May 4, 2014

Decision Made

Psalm 32

A psalm of David.

Oh, what joy for those
    whose disobedience is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
    my body wasted away,
    and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
    My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Interlude
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Interlude
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
    that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
    you protect me from trouble.
    You surround me with songs of victory. Interlude
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
    I will advise you and watch over you.
Do not be like a senseless horse or mule
    that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”
10 Many sorrows come to the wicked,
    but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord.
11 So rejoice in the Lord and be glad, all you who obey him!
    Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!

It is a beautiful Sunday here in Phoenix. Church was great, with a strong message from Pastor Jeff about learning how to find significance through God's plan for our lives. The message was taught from Romans 12 and focused on connecting to God as our Source. Much of what Jeff shared followed my own experience over the past five or six years. When I made the decision to place God first in my life, everything I was doing, the direction I was headed, and the attitudes and beliefs I held were redirected, redefined, and reordered. My heart was remade, and my path was altered to reflect what God wanted in my life.

So much has changed since that day when I fell on my knees before the Lord and confessed my sins to Him. As I have blogged before, I had been a Christian for almost 30 years. I lived the "normal Christian life" or what I believed was the perfect Christian life. However, inside my heart was broken, my life was a sham, and I was living a lie. I wasn't happy, I wasn't seeking the Lord with my whole heart, and I was miserable, downright miserable.

I was living in a dead and lifeless marriage. My husband was an angry man with deep seated personality issues. Our life was filled with strife, with lies, and with constant humiliation. I lived in fear and in shame, and I did everything I could do to be a "good wife" to him. I did my best, and while I don't place all the blame on him, I know that many of the choices we made were not God-honoring nor aligned with His will for each of us and our marriage.

We physically separated on November 19, 2011. I rented a town home closer to my work, and my son and I moved out of the home we had lived in for 12 years. I have since been living on my own, separated but not divorced.

A couple weeks ago, at church actually, I had an epiphany where I realized that the only thing connecting me to my husband was the legal standing I held as being married. I also saw him for the person he is. It is no secret that he is not a happy man. He is never happy, always disagreeable, always angry. He hides it most of the time, but there have been times where that darkness rises and you just "see" it all over his face, his body, and his attitude.

I knew then that I didn't want to spend anytime with him, not even sitting next to him at church, anymore. It wasn't like we spent time together, more so, it was just that we sat next to each other at church so that we could show solidarity to our son who performs with the worship band. In some ways, it was business as usual. I mean, my entire married life was a put on show. We wore the happy smiles, the pleasant attitudes of a happily married couple when at church. Then we would endure the long drive home, sitting in silence, until we got in the door of the house. Then he retreated to his office and I retreated to the mall or to my computer. We lived as two people sharing the same home, but rarely having a conversation with each other. When we did speak to each other it was over dinner or laundry or some other meaningless thing.

I made the decision to divorce a couple weeks ago. Well, I actually filled out the papers about three months ago, after some blow up between us, when he was being really snarky to me and expecting me to do "work" for him for free. I filled the papers out and let them sit on my desktop. I didn't do anything then because I was still waiting for the Lord's permission to proceed with filing the paperwork.

Then three weeks ago I made up my mind to proceed, to do it, to file. I started to think about doing it, and I started to consider what my life might be like after I do it. Of course, the past couple weeks have been murder for me -- what with my school ending (Regent) and my teaching duties ending (GCU) -- I barely could function to do anything else. Still, I consider it a step forward, another step toward being legally free, totally free, wholly single and wholly dependent upon the Lord for His grace, His provision, His love, and His protection.

So after church this morning, I made the decision to do it, to get the papers printed out, notarized and filed with the county. My brother (in San Diego) called to talk with my Mom today, and of course, my Mom told him the details of my latest conversation with my husband, and my brother offered to pay for my divorce. He knows that I don't have a lot of money right now, that I am in between teaching contracts, and that I am living on a tight budget. So I guess this means that I have no excuse not to file the papers. I guess I have no reason to stay married anymore.

I should be relieved. I should feel good about this decision, but instead I just feel blah. I feel like I should have done this a long time ago. I should have left him many years ago. I should have made the decision to live as a single Mom and not stay married just for our son. I gave up so many good years to a man I neither loved nor liked. It is funny because Pastor Jeff talked about the secret sins we carry inside of us, the sins that we hide and tell lies about to keep them covered. The truth is that often these sins are bound up in lies we tell ourselves, to try to make us feel better about them or to keep from acknowledging the truth about them.

