I have said that I started these writings so that my errors could be made more obvious, by being exposed to light. And I often see my sloppy thinking just by writing it down. Sometimes, I see my errors through comments made by others. Concerning my recent post, “The Last Post of This Story ” it has happened again.
I have spoken with several people concerning this post. Some, but not all, were happy with it. However even those who expressed support and appreciation were somewhat unsure as to my point. I have been accused before of being sometimes obtuse. I have to take that seriously. So here is my remedial effort, and my attempt to clarify what is on my heart by opening it fully. =======
Last November, with the approach of Thanksgiving, I had a thought that I believe was a leading from God. I think I am dealing with my marital failures reasonably well, but not easily. I miss being married, and I mourn for the loss even as I grieve my own role in the failure. And though I think I have a fairly good grasp of the issues that brought me (and my former wife) to this point, I still keep hearing the plaintive cry within me “why?” But last November, it occurred to me that a bridge I must cross in my recovery was that of gratitude.
There have been other bridges, but as I am only trying to clarify this one post, I won’t go into those. I knew that I must be able to give thanks for my marriage, including the divorce, subsequent re-marriage and re-divorce, before I could fully recover. “No problem!” I thought. I wrote. I prayed. I tried to make lists of the good things. I kept a page of false starts open on my computer for a month. And I couldn’t get there.
I finally acknowledged my defeat. I put the box on the shelf. But I knew it was there. It was a task that must be accomplished, yet one that I could not do. The thought kept working at me; I continued to try to feel gratitude for those years; I had no trouble remembering good things, and good times, but that was not the issue. As close as I could get was putting the choice before me: if I could take a time machine back to the late 1970’s knowing everything I know about the way things would turn out, would I choose to walk this road, or would I refuse it? I had to admit that I would absolutely choose “Yes- it was better to have this love, and this life, even with the heartache, than not to have had it at all.” But that is not the same as gratitude. Even though I knew I must, I still could not get there.
And then this past Sunday, it was done. As I contemplated the scriptures I mentioned, the thing I had so wanted to create in me, over which I had despaired, was simply given to me. ( I think it is true that God will never require of us something which He will not freely give us Himself.)
That does not mean I now see all roses where I had been seeing thorns. But it means that I trust God. I trust how He has led my wife, and me. I trust Him in how he has used and will use our and my sin to bring good and glory. Importantly, I trust Him, even though I do not see all those good things. I may never see them. These good things may not even have anything to do with me. That, by the way, is another of the points of these writings –that someone may learn from my mistakes, and not have to make their own.
But because I trust Him, I know that these good things are true. And I thank God for them, seen or unseen. God knew how our marriage would work out from before our first date. He knew everything, including my sin. We say that God “sees the end from the beginning.” Nothing was a surprise to Him. And so, I can thank Him for the whole thing – I am free to say thank you to God for letting me experience this marriage which began 33 years ago this summer. I can thank Him for our children, I can thank Him for my wife, and for her passion in trying to break some bad patterns for them. I can thank Him for the fact that our children are the people they are, and are becoming. It is an interesting parallel that even in their lives I can see where they have received a grace, through their mother’s efforts and her love, that they cannot see enough to appreciate –yet they benefit from it.
I can thank him for the dark times, and what He will do with those even though I cannot see it. I can thank Him for what He will do with my sin, and with all sin, even though I cannot always see that fruit. I can even thank him for the divorce. I do not often see the good He intends in disaster, but I trust Him. He is good, and He is sovereign.
And Stephanie, I thank you. Specifically. In all of it.
This is not the place for more specificity. There may not be a place. But you walked the road with me, and even in my sorrow for my role in its ending, I thank you for sharing this journey with me. Without you, I would not have any of these things for which I thank God.
I hope this makes clear my thoughts.