This was during one of the hardest seasons in my life… the mask is firmly on.
For many the thought of writing their love story out for the world to see would lessen or cheapen the relationship because it would remove the privacy, the secret moments, and while I agree in a small way, I mostly think that we are called to live wide open before the world around us. The world, those who don’t know the Lord, are constantly searching for something more. Their feelings become dim and they believe that by trying something new, something more daring that it will re-awaken feelings long dead. Have you had a muscle twitch before? Where you are doing something that is normal for you, but your body begins to “reject” that movement. Your body is receiving a signal to do something against what you are telling it to do. There are muscle twitches in life, but we call them crisis. It’s a time when we can’t control something that is happening to us or someone we love. How we handle these moments matters greatly. How I react in crisis says everything about me and my faith.
About 6 years ago my marriage was a mess. We were two years and two children into it, and we were rotting from the inside out. There are days decay still attempts to make it’s stance, and we fight with all we have to make it, to choose to love each other in action, even when our emotions that change like the wind attempt to undermine what God has done in this covenant. In this same year, my dad died. Unexpectedly. There is a post about him, his death was incredibly tragic and I began a spiral into something I couldn’t recognize.
The mask begins.
Doubt. Doubt in Me, Doubt in Tim, and mostly Doubt in God. I didn’t trust Him anymore. I couldn’t have told you then what I was feeling, but it was true.
My life was falling apart. Before my dad died, I have moved my things from our bedroom into the living room of our house, and I stayed in that room. I am so grateful that our children were too young to understand. I worked out everyday, most days twice a day. I lived at the gym and the tanning bed. I wanted so much to make my outside so pretty that no one would see the brokeness within. I had an image to maintain, I had finally gotten back on track. I was on the praise team again, something I left when I walked away from the Lord to embrace an unholy life. I was heavily involved in church and going alone.
Looks like I’m happy doesn’t it?
I shared before that Tim and I lived together, we essentially walked as far from God as possible and turned down anyone who would tell us we weren’t in the will of God. Here again I pulled on my self righteousness and showed the image of a good christian girl. I didn’t believe in divorce. I didn’t believe in being drunk, I didn’t believe in affairs. I am a very by the book person, if the Bible says it I believe it and there is no gray area. The Lord was leading me to a place where I would have to become familiar enough with receiving grace to give it.
Yep… this is exactly how I felt, in a visual view.
I drank, I partied, I got itty bitty and browner than a biscuit. I wanted Tim to see me. I involved myself in an inappropriate emotional relationship, I knew he had too, so I justified it. I drank every night. Most nights by myself so no one would know the hold it had on me. I continued these behaviors in secret. I was so hurt. So wounded that my God. The one I call to in times of trouble, ignored me. He couldn’t have heard me when I called out for Him to heal my marriage, he ignored my cries to save my dad. He didn’t know what He was doing. I could no longer trust Him, because He wouldn’t come through. I had proof. My dad was gone, in the ground, never to see my children or nieces and nephew play a sport, or graduate, or get married, never to even be remembered by them. What kind of God is that?
I lost about 20 pounds… p.s. it doesn’t really change the inside…
If you have been a follower you know that you can’t just come out and start saying things like that, people wouldn’t receive it well, so you have to paste on a smile, “fake it, to make it”. It’s a mask. I wore it very well. In fact through the process of losing my dad, I, an emotional person, cried 2 times in the next 2 years. I carried myself with a quiet dignity and strength and continued to tell others that God could provide for their needs. That He was able to do all things, that He was God. I knew that to be true, although I didn’t want to acknowledge it, because then I had to admit that I was suffering on purpose. That He chose to allow me to go through seasons of such pain and turmoil, on purpose.
Pretending. Gotta have pics for the kids one day.
A few months after our dad died my brother and his now wife got married. It was joyous and painful. They got pregnant right away. She lost her first child a son at home 4 months into her pregnancy. Our family suffered. After that in the same calendar year we lost 10 other loved ones. We began to feel like Job’s family. We didn’t understand the black cloud that was following us.
