|Dana and her children|
I don’t know you, Anna. I only know the image of you that has been marketed on TV. Nevertheless, my heart breaks for you. I am so sorry. You are now part of a club that NO ONE ever wants to be in. It is the worst club, Anna. You know that already. A hand grenade has been detonated and thrown smack dab into the middle of your life. I understand. You are not alone.
There will be so many people who will tell you what you need to do. Some of these people will be well-meaning, and some of them will not. No one really knows, Anna. Some of your closest friends may be totally shocked to learn about what has happened in your marriage, and some of them will not be. You have to remember that only you know the truth, Anna. You are the only person that has lived in your shoes day in and day out. You are the only person that really knows Josh’s heart and intentions and capacity to change. There is a soft, still voice in your head, Anna. I believe that is the voice of the Holy Spirit; trust that voice. It will speak to you and guide you as you attempt to navigate out of the depths of despair. I would like to offer some humble words of encouragement for you on your journey.
1. Say yes. Yes I need help. Yes I could use help with meals, yes you can watch my kids, yes you can stop by, yes you can clean my house. Yes, I will not be able to ask for it, so yes you have my permission to step into the gap and provide it. You need to allow others to serve you right now. It is humbling, and difficult, and necessary. Anna, you need all of your strength, all of your sanity, all of your courage for today. And then you will need it all over again for tomorrow.
2. Find your people. This road of suffering is lonely and barren; long and agonizing. There are men and women ahead of you on this journey. There are also people right alongside you. Sadly, soon there will be those that come after you. Find these people, Anna. Your soul will not survive without the camaraderie of those that have gone before you. The first time that you share your heart with a fellow traveler, and they say, “Me too. I know exactly what you mean,” your soul will flicker with the tiniest ember of hope. The connection between your hearts will lay down a thin thread. Sometimes you will feel like you are floating away. Those people will feel tension on the line when you start to disconnect. They will show up for you. They will keep you grounded, connected, and safe. Hang onto those threads, Anna.
3. Give yourself grace. And then give yourself another heaping portion of it. I think you are the kind of person that wants to do it all. And you want to do it all well. And you want other people to approve of how you are doing it all. Anna, you can’t do it all. You will fail. You will unravel at the slightest thing. You will drift off into space, walk around in a cloud, and snap at your loved ones. You will sob in the car. You will forget things that you always reliably remembered. Let it go. Forgive yourself. In fact, treat yourself. Give yourself permission to take extra care of yourself. Allow luxuries that were previously thought frivolous. They aren’t luxuries anymore, Anna; they are survival.
4. Be a courageous truth teller. We are a people called to walk in the light. We are told that the truth will set us free. You are part of a generation of women who can do hard things. You can do hard things! Do not sacrifice your integrity to defend someone else who lacks it. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes along. Face the pain and the agony head on. Admit how much it hurts. If you are mad at God, He can handle it. Lean in to the truth, Anna. Love is not shaming or silencing, controlling or deceitful. It is open and honest and courageous. If your marriage gets put back together, it will be real, and honest, and stronger than before. If it doesn’t,you will hold your head up high as an honest and worthy woman of God.
The affairs were not about you, Anna. There wasn’t anything missing, something you failed at, or some way that you did not measure up. It wasn’t you. His shame is not your shame. The healing is about you. It’s all about you. It is about your soul and your health and your children. It’s about your heart and your dignity. Your worth and your purity and your happiness aren’t dependent on Josh. They never were. You are strong and worthy and beautiful all on your own. Your story doesn’t end with a divorce or a reconciliation. That will only ever be part of your story, Anna. It is your life and your story. You still own that. Own it courageously.
A fellow traveler
You can find Dana on the web at SingledOutInColorado.com.