"The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things,
and the God of peace will be with you."
-Philippians 4:9

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Road to Healing - Fin.

The wait is finally over. You can take those worms out of your mouth now. (Sorry - reference to a bad joke from my childhood: "waiting with bated breath". Get it? Bate = bait = worms. I know. It's bad.) Where were we? Oh, yes. The next chapter in the healing story. The one I've been avoiding like the plague. It's one thing to feel the release of living through it and quite another to be willing to share it in print. You're still only going to get a sketch with few details on this one, but much of this involved the marriage relationship, and, well, some of it is just going to remain there.

When last I wrote on this topic, I left us in a new career, a new definition of our walk with Christ, a new understanding of who we are to be as the church, a new focus on our family FIRST as our mission field, and a new seeking of the Lord in how we were to proceed in life rather than in "ministry." And I told you that's when things got tough. As if they hadn't already been a struggle. But this was different.

You see, it was like peeling the onion. I know, cliche, but it works here. All of those other things that God had stripped away, revealed, cleansed, and healed had to do with external influences. Teachers, pastors, church members, false doctrines, wounds inflicted... All of it people and things outside of ourselves. Lies that we had internalized and made our own, to be sure, but the pains and hurts were things we could address together; a united front against our enemies, if you will.

Once this was accomplished, though, we had to look each other in the face. And we realized that there were some really deep wounds we had inflicted on each other, too. Talk about a leap of faith. It's terrifying to get honest enough with your spouse that you've been pretending for and hiding from for years to say, "I'm hurt. Badly. And it's you who did it.Oh, and by the way, I'm angry about it." Shoot, it's terrifying to get honest enough with yourself to admit that's the truth. I had spent so long protecting Dan from the attacks of others and trying not to hurt him with my own criticism that it was almost impossible for me to admit, out loud anyway, that a great deal of my pain DID originate from his choice of the ministry over me and the kids. Partly because I felt complicit in that choice. Partly because I had bought into the same lies that led to that choice. Partly because I knew that if I was hurt by those lies, I must have hurt him deeply, too, and I really didn't want to hear that. But was healing worth the price? Worth the risk?

YES! O, my, a thousand times, YES!!! It took place over weeks and months, but there was a definite opening up of ourselves to one another. A growing willingness to say, "I love you, but there's something between us that I can't let stand if we're going to really do this moving forward together thing." It was excruciatingly painful at times. There were tears, arguments, struggles to learn how to communicate lovingly while detailing just what the pain was and how it had affected multiple facets of our relationship. No area was left untouched. When you're married, supposed to be ONE FLESH, and there are unaddressed wounds and masks that never come off, it poisons everything. We had to talk about parenting, finances, career decisions, dreams and hopes unfulfilled, personal affronts, rejections, disrespect, communication, false perceptions, *gulp* even the marriage bed. Both of us had to really listen. Both of us had to humble ourselves and accept responsibility and correction. Both of us had to forgive. And both of us had to let go of it - all of it - and, saddened as we were about it, we had to agree that guilt and condemnation had no place in our marriage any longer. Not toward each other and not toward ourselves.

Praise be to God, He had laid all of the groundwork for those discussions to take place in a marriage that wasn't seeking to do anything but find the truth and work forward together. We didn't WANT to cast blame. We didn't desire to hurt one another more deeply. We wanted to expose the wound, drain off the poison, and heal this thing once and for all. The gangrene ran deep. Honestly, it almost killed the marriage not so long ago. It is God's grace alone, His perfect timing, that allowed us to come to a place of honesty. Of truly beginning to KNOW one another. Of healing.

And, having experienced this level of oneness with my spouse for the first time, it leaves me in awe of Christ's statement that He and the Father are One, and he desires that we be One with Him in the same way. The bring-you-to-tears, speechless, staggeringly indescribable oneness that can exist when a marriage is healed and becomes what it was designed to be is a mere REFLECTION of what the oneness with our God is to be. Can you even wrap around that? Me neither. But I am so thankful to be in a place to really explore what it means. Together with a spouse I love. And trust *fully*. And am excited to know - and be known by - more and more as we journey together.

Now, all of that said, does healing in this area mean that we now have a blissfully happy, no problems marriage? Nope. But we address the problems as they come. We can know for sure that whatever needs to be said will be heard. And that any rebuke/correction we offer one another will be given in love and accepted in love. And that we really are there to uphold one another and offer partnership and strength in the other's weakness. It, like so many other things, is still a work in progress. I suspect it will be until we die. But we're on firm footing again. Rooted in Love, founded in Christ, and learning to walk in truth. It's a good place to be.

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