Thursday, July 27, 2017

My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?

Meet Patricia*. Patricia-not her real name but her real story-has allowed me to share her story. It's similar to those of my friends. Her husband, respected in the church, just like the others' in fact, only two of the males have not been either pastors, elders, deacons, lay missionaries or lay preachers. I share this story so that if you are the friend of a 'Patricia,' you can understand a bit, a tiny bit, the pain, the shaking of her foundations, that she has gone through.

Patricia. Devoted wife, mother, caring friend. Selfless, giving, loving, kind. Just a good Christian woman with a good Christian husband. Everyone loved Mr Patricia. He was a good man, humble, holy... If any couple was going to heaven, they were. They were the epitome of godly love.

One day, Patricia went into her online photo album. She wanted to delete photos from there. You see what happens is that when they take pictures with their phones, the pictures automatically upload onto their online album, and she had taken multiple pictures of the same thing. Blithely, innocently, she took her phone and entered.

Her life would never, ever be the same again.

She saw her. A woman she didn't know. "Who was she? Why was she in her and her husband's online album?" She knew. You see, her husband, like most of the husbands I know, was a very conservative Christian. As a rule, he did not have female friends. He taught every where that males and females should keep their distance from each other. Patricia knew in that instance, that SOMETHING WAS VERY WRONG. Yes, the woman was in a normal setting, no, she wasn't naked. But she was a stranger. No. She was an enemy.

In a blind panic, Patricia got in touch with her husband. She asked, hoping to be reassured, "Who is that woman in our album? Why is she there?" He did not know what she was talking about. Then he remembered and said, "Oh, that's Noodle.* (Not her real name) I lent her my phone because hers is broken. She's sightseeing with it." Patricia was not happy at all. "Why would you lend her your phone when you are so strict about keeping your life separate from other women? Our personal pictures are on there! Why give some woman who each time you've said her name I've told you I don't trust, a phone that has my pictures on it?? Why couldn't she buy her own phone? Or ask her husband to use his phone? WHY DOES SHE HAVE YOUR PHONE???" She felt the panic rising. She felt the fear coursing through her veins.

THE PHONECALL WAS NOT ALLAYING ANY OF HER FEARS AT ALL.

Her husband had always been like some other husbands. You know the husbands who say, "I always let my wife read my WhatsApp messages and respond, we have no secrets." So, she had access to his email account. After all, he had given it to her-they were one. She went in. Looked for Noodle's emails.

And her heart broke into two. Two jagged pieces of pain.

Nonsense was sending innuendo laden emails to Mr Patricia. Mr Patricia instead of rebuffing her, instead of saying, "Don't be nasty, send those to your husband and leave me alone," was enjoying it and asking if Noodle wanted him to do those things to her. Email after email. Him complimenting her, she lapping it up. Mention of a husband. Poor, unaware husband.

Patricia felt sick. Her heart was irreparably broken. Mr Patricia of all people? Mr Patricia who everyone agreed would never do such a thing? Mr Patricia who was so respected as conservative Christian man?

There was no more Mr Patricia, just a Stranger where before was her husband, keeper of her heart.

Her life as she knew it, was over.

With panic, pain, so much pain, she again contacted what used to be Mr Patricia. She sent him screenshots of the conversations he'd had with Nonsense. It was over. He could not pretend it was innocent any longer.
In pain, Patricia sent an email to both Nonsense and Stranger. With pain searing and deep and raw, she wrote telling them of the pain they had caused. There was no anger, just pain. Deep, heartbroken pain. How could a wife do this to another wife? How could a man who'd vowed to bring her joy bring such misery? How could they collude in something so unholy when he had acted so holy? How? How? How? Maybe if they saw the pain she was in, they would have compassion and end it. Maybe their consciences would be awakened and they would both apologise for forgetting to whom they had made their marriage vows.

She expected too much. Only a woman with scruples would ever apologise for the hurt she had caused. And generally, women with scruples don't do things that would cause such pain in the first place.

He said he was sorry. He said he wouldn't do it again. He promised he was avoiding Noodle. He showed her his phone, "See, you can check every email account, every message, any time, anyday. I have cut contact with Noodle. I am yours. I don't know what I was thinking. Forgive me. I will never hurt you again."

And she forgave. She forgave. She wept every morning in the shower. She wept in the afternoon. But she tried. She held those two jagged pieces of her heart together and tried to move on. "He told me he will never do it again. He told me he is sorry. He told me he never stopped loving me. I will survive."

And like a good Christian woman, she prayed. "God, please, please help me to heal. Take this pain away. Please, please help me to believe. Help me to believe that the past decade of our marriage wasn't all a big fat lie. Help me stay when I so want to leave. God, help me. I am alone. I am alone. I need you. Hold me while I walk through these waters.

I thank you for not forsaking me while the man you gave me did. Thank you for holding me in the palm of your hands. I will be ok. He has promised to make all things right.

