But God

What do you do when you’re confronted with painful memories? I don’t like them. They weigh down my spirit. They hurt my heart.

I can so easily get lost in them, overwhelmed by them. Hurt afresh by them. Like they just happened. Why is that?

Shortly after I got up this morning I found myself thinking about a particular event in my life and felt like I was really feeling it for the first time. It hurt. I don’t want this post to be a thing of negativity, and it could very easily turn into that. I pray that God will direct my thoughts.

I am divorced. It’s a painful thing to acknowledge. It has the capacity to bring with it defeat, despair. I never wanted this. I didn’t start out my adult life 30 years ago with this outcome in mind. But here I am.

Most days I see my current situation as a new start, a blank canvas for God to paint His story. Most days I am content, happy even, to live alone, conduct my life in a way that makes sense to me.

Some days I am lonely. Some days I wonder if I will ever have companionship, belonging, be part of a couple again. I don’t know, and sometimes that’s hard. I don’t know what God has in store for me, and sometimes it’s difficult to trust that whatever He brings me to, He will bring me through.

I came back to Jesus about 7 months after my divorce was final. The door to that relationship completely closed about 4 months ago, when my ex-husband remarried. That was a difficult day. That was a day where I hurt so profoundly in my heart that I couldn’t speak.

You see, I never wanted this. I never wanted what our relationship turned into. I never wanted us to be apart. It broke my heart.

But sin crept in to our marriage and began to destroy it from the inside out. That’s what sin does, isn’t it. It destroys. It erodes the foundations, chip by chip, block by block, until there’s nothing left to stand on. Until you find yourself one day acknowledging that it can’t continue, it can’t survive.

What do you do with your heart, though? Mine was still his, though he had given his heart to someone else.

Please understand, he does not bear sole responsibility for the destruction of the marriage. There was sin in both of us. Oh he is such a broken man, and my heart aches for him to come back to Christ. He so needs Him. It is heavy, this longing for him to return to the One who can love him and meet his needs.

He is broken, and in his brokenness, he in turn broke me.

The memory I faced this morning reminded me just how broken he is. It was of a time where he had sacrificed me to his own needs in a way that was humiliating, public, and horrifying, and his response when confronted by well-meaning friends was to say it was his right to do so.

He is broken.

I am too, and I have also acted out of my brokenness.

That particular memory sparks feelings of defeat. Of being less than. Of being diminished. Of being owned. Chattel.

That was not his intention, I believe this to my very bones, but it is what he came to by giving in to his own desires.

The event happened 4 or so years ago, yet it had the capacity this morning to weigh my heart down with those feelings. I felt diminished again, less than. Embarrassed. Humiliated. It made me want to hide, to crawl in my hole of safety and close the door behind me.

But God.

I love that little phrase that I see so often in scripture. But God. When the situation seems impossible, but God. When there is no hope, but God.

But God can use my defeat for His kingdom. But God can turn my despair into triumph. But God can take my feelings and remind me how much He loves me.

He loves me, not just the one time when He sacrificed Himself to pay for my sins so that I could have a way back to Him. He loves me continuously. He loves me when I’m hurting, when I’m defeated, when I despair, when I feel diminished.

He loves me enough to remind me that there is always a “but” with Him. He can turn ashes into beauty. He can turn the broken into the whole. He can turn the slave into the free. He can turn the chattel into the cherished.

But God is not finished with me yet. He who began a good work in me is faithful to complete it. It may be painful, it may be stark, it may remove everything that was competing for first place in my heart, but He is faithful.

The removing hurts. It can feel like an amputation, and then there’s the phantom pain. The pain of memory, the throb that comes with the thought. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.

The very person who hurt me so in that memory, is the one who I couldn’t let go of. That very person is the one who I set up as the god in my life, who I worshiped, who I gave up everything else for. I built my life on a foundation of sand, and it crumbled out from under me.

But God.

When the foundation crumbled, when I was at the bottom, when I was so deep in the pit that I couldn’t see the light of day, He reached in and pulled me out.

He began rebuilding the foundation of my life, this time on the Rock. He allowed the pain, the hurt, the destruction…because He knew that it was moving me towards the time where I would come back to Him.

I’m so thankful for that phrase. But God.

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