Sunday, March 25, 2012

Strength Will Rise

(Written February 2012)

I observed something interesting in the last few weeks.  I was thinking about the seeming ridicule and derision of wives who are said to stand by their man in the face of infidelity or other wrongdoing.  This is very common in the face of infidelity and the more public the more thoughtless the comments about the wife. 

I wondered if anyone ever considered that standing by your man is not an act of weakness but of strength and responsibility.  A wife is not a girlfriend.  Girlfriends are for the casual good times.  Wives are for better or worse.  A wife is charged with caring for her husband and infidelity is an indication of spiritual and moral crisis.  A wife’s responsibility includes care/concern for his soul.  Loss of integrity and respect are soul damaging.  What happens when all the drama and attention dies down is what matters…..

No matter the outcome of the marriage as a result of the betrayal – it is foolish of the ego and the drama mongering public to believe that a wife standing by a fallen husband’s side is doing anything less than deliberately demonstrating unconditional love and forgiveness.  It does not mean she is not hurt, angry, embarrassed for him, it does not mean that correction is not required – it may simply mean that the integrity of her word is bigger than her pride and the belittling comments of outsiders.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

what's gon' be will be

Written February 6, 2011

I have not posted to this blog in a long time.  It seems the time just goes so quickly.  I have noted that while the past for years has passed quickly casual observers inform of how long this is taking and that in fact it is taking too long.  My question is too long for whom?  Was there an urgency that I missed the memo on?  It seems that getting it right is more important than expedience.
It is a new season for me.  And God is still in the mix.  I still believe He has a plan for my life.  My friend Herb says, 'Deb, what's gon' be will be”   I agree.  So what's the point of getting worked up and creating more drama.   Someone else said 'but don't you want to be free of the pain and the sadness?'  LOL – life will always be a mixture of joy and pain.  I can appreciate them both.  And if after 5 years the pain of an old event or circumstance still felt the same then I would know that I am not doing the work intended or needed.  It is what it is....
I am sitting here in the airport – thinking how quickly I can adapt to a new routine.  It is almost 6am on a Sunday morning and my new routine has begun.  Pick up for LAX at 4:30, all day flight to Canada. Four days of work on a great project with great people and then home for 2 days.  I am happy to be away from the drama here.  That's right, it continues.  I am central to it – without being in it.  That seems silly to me. 
Time has past for me, filled with living and doing.  I realized the other day – I laugh a lot!   I find such happiness in the small thing and my outlook on life has remained very positive.  Probably too positive for some.
To those observing and enjoying the drama of my husband's long term affair – they offer needless pity.  I recognize that my husband wanted the benefits of marriage without the accountability, work and sacrifice.  He found that in his relationship with his mistress – no real sacrifice required.    would have liked him to be a better person – but who we choose to be is an individual choice.  She has been  accommodating in the straddle he chose – no sacrifice required.  I could hate him but that would be a waste of time.  I could feel contempt for her as well, but at this point she has my pity.  It has been a long wait.


This been a very interesting topic
Written 12-6-2007

This been a very interesting topic.  I understand how Ejimofor could view the group this way.  Our focus is usually on helping each other understand and come to terms with the pain, grief and harsh realities of the marital crises and divorces we are living through.  And it does come across clearly that for many the objective is to move on and at some point find a new spouse or partner to share our lives with... learning to love and trust again. (Not necessarily finding them on this site, but finding a replacement for our current or recent spouse at some point.)

It's interesting yesterday, Dr. Phil had a young couple on his show, who had managed to make a complete mockery of their marriage.  Lots of infidelity and verbal abuse, all the result of immaturity and unsurrendered hearts.  Dr. Phil listened to this couple and stated  "the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior".  He encouraged this couple to forego reconciliation until the husband had made some real effort to come to terms with his issues and behaviors.  Dr. Phil did not hold out much hope that this man would ever be able to grow and change into a successful and effective husband.  Interestingly, the other guest on the panel was Bishop TD  Jakes.  And at the end of this show he said something that I don't think we discuss much in this group.  He made clear that he has a deep belief in the redemptive power of submitting your life to God.  He thought the husband was a hard case and would have a long road to travel but he still said, “All things are possible with God”.

I know in my case, I came to accept that without my husband's reconciliation to God there can be no reconciliation in our marriage.  Will this happen?  Who knows?
So the question becomes, how do you not encourage divorce in your own marriage and allow God to work in not only your life but your spouse 's life as well?  The pain and disappointment that can come from someone's unrepentant heart can be so overwhelming.

As I thought about this I've made some decisions.  I have always said that I will not divorce my husband.  He is free to divorce me and I will comply with his initiatives.   In the meantime, I have taken residence/space away from him so that I can be healthy.  I have built a life for myself that makes me happy.   The only thing I'm not doing at this time that a divorce would allow is “dating”.  There is still some stress and financial burden from the current status of our marriage, but I'm going to learn to live with that for the time being.   There is no real rush.

