I had hoped this week would pass unnoticed. I had hoped that I could gloss over any mention of the turmoil that's been raging in my life, and post something - anything - other than the events of this week. Of yesterday. But it wasn't meant, I suppose, to be that way.
I'm not sure how to phrase this, except to say that... my marriage is over. Finished. Done. Yesterday the judge looked down at me from her lofty wooden bench, and in a clear and matter-of-fact voice, said: "I'll accept the testimony as presented today to the Court. As soon as your attorney files these papers, you'll be a single woman." She said it with so little emotion that the words seemed to slow as they reached my ears. A single woman. She was so nonchallant. So frozen. A lot like the ground I'd passed on my way there. "I'm a single woman," I said to myself, as flatly as the judge had.
A single woman...
You never marry with the intention of being single again. You certainly don't wait 27 years to get married, only to face a judge some five months later. After eliminating guy after guy, you don't settle on one - the "one" - thinking he'll be anything aside from steady and supportive and strong. You see his humor, not his uncontrollable rage. You see his romantic side, not his inclination to control and manipulate and belittle. You see his compassion, never dreaming you'd find yourself on one end of a gun and he on another, hearing yourself beg him for that same compassion you once thought you recognized. No, when you clasp hands and say "I do", you see what could be. You never, ever, glimpse what will be.
So after a judge looks down at you from her lofty wooden bench and declares herself satisfied with testimony... and delcares yourself "a single woman"... you hear those words and feel your emotions go dark inside. And you realize, as you look the judge in the eye.... you realize you have a choice to make. Right then, you have a choice to make. You can continue down that long, dangerous road of anger and bitterness and self-pity, or you can stop, turn around, and head for higher ground.
Since I stockpiled whatever courage I had and left him, I've felt like I've been dangling over a pit, clinging to the ground above with my fingernails. I can't ... there's no way I can... pull myself out of this by my own strength. And yet if I give any, if I surrender any more ground, I'm falling: falling into a bottomless pit of anger and hatred. And once I'm in that pit, it's just me. No one is there to witness my hurt, my desperation, or my pain. Oh no. Once I'm in that pit, I'm alone with the raw bitterness that would seek to overtake me. To change me. To ruin me. Once I'm in that pit, I'm finished.
But the pit isn't my only option. As I fight my way through my emotion, I'm slowly learning there is a turn-around. I can't dig myself out of a pit, but I have a loving heavenly Father who can. And not only can He pull me from this pit, He can carry me to higher ground.
Of this I'm sure: there is higher ground. There is a higher plane than I have found. I'm sure of it. Being beaten does not have to mean being bitter. Being hurt does not mean being a hostage... a hostage of your fear, your rage, your resentment. Being victimized does not mean you have to be... or stay... a victim. Being wounded (or single or broken or childless or damaged - whatever we are) does not have to mean we are wrecked. Being wounded does not have to mean we are weak...
...Being in need of saving does not mean we are without a Savior.
I suppose everyone has to face their own crisis... their own heartbreak... at one time or another. We all have to live our post-event lives headed into a pit or out of a pit. I guess all this today, (and sorry for all this today), is to say that yesterday, as I turned away from the judge, in all my emotion I remembered a hymn I used to sing in church as a girl. And suddenly, as I walked through those courtroom doors and felt my emotions dangling over that pit, I realized: I can leave this, too. I can leave this behind and head for higher ground.
It's my prayer for today and tomorrow.
Where doubts arise and fears dismay
Though some may dwell where these abound
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.
Lord, lift me up and let me stand
By faith on heaven’s table land
A higher plane than I have found
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.