Thursday, December 7, 2023

Holding Places - Can We Really Trust God?


Good morning.  

I'm not really sure how my writing is going to go today.  My heart is tender.  Heck, my entire self is tender and it feels like I'm walking on a tightrope across Tallulah Gorge.

My life started spiraling downward Sunday night when my now ex (wow - that is extremely hard to say - something I never dreamed I'd have to say and still do not want to say) unfriended me on social media and then called - not me but - my brother and sister-in-law.

I never got the chance to talk through problems or feelings he had been harboring inside his heart.  I never got to explain myself or ask for forgiveness.  I never got a chance to make amends.

Our love and relationship was never given the respect it deserved.  Our relationship was just tossed to the side so that one person could escape their hurt and retreat to a safe place.  No extended hand, in love, was given so that repairs might be made.  Just abandonment and self focus.

Sometimes, life isn't fair.  Sometimes, you might have to understand a person isn't equally yoked with you at a moment in time.

David & I had talked about the future so many times.  We had talked about who would marry us.  Where we would get married.  Where we would live.  How we would sell my house to obtain funds to build a home in Dahlonega.  How he would move in with me until the Lord provided a path to our new life in North Georgia.

So, I had no reason to doubt the future or the upcoming attacks the devil would besiege upon us.

Unbeknownst to me, there was another underlying disease that always threatened our relationship, and I was so naïve and unaware of this until our separation for "time and space" 10 weeks ago.

When that break came, the Lord began to open miracle doors for me.  I met one child of an abused Father who told me her story.  Then, I sat down with two of my best friends (a couple).  The wife was the child of an alcoholic.  Then, my brother came to me with a story of how his ex-wife's Father was an alcoholic.  

Miraculously, God stitched all three of these stories together over three different days!  Each person that shared their story did not know I had received another person's story!  All stories mirrored each other, but more importantly, each person's story mirrored my ex's story as well as his family's.

I don't know why God never gave me this information before.  Maybe my perception of the disease and our relationship, and what I have now learned is called ENMESHMENT in AA circles, would have changed.  Maybe I would have been more understanding to what was going on.  Maybe more patient, more giving. More loving, more kind.

But God did not.

On Tuesday of this week, one of our teachers came and sat in my office.  He is half my age, engaged to be married, and a kind and gentle soul.  Earlier in the day, he and another teacher had come to sit in my office during lunch.  During our conversation, they asked about my ex.  During that conversation, I revealed there were some outside influences I had been unable to battle with throughout the last five years and how my family and myself had been stumped as to why things in the relationship had stopped progressing forward.

That singular conversation was the catalyst for his returning to my office hours later to share his story.

Through sharing his story (also the child of an alcoholic), my teacher friend was able to help me understand that I may have been a "lighthouse" for my ex.  A safe spot, a landing area - but in reality, that was all I could ever hope to be.  He explained to me the term ENMESHMENT and what it means inside the AA and Al-Anon community.  Years of counseling and attending meetings had given him the knowledge to pass along to me and my situation.

Despite promises of marriage, who would marry us, where we would live, etc., the power of ENMESHMENT in an addiction family is far too great for any one individual to be free from on their own accord.  It takes counseling and joining support groups to break the bond(s).

To understand the disease of alcoholism, you must have experienced it in some way.  For me, it was finally being able to sit down with five different families who were battling the disease with someone in their family.  All five stories came on different days, at different times, and from people who did not know each other.  I call that Divine intervention.

My teacher friend also shared, through tender words, how I was viewed as the enemy since I was outside the family.  I never felt like the enemy; I was only ever showed love and acceptance by my ex's family.  In truth, I love them as if they were my own.  I have no issues with any of them, and I miss being around them tremendously.

But this is what ENMESHMENT does.  It ties the family members together with powerful, dysfunctional ties and views any attempt to leave or separate from the family or anyone that doesn't become fully immeshed into the family as a threat to the family unit as a whole.  Thus, I was the element that was threatening separation instead of integration.  And because of my "pressure," my ex could not mentally, emotionally, or physically process leaving his Parents.  So, after ten weeks of battling emotions and trying to make decisions, the ENMESHMENT won and the "enemy" was cast out so that peace could remain within the (dysfunctional) family unit.

I want to be clear that each of the people or families I sat down with were all gentle in explaining the disease, and each one stressed to me that no matter what "offenses" I committed, the result would have probably remained the same as families of alcoholics normally do not separate but stay close to each other unless a person within the family leaves home at an early age or is strong enough to break free and seek group support and counseling.

(Disclaimer:  My friend explaining all this to me was the person able to "break free" from his parents, after meeting his fiancé.  They started counseling together as well as support groups.  His fiancé is now viewed as the outsider and "enemy" at family functions.)

