Trust God, Even When You’d Rather Not
by Amy Matayo
We all hear it when we grow up in church, that someday our faith might be shaken.
What we don’t hear (or maybe I wasn’t paying attention in Sunday school) is this: That someday our desire for faith might be shaken as well. Maybe even eliminated altogether.
Here’s when it happened to me.
I haven’t told many people this (for some reason, now it seems like the right time to tell absolutely everyone). Three years ago, my husband and I separated. The separation lasted for almost a year, but no one knew. Not the neighbors, not my closest friends (save two that I trusted with the information), not the people in my church, not my social media followers, not even all my family members. My husband pasted on a smile, I kept my public humor going, and we kept it quiet. Partly because we felt so incredibly lost.
Mostly because we felt so incredibly ashamed.
It’s weird to face a separation when you can’t point to the exact reason you separated in the first place. Did anyone cheat? No, at least not physically. Was abuse involved? No, not at all. Was I mean to him, or was he mean to me? Not really, unless indifference counts. Did we yell and scream unforgiveable things at each other? No, we both usually deal with hard things by not talking at all.
What we were—both of us for a very long stretch of time—was neglectful. Severely, stupidly, naively neglectful.
Years and years ago, my husband took a job in state government that was very appealing to both of us. It paid well, it positioned him well, it was (let’s be honest) extremely flattering to be offered the position in the first place. So, at my encouragement (we’ll be great! no big deal!) he took it. The only problem? The job was four hours away, so he would only make it home to see me and our four kids on the weekends. And by weekends, I mean for about thirty-six hours on Saturday and Sunday, sometimes even less.
That lasted ten years.
We didn’t even notice our attitude change—toward each other, toward our desire to be together, in our roles as parents—until about five years into it. Somewhere along the way, it no longer bothered me when he couldn’t come home. In fact, I often preferred it. Somewhere along the way, it no longer bothered him to miss so many school activities with the kids. In fact, he sometimes preferred it. Our roles had shifted to: I parented the kids and wrote the books and did the hard stuff at home, he earned money and attended important dinners and called for a few minutes at the end of most days. And repeat, repeat, repeat. Without even realizing it, we slowly drifted into the roles of two single people who just happened to be married.
Darn marriage. What an inconvenience.
Am I painting an ugly picture? Yes. Do I care that this might make me look bad? No.
Three years ago, I would have told you that my marriage couldn’t be restored. I would have told you that I didn’t even care. I would have told you that I didn’t like being married, that I didn’t want to be married, and that divorce was just fine with me. Turned out, I liked my independence and I didn’t want to give it up. Turned out, my husband felt almost the same way, though not as emphatically as me.
But what about God in this scenario?
Umm…what about Him? (insert sarcasm)
Seriously, that was my attitude. I could go on and on down this spiral of fractured thinking, but I won’t. I’ll just tell you that even when you aren’t happy, even when you want to quit and walk away, even when you’re mad at God, even when you think that life can’t get much worse than your current situation, even when you’re depressed and sad and no longer care about anything but getting happy, God doesn’t disappear. He can restore marriages. He can restore health. He can restore you.
Now hear me here: had there been cheating or abuse, we both would have undoubtedly left. That would have been the final nail in our already-closing coffin. Divorce is entirely appropriate at times, and there’s no shame in it if that’s where your path has led you. So please hear my heart. I’m not writing this to shame anyone. Knowing the state of my mind back then, sometimes I’m still surprised I didn’t pack it all in. I felt that indifferent.
I’m writing this to say that I’ve been sad. I’ve been depressed. I’ve felt hopeless and lost. I’ve been indifferent and uncaring. I’ve watched my life shatter all around me and felt absolutely no desire to clean it up. Not for my sake, not for my husband’s, not even for my kids’. I’ve uttered the words, “I just don’t care anymore,” because at the time I truly didn’t. Not even—if I’m being honest—about myself.
But people prayed. Counselors counseled. Pastors taught. We talked and argued and talked more. And with all those things and an attitude adjustment on both our parts, our marriage made it. It still isn’t perfect; it likely will never be. I’m still entirely too independent for my own good and still get irritated by too much togetherness…but I’m working on it. Things are definitely better. My sadness has lifted a bit. My hopelessness has lifted a lot. God is still God, but now I can feel Him here with us. Strengthening my faith…working on our marriage…gently cheering us on.
And sometimes in life, that’s more than enough.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Author Amy Matayo graduated from John Brown University with a degree in Journalism, then spent the next seven years writing for DaySpring Cards (a division of Hallmark). She is the author of fourteen books and lives in Arkansas with her husband and four kids. Visit her website at http://www.amymatayo.com. You can also find Amy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amymatayo, Twitter: @amymatayo, Instagram: @amymatayo.author
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