Last week I listed six ideas that could help betrayed wives/partners survive the holiday season. Today I continue on that theme, with both both tips and resources.
7. Grieve: As much as the holidays are supposed to be about celebration, it's actually normal that they also highlight our losses. If you are new to this journey, please remember to carve out space for yourself to appropriately express sadness and anger (e.g., cry for awhile as needed, exercise off some of the anger or write anger/sadness letters that you may or may not ever share with "him"). If you are a bit further down the track and you're feeling it might be time to dig into some deeper grief work (a necessary part of the healing), you may want to refer to this older post on taking a "grief retreat" – or read some of the "lament" psalms and see if you can copy their format as you lament your own losses.
8. Celebrate: Even those who are grieving may find it helpful to end their time of sadness/lamentation by turning their thoughts to what they are grateful for. This is part of the parttern of most of the lament psalms (and there are many of them). A helpful exercise on this theme is to list three things we are thankful for today. Next, we present those to God and then see if we can hear how He might be responding to our "thanks" (hint: his response will be in line with that of any excellent parent responding to a small child's gratitude). You can even try writing down what His response might be (for more powerful effects yet on your healing).
An example of combing grieving and celebrating can be seen in the poem composed recently by a friend of mine:
Love, deep, deep love
My heart is heavy at the loss of love,
And the wondering if it was ever reciprocated as much as it was given ,
But in the wondering I realise my heart is not robbed,
It is enlarged and made fat in the giving,
Enriched and living, beating still,
Breathing, tentative and reaching out with care,
It truly is more blessed to give than to receive.
9. Laugh: While this idea will feel out of the question for some reading this post (and I understand that completely), doing something which at least nudges us towards a laugh will still be helpful. There are many humours presentations of the Christmas story or gospel to be found at this time of year. The Bethlehemian Rhapsody (parody of Bohemian Rhapsody) was one that got my family guffawing this year... or this children's video on the nativity from one of our New Zealand churches.
10. Meditate on who he is: turning our thoughts to our God can help lift our spirits. Even if we are angry at God (and if we are, that's normal, especially early on), it might be helpful to think about where the common ground between us and him is with regards to suffering. Christmas is full of the theme of Jesus' chosen vulnerability to a world out for his blood, simply because he introduced truth and love into their lives.
11. Meditate on who you are: As I've written before, betrayal is a profound attack on our identity. In order to count the wounding and lies of betrayal, we will need to focus at some point on rebuilding our identity. In my experience, identity rebuilding is best done on God's truth and love. Listen to the song I've placed at the bottom of today's post and let God's words about your identity sink deeply into your heart. This is the truth: you have been chosen... because you are precious to God.
12. Embrace the hope: In this Christmas/New Year's season I've been reading the words of Dallas Willard (as recounted by Jim Wilder in the book Renovated). Dallas wanted to see every Christian able to come to understand "I am a ceaseless spiritual being, with an eternal destiny in God's great universe."
This betrayal, is not the end of you or your story...
God has a dream for me,
And for me, for all eternity.
It is a dream of healing and call,
Of life abundant with grace.
God fashioned me as an individual
To live an authentic life in community,
A life based on love.
Events in my life,
Within and without me,
Have warred against this authentic self of love.
My shadows have engulfed my gifts,
My Spirit-fire buns low, it smolders.
I can no longer find all the pieces of the person
God created me to be.
Perhaps it is all the happy fault,
This human path, this brokenness.
For now I seek Jesus the Healer, the Inspirer.
I want new eyes that open themselves to the reality
Of all that I was created to be.
Fully human, whole, not flawless,
Helping others, and hoping with them.
I want to shine with God’s light,
Especially through my broken places.
I desire to walk with freedom in God’s spirit.
I believe that God is still creating me today,
Resurrect me, my loving God.
Make me new again,
Able to give and to share,
In the abundant kingdom of the Risen One.
— Lyn Holly Doucet