When my husband first told me he did not believe in God anymore, my fine-tuned judgmental heart refused to adjust according to his journey. I went through the very real denial that comes with the loss of something precious.
His faith had been precious to me.
He had led our family well in the ways a good Christian man should. He had held up my faith when I had been sluggish, lazy, and complacent about God. He had been a believer twice as long as me. He was our family’s spiritual leader in every sense of the buzzword that now makes me cringe because it’s my job alone around here.
As to be expected (now...I couldn’t see this then), when hubs broke the news to me, more than his faith shattered. My strong tower collapsed beneath my propped-up heart—and eventually my heart broke in a thousand pieces too.
I took those chards and stabbed my husband with them over and over—in crying fits, in threats of divorce, in demands that he read this, go to this church, try this counselor. I even weaponized Scripture in such a way that it crumbled like dust in our arguments, and brought me dangerously close to sweeping it away just as he had claimed to do.
That March 5th excerpt (see post from August 18) was my desperate attempt to lean into God because I was in so much pain. I could only see bad in the broken pieces. And what you don't read in that excerpt was the doubt. There was sooo much doubt.
But, I am a stubborn human. I refused to give up on God so quickly. I held on, believing that even at the edge of disbelief, if God was real, He would not let me go further. That’s when I began to realize there was something in the broken place for me. A bunch of pieces of my own that actually needed to shatter.
God did comfort me, now that I look back. But more than comfort, He allowed me to sit in the mess, accept it, and discard pieces of idolatry, judgement, and misguided theology. I was left with perfectly broken pieces that would make up a renewed heart stronger than before.
Oh, I did not expect, when I wrote that excerpt at the very beginning of my journey to have broken pieces still lying around six years later. Believe me. I wrote those words on March 5th thinking that by Easter that year life would be back to normal. I assumed my husband would bend down, pick up his pieces and offer them to God to glue back together again.
Patience is still being taught here.
I still have loose pieces lying around that are all my own mess to deal with—the lost hope that my husband will return to Belief one day; old ideas of faith that I can’t justify but don’t know how to redeem; the misery of Sunday mornings; the uncertainty of how my children are affected. I’ll admit, bitterness is a particularly needle-sharp piece that nicks me every now and then.
I will keep going forward, though, and not be wounded by the mess. The broken place is behind us, but the remnants of it are good reminders that faith is a fragile thing. Although the pieces of my husband’s faith have not been redeemed yet, that mess is not mine to clean up.
I've got my own pieces still to reckon with.
Are you in a broken place? It's okay if you can't see past the mess right now. I am here to say, God’s work in the broken place is not an instant super glue promising record drying time. Lean into Him. Know He is your Comforter. And when you are ready, He'll give you eyes to see the useable pieces, trainable chards, and the slivers that just need to be left in the mess.