The end of any adventure is rather sad. All of the good things we’ve experienced, good people we’ve met, relationships that we shared with others, are being put on the back burner, now just memories. And we’re heading back into the familiar, mundane, or maybe the dark.
Or are we? I’ve been thinking about this subject within my personal context, for quite a while now. But last week, I was watching Dr. Henry Cloud’s web-cast called “Necessary Endings”. I was watching his live seminar for business reasons, looking for ways to empower my employees, free them from unnecessary/unproductive habits or routines, anything that would drag the business down and hold us back from being more effective and joyful in what we do. And in that, I saw some personal behaviors that are not contributing to this overall goal. I NEED TO CHANGE SOME THINGS MYSELF IN ORDER TO MAKE THIS VISION FLY FOR THEM. I am part of the problem, but can also be part of the solution.
And as I watched this seminar, it was clear that much of what was being discussed, and recommended, I’ve already been implementing in my personal life. Pruning, focusing, reducing, seeking a return to my center. Which is a simple life in Christ. And in doing that, some hard calls have been made. Tough choices, anxiety and fears confronted, fought through, and continuously kept at bay.
After I saw that parallel, the plan for our business suddenly became much clearer. I didn’t have to create this process from scratch, I’d been working it already for about 4 years. I know how to do this, or rather go to the One who knows how to take us through this.
I’ve begun Divorce Share, and will move directly into Divorce Care in about 6 weeks. Honestly, I had my doubts. And although I’ve worked through a surprisingly large portion of this on my own, reading, counseling, praying, I still need this. You can’t do this, heal from this, alone. You need a support system to safely grow you through this. And that is my goal, what I believe God wants me to gain through this. Not simply survival, but growth in Christ, fruit shared, His glory revealed.
I’ve heard plentiful horror stories of rebound relationships, co-dependency left to fester, to realize that at this point I must throw myself upon the mercy of God, and stay right there. Because the enemy immediately starts telling you that you’ll always be alone, that you can’t do this, that God has abandoned you, and the heart that was knit to another is like a man with a freshly amputated leg. Phantom sensations are running through it, telling him that he itches, or tickles, or loves, or is loved, and he desperately wants to feel that life again. These illusions let you hide from the truth, for a time, and allow you to deny the pain that you so desperately wish to avoid. But until it heals, the pain, failure, and the path back are all very present, tender, and fragile.
I can live alone quite well, although my natural inclination is to be with others. I was, AM, a social animal. But for 20 years, I had walked away from that part of myself. The bottle was capped tightly, but some of the fizz had escaped. My soon-Ex was threatened by my need for social interaction, friends, and especially Christian fellowship. And of being in a group setting, of my time with male friends, or of socializing with other couples at their homes, or ours. It was a very closed, dark, and lonely environment. Enough said…
Suddenly, that has changed. But I’m not out partying, nothing like that at all. I am making it to home group regularly once a week, support group once a week, house church once a week, Boy Scouts with my son, engaging in some after hours business socials that are productive, meeting new people, and slowly establishing a beach head from which to build.
But I have to rediscover the art of conversation, especially with women. If it’s a purely business conversation, I’m fine. If it’s a more social environment, not a date (no time soon), but just talking in any other setting, my heart still feels “married.” Closed to the possibility of sending any kind of “signal”. And at the same time, wondering if there will ever be the possibility of living in relationship that truly glorifies God. I really have to surrender those thoughts, because they will take me down the drain all too quickly. Once things are final, I’ve had time to rediscover who it is that God had in mind when he made me, I pray for a new beginning. I really hope in Christ, in His time, that can be so. It is not good for man to be alone. I want to… Surrender, surrender, I surrender…
On to feelings, emotions. Secretly, through the years, I had begun to give room to the belief that I could not “feel things” any longer. My beliefs, desires, my person, were all deemed defective, bad, unworthy of love. That’s what I heard on a regular basis. It went much deeper than that, but this is not an appropriate place to discuss those things. In reality, I didn’t feel much, didn’t feel enough. I was no longer able to reach out to my wife in any meaningful way. She had left our marriage a long time before I had arrived at this place. And for me to continue to reach out, in hope, became far too heavy, too painful, and at last… foolish.
The bottom line was that my stress levels were at dangerous levels. Suffering from debilitating, regular chest pains, sleep disorders, and depression, I saw my Doc. After some questioning, he delivered the verdict. Fix the home scene, one way or another. Now, or you will not see your kids graduate. Counseling with Clergy, and secular counselors over the last several years all pointed to the same conclusion. The final verdict came from a highly regarded local counselor, a beautiful man who has a reputation as a miracle worker. After several sessions with both of us, his recommendation to me was the most direct, clear, and hardest of all. It still took some time to accept that, work it out, and prove it to myself. You see, I don’t believe in divorce as a solution. Period. But here I was, violating my own firmly held beliefs, forced to consider what I couldn’t. I was breaking God’s heart, but in that I had begun to see that our marriage had been the union of two opposing kingdoms. And that we had already been long separated by a great divide.
Back to “feelings”… I met a friend for lunch the other day, to discuss some of her discoveries, and learning’s through the same process. And at first I had no problem talking about this with her, and was getting a lot out of the conversation. Suddenly, we hit an awkward lull in the conversation, which was becoming increasingly difficult for me as we went along. We eventually shifted gears, moved along, and things were fine, great time, nice lunch.
But last night, after picking up the kids, and having a wonderful time over pizza and a movie (Dances With Wolves), I was laying in my bed, thinking about the day, and what it was that had been so hard in that conversation. The things said, discussed, things I thought I had a handle on, all ran through my head. Then I realized that as we talked, and moved into post-divorce life issues, that I was no where close to being as “good with it” as I had first believed. I know that my decision and actions have been the right ones for my children, as well as for my Ex and I both, in the long run. But you must walk before you run…
As I lay there, it happened. A tear formed in the corner of one eye. It felt faintly familiar, but thick, heavy. It had been stuck in there for a long, long time. And after that, another. Then another. And soon the rain fell, the storm rolled in, and the first of what I’ve not been able to feel, identify, or let go of, flowed like a spring freshet.
There is still snow-pack to be thawed, but it has begun. Like Adam, I’ve begun naming the creatures that God is bringing before me. That was his first job in the new creation. And this is the beginning of a new creation.
I’m no longer uncomfortable having had to make an executive decision over something so sensitive, affecting so many tender hearts. Truth demands action. And that is what strength is given for, to do what is hardest to do.
For so long, I was afraid that I had nearly lost the ability to feel. And by extension, the ability to truly love in a philos / agape way. That my friendships, the ability to be a friend, love as a friend, had been forever sacrificed for “the greater good.”. That I had lost the capacity to feel, and care in a significant sense.
To gather new things around you, go new directions, you must make room by letting go of what is hurting you, holding you back, killing you. We all can be addicts to what is meant for our good.
One giant leap for man. This man.