I was living from hour to hour. Every hour that passed, Mum congratulated me for getting through. Then we would set the goal of surviving the next hour. Then congratulate ourselves all over again.
Breathing was the only thing I could achieve for that whole day. Mum and Aly reassured me that that was OK.
Meltdowns added some variety to the afternoon.
MY HUSBAND HAS BEEN HAVING AN AFFAIR.
MY HUSBAND HAS BEEN ACTIVELY LYING TO ME.
MY HUSBAND DOESN’T WANT TO COME HOME.
MY HUSBAND WON’T ANSWER ANY OF MY QUESTIONS.
WHERE ON EARTH IS MY HUSBAND????????????????????
The pastor from church, and his wife, came over to see me. They hugged me. They talked with me. They prayed with me. They comforted me. It gave me a sense of peace amidst the madness. Their love and warmth was abounding.
And they told me that no matter what, God was in control.
HA! Now that’s a little hard to believe!!, I thought. And if he IS in control – and he let this happen to me – then he’s not such a loving god!!!
I come from a Christian family. They’re no particular denomination and my ancestors have pretty astounding histories involving their relationships with Jesus Christ. My great-grandfather was a minister in communist-ruled Belarus where he held Bible studies and church services underground. He ended up being murdered for his Christian beliefs, which he chose to stand by.
I attended an elite all-girls school. Originally founded by the Presbyterian Church, it is now only vaguely Christian. I think the majority of students would not identify with a faith. So I didn’t really have “Christian friends” at school growing up. I had an eclectic mix of peers.
I did, however, attend church with my family. At church, I was taught that “Christian” and “Science” were opposing. You had to choose; Team Christian or Team Science. So as a high-shooler, I weighed up the pros and cons of creation and evolution and decided on creation. I was never good at science at school, so that was the primary reason for my choice. The creation versus evolution debate is a never-ending one with people on both sides devoting their entire lives to proving their stance (Hello, Sheldon Cooper!). I mean, you just have to google both terms and you’ll find a plethora of websites proving and disproving these convincingly. But what I have since come to realise is that the two need not be on opposing sides. It is not – and should never have been – a case of one or the other. But it was in my small world.
I guess I’ve always just had a gut instinct that there must be more.
When I was 16, my parents and I started going to the church where I met Mr Ex. My parents never put any pressure on me to take on any kind of ‘religion’ for myself. But at 16-ish, I did take it on. It was at that church where I *found God* (or whatever you want to call it). You can read more about that later.
At 17, I started dating Mr Ex. Mr Ex was an active member of that church and he would regularly lead the singing and take part in prayer meetings. Our relationship blossomed. We were both quite sure that God had brought us together and was blessing our relationship. We met other young Christian couples and were in a world of pure and utter joy going from strength to strength. Life was blissful! We gave each other Irish Claddagh rings representing love, friendship and loyalty. During our Uni years, we chose to stay away from pub crawls and nightclubs and we chose to *wait*. And then after about two years, we got engaged and then married; all trying to do the right thing according to the Bible and ‘what God would want’. (FYI, I’m literally cringing as I type all that! LOL).
We were the epitome of the perfect couple! We were the stunningly beautiful UNSINKABLE Titanic, DAMMIT! So if we’ve done everything ‘right’, then why the hell is this nightmare unfolding?? Where did this fucking ice berg come from? Shitty-shitty-bang-bang, I’m turning into a swearing truckie now too!
That night, I walked upstairs to our bedroom. And everything came tumbling down.
I fell to my knees in a rather spectacular fashion.
Tears, screams, and trembling uncontrollably.
Crying to the point of dry-reaching.
In a state of total brokenness.
And I started to pray.
Please help me, God. I can’t deal with this on my own. I’m scared shitless right now.
There were no bolts of lightning. No flashes of light nor clouds of smoke. But my awkward and feeble prayer was helping somehow.
For the first time in my life, I was entirely comfortable praying. I wasn’t thinking about what words to use or how to sound intelligent. I wasn’t crafting well-thought-out sentences or reciting commonly used prayer phrases. I was talking to God from my heart, not my head. I had no energy for the superficial. This was all real. Messy. Disjointed. Rambling. Questioning. Anger. Pain. But 100% authentic.
We pray our most authentic prayers when we are completely broken.
And that night, I actually got some sleep.