Category Archives: Marriage

My Tattered Veil

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It always hung in our bedroom.

From our first apartment to our last home I used my exquisite wedding veil as a focal point in our sacred, holy place.  A hand-made gift of tatting lace with our names and the date of our wedding, alongside our wedding picture, completed the memorial.  Throughout our years it was a special place in our home.  Many days through many years I lingered by the picture, fingering the embroidery on the veil.  Remembering…

Seeing how young we were and so completely inexperienced in life, the photographer captured our joy laced with hope.  My best friend played Debussy and my sister sang, “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us.”  My grandfather led us in our vows to one another.

We. meant. every. word.

After the divorce I had no idea what to do with the veil or my dress.  I strongly doubted my daughter would ever want to use them; nevertheless, I couldn’t give them away.  I still loved Phat.  Even after all that was said and done, I knew I would always love him.

Feelings come and go.  Love is a choice.

Noticing how dusty the veil had become, I gently washed it by hand.  As I did the lace began to fall apart, disintegrating as I pulled it out of the sudsy water.   Once I realized what was happening I quickly laid it on a towel and began blotting it dry.  I wondered if the tears would ever stop flowing…

When I found my little house and decided to buy it, I had another bedroom to decorate.

I remembered my tattered veil, folded away, as I began calling myself the names I knew I deserved.

That’s when it all came together.
That’s when God spoke to my heart.
He stopped me … (thank You, Lord, for stopping me).

Gently, He told me that I am His bride.
Lovingly, He reminded me that I am redeemed.
Tenderly, He guided me to His word.

I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!

For the LORD has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit…

O troubled one, storm-crushed, uncomforted!
See, your stones will be framed in fair colours,
and your bases (foundations) will be sapphires.

Above the surface over their heads was what looked like a throne
made of blue sapphire.
And high above this throne was a figure
whose appearance was like that of a man.

The One sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones
––jasper and carnelian.
And the glow of an emerald circled His throne like a rainbow.

I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage,
for we can hold on to His promise with confidence.
This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God’s inner sanctuary.

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil.

 

My tattered veil became a garment of salvation…literally.  Through His restoration and assurance of eternal love, I understood I needed to create a symbol of my Heavenly Bridegroom and of His covering for me.  I adorned the veil with crystals of emerald and sapphire.  I created a bow of colors just like the one I imagined encircling His throne.  And now, every night before I go to sleep, I look up at my wedding veil.  My once tattered veil.  And, I envision the beauty of the One who has loved me without condition.

I remember His holiness ~

and

His banner over me is love.

.
.
~scriptures taken from Isaiah, Revelation, and Hebrews

Why Did It Happen?

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I found this information very helpful…you might, too:

What is it about finding out that your partner is having an affair that unlocks the floodgates of emotion; emotions so strong and intense that they seem foreign and often disturbing even to those who experience them? Most would say it’s the betrayal, the deception and the humiliation that catapults them into an emotional abyss where feelings of despair and sadness alternate with feelings of anger and rage.

And even when the shock subsides, the focus of people’s thoughts remains on the sexual act mainly because it exemplifies the violation of a sacred trust between two people who have made a commitment to each other.

Is it an uncontrollable sex drive, weak mindedness, or too much to drink that leads a person into the arms of another? This question is asked many times by those who struggle to make sense of “why did he (or she) do it?” And while it is deserving of an answer, it behooves the person asking the question to consider that extramarital affairs have less to do with sex and more to do with unmet needs. This is not to minimize the gravity of what has occurred or down playing the pain caused by the partner who has gone outside the relationship. Instead, it is meant to point out that the dynamics of an affair, especially those with a history, are complex and go far beyond the sexual act.

extramarital affairs have less to do with sex and more to do with unmet needs

To understand what has happened, to be able to assess the viability of a relationship (if that is still an option), and do what it takes to move on in life, a good place to begin is in understanding the notion of intimacy and how it plays out in relationships.

Intimacy is the unique bond between two people that links them together emotionally, spiritually and sexually. The meshing of these elements forms the cornerstone of a monogamous relationship and explains in part, its distinctiveness to the human species. It also explains why its absence foretells non-exclusivity, suggesting that successful and healthy relationships require more than sex to function.

