I came across a post recently at Give Her Wings regarding Cognitive Dissonance (please read it!) and it started me thinking.
It struck home for me.
I still wonder if there were things I could have done, things I could still do, to help him be a better man, to help him be a better father, to somehow repair the relationship and restore the marriage.
When my mom and my first step-dad separated, I was 11 years old. For the next 2.5 years, my mom tried to reconcile her marriage. In fact, she chose to fast and pray for her husband to 1) come to know Christ and 2) to return to their marriage. So many people blamed her for his choosing to leave (things haven’t changed much in ~35 years). I observed mom desperately trying to reconcile with a man who was hurtful, abusive and dangerous. She negotiated, she bargained and she came close to begging for him to return.
See, Mom’s prayers, fasting and bargaining resulted in a revealing of his abuse, proof of his abuse and, ultimately, his death by suicide. She was free. We were free. He can no longer continue to abuse us.
That has stuck in my brain. There is a message there to me that I cannot be truly free from my ex, because I have not prayed hard enough, I have not fasted, I have not bargained my way into freedom. I have simply let my marriage go, with great thought and deliberation, and I feel guilt over it. I have questioned if I have the right to walk away from a bad situation, even though I know I do.
My divorce has taken over 7 years to be finalized. There are days I wonder if it is God’s plan for it to take this long. I’ve wondered if it’s a sign that I should be willing to consider reconciliation.
I realize I am still experiencing cognitive dissonance. My ex can be very pleasant when he wants to be.The side of him that is abusive and insulting comes out regularly enough to continue to reassure me I have made the right choice in seeking divorce, but there are still times my knowledge and my feelings are not in sync.
I must walk in faith, believing that the voice I heard from God, the path He lead me to follow is the same one I need to continue walking today. Walking out of abuse is never an easy journey, it comes with many moments of second-guessing and self-doubt. It may be difficult, but it absolutely worth it.