Wednesday, December 6th-
I recently received a card from a former client of mine. Six years ago, I had counseled him while he was going through a messy, messy, divorce. I never met his wife; their relationship had reached the point of no return by the time he came to me and there was no hope for reconciliation. Therefore, the time I spent with him centered around coping, starting over, and hopefully learning how to forgive.
As I read his card just the other day, I remembered how bitter (and frustrating) he had been during our sessions together. He had been absolutely unwilling to accept any responsibility for the decline of his marriage. His wife had been the culprit; she was the evil one, and the man she had found was equally as sinister. He swore that he hated both of them for what they had done to him. I remember him telling me that he would make it his life's mission to make sure his ex and her new husband's lives were miserable. He told me once, "My goal in life is to make sure that my ex-wife and her new lover constatntly look over their shoulders so that they will never be able to make a comfortable life together for themselves!" (Thank goodness there were no children involved)!!!!!
There was one word that always surfaced in my mind after sessions with "Jay:" sad. Sad, because Jay never believed that he had done anything to contribute to the decline and ultimate demise of his marriage. Sad, because he relied on blaming others to keep himself afloat. Sad, because his hatred denied him the ability to forgive himself and his former wife so that he could make a fresh start. Sad, because he considered himself to be a man of faith, and his crusade to ruin his ex-wife's new life had disabled his ability and desire to rely on the comfort and reassurance that came from the love and grace of Jesus Christ - the very same love and grace that could have guided him through this terrible crisis in his life.
My relationship terminated with "Jay" before we had completed the course of our therapy. I accepted a new job out of state, and I left town. Until 2 weeks ago, I never knew what wound up happening with "Jay." To be honest, if I had been obsessed with this case after moving out of state, I would have worried that "Jay" had ruined his life with his pathetic quest to blame other people for his problems. You see, when marrigaes end, 9 times out of 10, to be cliche, it takes two to tango! But I digress . . . .
The point is this: the card I received the other day from "Jay," was a breath of fresh air. He just wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas, and to tell me that he was hanging tough. He is not dating, he is not looking to date, but he is at peace. The pain of his failed marriage is still very real, but the difference now is that he has accepted the reality of his situation. He no longer is blaming others; he has honestly looked at himself in the mirror and has realized his part in the marriage collapse. There is no longer any bitterness, there are no more grudges, there is no longer a life-driving desire for revenge. It as if he is a new man!
The only credit I take for this about face is sitting for excruciating hours with him as he shoved blame on everyone from his parents, to his friends, to God, to the other man, and ultimately to his ex. During our sessions together, I believed everthing I said to "Jay" fell on deaf ears. In fact,they probably did!
In his card to me, "Jay" never said thank you. Not even once. He only sent that card to tell me how he was doing. That makes me believe one outstanding thing: it was not me that got through to him --- God did. God's voice finally broke through and softened the heart of a man who had been devestated. It was a voice that spoke clearly and convincingly enough to let "Jay" see that blaming others for his misfortunes was a dead end. His life had crashed, and he was furious. His fury blinded him to the reality of God's unconditional love and grace. His fury made him miserable and denied him access to God's healing and comfort. His fury exhausted his energies and left him in a pathetic heap of self-pity, gloom, and despair. Fortunately, however, God's love finally broke through into his life again!
Cancer. Parkinson's. Dementia. Forced retirement. Relocation. Unexpected new starts. Tennessee Volunteer football. All legitimate reasons for bitterness and blame? Absolutely! Tom and Margaret will have none of it, though! To God be the glory - whatever comes their way.