God has really been teaching me so many things lately and sometimes I feel like maybe I’m not making progress in anything. I try to pray the Divine Office or novenas and I always flake out. My prayer life consists of me begging God to help me be a saint as I drift off to sleep. If I make it to Glory, I will be the Patron Saint of the unfinished prayer.
There are other things that show me that I’ve made some progress. It is a slow process, especially with a soul like mine that has to ask “why” every five seconds, has panic attacks about not being loved and who refuses to just listen the first time. God is patient and the hound of Heaven which is the only reason that I even have a chance. It’s not that I’m bad per se, but I am who God made me and some of those defects are gifts in only ways that He knows. When things hit me, they hit me hard and I can’t help but share them with anyone who will listen.
My husband has an ex-wife. I was also married in an invalid marriage before becoming Catholic. My ex-husband and I didn’t really have the same kind of relationship that Stacey had with his ex-wife. Some things were very similar but others were not. Ben and I have always tried to keep up some kind of civility and friendship for the sake of our kids. I do not know where we ever learned that, I’m guessing it was from Anthony (our oldest son) who never expected anything less from us and would let us know that he wouldn’t tolerate either one of us talking badly about the other in front of him or his siblings. Either way, we just did the best that we could and I do what I can to be honest yet charitable when I talk to my kids about their dad. I also don’t ever keep them from him. Ever. He has free access to these kids and so does his family. I grew up without a dad and made a decision a long time ago that my children would always know their dad (dads in the case of Anthony) and would never be able to look at me and say “You kept me from knowing my father”. Umm, no.
This is where Stacey’s ex-wife and I kind of don’t see eye to eye. In the past six years we have had our cat fights and I have acted like anything but a Christian in them. Some were before I was following Christ, but a lot were afterwards. I would apologize after having gone to confession but those apologies were not sincere. Underneath them there was a very thick line of “I’m better than you and you are going to hell for being a rotten human being” all while claiming that Jesus was the Lord of my Life. I slung passive aggressive insults at her and even threw some of her childhood hurts in her face for the joy of seeing them hurt her. I thought that I was defending my husband, but the reality is, I was just cementing everything that she was saying about us to the boys. In fact, she was right about me being the reason that they didn’t see their father. Me and my anger issues, my resentment towards her and mostly, my failure to see her as a human person just like me: broken and with hurts and wounds that only love can heal.
Maybe that is why God allowed my marriage to be tested, because in the mist of it I started to see what K* had gone through while being married to this man. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a great husband, he really is, but like all human beings, he has issues. And so do I. But for this small moment I could see how someone who wasn’t grounded in a faith in God or didn’t have the Grace of the Sacrament of a valid Marriage (which they didn’t) and was subject to all the constant bombardment of this culture that says if you aren’t “happy” you have every right to go seek “happiness” elsewhere, could think that doing just that was an answer. Not only could I see how a woman would do that, but I did it.
When Ben and I would fight, I would kick him out of the house and then start “seeing” aka started sleeping with someone. I always thought that it was ok because we were getting divorced this time for sure! Only we never did and I never waited long enough to sleep with another man to even make that seem like the truth. Yet, here I was holding it against this woman.
Why? Because I tend to think of my sins as “not as bad” as so and so’s sins. When I asked God to help me, He gave me a glimpse into how I had acted towards my greatest enemy: Stacey’s ex-wife. What I saw was not pretty. It was one woman not having mercy or compassion for another woman. Not the new wife defending her husband from his big bad evil ex-wife. That knocked me right off my high horse.
Apologies for my actions, thoughts and words for the last six years are no longer valid because of all the fake self-interested ones that I’ve made already. All I have to offer her are my sincere prayers and hope that one day she will see by my actions that I am truly sorry and will forgive me.
*I am not putting her name in my post because I don’t feel like that is the right thing to do.