Although we knew our trip was happening for months before it took place, we had not organised the details. Things like finding places to stay. Usually I did these things but due to the life circumstances I’d lost all interest and had taken little responsibility for it. In the couple of weeks before the trip, friends offered us all that we needed in a number of different places that we wanted to visit, and all our accommodation was arranged with little planning and much generosity from others.
We had no idea when we arranged these things that on day 5 I would tell my husband things that would leave him desolate. Yet two days later when we moved on we were staying only five minutes from his oldest friend. I was given the companionship of a woman who recognized the pain because she herself knew the pain. We were given a house to stay in that was so big I could sit with her weeping whilst our children played oblivious to our distress. We were gifted with a big family on Christmas day as we were pulled into the celebrations of people we loved, and what could have been an impossible day was a rather beautiful one. The ‘oldest friend’ mentioned above spent his Christmas Day evening helping his oldest friend’s wife understand her husband’s actions and words.
We were then given a pause of three days of physical exhilaration and family time which gave us a unique shared experience. From there we were welcomed into the house of the man who had been Best Man at our wedding. It fell to me to tell him of our pain. He just loved us. On New Year’s Day I awoke to an email from the other which tore my already bruised heart to shreds. I couldn’t tell my husband why I had shut myself in the bathroom to lie on the floor sobbing. I just wanted our friend. He sat with me whilst I soaked his shirt with my tears and just kept saying ‘ I thought he loved me’. He soothed me and prayed with me. He told my husband why I was upset. And he kept telling us that he loved us and that he was there for us. There was no judgement or condemnation which would have been entirely reasonable. There was just grace.
And then our last days were spent in the home of a couple who were a marriage counsellor and a minister. We sent an email 24 hours before we arrived, 24 hours after they moved house, to say ‘ hey, our marriage is pretty much finished. Look forward to seeing you.’ They gave us their time for three days. Their grown up children took ours out for exciting trips leaving us time to talk and process individually and together. They’d known us for 15 years and again there was no judgment. Just love. Grace. And a belief that God could restore. They knew that I really didn’t want to stay in the marriage. No pressure was brought to bear on me at all.
Those verses in the bible about God going before us have never been more real to me than through that 26 day trip. ‘He will instruct his angels concerning you’. Our paths had been laid out for us and all along the way the people we needed to be with were there for us. I had raised the question can I trust God to take care of me? I still wasn’t sure of what lay ahead but I couldn’t deny that for those 21 days I had felt very cared for. I wrote in prayer in my journal on the flight home:
“4 weeks ago I was desolate and felt destroyed. Already you are bringing new life where there was only dried, shrivelled, death. We haven’t done that – we couldn’t have. You have done it all. You took us on a journey far away . we needed friends to love us and we needed to be far away. We needed sunshine and I needed the sea. We needed play and relaxation . We needed counselling and feeding and comfortable beds and space and well children. You gave us all these things. These all enabled us to remain and to talk.”
Lights in the darkness