Pressed But Not Crushed Episode 4

3 Things I Learned About God After My Husband Came Out of the Closet:

Sarah Graham
by Sarah Graham

Hope and Redemption are my favorite words. To me they belong to one another. When I was flung into the valley as a result of another person’s “personal freedom,” hope became fuel for my propulsion toward a redeemed end. And though I had a diminished idea of what redemption looked like, I sojourned on knowing that my version, was still far lesser than what God would ultimately accomplish. A restored marriage and a prodigal husband were my highest imaginings. Instead, five years ago, he chose to marry another; someone outside of God’s perfect order for the family, and how … “peculiar” … it is to acknowledge that our kids have a stepfather, (even though their mother remains unmarried).

If I am being my most gutturally honest self, the pangs of “it’s not fair, Lord” still make me wince from time to time. The refining fire of sanctification seems to only burn in my direction while he frivols on. And yet… Thank you, Lord, for caring enough to put me through the process.

As “Things I Learned After my Husband Came Out of the Closet” wraps, it’s time to focus on aspects of God’s sovereignty revealed to me in this unique season.

God’s Timing is Perfect and Personal

He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11a

It was apparently a pre-ordained Sunday when our small group leader gave us each a blank sheet of white paper and asked us to answer two questions. First, have you grown spiritually in the last year and if so, how? And second, what is your next step of growth and how do you want other believers to be a part of that?” This is what I wrote in response.

To trust in The Spirit to do miraculous things,
and not rely on my own power.
To “Surrender.”

I was fairly satisfied with my first answer that I was less self-focused and that I had, in fact, been diligently pursuing many spiritual disciplines. I was probably at the peak of my spiritual condition up to that point. It wasn’t uncommon back then to find me musing over whether I would have been spared from it all had I not been developing a robust spiritual fortitude. It’s silly to live in the what-ifs or the why-did-I-bothers? The wound was coming no matter what but, in the Lord’s infinite wisdom and mercy, He designed my days and appointed my steps to converge at a much more suitable moment.

That night, we closed our time together as a group in prayer, asking God to work.

That was July 8, 2012.

God had Gone Before Me

The confessional domino was tipped July 9th , forcing a chain reaction of heartache and consequences that continue to ripple out to this day. Yet it was in the darkest hours between July 8th and 9th that the Lord gave me a “clear-as-mud” warning. That morning, as we were both getting ready for work, I shared: “I had the weirdest dream last night and I think God is trying to tell me something. I think He is telling me that nothing is what it seems.” (He would tell  me later that the dream -and my interpretation- shook him to his core).

The dream is more detailed than I can describe but here are some key elements:

  • The world was brilliantly and blindingly white and shiny.
  • Through the lens of a cell phone screen, I could discern the truth, that everyone was dirty and sickly. (Fun fact: it was a phone conversation where my first whisper of suspicion was piqued, precipitating my question “who were you with when we were on the phone today?” which was answered with “I’m leaving you. I’m gay”).
  • A certain actress (who ironically identifies as LGBTQ) informed me that an earthquake was coming, and I needed to prepare.
  • I argued that I didn’t want to go through an earthquake to which she replied, “You have to get through the bad to get to the good.”
  • So, I braced as my dream earthquake rolled… When it was over, I stood up and walked away.

There is no denying it. God gave me the head’s up. It was surreal at first, but what a mighty comfort that would come to be. Something terrible was coming but it was going to be okay because God was already there, making His presence obvious for my benefit. As days turned into weeks, months, and years, God continued to show himself to me, giving me the comfort and strength to press on.

One month after he left, I blogged these words in a post entitled “Gretel’s Manna:”

“Every single day, since my husband confessed his infidelity to me, I have had some kind of hope… It started with the dream… The night I wrestled with my emotions over what was unraveling, I kept going back to my dream. “You have to go through the bad to get to the good.” It was my first glimmer of hope. God had gone ahead of me, and God was present with me [still] [giving] me tiny morsels to continually fan my hope flicker.

I am Gretel … and God keeps dropping a tiny piece of bread for me to pick up. The bread I am referring to is the “little things” that God does to remind me He is here.

The breadcrumbs serve two purposes. First, He is reminding me that He is in front of me on my journey. Second, He is guiding me to some sort of destination, and I don’t know where that is. My job is to pick up the crumbs, be thankful, and keep moving. Much like the Israelites and their manna, there’s just enough for the moment and when it’s needed again, God provides.”

“And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:20-21a).

Above All Other Things, God Deserves His Glory

There were two truths I declared in those early years. One was “I don’t know how anyone gets through life without a church family.” The other was “everything for God’s glory, no matter the cost.” I received a little guff over that one. I think the “no matter the cost” part bothered people’s sensibilities. I get it, but I was living through a crisis of biblical proportion and my models were Abraham, Joseph, Job, Mary, and the rest of the “Is-God-asking-too-much-of-me?” gang. It certainly felt as though I was being tested and I didn’t want future generations to look back at my reaction as a “less than” response. 

In August (2012) I began wrestling with God’s glory and wrote this down:

“What has to happen for God to get glory? Anything? … If someone turns away from living a life for God’s glory, does He still get glory? Was God glorified when He hardened Pharaoh’s heart in Exodus? It sounds easy to say that when a prodigal son returns that God gets glory but what if the ending were different? What if, perhaps, the son died before he came back? Is God’s glory then found in the way the other brother lived or the way the father lived? … Quite frankly does anything I do ever give God glory? … If I have the capacity to give God glory, then do I have the ability to DENY God glory? It sounds crazy that I have anything to do with whether or not God is glorified… If nothing else happened except the creation of the universe and planets orbiting around, would that already give God all the glory He needs?”

It’s kind of embarrassing but, those were confusing days.

Praise be to God who already has all of the glory, and His creation, including humanity, including me, including you, is a beautiful means to reflect it. Regardless of surrounding circumstances, regardless of timing, regardless of outcomes, God is glorified. What a gift it is for His people, to be able to exhibit the glory of God… especially through difficult trials.

“…and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:2b-5).

To God be the Glory.

Other Pressed But Not Crushed Episodes

Pressed but not crushed
by Sarah Graham

Light in the Darkness
by Brandon Davison

by Sean Beaudoin

Home » Pressed But Not Crushed » Pressed But Not Crushed Episode 4
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