It is the feeling of connectedness that forms the basis of intimacy making it possible for relationships to grow and sustain the challenges that are often brought on by stress, illness, and work and family problems. Intimacy is the glue that holds relationships together taking over when the intense passion of a new relationship transforms into a more enduring union based on common values, love and commitment.

The feeling of connectedness … makes it possible for relationships to grow and sustain the challenges that are often brought on by stress …

For intimacy to develop and be sustained, a person must feel valued, cherished and respected by their partner. These feelings signify equity and balance in a relationship and secure the bond between the partners. Equally important is the need for effective communication of these feelings because without it, a rift can develop. If not reversed, the link between partners is at risk of being lost. Thus the greatest threat to intimacy is not exposure to attractive people of the opposite sex, but the inability of a couple to feel and communicate their connectedness to each other.

The circumstances that contribute to the fracturing of the intimate bond are diverse but most often involve transferring emotional energy that was once directed toward the relationship to other sources such as career, children, outside interests and friends. While good relationships can weather temporary emotional absences, if they go on indefinitely, they too will suffer. Under these conditions people may reconnect emotionally and spiritually with someone outside of their relationship by once again fulfilling their needs for acceptance and understanding. Relationships such as these often begin benignly but may later evolve by becoming sexual. This pattern is most typical of “affairs of the heart,” affairs that pose the greatest threat to the primary relationship.

So while sex may be the object of a partner’s scorn, it is really the breakdown of communication and the ultimate severing of a bond that once existed that is really at stake. In essence, the betrayal that is attached to sexual infidelity may have already occurred long before on an emotional and spiritual level. Thus, while it may be one partner who strays outside the relationship, the responsibility for making it work remains the responsibility of both. And while a person may claim that he or she was blind to anything in his or her partner’s behavior that may have signaled a breach in intimacy, this in itself suggests that he or she is out of touch with the respective needs of each other.

The effects of affairs can be devastating and there are no quick and easy fixes to repair the damage. However, if both partners are motivated, then patience, honesty and the skills of a professional can help the couple explore whether it is possible to reconstruct what once existed.

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Article from Reena Sommer Ph.D, author of The Anatomy of An Affair

Copied from WomansDivorce.com. Read more at: http://www.womansdivorce.com/causes-of-marital-affairs.html#ixzz2PK0vLY1Y

True Love – Revisited

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Do you remember your first love?  How excited you were to have someone you hoped would be with you forever?  If you were anything like me, you made plans for the future and then tried not to think about the little things that might not be what you were hoping – the idiosyncrasies of the other.  Not really looking at your own, but definitely seeing all of theirs.

In my mid-forties, I don’t think I’m intolerably critical anymore; I have developed past my teenage ways.  But when you think you may want to live with someone for the rest of your life, you do tend to notice things, wondering if you can “take it” for a lifetime.  Of course, once you’ve crossed that threshold into married life, you better have decided to stick it out for the long haul.

I heard once, the thing which attracts you to the person you married, more than likely, will be the thing that detracts you in later life.  For instance, you may have thought the other was hilariously funny with all their joking ways, or incredibly insightful with their “realistic” view of life.  Then come to find out the jokes were a way to avoid thinking seriously, or the realism was truly pessimism.  Then what do you do?  Give up and walk away, look past and hold fast, or recognize your own issues and grow in love toward the other.

Let’s look at TRUE LOVE  –

  • Love is patient.
  • Love is kind.
  • Love is not jealous.
  • Love does not brag.
  • Love is not arrogant.
  • Love does not act unbecomingly.
  • Love does not seek its own.
  • Love is not easily provoked.
  • Love does not take into account a wrong suffered.
  • Love does not rejoice in unrighteosness.
  • Love does rejoice with the truth.
  • Love bears all things.
  • Love believes all things.
  • Love hopes all things.
  • Love endures all things.

When I read that list…I just shut my mouth.

