Imagine yourself on a train. You are sitting in the seat by a window. The pace of the train is steady yet slow, but the scenery is stunning, so you do not mind. You sit back and soak it all in, almost oblivious to the fellow passengers sitting in the seats around you. The flowers are blooming, the grass is green, the sky is blue in the brilliant sunlight…and you think… “life is good.”
Suddenly, the speed of the train increases dramatically. The view outside the window becomes ugly and distorted. The tracks seem to be buckling under the weight of the train and its current insane speed. What is happening? You look around and realize that you are now very much alone on this careening train. This is bizarre and scary and you feel a wide range of emotions. Can I get out? Will it stop? Where am I going?
You look out the window again to notice a tunnel in the distance which appears to be very long; in fact you cannot see the end of it, just the beginning. How did the picture change so dramatically and so rapidly? You begin to breathe more quickly. Your thoughts race inside your head. The tunnel is now upon you and you notice that it is not only very long, but also very dark. Is there Hope that I will again see the Light—His Light as I go through and finally exit this tunnel?
Can you relate? Have you entered a similarly long and dark tunnel? Are you still in that tunnel and do you even believe that you can make it out of that tunnel? Or have you already come out of that tunnel and now want to help others see His Hope and Light again?
Over a decade ago, “life was good” as we welcomed our first son into the world. He was greeted by loving parents and adoring sisters, family and friends. The flowers bloomed, the sky was blue and the sun was shining when, suddenly, our world shattered as we learned the devastating news of his awful degenerative disease. Barring divine intervention, he would suffer an agonizing deterioration in his precious body and he would ultimately die. I was standing nearby and watched as my beloved son drew his last breath on this earth. No mother should have to endure such pain; yet like many others, I did. I had entered a heart-wrenching tunnel of despondent and intense grief…a tunnel which was deep and seemed long, in fact, never-ending and dark, in fact, black at times. Yet, finally I emerged… there was Hope and there was His Light at the end of that tunnel.
Last year I entered another “tunnel of life”. It too came upon me, suddenly, when “life seemed good.” After our son’s death our family moved across the country and began, a new journey, albeit with scars, but a new life nonetheless. More than a decade since the beginning of my previous tunnel experience, I was now living in the “dream home” we had just designed and built. Yet another phase of life together as a family was beginning or so I thought.
Then the crushing words were spoken. “There is another woman in my life…” still echo in my ears. Twenty-one years together enjoying the blessings and the pains of life as husband and wife and looking forward to many more years together…yet now what? Adultery and the accompanying lies and deceit sent me into another long and dark tunnel.
Alone in that tunnel I uttered words like “Lord, I can not take this. I do not want to go into this tunnel. Why? How long? What did I do? Will my husband be there when I come out? Will You be there?” More thoughts, more questions and finally I remembered what I had prayed before in my previous tunnel… “I need You Lord. I can not do this alone. Please bring others to help me.” Those are the words that I knew He heard. Those are the prayers that I knew He would answer.
He has answered me in many ways this past year. He has helped direct my journey through this tunnel as I have rested in Him and taken the following actions by:
ACKNOWLEDGING the pain, fear and multitude of other emotions I have felt.
- This may seem obvious but denial is all too common.
- Burying my emotions is not healthy and causes much more grief later on.
RECOGNIZING the Lord’s abiding presence in the midst of this tunnel.
- READING His Word daily.
- CONCENTRATING on Scriptures which affirm His hope and light (Job 13:15, Psalm 119:74, Romans 12:12, John 8:12, 2 Cor.4:6, Mt.5:14-16 are just a few of these.)
- PRAYING specifically and often for my heart to be healed and for others in my life.
- WORSHIPING & PRAISING the Lord regularly.
- FELLOWSHIPPING with other believers at church & in Bible Study.
CONNECTING with others who have traveled through this tunnel before.
- Being VULNERABLE with safe people.
- Being AUTHENTIC with who I am and what is going on in my heart.
- Being ACCOUNTABLE to those believers who have been there and done the hard work to get healthy themselves.
LETTING GO of bitterness, anger and the desire for revenge. Two books which I have found invaluable are The Prayer of Revenge: Forgiveness in the Face of Injustice by Doug Schmidt and Breaking Free from Anger and Unforgiveness by Linda Mintle, PhD
- I remain in a prison of sorts if I do not let go of these feelings.
- Letting go is truly a process and God knows this fact.
IMPLEMENTING a self-care plan.
- Set emotional boundaries for myself and with others. The Boundaries books by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend have been eye-opening for me.
- Exercising regularly.
- Eating healthy foods.
- Getting enough sleep.
- Seeking financial advice.
- Loving myself as the Lord loves me, faults and all.
- Enjoying family and friends.
- Looking for joy in each day.
SEEKING professional Godly counsel and “recovery group” help.
- Realize that God wants me to be healthy and I am the only one who can, with His help, take action to change me! Doing the work is worth it!
- Along the same lines, take responsibility for my part in the problems. Another way to say it is a bit blunter: “I need to own my own CRAP!”
- Realize that I cannot change another person and the choices he/she makes.
DOING recovery reading and among the books I have found extremely helpful are:
- Healing is a Choice by Stephen Arterburn
- Shattered Dreams: God’s Unexpected Pathway to Joy by Larry Crabb
- Walking With God on the Road You NEVER Wanted to Travel by Mark Atteberry
*I hope that this outline of my own recovery has been helpful. While everyone’s journeys in the tunnels of life are different, there are some common denominators. Now, I truly pray that you can answer the following questions affirmatively…
Can you hear His whisper in the long and dark tunnel? Can you hear Him saying it?… “I am here. I am with you. I am the Lord who has gone out ahead of you, making a way through this tunnel. Continue to call on Me and keep moving forward. Follow Me even if others chose not to do so. I will heal your broken heart and soul.”
I hope you can hear that Voice. It is the Voice of One who cares for you more than anyone on this earth ever will. It is a Voice you can trust and follow. There are those who have been through the tunnel before you and call from the other side. Listen… do you hear it? They are telling you what they have heard Him say to them already:
“There is Hope and there is Light—My Light both in and at the end of your tunnel.”
I pray that you find HEALING FOR YOUR SOUL. You will if you seek Him and do what He asks you to do. It will take others who come alongside who have gone before you and it will take work, but it will be worth it! Please go through the tunnel and find His Hope and Light on the other side!
May His Presence be real as you seek Him in the tunnels of your life,
A Recovering & Healing Spouse
P.S. My journey through this tunnel is far from over. My husband chose his adulterous relationship over our marriage and barring a divine intervention from the Lord and a free will choice from my husband, our marriage will soon be over. But His Hope and Light remain very much alive…in this tunnel of life.