Love and Light. Or not.

Whenever I pass Shane on the road (like, yesterday, and two weeks ago, and sometime in January…) the first thought that runs through my head is “jackass”.

Quickly followed by, “just send him some love and light and drop it”.

(I wonder if Elizabeth Gilbert knows she is exercising the atonement when she does this.)

“If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and
injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being.” James E. Faust

It has been well over six years, people.

But you know what?  The gap between response and decision is widening.  There is a brief moment of “woah. there’s another option here, girlie. And you get to decide which path you’re going to take”. And, up to this point, I’ve always chosen the path of self-righteous anger.  Because I have every right to carry around anger for six and a half plus years at what this guy did.  I do.  It was really, really crappy.  And I HAVE to forgive Dear Husband for his part in it because I want to have a happy and successful marriage with him.  But Shane? No siree do I have to even think about forgiveness for him.  Because I can place all of my anger, hurt, disappointment and sadness for Dear Husband on Shane too.  See how that works?  I don’t really have to let anything go, I just have to shift it to someone else.  Because anger and disappointment are empowering and make me feel important and worthy.

But there’s that *moment* of decision.  A flash, if you will, where I pause before smugly sneering in his general direction and making all kinds of suppositions as to which married man he is flirting with on the phone at that very moment. And that decision is between Christ…

or not Christ.

It is willingly placing everything that I am.  EVERYTHING THAT I AM. on His altar. And becoming something…

BETTER.

Because as great as I think I am (mostly I don’t but there’s that little chunk of pride that fiercely holds on to the ME that I have created as perfect and precious in all her snarky unkind and materialistic ways…) that ME cannot hold a candle to the precious glistening and sparkly me that is humbly succumbing to the molding and care of HIM.

The best part? He never shames me for having those feelings.  He waits, patiently, for me to simmer down and go back to that decision-fork and choose His way instead.  I get dusted off, a little instruction, a hug, and a light nudge in the direction of Better.  For years I’ve not gone back to that fork-in-the-road, or if I have I’ve tucked my little package of anger/disappointment what-have-you into my pocket and carried it with me down my pseudo “Christ-path”, always returning in confusion- wondering why I haven’t healed.

But He’s always there. And I’m learning to leave bits of that ME behind.

So the next time I see Shane, and I will, I will be ready with a bucket of rainbows and light and sunshine.  Not only so I can make a better me, but so he can be a better him. Because he deserves it just as much as I do. And hopefully, eventually, It won’t tug at my heart so much to give him goodness.

And I will be whole.

How do I?

I used to be debilitatingly perplexed by a zillion and one “how” questions.

How do I stay married to this man?

How do I stay in this church?

How do I remain friends with all of those amazing people that I love but are living contrary to my testimony?

How will I ever be truly happy again?

I realized that there really is one answer to all of these questions.  And the answer is Christ.  If Christ is Charity, love unfeigned, kindness, and joy, then He truly is the answer.

Back when these questions kept me up at night, I was searching earnestly for the answer.  My life was consumed with finding the answer.  I read books, blogs, magazines, listened to podcasts, met with therapists, prayed, stewed, spoke with whomever I could speak to, and joined message boards.  Not one of the answers I received gave me the hope and peace I was desperate for.

The blogs said my situation and choices were hopeless.

The books made me feel confused and overwhelmed.

The magazines were mostly about home decor so they just made me sad.

Podcasts made me feel sick.

Therapists made me feel temporarily empowered.

Prayer made me feel empty.

Stewing gave me gas.

Talking to people just made them steer clear of me.

Message boards made me angry. (they were so “pie in the sky”.)

It was exhausting FEELING so much.

Frankly it made me angry when people would give me the “turn it over to Christ” answer.  Because it flat out didn’t work.  There was no amount of doing all the right things that would take away my pain.  So I continued to search, and continued to eschew the seminary answers.

But then I got REAL desperate. And I went back to the last time I felt true joy and hope. And that was at the temple. Even though it didn’t take away my pain, there were moments here and there that I saw goodness and the potential for joy.  So, craving any tiny morsel of goodness, I decided to try God at His word.  (you know, that whole “experiment on the word” business?)

But God wasn’t going to let me get by that easily.  Nope.  After spending a couple of years delving into and entertaining trains of thought counter to Him, I wasn’t going to automatically feel superhappy in His presence.  It doesn’t work that way.  The unGodly can’t abide the Godly.

So basically, it was awful.

But part of me knew it was right.

After several months of wrestling with the spirit, I went back. And again.  And what happened was that I started to enjoy that kind of stuff, and started to fill my life with it.  I was still intensely miserable, but I began to feel glimmers of hope and peace when engaging in things of the Spirit. And bit by bit, the questions stopped thrumming in my brain and heart and were replaced with testaments of truth:

God loves me, and my pain has been felt and absorbed by Christ who really knows me.  Like, REALLY.

My Husband is  also precious and known and covered by the atonement so I don’t have to take on his garbage.

It is a privilege to love this man.

It is a privilege to be a mom to my kids.

It is in God’s great design for my eternal existence to learn the things that these questions, doubts, pains and spiritual sickness are teaching me.

Christ and His atonement cover everyone.  And not everyone is going to get it. (like I still don’t totally get it.) But His love is infinite and so whole and so healing that if I were to fill up with it, and act upon it, and be IN it, then I will BE peace, joy, hope and light.  And that no matter who is doing what with whom, I will love them.  Not “in spite of” or “even though” but just love. Because the ultimate “coming to Christ” isn’t arriving in the Big Happy Kingdom and receiving my eternal reward…

It is LOVE.

And love heals, cleanses, enables, changes and creates.

And it answers.

And now I find myself in a space where it does make sense.  And Christ really is the answer.  And I’m telling wives of gay men who are cheating on them and immersed in porn and lies and heartache that their answer lies in Christ.  Find Him, and find happiness. Find healing.  Heal yourself, and quite possibly you will heal your marriage.  But if your marriage crumbles, you’ll be on sure footing and the crumbling will happen around you but not to you.

Christ is love.

So be in Him.