“What do I see? They are terrified, they are retreating, their warriors are defeated. They flee in haste without looking back, and there is terror on every side,” declares the Lord.
~Jeremiah 46:45 NIV~
Today, I had a bit of a scare. Not so much for my own safety, but for that of a motorcyclist who was riding behind me in traffic. I was driving along and the light in front of me was changing from yellow to red. I was far enough away to stop, so I stopped. Behind me, about twenty feet back I could see that the young man on the motorcycle hadn’t been paying attention and must have been moving a little too fast. He struggled to stop and ultimately ended up taking a pretty nasty spill right behind my car. The light changed and I wanted to get out of the way so I turned the corner and pulled into an empty lot nearby. I stopped the car and got out and walked over to ask him if he was okay. He had pulled the bike over to the side of the road and was dusting himself off. He was shaken up, but he didn’t appear to be injured. Other than maybe his pride. He got his bike started again, so I told him to be careful and I got back in my car as he disappeared down the road.
I ordinarily don’t spend a great deal of time looking in my rearview mirror when I’m driving. I glance at it from time to time, but generally I’m focused on what is in front of me. It occurred to me that maybe, I do this in life as well. And I’m probably not the only one, being as this our natural inclination as humans. This incident got me to thinking about how much I’ve been through and the impact that those things had on me as I was going through them. And while I have tried not to be a person who tears through someone else’s life and leaves behind a pile of destruction; there have unfortunately been a few cases where it seems I’ve done exactly that without meaning to.
I think this is similar to what is known as collateral damage. Where the damage that has been done to the intended target was not exactly what you had meant to happen or maybe does more damage to what you were trying to protect than you had considered it might. Such as when we leave a marriage because we are so broken by the things that have happened that we can no longer be in the same space where we were when the damage occurred. And down the road, you see that the damage done by the divorce actually had more of a negative impact on innocent bystanders than the positive impact it was supposed to have on the target. What was supposed to bring healing and restoration, caused greater injury and now seems irreparable.
While I’m not a proponent of encouraging women to stay in abusive relationships, from the other side of a divorce I can say with certainty that if we are determined to leave a marriage, we should seek as much counsel as possible to determine whether or not what we are experiencing is actually abuse or simply an attack brought on by the devil to impede the progress of God in our lives. Yes, the devil will use your marriage as a battleground where he seeks to destroy your faith. In my case, we had just started to seek God when our marriage fell apart. Neither of us, obviously, had been strong enough in His word yet to salvage what had been broken by years of Satan’s attacks on our health and our finances. And so, here we are, five years down the road…and it seems like the devil got what he wanted in this instance. But I’m sure that God has a plan for all of this.
Having been abused in past relationships, I had projected much of my fear onto my husband and had never allowed myself to fully trust him. And so, instead of being able to help each other through the pain of losing five babies to miscarriage, we were both wrapped up in our own dysfunctional patterns of dealing with grief. And we grew farther apart with each loss until one day I looked around for him and through the walls I had built with my grief, I believed that I couldn’t see him there anymore. And so, I packed my bags and left; effectively making that illusion a reality. And attempted to try and learn how to trust God. It has been a long process, but I’m finally at a place where I can say that I do trust Him and I can see, if I look in the rearview mirror of my life, some of the damage that my choices may have done to others. Some of this was necessary in order for me to seek my healing, but in order for me to understand and truly receive that healing, I must acknowledge the healing that still needs to take place in the lives around me.
Healing absolutely must take place if we are to step into the role that God has created for us. Sometimes, reaching out for that healing means that we have to step away from someone who is also in need. We must understand that we cannot help anyone if we are still writhing around in our own brokenness. We only bounce off of one another’s rough edges until we are both cut to pieces and eventually someone starts bleeding. But if we have the courage to break free and receive God’s healing, we stand a much better chance of being able to go out and find other survivors and bring them to Him so that He can restore them as well. It seems selfish at first, but in order to strengthen more than just ourselves we have to be willing to separate ourselves from what isn’t working and allow God to push the reset button on our lives.
While it isn’t all my fault, taking responsibility for any pain that might have been caused by my departure is necessary. My intent was never to hurt anyone, but to flee from pain that seemed to surround me. In removing myself from that situation, I left behind someone who could probably have used a little healing as well. For that, I am sorry. I have always wished nothing but the best for those I love, even when I couldn’t be around them any longer. And though they may still harbor negative feelings toward me for going after my healing, they need to know that I am still praying that they will find theirs.
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
~Isaiah 58:8 NIV~