I have always loved Thanksgiving, and treasured the fact that it doesn’t have anything to do with buying things or the stress that can come in December. It is the celebration of family, food, togetherness and giving thanks.
I loved it so much that I chose this weekend for our wedding, twenty years ago. Friends and family from near and far flew into town, not only to celebrate around our Thanksgiving table, but also to witness our covenant promise to have and to hold, til death do us part.
My guess is that if you’re reading this, you’ve come to a bump in the road of your own marriage. Or maybe it’s more like a boulder, or a flat out sig alert shutting the freeway down. You might be scared or grieving, anxious or angry. You’re searching and seeking for resources, support, someone who can help you navigate the detour your marriage is taking.
I was there, more than once. And I could hardly tell a soul. I wasn’t allowed to speak of my husband’s infidelity and I felt so very alone, so filled with anxiety. I found solace in Jesus, and in reading those brave stories of women who could boldly share their emotions and their journey. I hope that maybe today, this post will do that for you.
When my third child was a newborn I caught my husband in an affair with a woman who was his assistant, who happened to work in our home. This post isn’t about the specifics of my journey so I will summarize the main points. I hope if you’re struggling with heavy emotions as you read this, that you can hold onto the knowledge that it does get better. You do get stronger, and God does work all things for good. No matter where the detour takes you.
I did forgive and we worked through it. But three years later he confessed to greater infidelities with the same woman. Again I forgave, and we worked through it. But this time was a much harder process. For a season he seemed to be doing all the things Every Man’s Battle therapists advise for restoring your marriage. I thought we had arrived at our beauty for ashes. But then things grew even more dark and there was such rage in him. It escalated over the last year and a half we were together to the point where it wasn’t safe or healthy for me and the kids to be in the same home with him anymore.
I made the very difficult decision to move us out so he would get help. Again, I was hopeful and somewhat naïve that he would do what he needed to in order to get well. This time there was a flooding of confessions that he had been hiding a secret life of affairs and infidelities so numerous you could not count them on two hands. They spanned different cities, states and countries, including illegal activity all throughout the twenty years we were together. It was confirmation this addiction went deeper than I could have ever imagined. We were not able to restore our marriage. Our divorce was complete almost two years after those confessions and his rage is still there as I write this, three years since I made that scary step to move us out.
I have walked through every stage of grief. I’ve been an absolute puddle on the floor, barely able to get up, battling through autoimmune diseases that bring debilitating pain and fatigue. But I can tell you, I have known with everything in me what it feels like to surrender it all to Jesus, what it looks like to trust him completely to lead me and provide for me, what it really means to have the joy of the Lord as my strength. For the closeness I’ve experienced to Christ and the level to which my faith has gone, I would not trade that. There is my beauty for ashes.
This year it is his turn to have the kids for the Thanksgiving week. The splitting of the children was initially the hardest thing for me. But it has become a new normal. I have learned to use the time alone to relish the quiet, to do those DIY projects on the back burner, and honestly sometimes to do nothing at all. It feels good to just sit and let God minister to me. Trust me, this has been a hard lesson too, to learn to accept help, to be still and rest. Give yourself permission this week to open up a devotional and the Bible and begin to journal what God is revealing to you. It was and still is one of the biggest healing tools for me. Connections are made, and His word brings me so much clarity and hope. Let it be a stream of conscious kind of journaling where you don’t censor yourself. I’d like to share with you one of my writings that poured out when I was realizing I needed to finally let go.
DEATH DO US PART
It’s an interesting phrase, because death did part us.
There was a death of trust, of truth, of sincerity, of honor, of covenant.
An insidious death that started from the beginning I now know.
And I’ve had to resolve to let go of the hope that he’ll get it, that I can teach him, and reach him.
The two-decade old grave dug one shovel at a time has buried our marriage with a tombstone of remembrance.
Engraved is a beginning and end date, a marker of what was, and a reminder to leave it in the casket, because the sickness still lurks.
And it isn’t safe, isn’t healthy, it’s not God’s desire nor design.
It is to stay buried deep beneath the ground so that broken promises can hurt no more. Behaviors still show true repentance isn’t there.
To return would not be wise.
To move forward, to heal, I have to not look back.
I have to put these wonderings to rest.
And I do, for the most part.
The way they creep back is growing more and more rare.
I know it is part of the process.
The leaving and cleaving is repeating.
Only this time I’m leaving the man to cleave as the bride of Christ.
Before our friends and family I professed my husband to be my knight. But I was naïve and misplaced my allegiance.
Because the knight who is returning upon a white horse, He who is called Faithful and True. He is where I put my hope, my faith, my trust, my everything. I know that he will guard me, protect me, and provide for me.
And I seek only him.
To abide in Him.
To rest in Him.
To be with Him.
And to believe in Him.
No matter where you are in your process of discovery, restoration, or separation I pray that you allow Jesus’ infinite love to be your greatest detour. Let Him pave new roads that will bring healing in ways you could not have imagined. He is there, holding his hand out to you, calling YOU his beloved, and his beautiful bride. He will never leave nor forsake you. He calls you worthy, and enough! Now those are things we can count as reason to give thanks.
Happy Thanksgiving sweet sisters!
Jackie is a single mom to three now all in the teen and tween years, and she's learning to love this new season with them.
Creating art has always been a cathartic healing part of Jackie's life. In the aftermath of her first awareness of infidelity she felt God nudging her to create scripture art and that is how willowofwonder.etsy.com was born.
Jackie's marriage did not survive after many years of marriage crisis, yet out of it all, she can say that she knows her relationship with Christ has deepened to a level it would not have without the trials. She has learned to receive His unconditional love, and what it truly means to have the joy of the Lord as her strength.
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