Thursday, August 12, 2010

Painful Discoveries

Yesterday I spent some time sorting through odds and ends of Michael's. One of the things I came across was a day planner/organizer thing. It had a lot of old business cards in it, and some notes Michael had taken that seemed to reflect some sort of self-improvement stuff he was into way back when.

I loved seeing his writing because that's so personal, but I didn't really like the content of what I was reading. The things he chased after trying to make sense of life were so focused on self. I know this not just from those notes, but from other things I knew he turned to throughout his life before he turned to Jesus. It didn't make him any less lovable to me, but like so many people, he didn't have a spiritual compass. I asked him more than once why he put stock in some of the ideas he did instead of what the Bible had to say. He said it was because those ideas were "newer". I told him there was nothing new under the sun.

This week I've been thinking a lot about the choices he made and why he did the things he did, and I think he was just deceived by a bunch of lies about himself, life, and God. I'm glad he didn't come to the end of his life stuck in those lies, but I feel like I'm living with some of the consequences of those lies. Perhaps if we'd been married longer more of these things would have been resolved eventually, and I wouldn't have to deal with them as much as it feels like I do. It is so hard to be the one left behind.

For instance, in that same organizer I found several photographs of him and his ex-girlfriend. Now this wasn't an organizer that Michael was still using in the recent past. It had been around for a long time and nothing in it was current. I know he wasn't digging out those pictures and missing his life with her while he was married to me. Not at all. But if he hadn't been such a pack rat, perhaps he would have gone through his own things and gotten rid of those pictures to spare me the hurt of having to find them.

Several days before the memorial service, my best friend and I had gone through most of his pictures and we'd found a bunch of pictures with him and the ex. I was feeling magnanimous at the time, so we put them in a large envelope, and I gave it to my sister-in-law to pass on to her. But yesterday's discovery didn't make me feel magnanimous at all. Rather it was like a slap in the face. I quickly put those pictures in the trash.

I oftentimes feel a longing when I look at pictures of Michael that are from the time we met, up until he finally committed himself to me. I think about all the things we didn't get to do together, all the people in his life I didn't get to know sooner, and it just breaks my heart. He apologized several times about all this before he went home, but I didn't want to talk about it at the time. I didn't want him to feel bad about anything. I still wouldn't want him to feel bad, but I wish we could talk about it. I already know what he'd say because he said it to me many times in those last months:

I love you!
I married you!
You are the love of my life.

I just wish I could hear him say those things again because sometimes I still feel so insecure.

Once when we were discussing the past, and he was apologizing for the years he'd wasted in that other relationship, I asked him what had attracted him to her initially. I knew he'd stayed in the relationship after he met me out of obligation and guilt (not warranted, but nevertheless), but how had it started? He simply replied, "Sex." Then I asked him what had attracted him to me, and he said, "I just couldn't understand why you weren't married already." I know that's true because when he first started trying to get close to me, he asked me why I wasn't married. I was sort of flattered, but I didn't have an answer for him. I didn't know why I wasn't married.

Reflecting on that, I realized that whether he knew it or not, he was seeing things in me at that time that he would value in a wife. But he wasn't looking for a wife, and so he couldn't connect that question with the answer - I was meant to be his wife. That's why I wasn't already married to someone else.

One more thought. When I'm grappling with the part of our past where Michael remained in relationship with his ex-girlfriend, even though he knew he loved me and wanted to marry me and have a family with me, I feel anger towards her and I wish she had never existed in his life. But, if I'm honest with myself, my anger/hurt/grief should be directed at Michael. It was his choices that hurt me, and it was my choice to wait for him. I need to come to a point where I can forgive, and it's not the ex who needs forgiving. I need to forgive Michael, and that's really weird because I'm not angry with him. But, I guess I am in a way. I'm just not directing my anger in the right direction. Besides, it's easier to be angry with the living than with the dead.

I am really grateful that our relationship will be redeemed in eternity thanks to what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us. In eternity neither of us will be hindered by choices we made in the past. We will have time eternal to spend together and we'll be incapable of saying or doing things to hurt each other. Praise God for that.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, or sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.
Revelation 21:3-4


  1. Wow, that is a lot to unpack and sort through emotionally. Take it step by step and you will. I have one of those old planners, too, where Paul had all kinds of notes and self-improvement goals, etc.... I still have it tucked away in a box. Yesterday was the 20 year Anniversary of the day that I married him. He died only 8 way too short months later. I had such anger. It was in a different form than yours but anger nonetheless. I think mine was anger toward God for taking him so soon in our marriage. I can only begin to imagine the anger that you do feel toward Michael and his ex. It is, as you said, complicated b/c you aren't really mad at Michael but likely wishing that he'd made different choices so much sooner which would have allowed the two of you so much more time together. We always think we have time.... Isn't is interesting the paths that the Lord lays out for us and how when we look back we see things so much clearer? I wish we could look forward with that same clarity. I guess that is what having faith is about, but, gosh it is hard at times! Thanks for your comment from your last post. I really believe with all my heart that God led me to you and your blog and your life. I'd never known anything about blogs and He led me here. I want to be a blessing to you. I always pray and hope that you find some comfort in my thoughts. That is a blessing to me as well to be able to help someone else. Please feel free to email me, too, if you ever want to share more than on your blog. With you each step of the way....Sarah

  2. Wow...I admire you for giving her the first bunch of pictures but I would have also pitched these.
    Your husbands past made him the person he was. Sometimes you have to have the "apple" to realize you really wanted a "peach" all along. Him being with her made him love you even more. I know he wasted a lot of time before he realized it but he made the choice and it was you. He loved you!! I think you are a amazing and a strong women. I know he is proud of you:)

  3. I don't even think it's neccessarily Michael your angry with, although it feels that way. If Michael was alive today, would you still feel the saem? Or was it because his life was cut short that makes these feelings surface? I suppose him spending so much time with her, knowing he loved you would be frustrating...but it's also a sign of character, of his kind heart that didn't want to hurt anyone....although it did end up causing you hurt.

    My husband was previousely married and he still has pictures of his ex wife in a box outside. Before we were married, I remember throwing a fit (more like crying like a baby) because I felt like he loved her more than me....they had all these pictures of trips and memories together while we had nothing. Ever since that day, I have felt much better. He reminded me how their time together was over while ours was just begining. I think if I were to lose him today, I would feel slightly cheated and shafted of that time.

    There are some things you cannot unfortunately go back an change right now, but I think being able to confront your feelings and write about them is so therapeutic and essential to the healing. You were his wife....he loved you so very much and respected you enough to marry you. He surely didn't know his time with you was going to be so limited....but I just know if he had a choice, he woudl have stuck around here much longer. xoxoxoxox


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