Seven years ago tonight, a boy and girl stood in a church before a pastor and a slew of friends and family, and said forever after. There was euphoria and bliss, but there were also doubts from onlookers, wondering how long it would really last. Questioning eyes and slight shoulder shrugs said, "we'll see how it goes and how long it lasts." So I dug my heels in, determined to prove them all wrong, that we would make it. I painted on a smile in hard times, and boasted loud in the good times. I was sure that my love and determination would be enough for both of us.
There was a night when this boy and girl strolled, hands intwined, on a moonlit night through a nearby canyon while conversation flowed of the future, of family ministry across Africa. Statements were made of family priorities, boldly pronounced that the order would always be God first, then family, then ministry/work, then all other demands of life. But lines are blurred when God and ministry/work take on the same face, and family is bumped further down the line. I wished you had loved me as much as you loved her, or them. I wished that the ministry would be poured into the family as well, but all was spent elsewhere, and we got what little was left.
There was a time that someone spoke to you, saying that "Your pride would be your downfall," and you laughed it off and I chuckled nervously, wondering when. But I dug my heels in and repainted the face whenever it began to droop. Maybe if I were thinner, or more spiritual, or prettier, or nicer, or quieter, or more submissive, maybe he would love me more. I was sure it could all be saved.
But alas, it would not be saved. I have struggled to separate God from you, and was told to be quiet and submissive to the man who is the representation of Christ to his family, but if that were so, then I hate you both. I remember through the years, women would say to me how blessed I am to be married to such a spiritual man, and I would bridle my tongue and nod my head with a forced grin. What is that like, really? Because in my house, it meant abandonment, neglect. Is that what God is like?
I have learned that that is not true. And in God's hate of divorce, His love of mercy is much greater. For the six years prior to this one, this would have been a night of celebration, though hope forced and waning with each passing year. For years I heard pastors talk about the effects of divorce, the ripping of flesh that had been melded into one. Tonight I know that pain. There is no comfort, or balm to soothe the ache, dreams lost and family sacrificed on the altar of ministry.
And so today has become a day of mourning. Mourning for a life that could have been, dreams that could have flown high. But You have said that You turn mourning into dancing, and ashes into beauty, and I am believing and clinging and looking forward to a future, even dreaming again. It is a reclamation of life, and so tonight, amidst the mourning and sadness, I will pour myself a glass of champagne , maybe cry a little, and rest in His Goodness. Even now.