I have also concluded that if my spouse's mistress would like him to be free to be married to her they can pay for it and bear the inconvenience of it.  (It'll be their first adult project, because dating and sneaking around is kids play).  I am not going to inconvenience myself or create additional financial hardship (excess attorney fees, etc..) to relieve my husband of his responsibility for completing the divorce he requested.   Believe me, this is a hard position to hold.  On almost a daily basis.  I get encouragement from some to just let him go, take leadership and finish the divorce blah, blah, blah  The truth is I am not holding him - he can release himself at any time by taking responsibility for completing our divorce.   (Of course, there are older, married women who regularly tell me  "Do not divorce your husband.  Allow him to divorce you, if he will.  But you do nothing except wait on the Lord").

Now reconciliation is a whole 'nother matter and not  a subject that I have to give any consideration to at this time.  I am sure that in the end, if reconciliation is the way that our marriage story is authored by God, He will give me the heart, mind and will to forgive and trust my spouse again.  If my husband follows through and actually completes our divorce, I am also certain that God will give me the heart, mind and will to move through my life. - Happy, Whole and Complete (with or without a new spouse).
I know that the circumstances for each of us in this group are unique and intensely personal.  All I can say is that maybe there is something worth thinking about in Ejimofor's message.  Maybe it's about trusting that God has a plan and that things will be worked out in His time.  Maybe it's asking " Are we waiting patiently for God to work on our marriage or are we trying to help God by proceeding with a divorce?"  (Forgetting that God does not need our help.)  Are we cheating ourselves and our spouses out an opportunity for spiritual growth?  You can’t go back, but who knows what forward looks like?  And who knows how long it should take?

Maybe our society has made such a mess of marriage that the degree of hardship and pain that a couple must endure to make it to "death to do us part" is more than any of us ever anticipated. Life has no guarantees.   Maybe it's time to start a new movement to save marriage and live it as God designed.   All I can say is I trust that we  continue to pray and allow God to let things unfold in our lives.

Being part of this group has been such a blessing in my life.  When I hear other people's story, all I wish is that God’s grace will sustain you and give you peace.

There is No War Here

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
- Casting Crowns - Praise You In This Storm Lyrics
I continue to be awed by way God guided me through these circumstances.  I was speaking with an old friend who had been through similar circumstances and she noted how composed and resolved I seem.  All I could say was that it was knowing God and knowing that what transpired – the way it transpired had nothing to do with me or our marriage.  That’s not to say that I was perfect in my marriage – it is simply to say that the way my spouse chose to deal the challenges we were facing - resides ONLY with him.  I could have responded to the challenges in our marriage the same way – I CHOSE NOT TO – I chose to honor my vows and be loyal and steadfast.
My spouse’s mistress seems to not get that – she has commented that she has been made a scapegoat for the issues ‘I created in my marriage’ [wait a minute I have to stop writing until I finish laughing].  Whew! that idea still cracks me up - as if she would have any REAL insight as to what transpired or was transpiring in our marriage.  She knew and knows only what she wants to believe in pursuit and sustenance of her relationship with my husband.  Anyway, I won’t digress to further comment on her foolishness.
My observation of late has been that over the years, I have been unwilling (or unable) to wage a full-scale retaliatory divorce WAR against my offending spouse.  I have refused and will continue to refuse to be angry, punitive and otherwise negative.  I refuse to give residence in my spirit and in my life to the negativity that required to wage a war .  I concluded that this situation can and must be resolved peacefully and equitably. 
I chose not to wage war because in healing and moving forward there was no room to carry the anger or bitterness needed ‘to get even’.  I also realized that in the end the truth is always “A man who finds a wife, finds a good thing” and if that man chooses to give up his wife – a wiser man will value and appreciate me for my goodness and forgive me for my flaws.  Lastly, I know with certainty that in the end God will be glorified.  (At some point I had to acknowledge that the level of determination and commitment of external ‘others’ to the dissolution of our marriage was and is surreal.  I have never seen anything like it – not even on Lifetime.)  Plus my new life continues to be a blessing and a joy.
I also decided that I would not make rash emotional decisions.  I sat with my feelings for a bit worked with a Christian counselor and then proceeded to take a pragmatic approach about the details and needed outcomes.  I acknowledged that the only urgency for resolution was coming from external people who are out of place for their involvement in ANY way, shape or form.  I affirmed that God always has a plan and HE has neither requested nor requires my help.  As long as any resolution I encouraged did not interfere with God’s plan – I have been able to be patient and pray that I will be able to continue to be patient.  HE is making it easy for me – I am swamped with so many other things.
I have held the position of ‘I love you (unconditionally as a human being) and I want for you what you want for yourself’.  Meaning that if divorce is what you want – I will not seek to dissuade you.  I will, however, stand in full recognition that a man who has compromised his integrity via infidelity is also very likely to betray me financially.  So, I proceeded with the caution of some who knows the risk inherent in dealing with someone seeking to escape his problems and avoid accountability. 
My spouse is still waging a WAR – it is a war of angry words and destructive time-wasting.  It is an unnecessary war.  I suppose he and his comrades need a common enemy (me) and the amusement that they get from the drama.  The truth is he has no enemy in me – I am a pacifist armed only with a clear mind and the intent of doing what is in our mutual best interest.  I pray that one day he can acknowledge that and join me for peaceful resolution.  I continue to pray and stand on God’s word for choosing my own conduct. 

