Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Firm Grip

Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Firm Grip

She sat rigidly in her seat, a stoic approach to being in a public place, a place where nearly everyone puts their best foot forward, their shiniest, happiest face.

I sat beside her, doing my best to look calm, at peace, ready to worship.

I love worship. I shut my eyes, tune out everything but the words, the music, and within the chambers of my heart turn the lyrics into prayers. Today it was hard to do. I shed a quiet tear or two as I thought about the love I have for Him, the love He has for me, the love she doesn’t have.

The songs where about His mighty love, His sovereignty. I felt there was little control in my life.

The night before had been a rough one. The day had begun well. Brenda did house cleaning. I pitched in, starting on the half bath off the living room. She instantly became testy, intense. She complained about my being in her way, argued about how I was doing it, yelled about being left alone.

She calmed down, confessing she doesn’t want help, that she has a system, that we wouldn’t do things right. We went out to shoot pool. Her hurts and anger surfaced quickly. A time for us to be together became an endless stream of anger pouring from her. Her frowning face was only inches from mine as she vented over things done and left undone twenty years ago.

Last night, after hours of being told about how she was patient for years with me, we fell asleep. Or rather, she fell asleep. I lay awake in bed for hours.

These tongue whippings are hard to tolerate. I stand there, under the torrent of her anger, and listen carefully to her complaints. I acknowledge what is true, shelve what is not. I don’t pick up my own experiences to whip her with. I simply love and forgive her.

But there, late at night, her gentle breath belying the storm within her, I think... about divorce.

I can’t do it.

After church yesterday we were on the back porch...

“I don’t want to quit my job.”

“I know. It’s a good job. It is good for you. It pays well for part time, its hours match our needs, it places you in an environment of learning and gives you a sense of growing and learning. But it is where he works and it is a temptation you need to place far from you.”

“I don’t even see him there. He doesn’t come into the learning center. And if I wanted to see him, not working there wouldn’t stop me.”

“It isn’t a matter of removing all possibilities. It is a matter of reducing temptations, to help you, to help us...

“Look Brenda, I don’t like telling you what to do. I generally don’t do it. But I haven’t any choice here. I lay awake most of last night thinking about divorce. It would be so much easier to just quit. There isn’t anything in this situation which brings me happiness.

“But I can’t divorce you for three reasons. First, it would be bad for you. You need to heal, to grow out of the ugly place you are in. You need to be restored. And I want to help heal you, help care and nurture you. I want to encourage you to be happy, to be healthy, to be what I know you can be.

“The second reason I can’t divorce you is because of the boys. They love you. It would hurt them so badly for you to leave. I don’t know how they can possibly handle it.

“The third reason I can’t divorce you is I simply can’t. And not because I love you, though that is part of it, I love you and want to help you. But I can’t divorce you because I am trapped in this marriage. I took a vow to love you, to stand by you always. As long as you say you are going to stay and work on our marriage I cannot abandon my vows. I am trapped by what I have sworn to do, and that is to stand by you. Tell me you won’t work on our marriage, tell me that you won’t stop seeing this other man, and then I will be freed from my vows.”

She frowned.

I used to think that divorce is what happened to people without the willpower to stick through tough times. I don't anymore. I know longer judge such people. Or people who do all sorts of things I may not do, or may not approve of. My job is not to judge them. My job is to simply love them.

While in church, while thinking about how I feel I have no choices, that I must do what I am doing, no matter how it hurts, I thought of how God is holding me. I felt His presence during the worship songs. I felt a longing for Him, a love for Him deeper than my mortal frets and worries.

I can’t run away. I can’t fly this situation. I can’t force someone to do, to feel, what I want. All I can do is what is prescribed for me to do.

When I was in college I took a year of fencing. It was great exercise.

We practiced the lunges and quiding the movements of the rubber-tipped blades, how to move our bodies to place that tip exactly wherever we needed it.

We were told how to hold the handle of those fencing foils. We were told to imagine we were holding a small bird. The bird wants to fly away. We grip it in our hand firmly enough that it cannot escape, but not so tightly it is hurt.

The Lord holds me firmly. My vows hold me. I struggle with my lack of choices in the middle of the night, but I still remain firmly in His hand.

But not too tightly. Brenda has told me once again she loves this other man, that I’m not her type. This bargain we have struck is too fragile too last.

Last might I went on line to find out where I could the legal forms for divorce.

During church the other day I felt the Lord’s firm grip.

I squirm and flap my wings trying to break free. I have a growing sense I soon shall be.


Ame said...

I am so very sorry.

I wish I had no idea of what you're talking about, but I do ... so similar to what I went through.

God may set you free from your vows, but divorce is not freedom. It is what it is, but freedom is not one of them.

Keep anchored in Christ ... you will need it; your boys will need it in you. If they loose their momma, they need to know they will not loose their daddy, too.

Amrita said...

Whatever it is...marriage is not an open prison.You 've got to set boundaries.

May the lord work deeply in Brenda's heart and soul and give her the willingness to change.May the Holy Spirit convict her of sin, righteousness and the judgement to come.

May you feel the grip of Christ firmly on your life.

Coco said...

My prayers are with you...
May you find the strength to do what is best for you, and your family. Trust in the Lord.


Jada's Gigi said...

I am so sorry Will. but a real decision and direction are better than limbo....I know you know that. I'm sure its hard to maintian sight of with your sons crying in your arms.
God be with you...each of you. He is still a God of mercy and grace..and somehow, peace.
Peace to you, my brother.

ukok said...

I know my friend, that you are not accusatory towards those who flee from difficult marriages, where once you may have been of the opinion that we were quitters....

As you surely know, for those who do leave, we sometimes do so because it is impossible to stay,because our spouse makes life so unbearable, because they will not make the decision to stop the hurt, but will force us, through their behaviour, to make the decision for them....they are weak....we feel weaker, but must be stronger...sometimes it is only we, the abused, the wounded (yes they are wounded too, but we more so - I still carry scars all these years later) who can consider most greatly the needs of our children, to no more see our children suffer or to allow them to think that it is normal for their parents to hurt one another.

Still praying.

MMM said...

oh, man.

and having done all.....

what more can I say to you than these others, who know more, who have been where you are, who have hurt as you do?

i wish a miracle would restore all to harmony. but i know rebuilding from our perspective is long and torturous.

But know this. This, at least, I can say, and I only came to it after typing the above.

God sees you. He loves you still.

And He sees the glorious finished product. Have faith that He will show you. And rest assured, it is, indeed, more than you can imagine.

I counsel you both, hold on to that knowledge even while you are covered with dirt and mortar, laboring long hours under blazing sun with no relief of rain or water or even a cooling bath.

The plans are in His hands. He sees the groundbreaking of all of us, and can't wait to see us at the ribbon cutting.

In the Desert of the Real, I hold vigil.

wilsonian said...

Hang tight.
There's a picture I get when I pray for you now, but it's too early to share it. All I can say is to hang tight.