If it weren’t Lent, I’d use the forbidden A-word. Tonight, maplestar and I led a discussion at church. As part of the parish’s Lenten series on spiritual disciplines and prayer practices, I led a discussion on the Taizé community, with an eye to how one might integrate Taizé spiritual practices into one’s personal prayer life. It was about twenty minutes of presentation and discussion, followed by the office of Compline, into which we’d brought three Taizé chants and a beautiful setting of the Nunc Dimittis by someone I know only via the internet. Maplestar led the music from the keyboard while I led the worship. It was wonderful. Compline was beautiful — as Compline already is — and made even more so by integrating the Taizé songs.
But by far, the most wonderful and beautiful part is that for the very first time, I feel like I’m able to live out my spirituality — this most vital and important part of me — with a partner who is committed to his own spirituality. Together, we hold each other up, and we support our parish community, our diocese, and really, all of Christendom, with our prayers and our love and our witness. This is what Christians do, or what we are called to do.
My ex-husband does not understand faith, can not comprehend having faith in anything or anyone but oneself. He cannot trust people, and he certainly does not trust God. Any expression of faith from me would send him into spirals of fear, rage, and depression. I was living an inauthentic life with him. I could not be who God wants me to be. And I came to learn — in very difficult and painful ways — that one who truly loves me is one who wants to help me to be me, to grow into me, to live into the life God wants for me. It is not an act of love to seek to control someone, to make him or her into your image of them. This is an act of fear and dominance, not of love. It was a difficult and terrible decision to leave that marriage behind, even with rage and control and emotional abuse.
But now… now I am blessed to live with a partner, with someone who seeks to share and learn, to grow and to help me grow, to love and be loved, to be more than we ever could be apart. We go to worship together, and we hold each other in prayer. Each night, before we turn out the light to go to sleep, we kiss each other and make the sign of the cross on the other’s forehead and say God bless you.
It is almost two years now since I told my ex-husband that I was moving out, seeking a divorce, ending the marriage for good. He didn’t believe me, because I’d tried three times before. I know it has been a very difficult time for him, and that he’s had to grow in ways that he’d never expected. Truth be told, I have, too. And tonight, well, tonight I am basking in the glow of something that I didn’t think I would ever be able to look forward to. Tonight, I go to bed in the arms of my husband and partner, who prays with me and for me, who comes to church with me and plays the organ and even when it’s completely out of his comfort zone, leads a discussion night for the parish. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so blessed before.
Thanks be to God!