It's Unfortunate

This is another old post from early in this season, probably 2007 or so.  It is from a post to a Divorce Recovery Group where someone asked the question:

When is divorce ok?

I feel you. And in some ways I feel the same - our problems were not in meeting each other companionship and connectedness needs (we had a blast together), but have very different ways of dealing with the adult realities of life. I think as long as there is connection there is always the opportunity for reconciliation (now DESIRE for reconciliation is another matter). And it's good if the feelings are raw and unhidden - buried emotions don't ever stay buried do they? And it's got to be way tougher with kids. We don't have kids - which is another issue (someone said recently a marriage without children is not a real marriage - I disagree.) I am at least beyond the tears, but it is very difficult. I just keep remembering God has a plan. I do take some comfort in that I am not willing to say I wanted this divorce or think that it is for the best - I simply say it is 'unfortunate' that for whatever reason we could not work things out. If my spouse's free will and disobedience gets us to divorce - so be it. Keep your head up.  Cry when you need to, be kind to yourself.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Refinement - The Sermonette-- The Price Of Pure Gold

I came across many Bibles as we were cleaning out my dad' s house. The article below fell out of one of them. It was very yellowed and crumpled, but someone obviously thought it was worth saving. So I stopped my packing for a moment and read it. I was very touched by the message and it made me think of how we are so conditioned to believe that life is supposed to be one joyous ride with never a trial. As I finished the article I realized, some of our most important lessons come from the things that cut us to the core.

Of course, it was just a clipping with no reference to the author or paper from which it was taken. I searched the web to see if I could find me article so that I would have the appropriate references. I have reproduced the article below from the clipping.

The Sermonette-- The Price Of Pure Gold

"... when he had tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10)

No one likes to be tried, tempted, punished, corrected, forced to endure hardship or obliged to struggle very hard mentally or physical in order to survive. We all prefer the easy life, shielded from pain, suffering, hardship and effort of all kinds.

Refining processes leading to perfection are severe. Fire, high temperatures, strong acids, beating, rolling and mixing in various combinations and degrees are necessary in the refining of metals.

But when the crude ores are subjected to the necessary degree of heat the proper acids, sufficient rolling and beating and finally mixed with various alloys-a highly refined and desirable product is the result.

Job perceived that something similar was necessary to transform human personality in the rough, to a degree of refinement and development that might be compared to gold. Metallic ores are not attractive. They are dirty, heavy, crumbly and of little value until after they have undergone the long, complicated process of refinement until, finally, the pure gold or the stainless steel emerges from the unattractive mass. Job developed the insight to see that we all begin life as crude ore and require the fire, the heat, the acid, the beating and the rolling one encounters in life in order that we might eventually "come forth as gold."

Unless one habitually uses his muscles to the point of becoming tired and uncomfortable, he will not develop great strength. Unless he repeats the same movements over and over and learns to endure endless boredom, he will not develop desirable manual and technical skills. It is hard work to think. Most of us avoid it as far as possible. Nevertheless, if we do not think and think hard and continually and to the point of great discomfort, we will not develop much capacity for thinking.

We do not like to undergo hardships but there is no other way to develop strength. We are annoyed when we have to solve problems and bear responsibility but self-reliance and capacity can be attained no other way. We do not like to withstand temptation; it is much easier to yield. But character and integrity are the fruits that ripen slowly on the tree of steadfast self-control.

We are no stronger than the temptations we have overcome; no more self-reliant than the problems we have solved and difficulties we have surmounted. Our skills and never exceed the effort we have put forth to acquire them. Our insights are not greater than efforts we have made to gain them and the imagination we have developed by the steady and continual use of our mind. Our spiritual development is measured by the amount of time we spend reading the scriptures, studying devotional literature and worshiping God.

As gold emerges from the fire and acid, so excellence of character emerges when one refuses to be crushed by the temptations, storms and hardships of life, but seizes, and even welcomes them as the necessary processes through which he must pass in order to bring forth the best there is in him.

One man falls when temptation confronts him while another resists and strengthens his character. One man gives up when accident, illness or misfortune assails, but another mobilizes his determination, his mental and physical resources and, with great effort and persistence, overcomes the obstacle.

We do not like such experiences but we would be pusillanimous weaklings without them.

To fulfill a reasonable portion of one's potential, one must strive mightily, just as one must exert himself in patient toil to gain the summit of a mountain.

Then, welcomed each rebuff
That turns earth smoothness rough
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare,
Never grudge the throe!

Robert Browning-Rabbi Ben Ezra Stanza 6