The Joy of Pain

I know, weird name for a title. How can there be joy in pain? Pain hurts. How is there joy in that? Well, let me tell you my story.

See, I’m no stranger to pain. There is more than one kind of pain too. I happen to be familiar with both physical and emotional pain. Most of the time I just push it out of my mind. Back about five years ago my daughter was offered an opportunity to go live out of state with my folks. My daughter asked me for advice. Knowing myself, that naturally I’d want her to stay I sidestepped her question and told her that in some cultures she’d be considered a woman, so she’d have to make her own choice and live with the consequences of it. She did, and she flew out the day before my birthday.

Four months later I was fired from my job due to my disabilities. To be fair, I can’t blame them. They tried working with me, but I was gone more than I was there. Between diabetes and chronic pain, lower back and neck, the amount I could endure got less and less. It wasn’t their fault. From a business point of view, I was unstable and they had to let me go. It wasn’t my fault either. I couldn’t help that my conditions were getting worse. At first I could barely get through an eight hour day and throw up. Then it was a six hour day. Then four. Then I was let go. It was good my daughter had left by that point. She left in August of 2013 and they fired me January 4th of 2014. By this point I was so bad that to be up for ten to twenty minutes caused vomiting. In Oct of 2014 I had cervical decompression and fusion on C5 through C7. That helped some. Now I can generally go for extended lengths with out getting sick, but I still have to be mindful and not over do it, which is still way too easy. As a result I have gone from being fairly active, where I could walk eight miles in a day, to very sedentary, where doing one mile is difficult. It’s not about being slightly winded that I worry about. It’s my back reacting to it and spending the next few days or more resting and recovering from it.

There is also dealing with the diabetes, that throws in even more fun. I’m brittle without exercise, add in exercise and it just gets crazy. As a result I carry a bag of supplies with me; a glucagon pen, a 1 liter soda (I prefer to use soda first. I find it’s easier and faster). I also sometimes have seizures, which the diabetes makes me more susceptible to seizures. I’ve been known to grab a candy bar or soda and start drinking it before I pay for it. I get some weird looks for doing that too.

About a year ago I finalized the divorce, ending a marriage of twenty years. It’s not that I stopped loving her, it’s it was killing me. The stress of having to deal with her was just to much. With her being a multiple personality (D.I.D), PTSD, and so on, it just wore me down. For me, the hardest part was when she’d enter a psychosis and leave for a period of time. This was why my daughter was offered a chance to move. It was affecting her.

So to summarize, daughter leaving, disabilities took me out of work and greatly limited what I can do, and an end to a twenty year marriage. There’s emotional and physical pain right there. So where’s the joy?

The other day I discovered a song by I am They, called Scars. I immediately fell in love with the song. It reminded me that one, we’re not alone. It also reminded me that our scars have a purpose, that our pain can be used to minister to others. Also, our story isn’t done yet. Finally, He bore our scars to show us His heart.

Trust me, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, in the pain. All you can think about is the pain and how you just want it to end. But knowing that there is a purpose and a hope, that doesn’t exactly make it easier, but it does make it bearable. Knowing that what I’m going through can help someone, there’s the joy in the pain. Knowing that there’s a purpose, even if I can’t see it, that’s at least some comfort.

God and Unconditional Love

A couple of years ago, or so, I was talking with someone online and we were talking about unconditional love and whether or not God does that or not, and whether or not it’s biblical. To be fair, I grew up being taught, and believing, that God does love unconditionally. One of the first things I realized in our discussion was that it’s all on how one defines “unconditional love”. It was apparent to me right away that this person’s idea of unconditional love, was a love that excused and tolerated everything. Right away I saw the flaw in this persons understanding. Yeshua often used the physical to illustrate the heavenly. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua says that us, being good parents, know not to give our children rocks and snakes to illustrate that God is much wiser and also much more loving. So in the same way I will use an analogy to make a point. In every relationship there are boundaries. Just because we put limits on things before consequences follow, doesn’t mean that the love stops. In the same way, God has established boundaries in our relationship with Him. This does not diminish the love He has for us. It simply establishes boundaries before consequences follow. We see over and over, in the Old Testament, how that Israel would break Torah, break the covenant they had with God. How that God would call them back time and again, how that God would warn them over and over. Finally, after Israel would ignore all this, God would enact the consequences He warned them of. Eventually it lead to God divorcing the ten tribes, also known as the nation of Israel. God never stopped loving the ten tribes, or Judah. In fact He speaks about how one day He will gather them from the four corners of the earth.
The first thing I did was to look it up from a scholarly perspective on the ancient near east. The greats, Aristotle and Plato, were easy to find. Finding a Hebrew perspective, for the first century or prior, was not so easy. The earliest manuscripts we have of the Old Testament is the Septuagint, where the first translation was 285-246 BC. The Septuagint predates the Masoretic texts, where the oldest authentic Masoretic text dates to 916 A.D. Clearly, since the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew into Greek, there are, or were, some Hebrew text. The problem is that we don’t have anything in Hebrew that predates the Septuagint. The Dead Sea Scrolls date back to 250 BC. to 68 AD. As you can see, the Septuagint still predates the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s fair to say there may be some older Hebrew text out there, after all the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew into Greek, but those texts remain missing. Given these limitations, I’ll work with what I have.

