Ann: My soul was closed. Very closed. I had shut the door hard, not truly allowing anyone in. Not other women, not Ben and certainly not Jesus. Not really. Oh, I had ‘asked Him into my heart’, but protected certain areas of my soul that I didn’t think anyone would want to see, much less spend time there with me. Grieving the affair ~ the loss of my affair partner, the loss of the illusion of a perfect life, the loss of being a ‘good’ mom, the loss of being a good wife ~ certainly cracked that door open a little, but I was still guarding it so that it could be opened far enough to have chats, but not far enough to allow others to enter and have face-to-face, heart-to-heart conversations.
At one level I was okay being there all by myself. But God wasn’t okay with me being there all by myself. He knew I needed others to join me in my brokenness and grief…and the only way to make that happen was to lead me into more brokenness. Two summers after the revelation of the affair, we were moving from Missouri to Colorado for Ben to go to graduate school for counseling. It felt like the right decision at the right time.
The only thing was, a month before we moved, my Dad was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. For those of you who don’t know what that means, it means it’s not good. It means his cancer had spread beyond his lungs into his bones, his organs, throughout his body and it meant that he didn’t have long to live. Ben offered to put off school for a year, but I felt God was asking us ~ me ~ to trust Him. So Ben purchased a few plane tickets for me to return home to the family Cabin and my dying daddy.
In the meantime, in the glorious backdrop of the Denver foothills, I began meeting with other spouses of counseling graduate students. A friend reminded me at the end of the year that I had made the comment at the beginning of the year that “if this group means going beneath the surface, I didn’t want to be a part of it because I lived on the surface and I liked living on the surface.” Well…again, God had a different idea…
During the course of the fall semester, as the aspen began to turn golden and my daddy was able to walk with a cane, as the air became cool and crisp and my daddy began to require the use of a walker, as the foothills began to be dusted with snow and my daddy moved to a wheelchair, as the Christmas lights went up and my daddy lay in a hospital bed in his dining room overlooking the wild birds and woods he was so fond of, the grief I experienced caused the door to my soul to begin to swing open wide. I began to invite those women in my spouse group into my heart, into the mess that was my soul, that was my brokenness, that was my grief. We laughed, we cried. We mourned, we marveled.
I was broken. I was loved. I was changed.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.