This is one of those posts that isn’t fun to write because it takes me back to a time I didn’t love and of course, I don’t come out looking too great in it. But I know I’m supposed to share it, and I believe it will encourage someone out there.
Our newlywed years weren’t normal or easy. I had chronic pain because of a severe case of PCOS. There were many days I was in bed because of pain as soon as I got home from work. I had to receive shots in the backside that were not easy to give or receive. And then there was the baggage.
I came into the marriage with low self esteem and huge trust issues. I was a wounded person who usually felt better wounding others. It wasn’t a good place.
My husband worked a new job with a lot of hours. He was in community theater. We were new in our church and wanted to be active there together. We grieved his kids not living in the same state anymore and trusted God had them and us.
When he had a bad day from any of these stresses or even something else, I had one thought and one thought only.
I’m the reason he’s upset.
It’s my fault.
It will always be me.
It will always be my fault.
When he needed time to chill, I took that as a personal rejection. I didn’t get that men need their cave time. When he’s ready to talk, he will. But my own emotional baggage couldn’t allow me to see that. So I’d chase him down, causing more stress.
And guess what?
It wasn’t about me until I made it about me. And that’s when real conflict started.
I had a lot of problems then, and a big one I didn’t realize was one I think a lot of young women are also dealing with: you want your husband to be your savior.
Sorry, ladies, he can’t. He’s human and he’s going to fail. The harder you pursue him with that expectation, the faster he’s going to retreat. I tell you from experience. Then your pain is that much stronger because you’ve got another man in your life who has rejected you.
How did I get out of that spiral? It wasn’t easy or fast. I had to hit a rock bottom and realize even when his bad day wasn’t about me, I had a lot of healing to take care of. I had people praying. I read a lot from Chuck Swindoll to Sheila Walsh. I went through two Bible studies that changed everything—Believing God by Beth Moore and Captivating by Sheila Eldredge. I started to see my Savior was there to rescue me, He is Jesus, not my husband. And when I put that in the right order, everything changed.
My view of a Heavenly Father wasn’t healthy because I was envisioning someone with closed arms disappointed in me. Pressing in through my relationship in Christ and giving Him everything about me re wired my thinking. God’s arms are open wide even when I goof up and it is about me.
Now that I’m healed from those hurts, I don’t rely on my husband to be the source of all my happiness. I have the discernment to know when he’s having a bad day when to approach and when to wait. I no longer have those internal alarms going off thinking he’s upset with me.
If this is a struggle for you, I pray something in this post gives you hope to seek healing as well. If you are not part of a Bible reading, Christ centered church, I pray you find one and surround yourself with people who can pray for you. I’m rooting for you!
Being a seat-of-the–pants writer has its perks. Why? Because my characters are almost always several steps ahead of my keystrokes, often looking over their shoulders impatiently waiting for me to catch up. Little do they know the joke is on them. They don’t realize I’m writing into them my weaknesses—and, to be honest, also my strengths—just to see how they handle them in clutch situations. And I need to observe them from behind. If I outlined the story in advance, I would already know how they coped. So I would learn nothing from them. And very possibly, neither would my readers. Why? Because I would have contrived my lessons, not lived them and passed them on. Where’s the empathy in that?
Case in point. In my most recent novel, Quimby Pond, my heroine, Gwen Kelly, has lived her life in the shadow of God’s standards, but not in his love. She’s a “good person,” has an innate sense of what is “proper,” but remains tossed on the waves of human doubt as to why it’s proper. Her spirituality? Her childhood church experience? Here’s an excerpt from the book:
[Gwen’s] fondest recollections of Sunday mornings revolved not around church, but rather brunch at a local pancake house as a reward for not squirming too much during the boring services. Her success was usually gauged by the number of over-the-shoulder huffs from the dour Mrs. Olsen, who always seemed to select the pew directly in front of the Kellys. On a good morning, a steaming stack of blueberry pancakes, whipped cream, and warm maple syrup awaited, making Sundays bearable.
Excepting the fictitious Mrs. Olsen, this was largely my childhood church experience, and I bequeathed it to Gwen. How does she cope with this kind of a spiritual past in the midst of the clutch situations I foisted upon her in Quimby Pond? Her image of God and of communion with him—i.e., prayer—lacked understanding, substance, caring. How does one cope? How does one surrender to the love of God, not just perceive a notion of his standards? The story’s hero, Brent Newcomb, wondered the same thing. Here’s an exchange between Brent and Gwen:
As they neared the hospital, she cast a questioning glance at him. “You were praying last night, weren’t you? During the search.”
“I sure was.”
“Do you think it made any difference?”
“It made a difference to me.” He pulled into the hospital parking lot and into an empty slot. “And apparently to Hannah too. You realize that God answered the prayer through you, don’t you?”
She threw him a startled look. “What do you mean?”
He propped an elbow on the steering wheel and faced her. “It was your sudden idea to search near Quimby Pond, and that idea saved Hannah’s life. I’ve discovered that God is usually responsible for sudden ideas like that.”
She looked down again. “Do you pray a lot? I mean, you know, at regular times. Not only in emergencies.”
“Not as often as I should.” He offered a slight smile as he switched off the engine. “What’s your position on the subject?”
She shrugged and reached for her seatbelt buckle.
Will Gwen ever give in to the lure of prayer? If so, what will it take to bring her to the point of surrender? What does it take to bring any person to the point of “surrendering” to prayer, of recognizing that such communion yields solace to the person praying and joy to the One to whom the prayer is lifted. The answer to that question is different for every person.
Her lesson still teaches this author. And she did it all by herself.
Author Bio and photo
Bruce Judisch has been writing fiction for many years. His first work, “A Prophet’s Tale,” is a two-part novelization of the story of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah ben Amittai, comprising The Journey Begun and The Word Fulfilled. A third part, The Promised Kept, is under construction. More recently, he wrote two novels with complementary contemporary and historical storylines: Katia, a Cold War novel focusing on the fall of the Berlin Wall, and its sequel, For Maria, featuring the Kindertransport.
Bruce lives in Texas with his wife and high school sweetheart, Jeannie, and their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Charlie and Raleigh. Bruce and Jeannie are the proud parents of three and grandparents of fourteen.
Book Cover and blurb
Thursday, August 20, 1896, Marble Falls, Maine. A festively adorned bridal trunk arrives on the one o’clock train, but no newlyweds debark to claim it. Curious townspeople gather for the evening train, but again only to disappointment. Where was the happy couple? What became of the trunk? And what if it wasn’t a bridal trunk at all…?
Present Day: Gwen Kelly comes to Marble Falls to escape a broken past, a past that revisits her when she begins to restore an antique trunk. A mysterious assailant targets her friends and fingers her as the only person who can stop him. Gwen is thrust into an awkward relationship with Officer Brent Newcomb as they race to stop the intruder from striking again. Could the trunk hold the key to this cloud of violence spreading over the peaceful Marble Falls region? If so, will they discover its secret in time? If not, what have they stumbled into?
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