The Greek word eros is intense, passionate love, and is where we get erotic from. Plato viewed eros as transcendent beauty, not necessarily in people, but rather ideas. Plato thought that eros was the ideal form of love since reciprocation is not a requirement[1]. Philia, in contrast, was not a yearning passion like that of a beast, but rather fondness and appreciation for one another. Philia could encompass not just friendship, but also family, political, and even job and discipline. The relationship derives value either because of a business relationship or character and morals, or values, are similar[2]. Agape is the one most Christians are familiar with, as it is often referenced to as “unconditional, god-like love”. However, Greek philosophers viewed agape as the “paternal love of God for man”. This love included, or encompassed philia, as it is usually mutually beneficial. The article goes on to say: “Agape arguably draws on elements from both eros and philia in that it seeks a perfect kind of love that is at once a fondness, a transcending of the particular, and a passion without the necessity of reciprocity.” [3] Even in Grecian times, love was hard to describe because it was so vast and personal. How one person described it and defined it, was different that how another describes it.

With Hebrew, just looking at the word and its definition and usage, one could easily get confused. The Hebrew word ahav can refer to paternal love, romantic love, slave/master relations, and can even be used to describe passion for food[4].

We know, generally speaking, that Hebrew is a language of function. Given this, I think it’s reasonable to define love, Hebraically, as faithful, steadfast, loyal, sacrificial and selfless. The thing is, I just used other words to describe love. For example, steadfast love is the Hebrew word chesed, which can be translated as mercy, loving-kindness, and obviously steadfast love. The Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary gives a nice seven page definition on the Hebrew concept of love, covering several Hebrew words. Even though I am tempted to copy and paste, I shall refrain. What I would like to do is point out the highlights of the Anchor Bible Dictionary’s article on Love.

The first entry for love in the Anchor Bible Dictionary is dod. Most often it is used to mean beloved, loved one, and betrothed. It can also mean uncle, or be used abstractly as love. Rayah seems to primarily mean beloved bride. Yadid is another word that is used, in poetic form, as beloved. With khashaq we see it in the context of desire, both as a man for a woman (Gen 34:8) and of God toward Israel (Deut 21:11). One word that I didn’t expect was the word chesed, which is commonly thought of as mercy, goodness or kindness. The third definition for chesed does talk about affection and love.

In each of these Hebrew words we find that not only in the definition, but also in the biblical context that love has to do with affection, passion, desire and so on. Just as in the Greek above, the same holds true with the Hebrew concept for love. It can be directed at things or people, without reciprocation. It can also be referring to a relationship in which love is reciprocated.

So what are we to conclude then? Is there unconditional love? I think we have to answer that, now that we have vocabulary out of the way, by looking at how one defines unconditional. If we define unconditional as cart blanche, the person can do whatever with out repercussions or consequences, then we’d have to conclude that not only is that unhealthy psychologically, but it’s also not biblical. If we define unconditional love, however, as unfailing, never ending love, then yes I’d have to say that it is biblical. We see lots of examples in the Bible, where God pleads with Israel to repent, and they don’t so they go into exile. In the case of the Northern nation of Israel, they were divorced and completely scattered abroad, but then Moses prophesied this before he died, and part of that promise was that God would gather Israel from the four corners. Even then, God didn’t stop loving. We see in the Bible how God sets up health boundaries for a loving relationship, and how Israel repeatedly broke them, but God didn’t give up, nor did His love quit. 1 Cor 13 it says love never fails.  So if you think that unconditional love means that the person gets to do whatever without consequence, then again I’d have to point out that that’s not biblical nor psychologically sound. Rather unconditional love is a love that has boundaries, but yet doesn’t quit, or give up. Even when God divorced Israel, He didn’t stop loving her, and there was the promise of restoration.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Philosophy of Love: 1 The Nature of Love: Eros, Philia, and Agape: a Eros
  2. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Philosophy of Love: 1 The Nature of Love: Eros, Philia, and Agape: b Philia
  3. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Philosophy of Love: 4 The Nature of Love: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual
  4. H157 Ahav
  5. H1730 Dod
  6. H7474 Rayah
  7. H3039 Yadid
  8. H2836 Khashaq
  9. H2617 Chesed
  10. Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary pages 5273 – 5303 The entry on Love for both Old and New Testaments.

Holding Back

This past year I’ve spent a lot of time being introspective. Lately I’ve been studying my personality type, and learning a lot. Learning that I’m an INTJ is not new or surprising to me. Understanding just what it means is. I’ve always been an introvert. I prefer thought experiments, and I also prefer being alone. Cabin fever is not an issue for me. If I had my way I’d never leave the house. Naturally though, I do interact with people, to varying degrees. One thing I have come to understand is that I hold back quite a bit. I may show my science side to one person, my theology side to another, and so on. This probably contributed to my divorce. Yes, I had lost my job, and yes I was in considerable pain, which lead to surgery. Out of this though, I retreated further within myself. I didn’t open up to my help meet, my wife. It got to the point where we barely talked anymore. Another thing I’ve come to realize is that I hold back from God. It’s like I have a side where I feel safe in revealing and communicating to God with, but the rest if off limits. God being who He is, respects this about me, and has patiently been waiting for me. I’m not sure how to open up. At this point, I’m just aware that I need to. I know it’d take my relationship with God to the next level, but I don’t know how…yet, to open up. There’s a lot that goes on in my head. Since I almost never reveal what is going on in my head, people have no idea. Of course God knows. He made me. I just don’t know how to open up yet.

Problems with the Hebrew Roots Movement

July 12th, 2014, a few months before I came to Torah, I did a “Rant about the Church” in which I gave what I perceived as problems. Now that I’ve been following Torah for a bit, and came in, perhaps, via Hebrew Roots, it’s only appropriate that I do likewise.

Sometime ago I was talking with a friend about how people come to Torah. I had already recognized that the method in which people were coming in was a huge problem. See, by attacking what people, Christians, believe we set ourselves up as the attackers, the adversary and we profane His great name. Furthermore, a lot of the attacks are lashon hara at best. Where people will spread memes about what they believe, without checking it’s accuracy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s deal with one issue at a time.

A lot of Hebrew Rooters come in thinking that they’ve been lied to all this time. That the church, as a whole, is corrupt and has lied to them. This sets the stage for a few things. One, it obviously sets the stage for dissention, but it also sets the stage for anger, betrayal, conspiracy theories, and of course…pride. In a lot of the attacks on Christians and Christianity is the air of pride. How that now, since they’ve come into this truth, then those who don’t accept it are wrong. This is pride. Now yes, there are problems with the church, with Christianity. One glaring one is they think that Torah is done away with. But one thing that Christianity and the church get right is love. So while Torah observant folks hound on Christianity about how they’re not following Torah, what they fail to see is that by attacking, they take on the role of the adversary (hasatan), and miss out of following the most basic principle of Torah, and that is love. If you don’t have love, then you’ve missed the boat. So rather that setting yourself up as being better than Christians, because you observe sabbath and the feasts and the dietary laws and such, and instead of attacking Christians because they mistakenly think that that stuff has been done away with, what we need to do is live it in such a way where they become jealous and start asking questions. See, when love is the motivator, that works so much better.

