4. The Language of Woundedness– Growing up, in seminary and even through the first several years of my ministry I never really knew what to do with much of the language of the prophets in the bible. At times it is visceral, offensive, painful and harsh and even though I had done many things through my life to challenge myself physically and mentally I didn’t realize what a sheltered life I had lived. It was only in the time before and after my divorce, where I found myself emotionally shattered and dealing with a deep emotional and spiritual wound that I found that this was the language of emotional pain. Those who have been following my writing know I’ve been writing quite a bit on Jeremiah, and Jeremiah is full of this language of woundedness-of a wounded God and the wounded prophet who are working through an intense feeling of betrayal by the very people they committed themselves to. I’ve come to understand that this language, although harsh and painful and often unheard by anyone else is a part of the healing process. It is a way that we try to make sense of the deep brokenness that we feel on the inside and to let go of the relationship, dreams, trust, love and eventually move towards forgiveness. For me, many times, these were words that were said in the car alone, in the shower when nobody could hear, and rarely before anyone except a couple close friends who I trusted deeply as well as some of my conversations with God (which both the Psalms and the Prophets model). It is the language of our emotional self crying out in desperation as it tries to re-establish itself and it needs the place to be vented, and yet it is not where we want to remain. It is a wilderness of anger that I had to move through on my journey of healing, but I have also know people who have established their residence there and allowed their identity to remain wounded. This is one of those things that there is a season for, a season for woundedness and anger and a season of healing and new beginnings.
5. Letting Go of Dead Dreams-This took some time, probably close to two years for me. Many people will immediately try to re-establish a relationship to take the place of the relationship they lost but I didn’t. I did date some over my first couple years but was never able to place myself fully into the relationships because I was still holding on to what had been in the past. For two years of dating and thirteen years of marriage I had seen my life always being connected to my ex-wife’s and there was a time, even after divorce where I dreamed the relationship could be reestablished, my family could be joined back together and the dream I had held onto for years could be realized. The crazy part is that I was holding onto this dream precisely when I was also dealing with the most extreme pain and hurt. Eventually I did reach a point where I was able to say that the relationship was truly over, the dream was dead, that I had come to the point where there was no going back, where I could be honest with myself about the number of things I had given up over the previous years to make the relationship work and I could see some of the flaws. For me this was a part of letting go and beginning to wonder what might happen in the future and making space for the present. It also allowed me to accept the gift of myself and hopefully in the future be ready for the gift of somebody else.
6. The Relational Currency of Trust-I had the opportunity as I was going through my divorce to do some coursework on Marriage and Family Therapy which has been invaluable going forward in my life and in the counseling I do as a pastor. At a fundamental level, when you love someone else you open yourself up to the possibility of being hurt-there is no love without this possibility. This is why a person’s death can be so difficult and why betrayal within any relationship can be so devastating. In my own experience I know there were times when I may have known what was going on but I didn’t want to admit that someone I had opened up to so deeply could possibly be willing to betray that trust. The reason that betrayal is so deadly to marriages (and this can come in many forms, affairs both emotional and physical, addictions, lying, hiding of financial struggles or resources, undisclosed legal struggles and the list could go on) is that it violates trust. Trust allows us to risk opening ourselves up, and once trust is broken it is painful and it takes a lot for another person to grant that trust again. In my case I was willing to open myself up again in the hope of saving the relationship and I ended up being wounded again, but it was the right decision for me to make in the long run. If trust has been broken it can be rebuilt, but it takes a lot of time and work.