reason. I have to follow Him first, no matter what anyone else is doing or if my life is falling apart around me. He has proven to me already that He can hold me up and get me through it. Second, I have to be what I should be. I need to strive to be a good wife and mother and Christian, not for anyone else, but “as to the Lord and not unto men.” Third, I have to follow the advice of 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Regardless of what Satan tries to tempt me with, which gets me all twisted up and confused and depressed, I have to take every thought captive and test it against the knowledge of God. Don’t let my mind run away with me and get me into all kinds of trouble. Fourth, I have to let go. In Romans 12:1, it says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Many years ago, I learned that I have nothing on my own. I say “my” husband and “my” kids, but they aren’t mine. I didn’t die for them, I didn’t pay for them with my blood. Only He can protect them and take care of them. They have been lent to me. And God can take away loved ones at any time. That’s His right, as they are HIS. So, I offer myself, my life, my family on the altar. They are Yours, Lord. Problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar, though, so I must continually offer everything I have to the Lord. Things change, people change, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. That’s what I have to hold onto when I feel like it’s falling apart and I can’t control anything.
I feel like I have been dropped in the middle of a fairy tale. Prince Charming came and rescued me and provided me with everything I need to live happily ever after. But, the problem is that I can’t enjoy it. I sit here, waiting for the dream to turn to a nightmare. I can’t live my life like this. I have to enjoy what I have and the beautiful life that God created out of a messy wreck. I have to stop living in fear so I can enjoy my life. It is truly a blessed life.
Rough day I’ve had. It’s funny how God can teach you and really work you over spiritually and emotionally while you go on about your day. I was so worn out when it was all over. I count myself not to have apprehended though. I know this isn’t something that I can grasp overnight. It’s a learning process, a marathon. I pray God gives me the strength to open my heart and my husband patience for when I lose my way. Lord, help me listen to the Voice of Truth.
“Oh what I would do to have
The kind of faith it takes
To climb out of this boat I'm in
Onto the crashing waves
To step out of my comfort zone
Into the realm of the unknown where Jesus is
And He's holding out His hand
But the waves are calling out my name
And they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times
I've tried before and failed
The waves they keep on telling me
Time and time again. "Boy, you'll never win!"
"You'll never win!"
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says, "Do not be afraid!"
The voice of truth says, "This is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth”