“But Leah, He doesn’t love you.” I didn’t know how to respond to that. I was in the middle of a Walmart parking lot in the middle of the night. I had reached my limit of forgiveness and my heart was breaking. My brain and my heart seemed to have detached from one another and I had no will to drive home from my escape run to the store. They answered the phone. My Mom’s words were full of frustration at him, at his continued harm of my peace and happiness. . .but it was my Dad who took the phone and helped me understand why this was spiraling toward an unhappy ending.
For 11 of the 13 years of marriage, he seemed to tell me that he didn’t love me over and over again. But there was always a sunset moment that rekindled my hope before the darkness. A sunrise moment of peace could ignite enough faith to see me through another day. I had giggling children, a full day of play groups, exercise and household routines. There was enough good in the day that it was almost easy to ignore the bad. Almost. Awareness-shock (yes I never expected it) – blame him- blame me- blame the adversary for trying to destroy our family- defiance and refusal to let that happen- and waves of forgiveness whether or not an apology was offered. All this could happen in as little time as a sigh or as drawn out as I could make it by begging, crying and pleading against a shut door. I wasn’t getting any better at loving someone who couldn’t love me.
“But Dad, you and mom don’t always get along and you’ve been married for years. You got through your share of hard times!”
“Yes Leah, but –I love your mom.” The virtue of love. It isn’t something you can provoke or beg someone to have for you. I realized that I couldn’t become lovable enough to change the patterns nor the darkness that had swept over our lives. It’s not something that one person can change on their own.
Parents spend all this time getting rid of us- sometimes happily- but how blessed I am to have parents that answer phones in the middle of the night. I’m not sure if they planned on having a daughter like me. A daughter who may have seemed to tempt the limits for most of her teenage years yet would determine to spend the rest of her life so dedicated to virtue. I know that they will support me and continue to pray for me as they always have.
My parents help me to be brave. And you know what? Life takes bravery. So what do we do when we feel so weak, down, and lost? We call home! Knowing my parents are praying about my specific needs helps me feel the strength that God provided for me. Don’t forget to seek out a family member or friend to cheer you on in your darkest hours. And don’t forget, we all have a Father in Heaven who is ready to answer our prayers and send us the strength we are seeking.