Sunday, September 13, 2009

what's love got to do with it

I've been thinking lots about relationships a lot lately, or a lot for someone who isn't in a romantic one anyway. Its funny, isn't it, that those seem to be the only relationship we ever give much thought to, the only one whose health we monitor closely, even worry about lacking? I've been married, I've been single, I've been married & felt single...through all that its been the relationships we don't consider that have sustained me; the friendships, sisters, parents, even my children, and most especially my relationship with my creator, my saviour, my God. The rougher the seas my romantic relationship sailed into the harder I clung to Him, my rock, my strong tower. But I digress (of course I do, that's what I do).
I have a friend who after extricating herself from a most unpleasant marriage had little or no desire to enter into another matrimonial relationship-and who could blame her? I, more years past the divorce decree, assured her her feelings on the subject would change, probably overnight, when Mr. Wonderful walked into her life. The relationship I was in was on a rough course, but I believed we would weather the storm-I still remembered the wonder of falling in love when I was sure that chapter of my life was over. And I was right. (Today she's repeating my assurances to me, the tables have turned completely!)
The thing is, she met this amazing man, they fit together in a way that makes you believe there is a perfect somone for everyone. They have had their ups and downs, mostly born of fear and doubt, and of men and women not speaking the same language. And then she realized it wasn't him pulling away at every roadblock, shying away from the commitment of marriage but her. She had discovered in her own heart the fear that she didn't know how to be a good wife, how to be married, even doubting that she deserved this. All absurdities in the light of day, and yet, there they were. And trust me, I know the lies well. I've heard them whispered at me in the dark, and shouted in the heat of battle.
As she was discoverining this about herself I was finishing reading the chapter "Bridegroom" in Ann Spangler's book "Praying the Names of Jesus". As I read the questions offered for thought and further study at the end of the chapter bells began to ring in my head. My friend and I have often talked about how easy it is for us to understand God as a loving, compassionate and generous father, because we had dads like that on earth; and how no wonder so many peopl couldn't quite grasp this concept because their own dads were cruel, or absent, or disinterested.
It occured to me the same is true for us understanding God as a lover who desires us, pursues us, would sacrifice everything for us. We had husbands we poured our all into, believing them to be men like our fathers, if only we loved them enough. But they could not, or would not put our needs ahead of their own. They were selfish, abusive, unkind, unfair. No wonder then that we question our ability to love and be loved so completely! It was a breakthrough moment for me.
I'm still alone, still shook my fist at a solitary Saturday night last night, but I know that I deserve to be loved absolutley, and that somewhere out there is a man who is up to the task, and who will come and find me.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Can't hardly believe its been a month almost since I last wrote....don't know where the time goes! Although, to be honest, this has been a uniquely challenging month. The weather, as always here in Southern Alberta, has been irregualr, shifting from rainy to unbearably hot-not to complain, summer is always too short, and it has cooled off most nights to temperatures better suited to comfortable sleeping than a sauna. The worst of this is the ever increasing sciatic pain I have been suffering. Not to give myself an overly brave front, or to sound cavalier, but I like to think I have a pretty high tolerance for pain. I don't give sway to migraines, to flus, headcolds and the like, but this has been unlike any pain I've ever imagined. Its left me wondering at folks who cope with chronic pain-this has had me waking at 3 or 4 a.m. wailing in agony, begging for relief. I could not curl up comfortably to watch tv, to snuggle my daughter, couldn't sit overly long in any chair, couldn't lie down to sleep. It hurt to walk, let alone do anything else. Good thing I'm single I grimaced more than once-the acrobatics of the most conservative sex would have had me screaming in agony not ecstasy. But I digress.
After untold weeks of this, and more prayer & sympathy than I've ever before requested, I'm still hurting. Prescription pain killers only take the edge off.
Today after church a friend approached me, put her hand on my shoulder, looked in my eyes and told me she had been told by Holy Spirit that I needed to forgive myself. At first I was taken aback, an instictive response-I have been more often accused of laying blame with everyone else, but she continued. She said I have forgiven everyone else but myself. Yes, I got myself into these circumstances, but God had long ago forgiven me, and He would surely walk me through them. That was why I hurt she said, unforgiveness.
I know unforgiveness of others is a heavy yoke to carry, it hinders us, holds us back from the things we want, but have given little thought to forgiving myself. And yet, I too am a child of my Father, beloved, purchased, adopted, forgiven, same as everyone else. Who am I to set a standard higher than His for myself? I have spent so much time defending myself, to myself, to my ex, to the liar in my head that I equated that defense with forgiveness.
I did what I thought, at the time, was good and right. I poured my heart into another's life, I chose to love, and when it came time I chose to move forward, to reject the abuse, the burden of being another man's salvation. I've done my best to be a good mother, but sometimes fear, anger, frustration, lonliness have gotten the better of me.
I've lost my temper. When healing, that I believe in wholeheartedly, was not forthcoming I succumbed to doubt, even to superstition, being unwilling to even speak aloud that I was feeling better. I questioned my judgment as to how I was dealing with my ex's threats & petulant behaviour (there's another whole post!). I beat myself up for being me. For trusting, for loving, for being generous of spirit. And for all of that, and more, I forgive myself. I am a good person. I am a good mother, and marvelous friend. I am available when my friends need me. I have a powerful gift of faith. I am blessed with remarkable writing skills. I understand people, I am a good judge of character. I give my all for my children, but I make no apologies for taking care of myself too. I am not responsible for Richard's difficulties or for his relationship or lack thereof with Emily. God is good. My life in Him is good, even when its hard.
If I have one piece of advice for you today it is this: Whatever else is going on, whoever else you need to forgive, FORGIVE YOURSELF TOO!