Tim and I began to patch some things up while these other things were going on. Tragedy was being used to foster comfort, which began to foster care and concern again. We slowly worked our way back, we now had some trials to overcome from our time messed up. We had friends and family saying, this just isn’t working. You aren’t happy. We smiled and kept moving. I heard a Natalie Grant song, “I will not be moved” and believed it was God’s voice to me. “I will stumble, I will fall down, but I will not be moved. I will make mistakes, I will face heartache, but I will not be moved.” This was my anthem.
At a church Christmas Party, we have to act like we like each other.
In April of 2009 only 2 months after the loss of my nephew, and 9 months after losing my dad, I got a phone call at work that Tim had run over Cash with the truck. We have a Ford F150 Quad cab (our fav vehicle of all time) and he was in the backyard with Cash and Loralei and they were a safe distance away, so he began backing his truck up. He felt the truck halt a little and for some reason he had the radio down (which is never the case) and he heard something. He pulled the truck forward. Then he heard crying. He had backed over our little guy. When he called, I was working at a local Hospital in the OR, and began asking questions, things he didn’t know the answer too. He said, “I’m on the way to get you.” I said, “where’s Cash?” “He’s with me.”
I am thinking a thousand thoughts at a time. Why is he with you? Why isn’t he at the hospital? Is he… gone? I hear his little voice just crying. Tim had done what most people do in crisis, they go through the motions. They have a muscle twitch. He has scooped up Cash in his diaper and grabbed Loralei, buckled them in their seats and started driving to a hospital. The ER at my hospital wouldn’t take a child and we knew that, so we left my hospital to get to the other hospital to be taken then by ambulance to a trauma center. The ER at the trauma center was packed. In the middle of the work day our loved ones had immediately left work to come to our aid. Our Family, friends and Church family were everywhere.
I had to give Cash to the nurses and leave the room while he was triaged. I expected to hear that he had internal bleeding, like my dad. I thought, this is it. He is really going to take everything from me. We were taken into another room to wait for him. They brought him in, and he was still crying. Over the next two days we stayed at the trauma center, while they did test after test, aside from a black tire rubber burn (literally) down his back, our little boy was perfectly healthy. I wish I had thought to take a picture of that mark. Those close to us saw it, but most people will never understand what God did for us that day. He who had thousands of angels dispatched one in time.
Don’t take a 3 & 2 year old to the beach on vacation… there is only heat and heartache! But there he is, healthy and whole. Praise the Lord.
He awakened me. He awakened my husband. I knew again that the Lord is able to do all things, but that He allows us to go through times where the question “why?” can be asked, but not answered. He is all knowing, we are not, He has no intentions of making us so. These events, all terrible, some tragic, became a turning point for Tim and I.
He loves me. I know he does. He planned a surprise birthday party for me.
I slowly began to remember who I was. That I was called. Although I felt disqualified, He is the one that qualifies me. The love He has for me is enough. I have spent years trying to get back to my old smile. My old joy, only to find that it was always there, but that over time the way it looks changes.
He brought me a cat, a wild cat-literally. What am I going to do with this? I wanted a cuddly lap cat. It isn’t to be.
I will always have days that make me ask why. Why did I lose him? Why did God allow so much in such a small time. There were days I felt like Saul when he was tormented. Where everyone around must be after me, because I could not find peace, or rest. My mom was so brave when my dad died, she invited people to our church, and on a Sunday after his death 17 of my dads loved ones and friends from his 45 years walked forward and gave their lives to the Lord. Generations were changed that day. There was an impact. He would have given his life for that willingly, how can I hold God captive for something I would die for as well. There is no greater love than for one man to lay down his life for another. There is honor in death when it leads to life everlasting.
With my family at the beach. Don’t let the mask slip. Then they will know.
Tim and I spend as much time down as up as we walk though this life together. The key is, that we keep walking. We don’t throw around words like Divorce. It isn’t an option. Period. We made a covenant with God, and despite the things in our marriage that even Biblically to most we could get out of this for, we serve the healer. The creator of good and perfect things. He is able and we stand on that every day. We are trying to learn about each other to find things that we can use for those around us. We give God glory for everyday we stay married and walking an example of true love in front of our children. Marriage isn’t for my happiness, it is for His.
Today, look over your love story. There are people waiting to hear how you have held on when tragedy struck your life. There are people whose lives will change because of your stories. The good, the bad, the ugly and most importantly the mercy.
His mercy is new today. Breathe it in.