So, all that said - Until counseling is undertaken or AA or Al-Anon classes are joined and attended regularly and with consistency, my ex will never be able to leave his situation.  It would be virtually impossible.  And that just breaks my heart, as ENMESHMENT won the battle, and I lost my best friend.

For me, it was a moment the lightbulb finally came on.  My family had been asking my ex to move a mere 20 min. down the road, but it always seemed an impossible feat for him to accomplish - or something he didn't have a clear answer to.  He just kept repeating he didn't want to leave his Parents and son, and at almost 50 years old, we just didn't understand it.  At the time, a few weeks ago, my sister-in-law said through her tears, "We are stumped. We just don't understand it."

Now, God has given us the answer we have been seeking.

Through these stories, from families suffering with the diseases of alcoholism and addiction, we can witness personal victories and escapes.  God has shown us what the devil can do.  How he works through the disease of addiction to break families apart or keep them together dysfunctionally.

I can now fully understand the battles and walls I was up against and how I could never win the war.

Only self-awareness, Jesus, AA, & Al-Anon can help people break the bonds of this disease and move on to functional lives.

Having the answer, though, doesn't take away the pain of loss.

I still lost my best friend and partner of the last five years.  I still lost times and experiences we shared. I still lost the plans we had for our future.  I still lost our soul-to-soul connection, where Jesus blesses you with the kind of sweet love you feel deep within in your chest.  I felt like I had known and loved David forever, and I knew I would love him forever.  I was looking forward to growing old together.

And I still feel like I've lost the best part of me.

I've lost the vacations we shared together.  I've lost the at-home times we shared together, cooking supper or watching TV.  I've lost my extended family.  My family has lost a member.

So yes - I am in a holding place.

Will Jesus close my heart to David?  Will He remove the love that remains?  I don't know.  I shudder to think of it.

Or will He keep me on my knees praying for things like salvation or rescue from IMMESHMENT?  Will Jesus allow David's heart to remain pliable and not grow hard?  I don't know.

Will Jesus allow David to eventually gain vision for his part in some things, ask for my forgiveness, and get the help both he and his family need?  I don't know.

Only Jesus has the answers to both my outcome and David's outcome.  I pray it's not truly the end, but if it is - and David's heart remains turned away, I will trust in God to carry me through and bless my life as I continue to follow His path.

The PROCESS will continue with me having a break down on some days, with ugly crying moments, and with questions asking God why He didn't show me things earlier.

I will keep asking God, "What can I do if my pleas for forgiveness are not accepted?"  "Can You forgive me for my part in breaking things between David and me?"  "Can You restore me and grant new life?"

There are so many pieces and layers to our prayers when families break up.  Hearts can become hard when Jesus asks us to keep them pliable.  Vision can be impaired when God asks us to outfit ourselves with the Belt of Truth.  The devil can influence and whisper his persuasions into our loved ones' (and our own) ears when God asks us to put on the Helmet of Salvation and lift our Shield of Faith to defend ourselves from the evil one's darts.

Just keep presenting your brokenness and prayers to the Lord each day - or on those really deep in the valley days, each hour or minute.

So - now that we understand we are in a holding place, how do we keep going forward each day?  I don't know.  I'm still working on this part truthfully!

I guess we just keep trusting God, take the breakdowns as they flood our Spirit, and then rest.  Keep praying.  Keep claiming Scripture over ourselves and our loved ones. Keep dumping and surrendering our thoughts at the foot of God's Throne.

That's all I know how to do anyway.  I keep ugly crying.  I keep praying.  I hold on.

Even if it's by a thread.

I hope Jesus restores me soon.  I have faith He will.

I know I can't break the ENMESHMENT or disease of alcoholism.  Only Jesus can do that.  But I can pray over people I love, and I can thank God for the wisdom He bestowed upon me.  That's all I can do.  Keep my heart pliable, and my eyes on God.

This morning, I read what is quoted below.  I thought I'd share.  Holding places can be TERRIBLE, but it is in these holding places that we grow and are bestowed wisdom.  I am taking my yesterday and giving it to God.  That's all I know to do...

"We often become anxious for the mountaintop moments in life, but as one of my mentors, Greg Gorman, says, “Vegetation doesn’t exist on the mountaintop. The valley is where you get fed.”

Holding places provide opportunities to be liberated from false mindsets around our identity. When we surrender to the process, we allow our Father to hold us and teach us to trust Him. Amid the wandering, He makes this promise in Exodus 33:14, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”


Dear Father, thank you for the process of removing the lies surrounding my identity. Thank you that I am your child and dearly loved by you. Thank you for your good gifts, even gifts in holding patterns. Help me to step into full freedom and to trust you. Help me to understand the goodness of your character and your intentions towards me. Help me to rest in you and not in the outcome of my circumstances. Amen.

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