My first husband was a kind, silly, fun and good man. And I was beyond excited when I had the privilege of marrying him in the temple. But a temple wedding does not a perfect marriage make.
He was kind and caring and wanted to do the right things. He wanted to be the man I could count on and wanted to make me happy.
Part of this life is understanding that we all have weaknesses and that we are here on earth to learn to overcome them through the atonement of Jesus Christ. I have had many opportunities to partake is the atonement to help me overcome my weaknesses, and have also learned the atonement is there to help me forgive others for their weaknesses.
A few months short of a year after my divorce, I was wandering through Barnes and Noble with Griffin, enjoying a fun date, just exploring the shelves. I came across a book that catapulted my healing and understanding by years.
I took the book home and read it in less than a week.
The main idea of the book, Love is Letting Go of Fear by Gerald Jampolsky, is that when we are hurt in love, we use the pain of the past to predict how our future relationships will be. Our fear of the past helps us create the unhealthy (and incorrect) fear that the future will be just like the past. In some ways we may even recreate the past in our future, because then at least the pain is familiar….
Here are a few quotes I wanted to share:
“Love is the total absence of fear.” (pg 21)
“Sometimes we put more value in predicting and controlling than in having peace of mind. At times, it feels more important for us to predict that we are going to be miserable the next moment, and then find pleasure in being right, than to have true happiness in the present moment. This can be looked upon as an insane way of trying to protect ourselves. It produces a short circuit that confuses pleasure with pain.” (pg 24)
(As we can see we try to protect ourselves from possible pain, rather than allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and experience love and connection. see my post on shame and connection.)
“Other people do not have to change for us to experience peace of mind.”
“Each instant of our lives can be regarded as a present opportunity for a new awakening or rebirth, free from the irrelevant intrusion of memories from the past and anticipations of the future.” (pg 46)
“I can see peace instead of this.” (pg 124)
“To be consistent in achieving inner peace, we must perceive a world where everyone is innocent.” (pg 95)
While the entire book helped me transform my heart and what it was telling my head, the chapters about not being a victim and not judging others was what changed me in ways I will be forever grateful for.
After skimming though the book once more looking for underlined passages marked with exclamation points and stars, I found that my big light-bulb moment was only part of this book. It was actually the whisper I had from the spirit that helped me bridge the gap and find the healing my heart was aching for:
He did not set out to hurt me. He did not make mistakes to hurt me. He made mistakes because he has weaknesses, is human, and is here to learn form them, just as much as I am.
While there are a few rare (and clinically diagnosable) cases where someone may set out to hurt you, the majority of us out there can bank on the fact that the missteps in our marriages that led to divorce, most likely started out that way – as missteps. He made missteps. And I made missteps as I allowed my depression to create a larger gap in our marriage. There is no way I can (or should) try to analyze what first mistake may have caused the end of our marriage, but I know that we both are imperfect. And I know that imperfection is okay.
When I remember that the downfall of our marriage happened to both of us, and that I am not the victim, it allows me to really forgive myself and to fully forgive him. It also allows greater charity in my heart as I better understand that everyone in my life is capable of missteps, but also, that I am just as capable of forgiving them and continuing to love them.
And I forgive him. I am so grateful for that. Forgiveness means that when I think of him, there is no anger, there is no indignation, there is no self-pity, and there is no lingering fear of the future. I am at peace. I have allowed my experience to shape me in a positive way. I learned how to not judge, to allow others to make mistakes and forgive. I learned how to better be there for those around me when they do feel they have made a mistake that cannot be forgiven (which is a lie fear tells us). And I have learned to be more like my Savior as I accept those around me as imperfect and not allow them to take away my peace and joy.
I am grateful for him. I am grateful for my marriage. And I am grateful for my divorce. Every hard thing I experienced has made me who I am. It has refined me. Not just because refinement comes with hard things, but because I allowed my trial to refine me. I could still be muttering under my breath about past wrongs against me, or I could leave them behind and enjoy the gifts I have right now, give everything that brings me pain to my Savior, and choose love instead of fear.
I know that I have forgiven him (and myself) because when I think of him, there is no fear, there is no present pain, and there is no anger. I feel hope, I feel grateful and I feel peace.
As we learned in General Conference, we are allowed to be subjected to hurt and heartache not because God wants us to suffer just to suffer, but because God needs brave children. This experience has made me brave.
Why do we fall? Why does God allow us to fall? To get back up?
So that we may know that the easiest way to get up off the ground is with the help of our brother, and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Have you let go of fear and pain, and embraced love in your life?
“Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”
– Doctrine and Covenants 6:36