I am honored to introduce you to Gail. The first time I met her I was struck by her sparkle. I don’t know what else you call it; something about her just shines. I’ve seen that sparkle shining through again recently, brighter than it’s been in awhile, and I say a prayer of thanks for healing. Her courageous walk through complicated grief inspires me and reminds me of the deep hope that lives even when things look bleak. I am so thankful for her friendship and her words today. – Evi
Although I had been “all in” to fight for our marriage and our family, he had not.
My long and complicated story has multiple layers and elements. At the start, verbal and emotional abuse began to slowly and subtly creep in to what was before a loving marriage. I was on the receiving end. Given my faith, a hopeful heart, and a commitment to my marriage and children, there appeared more reasons to stay than to leave. So I stayed, though I lost sight of how small I was becoming and the effect it was having on all of us.
Over time, greater challenges in my marriage surfaced when I inadvertently discovered startling and ugly secrets. This time, the depth of my hurt would surely mean it was time for me to leave. No. My hope was too big for that and I don’t give up easily. My faith in God to work within us as we prayed together, the power of forgiveness, and the support of counseling led me to stay. In time, I believed our relationship was healing, and that we were moving forward in positive ways. It was only then I learned that he had not been “all in”.
So it was time stop trying to save us and begin to save myself. With God’s arms around me, I started to navigate the painful and unfamiliar territory of divorce. I longed for that elusive “other side,” the place where I could feel whole again.
Then, as the phrase goes, the other shoe dropped. A week before Christmas my husband completed suicide. I was numb and in utter shock, as this was shortly before my husband was to embark on an opportunity for treatment and healing. I believed there was hope for him, too, on the horizon. Now I was left calling my two precious daughters to say their dad left them. There are no words to describe my pain or ache I felt for my daughters and so many others. I was in deep.
Days after, I remember asking a trusted friend, “Will I ever come out of this on the other side”? The “other side” was a safe space I had come to see as peace, light, joy, and truth. A space I was most certainly not in. It seemed, in fact, a place so far away that I doubted I would ever reach it. How would I get through this? Exactly how many miles was I about to travel, and with how many obstacles? I didn’t have the strength to do it. I thought, let’s get over this already. I had my faith in God, but not in me.
In the days before the funeral, I discovered a sticky note on my bathroom mirror, placed by a close friend. It read,
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31
Three years ago, all I could think about was getting to the other side. It was all I longed for. But what I am truly grateful for is what took place along the way. I learned that my efforts to skip, or somehow go around, the hurt was not a path to healing. I had to sit in, walk through, and feel my pain. It was hard and I fought it sometimes. But, God provided who and what I needed, and I am forever grateful. I learned that it wasn’t about the other side at all. It was about the journey through the dark and muddy places where I found deeper relationship with God. It was there where I was safe and found myself in peace, joy, light, and truth. I have often found myself thinking, what if I would have missed all that?