As I sit here, typing away at my computer, the low whirring of the space heater, living in a 10 x 12 room at my cousin’s house and eat the stew I just cooked in my slow cooker, I read the book Eight Twenty Eight by Ian and Larissa Murphy and I remember joy. And as tears follow the lines that have slowly been carved by time into my cheeks, I remember what happiness is, and whose eyes I saw it in.
And the story of the prodigal son has never felt so real. And I remember leaving her, tears in her eyes and bitterness in my heart and I can’t help but cry. I left God’s love and peace and the life He created just for me to follow sin and sensual behaviors. I left the truth for a lie. And even though I have slowly returned over two years to re-realize how deep and abundant his grace flows, my life remains a torn and tattered mess, just ruins compared to what it used to be. Destitute and self-placed into poverty, I have eaten and lived among the pigs. I left the riches for the filth. And I left joy for what I thought was happiness. But it wasn’t. It was just lies. Like I did.
And I sit, and I read. The black ink on white pages turning blue and wet as they hit my eyes. Staring at a screen when I should be looking at my wife. Amazon boxes and plastic bags, littering my room. A bed full of clothes that she used to be happy to fold or would at least remind me sweetly to do so. The pain is so real. And it hurts so much. The 10 x 12 cage that I placed myself in. I told her when I left that I felt caged and suffocated, but really this is the cage, this is the constant suffocation, cutting off the very breath of life in me. The pain strangling me. Wishing it would just cut all the breath out of me. Wishing that the breath would stop and that being absent from the body would mean that I’m present with the Lord. Even if I don’t get a mansion, even if I get a cardboard box lining His golden street. Even if I get a row-home among the other perpetual sinners who have still been saved by grace, even if but barely.
And I think about the last thing that was said to me… “We are done.” And in those three words I fully understand His grace. The three most painful and powerful words that my wife ever said to me give me new insight into the ocean of grace that my ship is thankfully lost in. For a long time I thought I was just lost, but recently I realized I AM lost, but I am lost in Him. Which I guess really means that I am found in Him. I left my wife two years ago and I regret it every day. And now she has left me and I fully understand why, but oh what a privilege it is to know that He will never leave me. That He will never forsake me like we have each other. He will never betray His vows like I had over and over. She is done, but He is not. I was done, but He wasn’t. And He still isn’t. Jesus is never done with us. Never. Never.
And I already know the end of this story. Eight Twenty Eight meaning all good happens through Christ. And one day I hope that good will come of this. I know that it will never be with her again. And it sucks. I miss her smile. I miss her tears. I miss her attacks and her bites and her kisses and the way she would sneak her chilly hands under my shirt to steal my heat. I miss watching a movie with her and her falling asleep on me, the subtle shakes that tell me even without looking that she has fallen asleep. I miss the frisbee in the park and the pictures. The clever jokes that she would make. I miss being the only one that truly got her. And her me. I understand that I will never look upon the face of my wife again. And it breaks my shattered heart into a million smaller pieces.
But then there is grace. Then there is love. When all else fails, then there is grace. When the world shrinks around you and constricts you like never before, then there is grace. When the weight of it all compresses your chest so hard you can barely breathe, then there is grace. When you leave your inheritance for what you thought was the good life and then realize later that you have squandered it all, then there is grace. And even if your wife doesn’t greet you with open arms, because she can’t open them anymore because she needs to guard the heart that you inflicted so much pain into, then He stands with those open arms and says welcome, and that’s when you realize, He is the only home you will ever need, even if you wish she was there too.
I am so sorry.