Another point that is glaring about Hebrew Rooters is the claims that are made. All these memes, and claims about what’s pagan and such, is ridiculous. This is one way where we can profane His name. How? Because when people take what you claim to task and research it, and then find out that you’re wrong, then now the entire Torah claim becomes suspect, and Christians rightly doubt it, because instead of presenting a well researched, factual presentation on what Torah is and why it’s important to follow it, you present some sensational claim that is easily debunked. When you present some sensational claim, and they research it and find that your claim doesn’t hold up, then they immediately associate Torah with that, since that’s the goal. So now Torah is discredited because of lack of research and presenting sensational, false, claims. I actually experienced this first hand. See, I was all new to Torah, and had watched 119 Ministries teaching “Sunburned” (which has now been taken down), I presented this information to my family. My brother took it to task and researched it and very easily debunked it. To this day, I still can’t use 119 Ministries stuff because they did a bad presentation, and I, instead of taking the time to vet it out myself, I just eagerly passed on the information. While I can excusify myself and say that I was over whelmed, which I was, or how that I couldn’t devote the necessary time to research it because of my neck and back, which was also true, it doesn’t excuse the fact that I regurgitated the info instead of verifying it. Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I presented it to my family. I was responsible for knowing the material, and I didn’t. I still see this going on, every holiday season, with my online friends. Inevitably someone shares some memes about how something is pagan, and they haven’t done the research. When we spread around sensational claims, such as what’s pagan, then we commit lashon hara, that is “evil tongue” by essentially gossiping. So we break Torah in order to bring people to Torah. That right there is the definition of hypocrisy, and profanes His name because we dishonor God and His reputation, by doing this. Essentially, we make His Torah low, of no repute, when we do this.

Because of the way it’s presented, that is that the church “lied” to us, then that creates dissension and conspiracy theories. We don’t need to put others down, in order for us, or Torah, to look good. It reminds me of when I used to be a Kirby salesman. It didn’t last long because I’m not a salesman, but one thing they said was that the vacuum should sell itself. We shouldn’t need to make claims as being “lied to”, in order to present our material. When we do, we take on the adversaries role, being the accuser. It’s also an act of pride. It becomes a matter of I’m better than so and so. Or ‘God revealed this to me’, in which case we’re making ourselves special, because otherwise God would have revealed that to everyone else too. As to the church lying to us…I don’t think the misinformation was intentional. Regardless, it’s not my place to judge. That’s God’s job. As a result of this, where we were “lied to”, it causes conspiracy theories such as the calendar, flat earth, and many other pointless arguments or debates. The Apostle Paul tells us to avoid controversies and foolish debates (Titus 3:9; 2 Tim 2:16, 22-23).

If we want people to come to Torah the right way, then we need to take the time and do like our master, Yeshua, and make disciples. We don’t need sensationalism. We don’t need to violate Torah in order to lead people to Torah. We can lead people to Torah, as an expression of greater obedience and love and a deeper commitment to the covenant that we’ve been grafted into. All this other stuff, the problems we see in the Hebrew Roots Movement, we are seeing the fruit of it. There were some bad seeds sown. Now we are seeing the results of those bad seeds. But it’s not to late to change, and do it right. Let’s honor God by doing Torah right and making it about loving Him, instead of how great or special we are. Cause ya know something? We aren’t special. We are dust, and we’ll return to dust. Kinda silly for dust to think it’s better than other dust. Yet that’s what we do.

Emotions-Stress-Anxiety

Emotions, it’s not something I am good at communicating. Sure, I have them. I can even relate to other people with emotions. My problem is in how I respond or interpret emotions. As a kid I learned emotions were bad, so I learned it wasn’t safe to have them. Therefore I stuffed them. This general confusion and stuffing may have been a contributing factor in my Impulsivity Disorder with Explosive features, now called; Intermittent Explosivity Disorder. It’s quite likely the my blowups were likely my pressure release. Like a pressure cooker. In my late teens and early twenties, my blowups came to ahead, so that I was no longer safe to live with. I became a ward of the state. My blowups continued, as normal, until one day I realized I didn’t have to act this way. I didn’t have to let other peoples opinions and such, have such influence over me. From that day on, I was changed. I no longer had these blowups.

While I did have an epiphany that changed my life, it didn’t quite change the core. The core being emotions. I still didn’t know how to express them properly. Instead, what I learned was that my emotions were so scary, that I could not let them out. So while as a kid I did stuff them to some extent, it was only the precursor to what my adult self would do. Even as a kid I rarely smiled, laughed, or showed emotions. There are very few pictures of me with a smile. When I listen to comedy, I rarely laugh. I might smirk if I think it’s funny. Instead, I learned to stuff my emotions even more. My emotions weren’t safe, so I can’t have them. They get me into trouble.

