Every ten years a man should give himself a good kick in the pants. ~Edward Steichen
As a general rule, I have a terrible memory. It doesn’t stop me from vehemently arguing with people when they say “such and such thing” happened. Though my defense can rarely be due to my memory, I, instead, have to argue based on my knowledge of myself.
“I know we never went bungee cord jumping because I would NEVER go bungee jumping.”
Obviously, that’s an extreme example. Mostly it happens when people remind me that I “said” something. My kids and my co-workers deal with this all the time.
Me: “I wanted to go visit that church today?”
My staff: “yeah, remember? You said you didn’t want to wait until April because we started planning in April last year and you felt like it was too late?”
Me: “oh…yeah… that does sound like something I would say…Okay… let’s go.”
I’m not the kind of person that goes back to relive memories. Instead, certain, seemingly random memories get baked in, and I’m left figuring out why some life experience has galvanized itself in my brain.
Lately, I’ve been remembering an assembly from Jr. High (and my subconscious knows why). It was the late 80s, and a middle-aged couple was invited to share their personal experience with infidelity and AIDS. The primary speaker was the husband. The cheater. He confessed that he had been unfaithful to his wife with another woman. They went on to share that he had left his family for this woman and that while with the new woman, he’d contracted HIV.
It was a compelling story, I’m sure. Intended to discourage us young folk from being promiscuous. But the wife…. the gorgeous, brown-haired wife, was the one whose story I have never been able to shake in over 30 years. She waited for her husband to come back. She waited four years. And when he did come back, he was sick. She forgave him, they remarried, and they took their story on the road to help as many people as they could for as long as the disease would allow him.
Her story shook me to my core.
“You took him back!!?? When you know full well what he was doing with that other chick?…and with full-knowledge of his illness? His HIGHLY contagious Illness?!? But you’re so beautiful! You could have anyone! And ANYONE would be better than THAT GUY!”
The only consolation I had in my very immature understanding, was that he wasn’t going to live much longer anyway, and she would finally have her chance to “do it right” afterward. I’m not proud of my ignorance. But I was young and…. and stupid.
April 10th, 2023, will mark the 10-year anniversary of my ex, “J,” walking away for good.
For the first five years or so, people often asked if I would take him back. I probably hedged in my reply, but in my heart, I always knew I would. I didn’t want to think too deeply about it because I had already taken him back once before, and it didn’t end well. The idea of being the woman who took him back time and again, only to be met with the same result over and over? It was embarrassing.
In 2017, I wondered if he would return. It was the four-year mark, just like that other lady. Was that why her story burned in me for all those years? Because I, too, would have to wait four whole years? Would we travel the country together, sharing our stories in the hopes of encouraging others who were destined to walk a similar path?
It’s the redemption story I prayed for a thousand times over.
In more recent years, the questions lessened, and my answer has since, more thoughtfully, evolved.
I have never closed the door to welcome him back.
Today, redemption (with me) is available, but only under certain conditions …. Conditions that could only be met with a major working of the Spirit.
These past years -dark a lot of the way- have still moved more quickly than the four years I imagined when I was only 13. To a 13-year-old, four years would measure out to be 1/3rd of my life! And more like half of my life based on what years of my life I could remember! No wonder I was so flabbergasted! At 48, 10 years is only about 1/5th.
March 21st would have been my 26th wedding anniversary. In these ten years, the Lord has blessed me many times with “foggy-brain,” and I didn’t always dwell on the “why’s.” Sometimes, the day just blew by, and I had no thoughts of it whatsoever. I should have known I wouldn’t escape the 10-year mark of his leaving.
I’ve already teared up a few times (and the day hasn’t even come yet).
I’m in no place to be in a relationship these days. I know it. I have a long way to go before I can open up to anyone joining me in life… Even him.
So what? Well… right now, I’m just acknowledging the day and its worldly significance. And maybe I’m writing this because I know that I’m due for a swift kick in the pants.
And maybe I’m putting this out there so you will not grow weary in praying for me… and for him.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. A prayer of a righteous person, when it is brought about, can accomplish much.”~James 5:16