The “True Love” list is taken from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
(First published April 28, 2008)

Now… four-and-a-half years later…and a divorce which ripped me to shreds…what can I say?  I read through this today, not at all remembering that I had posted it until I started reading the comments.  (143 comments.  Almost the record for “Consider Jesus”…lots of personal insight and iron sharpening iron in the thread. If you’re interested: True Love comment thread)

Again, what can I say?  In retrospect it’s obvious I was already struggling…wondering where our personality differences would lead us.  I had no clue what one more year would bring.  I spoke of our love with such assurance (and possibly arrogance) that nothing would tear us apart.  I spoke of Phat’s commitment to me as Christ loves the Church.  However, the Church has not always been faithful, yet Christ remains so…  None of us is perfect.  None of us can do this thing called life without hurting one another.  It’s inevitable as a result of the Fall.  If we are not careful we will bite, devour, and even kill as a result of the sin which so easily entangles us.  No one is immune.  Some of us just think we are…and…therein lies our downfall.

The introspective one needs to see it’s possible now to stop trying to understand.  As much as can be understood, on this side of the mirror, has been analyzed. 

I screwed up. 
He gave up. 
He remarried. 
And now…I can move on…?

I can.

And, I will.

Love never ends. 

I still do love…
Always and Forever.

Flowers of Mercy

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It was time to go.
The night before I had confessed my greatest sin.
She gave me the book, as I was getting ready to leave. 

When Godly People Do Ungodly Things

I put it in my satchel and told myself I’d read it on the plane.
I did start it, but my seat mate was a bit too observant.
Shame’s tendrils began creeping in…

The word “Jezebel” was used early on in the book. 
I didn’t really want to think about the meaning of that word. 
“Don’t be a Jezebel!” flooded my mind.

The book went back into my satchel.

A year later I moved out to try and get my head together.  I did take the book with me, wondering if I’d have the courage to read it as I was re-evaluating my life.  In the meantime, I had come across a couple of bloggers who were willing to boldly tell their stories.  Sarah Markley and Serena Woods were open and honest about their choices, and were willing to share the ugly truth of the fallout from those choices.  I was living the fallout of mine…

I ordered Serena’s book, Grace is for Sinners.  As I read her story, she mentioned the Beth Moore book I had already pushed aside.  I did the next logical thing…pushing hers aside, I opened the book I had received a year earlier.  My heart and mind were now open to the reality of my sin

Needless to say, between the two books, I understood what I had done and how this could happen to a “good Christian wife and mother”.  Through the grace they bestowed, I knew there was a way back for me.

I’m an avid reader of Darla, Sarah, and Serena’s blogs. 
I know they are honest women who share God’s truth. 
The truth boldly spoken so I could hear…and learn.

In her most recent post, Serena states:

God lets evil plans form and emerge as they wreak havoc, only to thwart them and turn it into something that brings the beaten closer to Him. Evil exists, but ultimately answers to Him. Pain pierces, but only brings the broken closer to Him. Sin bulldozes blooming gardens only to make room for the flowers of mercy.

Everything answers to God. Everything has it’s time in the sun, it’s fifteen minutes (years?), but none of it has the last word.

No matter where your path has taken you, no matter what you’ve done, no matter what has been done to you, none of it gets the last word on your life. God does and He does what He says.  ~Serena Woods, “The Last Word”

 

Sin bulldozes blooming gardens
only to make room for the flowers of mercy.

I Committed Adultery

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I never thought I would.

I never imagined I could.

And that, right there, was my downfall.

It didn’t occur to me that I would ever be able to cheat on my husband (now ex-husband).  Phat and I seemed to be in a very solid place.  Not passionate, life was too hard for passion.  We’d been married for 25 years and had weathered many storms.  We were still in the midst of what we imagined would be the worst storm of our life.  Our son was dealing with the fallout of his bad choices and I had been sick for many years.  But, we would hang on.  Over the years we had dealt with unemployment, miscarriage, poverty, sickness, incarcerations…and the good stuff…years of ministry, our beautiful children, homeschooling, lots of close family, vacations, good memories…lots of laughs…and yes, many tears.  But…isn’t that just what life brings?

Yes,  we were definitely comfortable.
Hmmm…
Maybe…even…complacent…?

Complacent.
Contented to a fault.
Self-satisfied and unconcerned.

Oh.  Webster’s:
Marked by self-satisfaction especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies
You’ve seen it, that smug smile. Imagining you couldn’t go wrong…

Unaware of actual dangers or deficiencies.

