Longing for Relationship – Part 2
Darkness and Dissonance
(In my last blog post, I said I’d continue a discussion on longing for relationship. Here’s picking up where I left off.)
“…and at the age of 20, I walked down a church aisle in a dress adorned with lace.” The story continues…
While trying to figure out how to be a good wife, I discovered the biblical woman described in Proverbs 31. The woman of noble character, she’s called. The voice of this amazing role model joined the chorus of voices speaking into my idealistic spirit.
Five years after saying, “I do,” my dream of motherhood came true. While I adored my daughter, I could not have imagined how hard it would be to work full time with a tiny baby while trying to support a young man searching to find his niche in the world. Utterly exhausting! In rare, spare moments, sometimes I fantasized that one day my family would rise up and call me blessed as did the husband and children of the Proverbs 31 woman.
Then, something went wrong—terribly wrong. At age 27, I sat in a courtroom while a disinterested judge declared my relational dream since childhood was now legally dissolved.
I’d realized my marriage was over a few months earlier while driving down a deserted, icy freeway on a snowy February night. I wailed angrily, “God, you blew it. This wasn’t supposed to happen. You promised!”
It didn’t occur to me then that my accusation wasn’t founded on God’s promise. It was, instead, based on that young pastor’s wife’s promise in her message spoken to a group of teenage girls at summer camp when I was 15 years old. I’d allowed her message—her promise, to morph into God’s message—God’s promise.
It took several years to sort through the muddled perceptions of the romantic little girl, idealistic young woman, deeply wounded wife, and sincere but immature Christ follower. In time I realized the promise I accused God of breaking wasn’t God’s promise at all, but the statement of a naïve, well-meaning young woman, presenting a guarantee she had neither the authority to make nor the power to keep.
The relational dissonance I experienced during the years following my divorce wasn’t related only to interpersonal or marital discord. It was about more than two people who married too young, split and then went their separate ways.
It seeped into my very soul. I questioned my faith. I questioned God. Had I been led to believe a fairytale? I made decisions that conflicted with my religious upbringing. My soul sank deeply. At its lowest point, I contemplated suicide. My very essence was overwhelmed with a cacophony of confusing emotional and spiritual commotion.
I first heard the word “cacophony” used to describe the discordant noise when various musical instruments tune up prior to a symphony. Not a pleasant sound at all. It hurts the ears and grates on one’s nerves.
But, that cacophony is the prequel to masterful musicians making beautiful music. Tuning the instruments is necessary preparation for the magnificent music that follows.
Writing this post transports me back to a painful, perplexing place—a turbulent, troublesome time. It also, however, reminds me of the faithfulness, kindness and patience of the God I questioned. As I stumbled along some very dark paths, over and over again, a ray of Heavenly sunshine appeared, and I’d catch a glimpse of grace that enabled me to keep placing one foot in front of the other until the day when darkness diminished.
If given the chance for a do-over of this segment of my journey, would I accept it? Would I trade that time of dissonance and darkness?
I asked myself that question during my first-born granddaughter’s high school graduation celebration. Family and friends gathered, all focused on the young woman—such a joy for almost 18 years. Always beautiful…and now, so grown up. I looked at her two proud and loving grandpas—one biological and one of the heart—and then my gaze lingered on her mom—our daughter—who’d given birth to the graduate plus two other astonishing grand kids—treasures to all of us.
Nope, I concluded. I wouldn’t trade one moment of that period of relational darkness and dissonance. The cacophony lasted longer than I liked and had grated on every last one of my nerves! But, now, I was sitting back, enjoying the amazing melodies.
I squeezed Ron’s hand. This man sitting by my side. My husband. My friend. An assurance that God is the maker of beautiful new beginnings.
Next week, we’ll conclude this series on Longing for Relationship, with my discovery of Relational New Beginnings.
Listening on Your Journey:
- I’ve described a segment of my journey, which St. John of the Cross, a 16th Century Carmelite priest, may have called a “dark night of the soul.” What life experience could you describe as your soul’s “dark night?”
- Looking through the rear-view mirror at your life, what valuable insights have you discovered during dark and difficult times?
As I stumbled along some very dark paths, over and over again, a ray of Heavenly sunshine appeared. I’d catch a glimpse of grace that enabled me to keep placing one foot in front of the other.