Tuesday, July 9, 2013

But I felt so alive...

The grass always looks greener on the other side.  Do we ever stop to think why?  Maybe it's because we neglect our own grass...sometimes we stop watering it and it dries out, sometimes we let the weeds grow instead of pulling them out and sometimes we fail to recognize that new seeds need to be planted where the grass has become bare.  In order for something to stay in bloom you have to nurture it, no matter what side of the fence you're on.

- Joy Maniscalco

I am just over a year into what I consider to be recovery.  From the moment I stopped carrying around all of my guilt and shame, and understood that those same weights are what Christ came to die for.  I was not in a good place when Kris found out about, and confronted, my affair.  I was broken beyond repair.  I could see no way to fix myself.  I could see no way to fix my marriage.  I could see no way to fix my children's spirits, who no doubt had been affected by the years I spent in duplicity.

When I stopped writing yesterday, I did it intentionally.  In part, I didn't want to overwhelm anyone with a post that was twice as long.  Also, there is just this redemptive feeling about being in such a lost and broken place, and then waiting.  Sometimes we wait in those places for days, months, even years. But here is something that I have come to believe with all my heart:

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5 NLT

Yesterday, I vaguely raised the question of "Is the grass greener?"  

You've all heard the old proverb: "The grass is always greener on the other side."  As Joy Maniscalco says in the quote above, and as I have learned, while the grass SEEMS greener on the other side, it's usually just some painted facade, disguising something dark and dry and black.

The day I died, because what had given me such life came to an end, I never thought I would find happiness again.  I never thought I could feel alive again.  The memories of the affair were not only extremely fresh and GOOD, but there were SO many.  Seven and a half years worth of memories came crashing to an end, in a moment.

How does one recover from that?

I've read that when you learn your spouse has had an affair, you go through this state of trauma.  I would also venture to say (at least for me) that ending an affair brings about a kind of trauma as well.  (I'd like to add right here, lest there be any confusion, that I am not at all diminishing the pain one feels when they learn of an affair--simply trying to illustrate that any time you sever a relationship, it affects your emotions in ways you can't control.)  Everything I believed in, about myself and my marriage and this other man, it all just stopped.  And I went through my own stages of grief between February and April of 2012.

During that time of grief and transition for me, I hadn't turned my heart fully back to God.  There was so much resistance and fear.

And guilt.

And shame.

What I had done was unforgivable.  Wasn't it?

But, I had a man by my side that loved me with a love I would eventually come to understand.  He allowed me the time and space I needed to grieve.  And he helped me bear my grief.  He talked through the loss, he talked through the future, and hope for our marriage.  He urged me back to God, but he didn't pressure me.  He didn't push me to "get over it."  To get over him.  He gently urged me to listen to the music that I had avoided for so long.  He held me while I cried, knowing why I was weeping.  Sometimes it was grief over the end of such a long relationship.  Other times it was because of how I viewed myself:  unlovable, unforgivable, ugly, worthless, nothing.

When February 2012 began, I felt alive.  Happier than I ever thought I could be.

When that same month ended, I felt dead.  

For the first time in 12 1/2 years, I had hope for my marriage, but something was still missing.  That feeling of truly being alive I had always felt with him was gone.  Never to be felt again.  I would somehow have to learn how to remake myself, and only live a fraction of the life I had during the affair.

During those next two months, while my relationship with my husband actually thrived and we began to work through counseling, my heart was a twisted, broken mess.  All the hate I had for myself was still there.  All the shame over what I had done, all the immense guilt, that became what defined me.  That is all I could see or feel.  Yet, I could feel this tugging at my heart.  I could tell something was changing.  I remember, before Good Friday in April 2012, writing about how I felt that I was on the verge of something.  That I was so ready to accept God's love and forgiveness, but just not ready.  I was too scared.  I knew change was coming, but it terrified me.  And so I held on to the guilt and the shame, because it was all I knew.

I know people were praying.  My husband had a new found passion for protecting my spiritual life, I had a new church family that just accepted me without question, without caring about my past, and I had a God who was relentlessly pursuing me.  I look back now and I see how all of these things culminated to lead up to Good Friday, and what I consider my "Road to Damascus" conversion.  It was all part of God's grand plan to woo my heart back to His.

I've written before about the counseling session I had on Good Friday that changed EVERYTHING.  You can click the link to read it, if you don't know the story of how my eyes were finally opened.  The reason I even write this is to talk about a song that will always remind me of Good Friday.  It always reminds me that the life I thought I felt was absolutely nothing, compared to the true life I found at the foot of the Cross.

I think back and wonder how on earth I could have ever thought that my affair made me feel alive?

I mean, seriously?

That's what I thought being alive was really all about?

Do you understand what true living really is?

I didn't.

Not for a long time.

But now?

Now I do!

And it is exhilarating!  

Releasing all of my guilt and shame, and breaking down the wall I had built up to keep God out changed everything.  There is much talk in Christian circles about baptism and being born again.  I won't go into all the technicalities of that, but I will tell you that I get it.  I understand what being born again really means.  I understand how it FEELS.  It is unlike anything I could have ever hoped for or imagined.  And Third Day has captured that in a way that I never could.  And that is what I want to share with you today.  This song brings me to tears.  Every.  Single.  Time.  And it makes me so incredibly grateful that I finally understand what really being alive feels like.

May this bless you and allow you to understand that you too can be born again.  

There is always hope.  

It is never too late to be born again.

Born Again - Third Day

Well today I found myself
After searching all these years
And the man I saw
He wasn't at all who I thought he'd be

I was lost when You found me here
And I was broken beyond repair
Then You came along
And You sang Your song over me

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time in my life

Make a promise to me now
Reassure my heart somehow
That the love that I feel
Is so much more real than anything

I've a feeling in my soul
And I pray that I'm not wrong
That the life I have now
Is only the beginning

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time in my life

I wasn't looking for something that was more
Than what I had yesterday
Then You came to me and You gave to me
Life and love that I'd never known, that I'd never felt before

It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time in my life

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