Ruminating is what I do, perhaps a little too much sometimes, and not enough at other times. Two things I ruminate often on are my divorce and my relationship with God. Of course there are various other things I contemplate throughout the day, but those are the two overriding themes of my life – my relationship with a man and my relationship with God.
My ex-husband left five years ago and I’ve been officially divorced for four yet I still have a relationship with him because we have three children together. But children aside, I would still have a relationship with him because the way I see myself has been shaped by a fifteen-year relationship with him. My low self-esteem, my feeling of unworthiness, my pessimistic view on love, family, and commitment have all been shaped by the neglect, dishonesty, and ultimately…abandonment.
The self-view that has been shaped to a large degree by my ex-husband definitely affects my world-view. As I sit inside the safety of my living room, I look out of the window onto the rainy street as a car occasionally passes and relish the sound that is akin to a wet swoosh.
And I feel safe.
Outside is dangerous, and like a caveman long ago I remain in the safety of my cave. But unlike the caveman, the danger keeping me inside does not take on a physical shape, it takes on a mental or emotional one.
I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for the past thirteen years. But now that I’ve finally attained my Bachelors Degree (a feat I once thought unattainable) it is time for me to get a full-time teaching job. Until that happens, I’ve decided to substitute. But to be honest, I am absolutely terrified.
There is a voice inside of my head that feeds that terror. It’s the voice that recounts the nasty words of my ex-husband and stokes the feelings of unworthiness. He never respected you. He said you would have just been another loser from Virginia if it hadn’t been for him. Now he’s gone. You were so horrible he’d rather sacrifice his time with his children than to stay together with you. He found someone better. Maybe you really are just another loser and everyone else can see it too.
While I know deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down it is not true, that knowledge has a hard time coming to the surface. It’s a battle hooking that knowledge and reeling it in. The sea is choppy, the boat unsteady, and the wind is ferociously drowning out everything but that nasty voice which is reciting my flaws and failures over and over.
You are unworthy. You are unloved.
That is when I must force myself to stop ruminating on my relationship with my ex-husband and start contemplating and placing all of my focus on my relationship with God. If there is one good thing to the hundreds of bad things that happened throughout my relationship with my ex-husband, throughout my life, it is that I found Jesus which allowed me a real and genuine relationship with God. And that one thing more than compensates for all of the horrible things that ever happened to me.
God, the creator of all things, the ultimate being of goodness and perfection knows me and better yet, wants to know me (the good, the bad, and everything in between).
Oh Lord, you have searched me, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.
Psalm 139: 1-4
And if it could not get better, He is always with me. I am never alone.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there: if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.
Psalm 139: 7-10
I am not an accident. I was created with thought and with love by goodness and perfection and righteousness. I was created deliberately by God so I cannot be worthless. I have purpose in the eyes of my creator and that can never be negated by any man.
For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139: 13-16
Have you ever heard anything more beautiful or affirming? This Psalm is enough to soothe the sea, steady the boat, and quiet the wind. The voice (whether it is the voice of my inner self or that of the enemy) disappears and I am filled with the courage to leave my cave, to go out into the world, and to live life the way it should be lived, with confidence, gratitude, and compassion. The knowledge that we were created with purpose – regardless of where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or who despises us – we have a God who loves us, who is for us, and who will never abandon us.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
Now that is something to ruminate on!