My husband and I had a tough couple of days earlier this week. We’ve struggled with an issue within our marriage for the last few years. Not abuse, addiction or adultery, but a tough thing, nonetheless. He went to bed early, feeling hurt. I researched this issue online for awhile, feeling hurt.
We talked a bit when I got into bed. We both acknowledged that neither of us was trying to be hurtful to the other; it’s just the way that this has played out. He turned back to his book. I stuffed in my earplugs and slipped on my eye mask.
And then, dear reader, I went to a very dark place.
I’m ashamed of the fact that I jumped, head first, into this hole.
The fact that I am WAY. TOO. HARD. on myself isn’t a secret. Trust me when I assure you that I’m very aware of my constant, gaping need for greater understanding of God’s grace. This was hammered home in a very intense way as I poured out a great store of bitterness is silent, tear-soaked prayers. I didn’t blame God for anything. Instead, I took the blame. For it all. For every mistake and hard moment. For every willful decision. “You gave me this life,” I cried, “and all I’ve done is screw it up.”
It makes me squirm to read those words. God has been so faithful to me. So faithful! He’s walked me through a long, hard season of learning. He’s brought people into my life who have equipped me with the tools the battle negative thinking and outright lies. I could sense that He was practically yelling at me to STOP IT. To take a breath and to remember what is true. To roll over and cry with my husband instead of giving in to the fear that he wouldn’t understand.
Old habits die hard, dear reader.
Sleep was elusive that night. I pressed into the sorrow and anxiety, wrapping it around me like an old, stinky blanket. I’ve worked so hard for so long to fold that blanket up and put it away whenever I take it off the shelf! But that night…it was like a friend. The friend who constantly lashes out at you.
Chris and I talked more the next morning, when emotions weren’t running so high. We discussed what practical steps we could take to address this issue and I hope to be able to start that path soon. We hugged and said those special words, “I love you.” The seas between us calmed.
Within me, however, all was not calm. I was disgusted with myself for having giving in so easily to the temptation of self-hatred, and yet I felt a strange release. I wasn’t sure how to approach God, or if I even could. Did I need to repent? Did He understand fully why I went to the place I did? Was it okay that I felt less…icky after letting all that out? I felt shy, sheepish. Should I hand my head or stand tall?
While at work I was able to listen to a teaching given by Beth Moore, part of a series on the book of Romans. (You can find it here). In this lesson she talked about the perfect love of God; how He loved us while we were out jumping into dark holes and how there’s nothing that can separate us from that love. The Lord quite simply is love. This is not an emotion that He feels or an action that He is required to take. Love is His personality. It is His being. Perfect – whole. Complete.
I’ve heard this concept taught more times than I can count, but it fell on me in a fresh way. Yes, it was…well, stupid of me to go down a road that I knew would only make me feel worse. I should have stopped, done a 180-degree turn and ran toward my loving, tender Father with my tears. Any discipline that comes my way for making a foolish decision is well-deserved. But He didn’t stop loving me as I tried to hide under that blanket. He didn’t stop calling out to me. He didn’t shake His head and say, “Well, I guess I’m done with her.”
God is not a human being. He is not changeable in His plan, purpose or affections. I have struggled for so long to understand this, but today in my Bible study I came to the conclusion that some things just have to be accepted. You just have to let them wash over you and let the compulsion to know everything fall by the wayside. Or let God pry it out of your white-knuckled fist, which is how it is with me. Sometimes you just have to say, “Thank you.”
Grace and peace along the way.