When I was at work a few years ago, I started sweating blood. When my supervisor took me to the doctor, I didn’t understand why the doc kept talking about the “Widow Maker”. I was thinking, what’s this got to do with me sweating blood? It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I made the connection. That I was under so much stress that my blood pressure was through the roof, to the point where I was sweating blood. While my marriage eventually failed, I still didn’t express my feelings. Even as I write this article, I still don’t have an idea of how to express my emotions. I’ve just come to realize that I need to express my emotions. I’ve come to realize that it’s my suppressing of my emotions that is causing my high blood pressure, and causes me to shake violently. I can literally feel my blood pressure and pulse go up. I’ve come to recognize that this shaking has to do with trying to suppress, contain, my emotions, and my body is literally telling me that it can’t do it anymore. Now, I have to learn how to express these emotions, things I’ve been stuffing all my life, things I’ve always learned were bad. This, in and of itself, is stressing me out. I have no idea how to express my feelings, and my past shows that it’s dangerous to express my feelings. Yet I have to learn to express these very feelings, as my body can’t take it anymore.

Crying for Messiah

In the last year or so, I have really noticed a strong division between the right and the left. The left being Liberal/Democrats, and the right being Republican/Conservative. I have often thoght to myself that this is the most volatile, hostile, and hateful I have ever witnessed America be. It makes me think, and wonder if prior to the Civil War it was like this. Or more recently, with the Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It seems like things are heating up, coming to a boil, type of thing. As I said, this is something I’ve been observing for over a year now, so I’ve had time to think about this.

Most of you know, to some extent, that I study the Bible from the perspective of the Ancient Near East. I enjoy studying the linguistics and the archaeology and anthropology of the Ancient Near East. So how does this relate? Great question! The Bible of full of Messianic text. According to the Bible, the Messiah would be a ruler who would reign in righteousness and justice. Moses is a great example of a messiah, as he lead the people of Israel, in obedience to God, in righteousness and justice. King David is another messianic archetype, as he, for the most part, ruled in righteousness and justice. But just like in Biblical times, where people started to determine, for themselves, what that looked like instead of following God’s instructions, so we today are doing the same thing.

We have one group who thinks righteousness and justice is one thing, and another group who thinks it’s another. As a result this is creating conflict, and a build up of socio and political wars. So far, it hasn’t been to bad…yet. But what neither side sees, for the most part, is that their definition, their perspective, of righteousness and justice, just like in Biblical times, is their own definition and not that of the Bible. This is why one group of people think a certain person would be a good leader, while others are outraged by the same person being a leader. It all has to do with how each side defines righteousness and justice, and how this leader measures up to that definition. Both sides point to the other about the others hypocrisy, and both sides are right. They are being hypocritical.

There’s a few things we need to remember and take away from this. 1) We need to remember that there is no person who is perfect and a result we will always have to compromise. 2) We need to remember that societies perception of righteousness and justice is dynamic and changes based on perception. For example, the homosexual life style, back in the 90’s, was considered by psychology as a “deviant life style”, where as today it’s not only accepted as the norm, but being promoted on TV, movies, and even in some schools. In the 80’s, a homosexual person, if discovered, face severe persecution. I can remember a case where some people beat a homosexual up. Some used baseball bats in this beat down. Was that justice? Most today would agree that that was an egregious wrong. I can remember another case where a boy contracted HIV due to a blood transfusion. As a result, lots of people thought he was gay, when he wasn’t. 3) As long as we remain rigid and unbending, then we will continue in this conflict, and will likely escalate. We need to remember that part of righteousness and justice, as the Bible prophesies about the Messiah, is love and mercy. You cannot dispense justice, or right ruling, without love and mercy. As long as you are hard and unbending, then you can’t dispense true righteousness and justice. There are some standards that are unbending. For example, murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, these are universally accepted as wrong. Until Messiah comes back, we interpret scripture based on our knowledge and our world view. So if we think that God is loving and merciful (which He is, but there is more than that to Him), then we will make interpretations and decisions based on that understanding. If we think God is a legalist and just waiting, up there, with a baseball bat for us to make a mistake so he can clobber us, then we will make interpretations and decisions based on that view. If we think there is no God, then again, we make decisions based on that view. In every case, it is our understanding, our perception of scripture, that is the problem. None of us have a perfect understanding.

