By Laura Polk
One single mom I spoke with last week asked me to clarify statements I’d made in the past about the “part” we play in the breakup of our marriage:
“I never knew anything was even going on. I was a good wife. But I know I’m not perfect. What part did I play?”
Sometimes people speak profound things into your life that literally change your course.
That’s what happened to me the day that I read something from my friend, Dena Johnson, when she wrote:
“Sometimes it doesn’t take two to ruin a marriage. Sometimes all it takes is one very selfish person, set on getting their way.”
Before that moment, I’d been struggling with my part in the demise of my marriage. I’d been quoted the “it takes two” warning more than once from people who knew nothing of my situation. I’d been told I should seek forgiveness for my part in the destruction of the marriage. I’d been told that I should forgive my husband and move on because he couldn’t help what he was doing. “It takes two” became stuck in my head as a reason that I had no right to leave, implying that thinking otherwise showed my obvious selfishness and lack of responsibility.
It was comments like these that left me confused, heartsick, and clinging to a toxic environment way too long.
Things like that played into the massive guilt I was already feeling at being the one to put my foot down. I mean, I knew I wasn’t perfect. And of course, I didn’t handle everything that we went through as well as I would’ve liked. But, my heart couldn’t accept that the marriage falling apart was equally caused by me when I had tried so hard for so long to make things work — despite the things he was doing to destroy it.
Comments from people who didn’t bother to understand the actual situation were a plenty, and would set my mind spinning into maybe…
- Maybe I should’ve been more of a nagging wife that controlled him into better behavior.
- Maybe I should’ve been more understanding or more forgiving even when people in my life told me I was being too much so.
- Maybe I could have loved him better, so that he loved me more, so that love would have been enough for him to stop his bad behavior.
- Maybe the prayers I prayed weren’t sincere enough, or worded right, or done with the right heart.
- Maybe it was me. It had to be me. Of course. Of course, it was just something about me.
I was almost stuck in a way. I was moving forward, but with one leg dragging back to those thoughts of being equally to blame, and therefore maybe not justified in leaving.
Until God spoke directly to my heart through my friend.
And you know how sometimes you’ll read something that rings so true, it literally stuns you? I must have read and re-read those words a hundred times. I kept going back to them. I wrote them down. I said them out loud.
Because in the deepest part of my soul, I knew that those words were truth. They made me question the UNtruths I had begun to accept in my heart. I began to investigate the “it takes two” concept in the Bible and couldn’t find a single instance of a habitual offender where God pulled the closest innocent person to them and blamed them equally for the one person’s actions. Of course, He doesn’t work that way.
But it didn’t set me completely free. Because realizing that I wasn’t the instigator, didn’t mean I didn’t play a role at all. It just wasn’t the role everyone was insisting I must have played.
Sometimes the role we play is simply this:
We allowed things into our lives that we shouldn’t have, and then convinced ourselves
that we didn’t deserve any better than that because we were the ones to allow it.
Have you been there?
As we seek to find healing from what we’ve just been through, we need to stop accepting blame that we feel in our hearts that we don’t deserve. Not because we were perfect in our marriages. Some of us may have played significant roles that we are perfectly aware of that led to the marriage ending. But others, who found themselves in an out of control toxic situation being led by their spouse, have to stop dissecting their lives and hearts to discover what they did “wrong” to deserve it. Because doing so will only distract us from the actual problem we need to attend to: the WHY we allowed a person like that in our lives in the first place.
Some people would call this a self-esteem issue. But, anyone who knows me knows that I don’t have a self-esteem problem. What I do have, however, is need-to-feel-loved problem.
And as I look back on my life — not just my marriage — I can see how a girl who was disowned by half her family, ignored by her father, and bent on proving her worth, would become the same person who allowed people into her life that weren’t good for her or her future — for the simple reason that they were willing to be in it with her.
After a lifetime of not measuring up, not being accepted, and not being loved for who I was . . . I chose what I thought was the safe route. Someone who would simply stay with me until the end. And ignored all of the red flags that told me that might not be the best plan.
I wasn’t wrong in my assumption of that choice. If my ex had his way, we’d still be together, because well — I made it incredibly easy for him to live the way he wanted to live. But, the initial issue wasn’t him, or what he would bring into my life down the road. The initial problem was that I saw the possibility of those things and chose to allow him in anyway . . . because he was the staying kind . . . and I couldn’t take one more person choosing to leave.
Maybe you can look back and see a flaw in your WHY.
The part that you played in your marriage wasn’t something you intentionally did. You didn’t break your vows, abuse your spouse, or neglect your responsibilities. You simply decided somewhere deep inside of you that you’d take the broken pieces in life because they were better than nothing. They were better than being alone.
I want you to really consider the WHY.
Because the key for all WHYs is that we couldn’t see ourselves as deserving more. For whatever reason, whatever past issue, we allowed situations that others would have put the kibosh on pronto.
We’re putting the kibosh on it too. Right. Now.
It’s only in the knowing WHY, the understanding WHY, the accepting WHY, that we can move forward and away from doing it all over again. And I know that you want to move far, far from it and never live there again.
Because there’s something else inside of you.
Something that gave you the incredible strength to put the well-being of your children above what your life was going to become. To look at the situation and choose more for them.
Do you see?
- You had the ability to see the mess and to know that it was wrong.
- You had the strength to take a stand and get everyone to a better place.
- You had the courage to move into territory that is unknown and frightening.
Because you did it for your children. Didn’t you?
It’s time you see that YOU were worthy of the same.
Because while all you could consider was making your children’s lives better, your Father wanted you to see that you were worthy of the same.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9
She is far more previous than jewels. Prov. 31:10
God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Psalm 46:5
I want you to seek healing and direction, friend. I want each and every single mom who reads this to choose this opportunity God is giving them as the turning point in their life. The time where they allowed themselves to see themselves as God sees them. So that the WHY doesn’t continue to hold them from His best.
Will you pray with me?
Sometimes, we just can’t see what you see. We get so mired down in things that have hurt us, the things that have been said about us, and the disappointment we feel in ourselves. We cling to those things as if they are a lifeline because we’re really trying to make sense of it all and the part that we played. We listen to things that aren’t true because we long to understand the WHY behind what happened. Sometimes it feels like we don’t deserve better. Lord, today I ask that You give me a clearer vision of myself. That in the next week, You show me who I am in Your eyes. I want to serve You well. I want to follow Your lead. And I know that I can’t do that effectively when I allow past hurts to hold me back. Set me free so that I can walk into the future You have planned. Give me strength by showing me who I truly am in You. In the powerful name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
You are so much more than you can see.
But I see it, sweet friend. And so does He.