"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. —Jeremiah 29:11
With every new year, our hope rises. Maybe this will be the year he gets free of his "issues." Maybe this year won't hurt as bad as last year. Maybe this year the panic attacks, sleepless nights and losses (because of his addiction) will stop.
My fervent prayer for each of you is that these things would come to pass: that he would get free of his addiction/narcissism/abusive behaviors and that you would make it past your trauma symptoms. I pray the losses would stop and the blessings would begin. In fact I pray that you would be repaid for the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).
I say this because in the past year I've witnessed some of you going through desolation where hope seemed impossible. I've seen:
- A woman lose legal rights to her young daughter because of her husband's addiction
- Women lose their homes because of their husband's addiction
- Women lose friends because of their husband's addiction and/or their trauma
- Women lose their church and jobs because of their husband's addiction and/or their trauma reactions
Hitting The Wall
In the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, Peter Scazzero talks about hitting a period in our lives he calls "the Wall," but which may also be referred to as "the dark night of the soul." He explains that in that place, it is extremely difficult to connect with God and His promises. In his two-year period in this season, when the losses were coming fast and furious, he said to God at one point, "Is there anything else you want to rip out of me, you sadist?"
Peter explains more about that emotional and spiritual journey saying:
"For that two-year period I continued my spiritual disciplines. I followed Jesus out of obedience. I served him as a leader, but everything in me wanted to quit. Quit God and quit his messed-up church forever. Little did I know he was both purging and implanting something into my person during that horror."
Thus, Peter found what those of us who have been many years on this journey have experienced: that while hitting the wall puts us in a place of spiritual crisis, we can come to a place of spiritual growth. In time.
Sometimes this is a many year process that involves us bouncing off the Wall repeatedly before we begin to discern we are getting through.
Through the wall
Peter says that, in general, life on the other side of the wall is marked by:
- A greater level of brokenness: this makes us less judgmental and self-reliant than we were previously
- A greater appreciation for holy unknowing (mystery): this means being comfortable with the idea that we don't "get" what God is always up to and we can't control it; nevertheless, we can trust that it is for an ultimate purpose
- A deeper ability to wait for God, and not try and push through in our own strength to "make something (or someone) change"
- A greater detachment: this includes freedom from being emotionally driven by our circumstances, the love of worldly possessions, and others' opinions of us
For the PSA (partner of sex addict), life on the other side of the wall often involves seeing emotional and spiritual growth in ourselves: regardless of what is going on with our husband or even if he's still in the picture. It often involves being able to find meaning in our suffering, often because we're using what we've learned to help others.
In 2018, I saw men and women who have been years on their journey with sex addiction and betrayal trauma make their way further through the wall. In every case they were seeking out God and others who could support them.
Specifically, I saw:
- Women pick themselves up at the bottom of the grief cliff and begin to find their way to God and his peace again
- Women begin to by-pass anger (where they'd been stuck) and move straight to grieving and letting go
- Women connect with God in ways that rebuilt their trust in Him again... and led them to other areas of freedom
- Women leave abusive relationships with an unrepentant addict and find that life, rather than being terrifying, is very good
- Women, who took the chance to (with discernment) share their story, and found friends and churches and employers who supported them
- Men progress in their healing, so they are getting it at new levels and are beginning to walk humbly with their God and make amends to their wife
- A criminal-level addict begin to humbly rebuild himself and his devastated family with God's help
2019 may hold more suffering and pain for us. However, that does not mean we are without hope. Far from it. Life at the wall is absolutely horrendously difficult. May you find the support you need this year to come out the other side.
Another metaphor for the season of great suffering is "the desert." Perhaps you can relate to this song about wanting to go back to the way things "were" (in our minds).