I thought I would share some of my personal journeys with you. There is a lot, and my hope is to share much of it with you, but in stages.
A little backstory. I was married for 14 years when I started to have an affair with a neighbor. I eventually left my wife and four daughters and moved in with her. We eventually divorced. My wife became a Stander and was standing for the restoration of our marriage, but I didn’t know any of that, and it would not have made a difference anyway because I only had one belief, that I was needed, not wanted. That I was needed, not loved.
My daughters understandably wanted nothing to do with me. I know I brought deep shame and hurt upon them, and while my head knew that, and it made sense to me, my heart which was very stubborn, hard, cold, rebellious, and prideful, would not accept their retaliation. I believed they were trying to teach me a lesson, manipulate and control me into coming back, and punish me. Them giving up on me because I gave up on them only furthered my distance because of the place I was in. I was convinced my wife was either behind it, or supporting it, which I later came to find out was true.
She confessed to me that seeing the kids be a consequence of my actions made her feel better because she believed I was getting off scot-free from my decision to leave. She has no idea the accusations that were being screamed at me day and night running through my head, and what I was doing to shut them up might have appeared to be a life of no consequences, but unless she was in my head, she would never have known. I know I did a great job trying to hide the torment I was in, even from the other woman. God was the only one that knew what I was going through, and I had even convinced myself that He didn’t love me anymore either.
I’ve listened to many of Sheila’s teachings and insight into the mind of the lost spouse, and it’s helped me greatly understand some of the things I had been dealing with and why.
I needed help, and because of the condemnation and shame that prevented me from God’s love and mercy, I used self-pity. It was a huge part of my coping and ‘healing’ process. I never saw this until after I came back home and began the long work of uncovering the reasons of why I let the enemy come into my life and convince me that I was a victim. That is another message for another time.
But back to my children and how their shunning made me feel justified in my decisions. I left because I felt unloved, disrespected, unappreciated, and seen as just a paycheck.
I believed I was unimportant as a man, husband, and father and if I lost my job, they would no longer need or want me.
And when I left and took my paychecks with me, and that is what they seemed to care about the most, it only proved me right. They didn’t want me, they just wanted my money. They didn’t love me, they loved what I was able to give them. I see the lies now, but at the time, I will tell you that belief was very strong. Especially when every conversation I had with my wife was about how I could abandon them and leave them struggling. My pride said, “They have a home I paid for, food, and transportation, they are just mad because now they don’t have the extra money to live the way they are used to.”
I was truly stuck in a belief that they didn’t really love me, just what I could give them, and that they didn’t really care that I was gone, and if I just made them secure and comfortable again, that is all they really wanted from me. My hurt was deep, and that hurt felt comfort and justification by not giving them what they wanted. I wanted them to want ME, not my money. I wanted them to love me, not what I could give them. So while they gave me consequences for my choice, I was giving them consequences for theirs. If you only love, need, or want me for my money, then I am not going to give you that. If you only want to contact and talk to me to share how much you are hurting, struggling, and living in fear because I am not providing for you, not contact me to show me that I am important to you, that just my provisions are important than I won’t contact you anymore. Every text that said “I need you to call asap.” always turned out to be some sort of “you are failing us by not paying for something.” So I started ignoring those texts. The more they focused on what they lost by me leaving, and not the loss of ME as a husband, father, person they loved, the more the lie they didn’t really love me because real and the harder it was for me to want to go back.
I don’t know how long I was in this belief. I think the seed started and grew and grew until a raging hurt and anger that was poisoning me. What’s funny was I never really knew I was feeling or thinking this until after I met the other woman and it was exposed. Each time she appreciated me, respected me, pointed out how good I was doing providing for my family, it uncovered a pain from inside that I didn’t even know I had, and that pain manifested in intense anger.
How did I go back?
My youngest daughter, Emily, started to reach out to me. She started to text me. Started to come by my work and have lunch with me. Our conversations were never about what I did to her, what I took from her. At first, I was leary and on guard and waiting for it. “What does she want from me? Is she trying to get me to change? Pay for something? Is this real? Is she after something, and this is all a disguise to get it?”
Over time, when she just kept coming around just to see me, talk to me, and showed general interest in me and how I was doing, I started to let my guard down and my heart started to melt. I started to toy with the idea that maybe, just maybe, she loved me for me?
We did this for over a year, and each time we spent time together, the lie that I meant nothing to them started to not feel so much like the truth. My other daughters still would not speak to me, but I tried. And after each rejection, the lie reared its ugly head, and I took ten steps back. But my youngest daughter and her unconditional love helped me come back quicker.
I should note that she had to hide our relationship from her sisters and my wife because they made her feel like a traitor and betrayer. They were all in the plot to treat me like a leper and teach me a lesson.
She is the one that bridged the gap between Jesus and me. Each time our meetings ended, I started to think of God, and how I had turned my heart away from Him at the time I turned my heart away from my family. But each time Emily and I met, I could not help but feel my Father there trying to get me to see and feel something that my hard heart didn’t want to hear. Love has a way of doing that.
The journey back home was not easy. I had dug myself into a huge dark hole of hatred and rejection from the lie that I was not important and loved. Each time I met with Emily, and she was there with no expectations other than to just visit and spend time with me, it was a step higher out of that pit, and a step closer to restoring my relationship with God. The more I started to trust in her unconditional love for me, the more I started to trust in God’s love for me again.
We started to attend church together, at that point she told her mom and stood up to her sisters for what she was doing. At first, the other woman went with us, but not because she wanted to, but because she didn’t want to lose her grip on me, (another story for later.) I started to see that I could not have a relationship with my daughter, with God, and remain in a relationship with her, so I moved out.
Another year and my wife finally accepted the invitation to join us on Sundays. I still didn’t trust her. Every time I saw my wife, the reminder of what I had taken from her was all over her face and behavior. She didn’t have to say anything. She wanted to make me aware that I had failed her, hurt her, and I was not someone to be trusted. Again, I knew this was my fault, but I could not stop the raging hurt and anger that was coming from a belief that I was nothing more to her than a provider and that I was not loved for who I was, but what I could give her.
I wasn’t going to share how I went back just yet. Because it wasn’t a suddenly and this is long enough. But I will tell you that I was not able to get to the place where I believed that my wife loved me and wanted me back for me right away. I wish I could tell you that lie went away through prayer, but it didn’t. Not that I didn’t try. There was always something coming from my wife and daughters that made the lie feel like truth. Always a reminder of how I made them go without, how I took their safe life from them and turned it upside down. All I could hear from those messages was “You were not what we really wanted, just what you could give me.”
I still have to face this lie today. It still tries to come at me and I am triggered by it when I feel accusations that I am not good enough at providing, we can’t afford something, or I feel rejected when they just want money from me and not to spend time with me. I know I have a long way to go in healing to shut the door on this, and through my pursuit of God and what His Word says, that is where I am finding my strength.
I tried to repair the marriage more than once, but it wasn’t until I put repairing my relationship with God first and sought to fix myself and what was going on in my own belief system that I was able to understand that my broken marriage was a by-product of my broken relationship with God, not the other way around. And my broken relationship with God was a by-product of my broken belief system of Who He was and how important I am to Him. When I started to fix that…………..the truth of His Word became real and powerful.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
To be continued……..
Thank you for this testimony Gary! May you be overcome by just how wide and high and large His love is for YOU!