Last year, when I met with our pastor to ask for help, he wanted to talk to us about relationship issues and communication. He said things like, "You both need to take steps to move closer to each other." and "Let's figure out how to communicate better." I agreed that these would be good steps to take, but I told him that the explosive anger was a big issue for me and the kids. That the anger needed to be addressed.
His take was that it was not such a big deal and we would talk about it while doing other things. We didn't. Not really. I don't think he ever saw it as a big deal.
I begged him back then to talk about the anger, to take it seriously. I told him that I am interested in getting closer and working on "meeting in the middle", but the way things stand right now, it is like asking me to walk across a mine field with my kids in my arms. The anger is like land mines. We will get hurt. I needed him to do some mine clearing before I wanted to take that step to walk across that gap.
But that was not seen by him. And I felt pushed and shamed into doing what I was told and getting closer. It was "unChristian" to refuse to take steps to get closer. It was "ungracious" to keep focusing on things that had happened and not forgive.
So we did. To be honest, my husband did take some good steps, and I was proud of him. But I worried still - the anger had never been addressed. Not really. So the danger lurked in every step.
Then, in May, we stepped on a mine, and there was damage.
Now, I sit here in the beginning of July, looking back at the last few months. There were some rough patches there. I am becoming more and more discouraged about the ability of those in missions to respond to their own problems and struggles. The attitude of "be quiet and keep working" seems to often prevail. I'm behind on my blog because I simply got tired of communicating, struggling at times to believe the things I was told or things that just did not happen in our leadership.
Yet, through the rough times of the last two months, we've come out with a few good things. Like the little gold flakes left after all the rock and dirt is panned away.
I thought I'd blog about those right now. Things I have "gained" out of the bad.
The first is that our "here" pastor finally realized that the anger was an issue. He still objects to turning it over to someone who has more experience in it, but he did begin to meet with my husband one on one for a few weeks specifically focused on the issue of anger. That built some safety for me because it was being dealt with and i did not have to be in the sessions and get "dumped on" every week.
The second is that our "home" pastor phoned in, and I feel like there is finally someone in leadership who is not trying to tell me to shut up, that I am crazy, and that the problems are all my fault because "he doesn't act like that around anyone else, so it must be something you do."
Then the other good thing is a bit of peace. I've learned to walk with a limp. Let me explain:
For the last few years, I've been working and working on issues in my own life and growing. It's been hard work at times, but I've enjoyed growing. Then, there is my marriage, which is beyond what I can do. I've fought, struggled, pushed, encouraged, begged, and wanted growth here. I've wanted my husband to deal with some things, like the anger, late nights, semi-depression, and other things so that we as a couple could begin to grow.
Well, it seems like he was not interested in change at all. Not one bit. In fact, his side grew worse. Worse anger. Worse habits. Worse treatment of the kids and me. Still a great "ministry face", but at home, less and less involvement and care.
So we lived under anger. And I could not grow there well. Every few weeks or months, there would be an explosion in the mine field, and we would be wounded.
I cried out to God about this, begging Him to step in. He didn't. For years this went on. I thought if I do more, God will be more happy with me and stop it. He didn't. I thought if I am more this, He will. He didn't. I looked up at God hurt. Why not? How long? How can I grow to be whole and beautiful and pleasing to Him when there is this core relationship in my life which is so damaged? I struggled to make it better. To try to be a better wife. To communicate more. To respect. To whatever it took.
Nothing worked. He did not want to deal with it. In fact, he told me that the only problem he has is me.
One of those dark days, coming home from school after dropping off kids, I was in tears again. I told God, "I feel like I can never be healthy or whole in my life because of this marriage. I can't change that. I have no control over it, and yet have to live in it. I feel like I'm trying to run with a limp. I'm in this life married to someone with a problem he won't deal with, and it handicaps me. I want to run and dance, and I walk with a limp."
I don't know what it was about this small exchange between God and me that day, but with it came some peace. Because it is true. Because of my marriage, I walk with a limp. Some days it is not bad and I enjoy life, and other days I can barely make it.
I can't fix this problem. I can't get away from it. I can't ignore it.
And I cried to God, my sadness in wanting to run, wanting to please Him, wanting to be whole... and that not being a possibility. But God simply said to me something He has often said, "but you are My child, and I love you. You are no less pleasing to me because of your limp."
Then, as I rounded the corner towards my house, I smiled. The sun began to dance on the flower and green grass again. It is true. I might limp, but God is still completely delighted in me. Not because of what I do, but because of who I am. I'm His.
So I smiled that day and decided that however I can move, running, walking, limping, or crawling, I will keep moving towards Him. Yes, I might limp. I might have a handicap, but His glory can still shine out of me, despite of me.
I want to become perfect, the shining example of what God can do. I may never be that. But, in my limping, I'm at peace knowing that God is completely delighted in me, and I am perfectly loved by Him.
When I accept that, I can go on with life. I can move past the anger with the situation, the bargaining, the objecting to it, the pleading, all those emotions of trying to deal with something you don't want. No, this is not what I wanted for my life. There is hope that it won't be my life forever because God is able, but it is my life now. I can accept that, and go on with life. It is not my dream, but it is my life. I walk through life hurt and limping. Time to focus now, not on how to change that - I can't - but on how I can best live in the circumstances I am in.
This is me. I walk with a limp.
Keep praying for the situation. My husband has been meeting with the pastor for a few weeks, and he has remained fairly calm. Next week we meet together, and I will know more then. And thanks for your support.