Choose your village carefully. Each person you allow into your village will have an important voice at a time when you are feeling fragile. I had only two voices for many months and those two were like solid gold. They had to ‘carry lots of water’, but God gave them the discernment and energy to help me in this completely foreign territory that felt like enemy land much of the time. It was enemy land actually, but we simply could not believe that at the time. As time went on, the village grew, one member at a time. One was a friend who had trained as a spiritual director. We hadn’t spent much time together in several years, but God brought her to mind so I looked her up, and it was so good to be heard, asked good questions, hear Scripture she had prayed over for me, and to kneel together before God. We met until it was clear that I needed a counselor and this Christian woman counselor too was such a help to me.
In November 2012 other close friends were added to the village. My husband had left me, I was in deep distress over his turned back, and the possible break-up he had in mind for our family. What seemed utterly inconceivable now seemed to be moving along at an alarming speed . . . ready to steamroll right through our village.
Your spouse may be making poor choices for his village, mine likely did initially, but then he started to make good choices. He was discovering that our friends were very supportive, and they weren’t about to let our marriage die, they were going to fight right alongside us. I truly believe that deep in his heart he wanted to see if God could be God in what he considered an impossible situation. Maybe he even wanted to love me again, I don’t really know what was going on inside him during those dark months. I still have lots of questions.
James 1:2-4 paraphrased in The Message says this, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colours. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way”.
So what’s this image about? A HOPE coffee mug with a coffee filter on top. Well, one of my dear friends has frequently given me the visual image of a coffee filter along this long journey. When she would give thoughtful words to me, or we’d be in the company of a few friends that would gather for prayer or a meal, she would then close with this, “Remember [my name], take these words that you have heard, and put them through the ‘coffee filter’ and see what God wants you to hear from the words we’ve said”. One of our adult children gave me the HOPE mug for Christmas last year so my visual before God would often be this coffee filter on that mug and I’d ask God to filter through what words He wanted me to hear that would continue to give me hope for the reconciliation I knew was His desire.
So dear one, build your village with great discernment. It’s too painful to tell everyone you hold dearly, it may feel too painful to tell anyone, but you need others. You truly do. Please don’t allow yourself to be sidelined by the one or two who are shooting arrows into your village alongside your husband. Your husband may even be adding fuel to their fire – he doesn’t like you at all right now, but you know what, he doesn’t like himself either. He’s lashing out, he’s volleying shots at you maybe in hopes of you raising the white flag of surrender so he can walk away without excuse. It’s a crazy drama with no rules or guidelines and it often makes no sense at all. It literally doesn’t make sense – you’re in a constant whirlpool. You’ll be tempted to put yourself outside the village and ask to simply die, but instead, tuck into the safety behind your team and let them fight for you when you’re weak, and let them bolster you when you’re ready to stick your head out again.
Leave town if you can, stay with someone(s) who you feel safe with, who will love you AND your spouse, who will encourage you to do what you need to do to hear God and get ‘it out of your system’. Seek adventures to lift you up in all dimensions. Let the ones you are staying with speak into your life – hear their encouragement and ask for their insights.
Your village is important to you now, and it will be your family for the rest of your life. You’re blessed if some of the members of your village are members of your biological family but they don’t have to be.
Go in peace my friend. Go in peace.