Some people say I’m naive.  I didn’t imagine I could be with all I’ve seen in this world.  Even though I was raised in a sheltered home and in a ‘holiness’ community, it was the 60’s…and the 70’s.  How sheltered can one be with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll running rampant in the streets?  I was known as the “goody-goody” — which was actually my self-righteousness run amuck — because I didn’t participate in the activities of the day.  But, I still knew about them.  I wasn’t unaware of dangers…I just figured I’d never fall.  I was deficient in sizing up myself.

What’s the saying, “Pride goes before the fall”…?

Pride goes before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. ~Proverbs 16:18

We became prideful of our marriage.
We felt we had one of the strongest relationships around.
Phat used to say, “Don’t you wish everyone could have a relationship like ours?”

A neighbor recently stated, “So, you’re  wearing the scarlet letter, huh?”
I felt my face turn red with that announcement!
Thankfully, I was able to say,

“Yes, to the world I am an adulterer. But to God, I am clean.”

I do believe that, even when I’m too exhausted to fight the demons speaking in the dark of night, I still do believe God has forgiven me.  When the tears stop and I can see clearly, past the shadows of death, I know I am forgiven.

I went on to explain the hard times we’d endured and how we both got side-tracked…looking for something to ease the pain.  Hoping for something to bring fulfillment once again, we moved outside of our commitments to one another…

Trying to reconcile was a mountain we wouldn’t climb.
He walked past it, not wanting to let go of his anger.
I looked at it and wondered how to climb without his love.
And now that mountain is in the far distance, neither of us willing to turn around…

I’ve learned not to think too highly of myself…or, of you.
Any one of us can fall.
Given the situation, the weariness of the world, the pleasures available to us…

Anyone of us can fall.

Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, who are idol worshipers, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, abusers, and swindlers––none of these will have a share in the Kingdom of God. There was a time when some of you were just like that, but now your sins have been washed away, and you have been set apart for God. You have been made right with God because of what the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God have done for you. ~1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Anyone of us can fall.
Every one of us can be redeemed.
Every one of us…

There was a time when some of you were just like that…

But now your sins have been washed away.

In Him

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I feel I’ve been in a strait place for quite some time. 
A narrow, difficult passage has been my path for a few years now. 

Some may say it’s by my own doing, others will see I may have been pulled along, and still others could care less…saying, “she gets what she deserves!”

I am so thankful, in these difficult years, that I have found the Source of my strength. In Him.

In Him. 

I know I am where I am because God is sovereign.  And in His sovereignty, He will test me for His glory.  However, the fires of sanctification can become so painful that, sometimes, I seek an escape from the heat.  Usually it only means the melting was stifled and I must start again from a cold, hard place.  In that process I am learning to remain in the fire.  It’s much less painful in the long run. 

In reality (vs. fantasy) I can rest in Him instead of worrying what “others” may think.  If He is sovereign then He is in control.  It is by His will I am in this place.  Strait or wide open…HE directs my path.

I found this passage awhile back. 

I think Murray makes my point…or I made his (since he wrote in the 1800’s)… 

“In time of trouble, say, “First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.” Next, “He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.” Then say, “He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.” And last, say, “In His good time He can bring me out again. How, and when, He knows.

Therefore say, “I am here

(1) by God’s appointment,
(2) in His keeping,
(3) under His training,
(4) for His time.”

~Andrew Murray, 1895

Trusting in God’s sovereignty today.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedience to Him. Let your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all He has done.  ~Colossians 2:6-7

Idolatry

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Whatever you do to make this life work, without God, is idolatry.

We are idolatrous people. We desire to create our own way in life. We work hard to come up with a way that will make life feel better. BUT if it is not God, if we are trying to fill ourselves up without Him, then we have created an idol.

Seem harsh?
Well, it may just be you don’t want to admit it.
Just sayin’…from my own experience… 😕

Idols can take many forms: career, family, marriage, ministry, sports, yard-work, busyness, religion, possessions, travel, money, prestige, power, education…and the list goes on and on…

I have recently discovered idols in my past. First, I tried to be good enough. Positive performance became an idol to me. I desired to feel good about me and wanted God’s “approval.” So, I falsely thought if I did the right things, I would.

But, now I know only God can make me “good” and yet, I won’t be complete until eternity. Trying to make myself look good to you — well, that’s me building an idol — it’s not resting in what He says is true: No one is good but God.

