We are starting a series called “Recovering Redemption” at our men’s group.
Tonight, the bible study leader passed out a baggie, a sheet of paper, and a red sharpie. He then instructed us through a simple, yet thought provoking exercise.
- Take the sharpie and write “I am broken & I need Christ” on the front of the baggie.
- Take your sheet of paper and tear it to shreds.
- Attempt to put the sheet of paper back together.
- When you realize you can’t, gather the pieces up and put them in the baggie.
- Carry the baggie with you as a reminder of our need for redemption.
I followed the instructions precisely as prescribed and skipped step 3. Don’t judge, you did too as you went through the exercise mentally.
At the beginning of the year, I posted an entry describing what my life is been like over the past year from my mother’s death to the painful degradation of my marriage. I describe the whole process as a journey wherein I had unexpectedly traveled out into the ocean and ultimately found myself thrashing around in the torrents. But when I looked up, I saw that I was still floating … that I had a life vest on that had been embroidered with the word “Grace”. And that if I stood still long enough, I could see on the horizon a shoreline. Thus, my focus this year would be a journey back to the shore … back to stability … back to God’s purpose for my life. And so I think it’s important that I take a look at my life every so often to make sure that I’m still trying to accomplish the purpose, that I’m still attempting to get back to the shore. Whether through God’s grace, the support of friends, or the work of the Holy Spirit my life, I will make it back.
The intent of this post is not to brag or boast but rather share that journey with you. Some of you are friends and family who have prayed for me, for my kids, for my marriage and have been a constant source of encouragement. If that’s you, I want you know how God’s working in my life and that your prayers had an impact. It’s the way God designed the body of Christ!
Some of you are also going through a difficult journey of your own and I hope that my experiences are great source of encouragement and or a tangible reality, and anchor that you can visibly see, and that it’s filled with hope.
To measure progress of my journey, I’ve divided my life into the roles I play: spiritual, physical, relationships and career.
Spiritual – I had a friend tell me tonight that even thought I have been through a dark season, I came out with a smile on my face. Isn’t it funny the way tragedy can draw us closer to God? I haven’t prayed this hard or appreciated God’s grace as much as I have over the past 6 months. He really is a good father. For my journey back to shore, I volunteered to lead a bible study through the spiritual disciplines. Yep, those posts you read every now & then on spiritual disciplines are left overs from those discussions. I’m no saint though. Man, there are so many moments in the single life that I realize I’m completely self-centered. Very easy to trip up.
Physical – Started almost 3 months ago as 9 lbs heavier than I am today. Our work place opened a gym on campus, I sought to take full advantage of it. It will be the first time in my life that this nerd is anywhere close to being fit. I have also had to watch my intake of sweets. Being single and not having my kids living with me means that I can give into cravings. I hate that and it definitely needs work. For the first time in my life, I can control 100% of the food I eat and I need to take advantage of that. Just lead a study on simplicity and I realize that I go to the Starbucks at work way too much.
Relationships – Probably the most difficult and I can only see it getting harder. At the end of the day, I didn’t want the divorce. There were moments when it seemed like the only viable option, but over time I realized it was only pulling the arrow out instead of pushing it through. Did more damage than good. Our marriage could have survived the tragedy and would have come out stronger, deeper, and with a powerful testimony of God’s grace. By the time I trusted God and was ready for reconciliation, she was far too gone. I was disappointed. I wanted to see Him move in her and me. It’s like watching a burn victim who refuses to stand next to the fireplace during a winter storm. They have their reasons, valid ones, and you can’t make them trust the fire. You know it’s warm and you wish you could bring them in, but it’s not your place anymore. So you love from a distance. So far, we’ve been pretty amicable.
As far as my kids, we are making the best of the situation. My ex-wife and I agree that an open visitation schedule is in their best interest. I see them every day. I think where I am failing is that when I moved out, I rented a 1 bedroom apartment. In hindsight, that is too small even though I am the only one living here. They sleep over once or twice a week and the older ones need a place to call their own.
Romantic relationships are not option at the moment. I’ve been dealing with this “stuff” since May of last year, so a lot of the shock is gone. I moved out in October and we were officially divorced this month. However, I don’t want to use someone. I went through cycles of fear that no one would ever want me, I’m too nerdy, I’m unattractive, etc. But a close friend reminded me that what I thought was attractive was a woman’s closeness to God and if that’s the case, wouldn’t I want her wanting the same in me. It needs to process. It needs to soak. So that when I am ready, it truly is that central trust in Christ that is the foundation of the relationship.
The beautiful thing in all this mess is seeing how many great people have placed in my life. I have a friend who has called me every week since last summer. When I was depressed and wanted nothing to do with anyone, he forced me out of the shell. When I would say or do stupid things, he would call me on it. I have had so many people tell me that they are praying for me. I felt loved when I didn’t deserve. And my family has been there 100%. There was no judgement, no labels. So yeah, a lot going on with relationships here.
Career – I am trying to stay afloat. If you had asked me last summer, I would have said that I had given up and wanted to quit. Now that I am out of the depression, I see how lucky I am to have a job, especially with my employer. Unfortunately, I lost my boss back around Thanksgiving and the workload was passed on to me. I’ve had help, but my plate has been incredibly full. Normally, I like to think about how I can improve, but right now I just have enough time to get from one project to the next.