In church, I prayed during communion for the Lord to show me any secret sins I carry with me. I am a confessional Christian, if you know what that means. Christians tend to take different views of confession. Some feel that we confess our sins normally through the course of our day, mostly when we admit we are wrong, we say "I'm sorry" to God or others, and we move on. Some Christians believe that we must make confession, proper confession, in order to experience a complete cleansing from the guilt of the sin. I fall into this latter category, and that means while I do confess all the time, in conversation, there are times when I have to go before the Lord and properly confess my sins. It also means that I have to be willing to accept whatever actions the Lord desires from me -- which could be going and talking to someone, confessing to another person, etc. -- or removing things (items or objects) associated with the sin. In some ways, I am probably more of an OT/Legalistic Christian than a true Grace-filled Christian. I love grace, don't get me wrong, but I am also very familiar with the law and the actions stated within the law when it came to forgiveness of sins.

So I confessed my secret sins to the Lord. Mind you, I didn't really know what they were because I have already confessed most of the big and small stuff in the normal course of my days/weeks and/or life. No, this was more about the Lord revealing to me if there were any hidden secret sins that I was choosing to ignore or choosing to lie about to keep hidden from others. Ouch!

I prayed, I confessed my utter devotion to the Lord, and I let everything go. I took communion, and the service ended. I was getting ready to leave when I experienced that "oh so familiar" angry look, angry response, and angry tone of voice. Yes, my perfect peace was ruin by a bad attitude and a clearly intentional conversation that suggested "I am mad at you for not doing X" (whatever X happened to be this day -- only the Lord knows). I handled myself well, and I dodged the firestorm. As I left the building, I said to myself and the Lord: "Thank you Lord for saving me from living with that man!"

I got into my car and I couldn't help but wonder what had "set him off" today. I mean we don't talk to each other and we don't have a relationship out side of our son. Still, I had clearly dropped the ball, fallen down on the job, or done something to make his life even more miserable than it normally is. I confessed my anger, which was now starting to boil up, and I thought to myself "Enough! I have had enough of this treatment. I am not a doormat, and I no longer serve this man's every whim and wish."

I guess the truth of the matter is that I have hidden behind a lie for so many years that said "I don't love him, but I like him." Today, I can honestly say that I don't like him either. It is not that I hold bitterness toward him, but generally speaking, if I met him somewhere I would not be attracted to him, want to spend time with him, or even consider talking to him for any length of time. In short, I would more than likely ignored his presence and not engaged in any behavior other than a passing "hello." Yes, the truth is that I do not like my husband. I have never liked him. I have never liked the way he behaved, and I have never thought he was a nice man. I pretended that it was so, and I put up a good facade to show the world that my view was correct, but it wasn't. No, it wasn't true at all.

So where does this leave me today. I am going to print the papers out and take them to the court house for them to be filed. I am going to use my brother's gift to pay for this divorce since I cannot pay for it myself. Then I am going to walk away from him. I am going to change my service preference (go at the early service with my parents), and I am no longer going to help him in any way shape or form. I am cutting the cord, the umbilical cord that has connected us together for all these years. I am walking away, with my head held high, and with the knowledge that while I am not innocent in this matter, I am honest -- totally honest -- about everything about it. I am no longer going to live the lie. It is over. It is done.


Anonymous said...

Carol, I want to congratulate you on moving forward with your life. I know that getting to this place wasn't an easy one, but I'm happy for you, that the Lord has led you to a better place.

I also want you to know that through your blog, and the Lord's grace, my eyes were opened to a 20-year addiction in my spouse's life --a Jekyll & Hyde type of thing. Good, Christian husband and father by day; not-so-good activities by night. (Mine was early in 2011.) Though it was devastating, the Lord has been SO faithful.

I've followed you as you've been brave and faithfully followed the Lord. I too have been on this path 'with you', though slightly behind you because of how mine has played out. I have a young child, too, so this has been an issue in keeping the emotions out of it in order to clearly hear from the Lord.

Keep seeking Him! :-)

Carol Hepburn said...

Thank you for taking the time to share your support with me through reading my blog. I appreciate the fact that you understand :) -- it means so much to me. I pray the Lord will uphold you and keep you focused on Him as you navigate through the challenges you face with your situation.