Amen."

She wept. Cried. Groaned. But she stayed. God forgave. God forgave those who betrayed Him, she could do the same. She was going to work on her marriage. Fix where she had gone wrong, try be 'better' and be what Stranger needed even though looking at him caused her pain.

Until one night.

A couple of months after Stranger had promised that he would never disappoint her again, after he had told her that she had nothing to fear, Patricia fell asleep. And in the night, she had a dream. Noodle. Noodle was there in her dream. Laughing. Gloating. "I have your husband and you don't even know it. He lied to you. He's mine!"

Patricia woke up, heart in tatters. It was only a dream. But it remained with her. Two nights  later, when Stranger went to shower, she looked at his phone. While he had been ignoring her because he was 'working,' he'd been emailing Noodle. The evidence was there and overwhelming. Meetings they'd had. Appointments they'd set.

This time, Patricia had a different reason for reading their emails. She was hunting. Hunting for evidence that Stranger and Nonsense felt guilty. Hunting for evidence that Stranger was some innocent man being lured by an evil woman. Anything to reduce the pain she was in.
There was none. No evidence to show she was thought of. No evidence to show that Stranger even spoke about her in a positive way to Nonsense. Just evidence of his inability to be true. No evidence that they had consciences any more. No evidence that she mattered.

All Patricia had was evidence that though she had given herself wholeheartedly, forever, to Stranger, Stranger had given himself to Noodle. Instead of Patricia's joys being important to him, Stranger was infatuated with Nonsense, even telling her that her joys were bound in his.

There was no evidence of the repentance he claimed.

There was no evidence of his undying commitment to rebuilding what he had torn down with his bare hands.

Not a single shred of evidence of guilt, of respect for their spouses...Nothing.

Patricia gave up.

It was over.

No need to look for evidence that she mattered, that at some point, Stranger remembered her and his love for her.

Patricia's heart, the two pieces that she had held together, shattered into a million pieces. A million tiny pieces that no-one on this earth will ever be able to put together again. In fact, some pieces are gone, never to be found again.
Not the best counselor in the world, not an allegedly repentant Stranger... No human will fix Patricia.

Patricia no longer believes in love.

Love died the day she realised Stranger cared more for an enemy to her marriage than he did for God and for her.

Stranger killed her soul. Stole her dreams. Took away her confidence in the future. Shattered her heart, her heart that she had given him to keep safe, and spat on it with Noodle.

Patricia is now a shell of herself. She gave herself, her body, her heart, her joys, her sorrows to Stranger. Stranger promised to be her Protector. But he harmed her. He shot the bullet himself.

The night she found evidence that her husband was still a liar, that her 'Christian' husband had forgotten that he was a husband, was the night Patricia screamed, "My God, my God! Why hast thou forsaken me? How could you let another human being hurt me like this? Why did you let me marry him if he did not love me the way I love him? Do you not love me? Did you not see the pain I was in before?? Why did you talk to Balaam with a donkey, but you did not stop my husband from his actions? Am I that evil that you chose to forsake me rather than to protect me? Where were you when he pressed 'send?' Where were you when he hugged her where anyone could have seen her and added to my embarrassment? Where were you when instead of telling me how sorry he was, he was writing to another man's wife, telling her that he needed to see her?

My God, where were you when my heart broke into a million tiny pieces that will not ever be picked up to form one whole heart ever again?

Why did you not kill me before I found out that the man I loved did not love me enough to be true to me?

Why did you not kill me?

How will I survive when I have nothing to live for. When the man I lived for decided to live for someone else?"

In the depths of the darkness, in the loudness of the silence, he screams of anguish went unanswered.

God did not speak.

He did not tell her what she was meant to learn from her emotional torment.

He did not tell her if Stranger was being honest that 'now' he 'really' was sorry.

He did not tell her how she would survive if she took her children and fled.

God did not tell her that unlike other children of divorce, her children would be ok.

God was silent.

And Patricia remains. A shadow. Pretending she is something when she feels as if she is nothing.

Waiting for death to release her from lies. From people she cannot trust. From painful memories. From scars that cannot heal on this earth.

                                     ..............................................................................................

God help all the men who have done this to their wives. It is the most painful thing I have ever seen. If a husband dies in a car crash that wasn't his fault, at least she has pleasant memories to cling to. But when a man does this, all the pleasant memories are not real. And she wonders if Stranger was ever her husband, or if there was a Noodle hiding in the background all along. An enemy who had been let into their sacred circle.

Love died the day Stranger was unable to choose life, to choose God, to choose Patricia.

This is why I write. Your story will not be like Patricia's in events, but the pain is the same. The betrayal, the inability to trust again. Different, but the same.

And I am sorry. So sorry that the commitment you gave to your marriage was not shared by the one you were/are married to.

So sorry.


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