Jesus Never Gave Up On Me

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“As His follower, it is no longer about what I deserve or what is fair. It is how much of God’s love I can absorb and reflect.”

By Abby Kelly | Twitter:@benjity

The prince was the end of Cinderella’s loneliness and despair. Prince Charming introduced Snow White to happily ever after.  I can’t think of a single fairy tale where the heroine ends up more alone than she was before.

But then, fairy tales don’t tell of pornography and eating disorders.

Life Tales

I slipped the ring on his finger and declared I would be with this one man more completely than I’d ever been with anyone before. It hardly fit the story line when my husband, whom I had been with under covenant for all of two months, deployed to Iraq for a year.

We never had a chance to learn to be together, to practice growing with and into oneness. Instead, we were catapulted into a dangerous scenario that led us each deeper into personal addictions.

Loneliness

For me, living alone exacerbated the lingering effects of an eight-year eating disorder. Selfishness crept in while he was away. Life seemed no different than two months before. My days were spent doing what I wanted. I worked as much as I wanted and spent as little time at home as I wanted. With no accountability, my meals dwindled and my runs got longer. Anorexia was a familiar friend and my method of coping with pain.

As a young, virile soldier, my husband was in a world that revived and encouraged an addiction he had sheltered for many years. Pornography ran rampant among the ranks of infantry soldiers separated from their wives for an unprecedented time.

In some ways, the deployment postponed a rude awakening to our troubles. Distance disguised our selfishness. While he was deployed, we wrote daily, each to our image of a perfect spouse. It was easy to say all the right things. When he came home, our mirage of happily ever after evaporated.

Regardless of individual issues, anorexia keeps all relationships at arm’s length. My heart screamed for my husband to love me, call me beautiful and scare away all my self-loathing. At the same time, my sharp hip bones, malnourished mood swings and amenorrhea told him I was unapproachable.

My husband chose to make his life with a two-dimensional “perfect” woman who gave him the sensation of intimacy without commitment or demand. He fell under her spell. She was there to fulfill his every desire and only his desires. She was with him when he wanted her, but needed nothing in return. Unconsciously, his body shut down all advances and responses to me sexually.

Addictions

Shame and defensiveness feed on addictions. My fear of food kept us from going on dates and sharing many special experiences. He steadily lost his ability to express emotion and tenderness. He lost countless hours to video games, comfortable with their one-sided gratification. We were mired in addictions, ways of coping that numbed our desire–no, our ability–to be together.

The night that I accidentally discovered the pornography on my husband’s computer, it savagely lacerated my heart. I felt the actual muscle of my heart clench and fall. And then I hated him.

I picked up book after book about sexual addiction and the effects of pornography. Christian and secular psychologists explained that when an individual becomes addicted to pornography, they lose the ability to connect with a living, breathing human being. They become unable to relate in every way, from conversation, to intercourse to recreation.

And so we sank.

Recovery

“With,” however, is embedded in human souls. It’s part of the mark of God on our beings. In God’s image, we crave companionship, relationship, and devotion. It’s no surprise that as God reached out to redeem His creation, He came as Immanuel, God with us. He didn’t throw out a lifeline, or send an ambassador. He came to be with us. And then, throughout Scripture, God calls Himself our Father, our husband, our friend.

God began with me, slowly wedging Himself between me and the eating disorder. The more God showed me the true joy of His presence, unobscured by anorexia, the more restless I grew in my marriage. Now that I had tasted relationship, I longed for it with my husband; but he was still unavailable. He was fully engaged in a non-relationship.

We can live without many things, but we cannot live without resonance between our lives and others.’ Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we do not feel alive as long as we remain untouched, un-with.

Kind people, godly people, told me, “You have to take care of yourself.”

“Can you really be happy this way?”

“Do you think he’ll ever change? And if not, do you want to live this way?”

My mind started to churn: Of course not. I shouldn’t have to live this way.

I sought God’s permission to walk away, but He didn’t tell me what I wanted to hear. In the Old Testament, the first and greatest commandment was, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.’ And the second is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mark 12:30-31)

But at the Last Supper, Jesus gave a new commandment: “So, now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34, 35)

Jesus is redeeming my marriage today, and God is daily teaching me to love as He first loved me. I scorned God’s love for almost 10 years while worshiping an idol of thinness and perfection, yet He never left me. As God’s follower, it is no longer about what I deserve or what is fair. It is how much of God’s love I can absorb and reflect. It is in loving beyond human limits that I prove I belong to Jesus.

Jesus won my heart by refusing to give up on me. He maintained His Immanuel presence even when I rejected Him.

It is in communion, “with-ness” with Jesus, that I take a deep breath and now remain with and in my marriage.

_______________________________

 About Abby:

I am a freelance writer, blogger and personal trainer living in Northern, VA. I’m the eldest of four, the wife of one, the owner of the world’s best dog and I drink WAY too much coffee. You can follow my blog here.

Photo credit:  robertvitulano
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