Monday, September 2, 2013

Light at the End of a Long, Dark Tunnel

10 months ago, my little corner of the world came crashing down around me when my dear wife admitted to me that she had given her heart and body to another and was "making a decision" whether or not to leave me.  But she didn't actually leave me.  This "decision" she was making extended a rope to me that kept me feeling like I needed to "hang on", as if it was my job to hold our relationship together, when in reality it was her choice to be unfaithful, and to continue being unfaithful still even now as I write this.
Over these months, I have experienced things I've never known before: shock and disbelief such that I could hardly breathe, emotional pain & rejection that felt like a heart attack, tear-soaked pillows more often than dry, a lump in my throat that wouldn't go away, anger, hope, doubt, wishing, cursing, bargaining, all mingling together in the most confusing mix of emotions possible.  But through it all, I've never lost faith that God is good, and I've known God's comfort, His presence and power, if not always His purpose.
Today, I'm thankful for God's healing.  The long, dark tunnel is not over.  I don't know if it ever will be.  But I'm grateful that I can see the light at the end of it.  God's moved me from the point of inability to even think the word divorce to being able to accept it as a necessary reality.  I've filed for divorce, and it will all be over in a matter of a couple months.  It would be nice for it all to be done in just one year, but I'm afraid it may take a bit longer than that.  But the final nail in our marriage coffin is now being prepared for hammering.
I just wanted to thank the many people who I truly owe my sanity, if not my life, as they saw me through this nightmare.  Above all, God my savior, who has never left my side, and I know has never lost control of this all.  Although sin successfully crept into my marriage and destroyed it, God is making something new out of it - beauty out of ashes - and I know I will come out of this in a way that will bring Him glory again, even though it's not going to be in the way I wished for it (the restoration of our marriage).
I want to thank Country Bible Church (Kevin, Chuck, Glen, Richard and the rest of my friends there).  I felt very much rejected by you, but hindsight knows your heart was and still remains rock solidly in the right place.  You carried me through the most difficult days financially and emotionally in the best way you could, faithful when you didn't need to be.  Pastor Chuck, what you gave us, at substantial personal cost, has given us freedom from anxiety immeasurable back then, and even today in the middle of our divorce proceedings.
Pastor Scott Harrison, your wise counsel never failed me.  You steered me away from the actions that were going to kill me.  Helped me make the wise decisions and the hard decisions that kept me from the deepest depths of despair.  Without your help on January 15th, I may not have seen a January 16th.
Roxanne Smith, your allowing me to tag along with you and your kids on January 17th, helped me to keep my mind away from the hurt and pain of loneliness and helped me to see that perhaps there were new horizons yet to be discovered ahead of me.
My kids, you've been there with your prayers and phone calls always.  Hannah, you've been so much stronger than any dad has the right to ask of a 22 year old young woman.  You and Jesse have walked with me through this, through the pain and, I pray, coming out on the other side with a new strength inside, and a new way of learning how to communicate to, and still love a broken mom and dad - both of us who still love you immensely.
My family, you've been so supportive with giving me places to "retreat" to.  Hospitality abounding and ongoing.  I love you all.  Brother Jim, your generous gift allowed me to be able to get into my apartment to begin my new life chapter.  Sister Jean, we both have the gift of gab and the ability to listen, which we have done together for many, many countless hours of the day and night.  You gave me the gift of hope and direction, of the warmth and accomplishment of fresh bread, and a table to eat it on, and a love seat to curl up on.  Warmth and comfort literally inside and out.  Your substantial financial help long before this long dark tunnel, and continuing today, has been an immeasurable blessing.  Bill and Sheila, your hospitality and food has sustained me; and the open invitation from all of you, including Carleen and Josie lets me know I will never be without a place to go for love and acceptance.
And friends, I have been so blessed with friends.  Dave Totten, you were there on day one, helping me move furniture, on the day I had to move my loved wife out of our house.  Thank you.  Your generous financial gift is like the woman's oil and flour in the Bible story - i want to use it slowly - it never seems to run out.  It's a source of hope for me.  Dave & Sara Hampe, thank you for including me as "family".  You've given more than any brother-in-law could ever ask for, and I am so thankful for your friendship and great wisdom when I had much confusion to deal with.  Ted & Suzie Matthews, our friendship in Roanoke lasted a full 3 weeks, and yet it was warm and wonderful.  And your gift to both Jill and I, and your hospitality to me was unexpected and certainly undeserved, but so generous.  I love you both, and pray that someday we will be able to meet again.  Lynn Lee, you gave me a generous financial gift, but also the first opportunity to serve God and others again.  You knew my need, and yet believed in my potential.  I will honor your belief.  Thank you.  Steve & Peg Heilskov, your friendship has been such a joy, your gifts so uplifting and surprising.  I can't thank you enough.
And Manny Collazo and Mike Mentzer, your encouraging me to come back and find a new home of support at River's Edge (and the invitation to find a place of service on my own timeline) has been such an uplift.  God is blessing your ministry, and I'm so fortunate to be just one of the recipients of your out-reaching hearts.
The tunnel has been long and dark, but you all have been there guiding, upholding, helping me to keep moving toward the light, and now I feel I am coming out the other end.  Scarred to be sure, but healing and believing that the best is yet to come.  Bitterness will not be my lifelong companion.  I will be able to forgive even an eternally unfaithful wife.  I will be able to love another anew, better than ever.  I will be able to serve God in ways never possible before.
I am so thankful for so many who willingly have become the physical hands of God for me.
Bless you all.