So as I’ve been observing this, and meditating on this for over a year, the protests, the various articles and social media reactions, I’ve realized that while people are crying out for a leader who is righteous and just (that is one thing we can all agree on), it’s our varying perception of what that means is the conflict, and what people are really crying out for is for the Messiah…Even if they don’t realize it yet. He’s the only one that can administer true righteousness and justice. He will teach us the scriptures. Women’s lib likes to stand up for women’s rights and freedoms. That’s a good thing…in a way. It comes from the way women were treated in the past. Women were viewed as property, and therefore not having rights. Consequently this lead to a lot of abuse. They had every right to fight for their freedoms. It didn’t help that a lot of the people who were abusers called themselves “Christians”. As a result, women’s libbers today view Christians as abusers and oppressors. As times have changed, over the years, women’s lib has grown beyond just that, and they now include standing up for Muslims. Which upon examination, doesn’t make sense since the Muslim religion says that women don’t have rights, that women are property, and abuse is seen as discipline. This should speak to just how badly they feel they’ve been wronged by “Christians”, that they feel they need to run into another oppressive system, instead turning to Christians, who, by and large, have also changed their views on women and the treatment of women. That’s a lot of hurt, and unfortunately, a lot of it is justified. None of us are flawless. All of us have made mistakes. God is the only one who is absolute, and defines absolutes. We just do our best to interpret what we perceive. So let’s stop the fighting, at least fighting one another. Let’s all do what we need to, and that’s fall on our knees and cry out for Messiah to return, but not before his time. He isn’t willing that any should perish, but that all would turn around and change their minds and come to him. Let’s be eagerly patient.

Pride and Arrogance

I thought I got rid of my pride twenty some-odd years ago. Let me back up a bit. As a teenager, and even into my twenties, I struggled with my temper. In my mind, I killed people. I longed to kill people. Because I never followed through, I thought I was good. One day, James 2:10 hit me like a Mack truck; If we break one law, we’re guilty of breaking them all. When one connects this with what Jesus said; if you call your brother ‘fool’ you’re in danger of hell fire, then I was just as guilty as a murderer. I instantly saw that I wasn’t better than anyone else. In fact, in many way, I was worse. When I saw this, it required a choice on my part. I could continue in my anger, and maybe some day succumb to it, or I could change. Obviously, I chose to change. This was a massive change on my end. Previously I had believed that the anger was a part of who I was, and that I couldn’t change. I had believed that my anger was a part of who I was, and that it was impossible for me to change. Seeing this change come to pass, and it was virtually instantaneous, would be like watching a modern day miracle. Like watching someone grow an arm or leg or something, in a matter of seconds. That is what essentially happened to me. So naturally I thought that was it.

A couple years later I married my wife, who has multiple personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. I was reading an article on MSN once, about the second or third year into our marriage, about a guy who divorced his wife, with multiple personality disorder, after twenty years. I was beside myself. I thought it was incredulous at this. I thought; how could he do this after twenty years? I thought he was a wimp, and was giving up. Are you noticing something here?

Here I am, just after celebrating twenty years of marriage, and my wife left for the fourth time. She has this cycle where she’ll get manic, then psychosis hits, then she comes down. The first time it happened, I had people advising me to divorce her. I thought about it for a couple of days and chose not to. I figured that if she wants to divorce, she can file it. After a few days she came back home. I forgave her and welcomed her home. The same is true for the other times, except for the third time when I told her that I can’t keep enduring this. That it’s too hard on me. It was sending my blood pressure through the roof. So she promised me it’d never happen again, and we were fine…until it happened for the last time.

I went and filed for divorce. It took me a few months to file for divorce. My folks were concerned I’d change my mind, like I did the previous time. But I had taken steps to ensure that wouldn’t happen. From the time we separated, July of 2017, until now, I’ve been very introspective. Reflecting on choices and things I’d done over the last twenty years. One thing I noticed, time and again, was my pride and arrogance. I wasn’t intending to be either proud or arrogant, but the fact remained that I was. I had judged the man who divorced his multiple personality wife, as a wimp. I thought I was better. Yet here I was, at the same point, twenty years, doing the same thing.

Once I saw this, I began to see other areas where I was proud and arrogant. For example, I was giving marriage counseling when I hadn’t even been married a year. Or how when someone doesn’t know what I know, I can be very impatient and condescending, and judging. Over the last several months I’ve begun to see more and more areas where I struggle with pride. It’s been very uncomfortable, and painful and humbling. I’ve seen how patient and forgiving God is. I am awed and blown away and humbled by His great mercies and forgiveness. I don’t deserve it. Fortunately, it’s not based on whether one deserves it or not.