Another idol: Being a teacher and “godly” mother. I have looked to my children, and those I’ve taught, as an example of my worth. If they did well, then I felt satisfied. I felt full. I took pride in their accomplishments as though they were my own. But, you see, I was taking credit where credit was not due. Somehow, in my twisted thinking, I felt if they were good, then I was good. And God wants me to be good, right? Hmmmm ….

The third idol I have recently identified is my marriage. If I talked about my marriage being the best marriage EVER, and only told happy stories about our time together, then you and I might believe how perfect I could be. And, God wants us to have happy marriages, right?

Recently, I’ve learned that many times we marry the person/idol we want to worship. Maybe we marry the person we hope will fill us. Maybe we see something in the other we would love to have in our lives…? If we put all our trust in our marriages, in our working hard to make them “the best”, or taking from the other to fill ourselves, then our devotion is not on God and His living through us.

So … what have I concluded?  Our careers, our children, our relationships can all become idolatrous if they come before God. And yet, it looks so good from the outside. People may comment on how “perfect” your life appears. BUT.  If I’m trying to get my worth — my value — through those things, then I’m worshiping something other than the God who created me.

My worth is not in my accomplishments.
My worth is in being His creation.

All of me…
For ALL of Him.

(Some thoughts after studying Dan Allender and Jeff VanVonderen…still peeling back those layers…)

Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form, and you have been filled in Him…
~verses from Colossians 2

Fighting Fair

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Phat and I recently attended a marriage conference: The Intimate Mystery.  Dan Allender, author of  The Wounded Heart, was the speaker for the three sessions.  Allender speaks in a conversational style, yet each word carries such depth of meaning.  As closely as I paid attention, I knew I would need the accompanying book to remember all he covered.

Last night I read this:

“A marriage is only as good as a couple’s ability to fight.  A husband and wife who fail to fight are not alive and honest.  Every now and then an older man or woman tells me they have been married for fifty or more years and have never spoken a cross word or had an unpleasant discussion.  I don’t believe a word they’ve said, though I don’t doubt their sincerity.

Somewhere in the marriage a decision was made to be pleasant and avoid conflict at all costs.  It isn’t that unpleasant conversations or cross words didn’t occur, they simply remained subvocal, hidden under the surface.  To claim there was never a failure of love — of omission and commission — is tantamount to saying they’ve never sinned.  Such a lie is blasphemous.

The fact is we will sin against each other, inevitably.  The result of any failure will be hurt and division.  It is crucial for us to grapple with the one sure need of every marriage: forgiveness.  The process of asking and gifting forgiveness has to do with speech — or how we dialogue when we are hurt.  Therefore the command to “weave” or to join together has to do with how we communicate, especially in moments of conflict that will likely require one or both to seek forgiveness.”

These paragraphs brought to mind an earlier time in our marriage.  Phat and I had been married for three years and were at the start of our time in seminary.  We had gone to dinner with another couple, friends we knew in college when we were all single.  After much discussion about being married, we tried to explain that we never fight, feeling rather proud of the fact.  The response: laughter…in our faces…laughter!

Well, needless to say, we were indignant that they wouldn’t believe us.  The comment was made that we obviously were not sharing our true feelings.  Yet, we felt we were being kind and gentle with one another…that was our desire.  But were we being real?

The Smiths (let’s call them) were quick to admit their ability to fight.  It seemed so unspiritual to us, and not at all what God would want in our marriage.  And, we may not have been entirely wrong, considering The Smiths did not last much longer.  However, now I see that we were living at two extremes.  As Allender puts it, The Phats had chosen to live in the DMZ (demiliatarized zone) while The Smiths chose the gory grounds of warfare.

Fighting fair.  Can it be done?

Allender moves on to explain “good” vs. “bad” talk, and what is “redeeming” talk:

Good talk explores reality.
Good talk honors differences.
Good talk pursues intimate truth.

Bad talk hides.
Bad talk blames.
Bad talk distorts.

Redeeming talk, however, acknowledges that God is an intimate player in our moment.

Do you recognize that God is in the midst of all your communication?
Do you fight?
Do you fight fair?

BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN;
do not let the sun go down on your anger,
and do not give the devil an opportunity.
Ephesians 4:26-27