I know a man with nothing in his hands, nothing but a rolling stone
He told me about when his house burnt down, and he lost everything he owned
He lay asleep for six whole weeks, they were gonna ask his mother to choose
When he woke up with nothing he said I’ll tell you something
When you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose
Now I’ve got a hole in my pocket, a hole in my shirt, a whole lot of trouble, he said
But now the money is gone, life carries on and I miss it like a hole in the head
I know a woman with kids around her ankles and a baby on her lap
She said one day her husband went to get a paper and the *bleep* never came back
Mortgage to pay and four kids to raise, but keeping the wolf from the door
She said the wolf’s just a puppy and the door’s double locked so why you gotta worry me for
Now he left a in hole in my heart a hole in a promise a hole on the side of my bed
Oh now that he’s gone well life carries on and I miss him like a hole in the head
Well sometimes you can’t change and you can’t choose
And sometimes it seems you gain less than you lose
Now we’ve got holes in our hearts, yeah we’ve got holes in our lives
Where we’ve got holes, we’ve got holes but we carry on…
Music has been getting me through the past month. This Passenger song in particular has been on repeat since Jon left. I knew it was over the week before his email came. He grew distant once more, and despite his promises of forever it felt like an ending.
I used to wake up gasping for breath, fear in my belly, my anxious heart repeating, ‘this can’t be my life.’ I’d lay in bed trying to revert to my unconscious state, and then I’d roll out and frantically try to bail out the water from our sinking ship. He had a list in his head of things he wanted to change. It was mostly valid… mothering two toddlers, feeling isolated while living abroad, and postpartum depression had robbed him of the woman he married.
Once again, I had turned my back on pursuing holiness in my on-again-off-again relationship with God. Yet, I knew that in a situation this dire, He would be my only true help, and thus He led me back to Himself. I sought help for the depression, began working out, reading Scripture again, and prioritizing Jon.
Unfortunately, it was to no avail. During the summer of 2014 he sent the kids and I home to Nebraska so that we’d have some “space.” Aurora, Grayson and I spent the summer visiting family and praying for reunification with Jon. I remember how hopeful I was, like anything was possible. I fasted for the first couple of months home, my prayers were grand, and I didn’t tell hardly anyone about our situation because I wanted to be able to patch this up as neatly as possible and move on.
Towards the end of the summer, Jon was to join us in Nebraska for my brother’s wedding and then we would all go back to Germany together. He did, and our reunion was bliss! We had been Skyping the past few months, writing, playing games online together, and now in person we could get back to being a family! Shortly after the wedding he informed me that he didn’t intend to take us back to Germany with him. He wasn’t ready.
Heartbroken, I watched him drive away, once again unsure of our future. He became delayed at the Baltimore International Airport for a month while awaiting a HOP home. During that time he lived on the airport floor and zipped back and forth from DC on a train. His letters were fierce, so angry. One sent such fear through me that I loaded the kids on the first plane I could get out of Omaha and we set off to meet him.
Three hours and $1500 later we arrived at the airport. I couldn’t find him anywhere, his German cell phone wasn’t functional, and so after sending the USO and a security guard on a search for him, we collapsed on a bench and slept for a couple of hours. In the morning I had an email waiting for me, he would not be seeing me. He was in DC and wanted us to just go home.
So we did…Another three hours and $1500 later we were back in Omaha. Life carried on. We went to a family reunion and Aurora did VBS. The last night of which a surprise visitor showed up at the church… it was Jon! Crying, elated, we hugged and kissed in the aptly named, cry room. He was here to take us home, this wasn’t a “trial” he assured me, he was all in. So, once again we left for Germany.
Each reunion was honeymoon-like, nothing seemed overtly wrong. We didn’t fight, we did life, and to me, it was all I wanted. One of my prayers throughout all of this was that God would keep my heart free from bitterness. That I wouldn’t harbor resentment against Jon for putting our family through this. I kept myself completely open to him…
Which is why it was shocking when he told me that he wanted to send the kids and I back home permanently, three days after we arrived back in Germany. Yet another bomb. And what was I to do, he was talking divorce and my only options were comply with the separation or face being served with paperwork and then sent home with our marriage officially ended.
So we prepared to head home once more. During that time Jon remained distant, sleeping at the office, only seeing the kids and I once a week to go get groceries together. It was a miserable existence. Our prison-like housing situation in Ohmbach, further complicating a complicated story.We were back in Nebraska once more for Thanksgiving. Our household goods and car on the way. For now we were staying with his parents, beyond that I had no plans.
Jon and I didn’t talk for over a month. I wrote him daily, pleading for him to change his heart, trying to direct him back to the Bible and the faith of his youth. He grew up as the son of a pastor and a Christian teacher, perhaps he was just talking the talk? I do not know, but his outgoing faith is what I fell in love with and I knew him rekindling that relationship was all that would save our marriage from its impending fate.
Eventually we began to speak again, Skyping and playing games, getting back towards something that resembled “normal.” He was distant, but after all that we had been through, I thought that closeness would return in time. I was committed to making this long distance relationship work.
And then, again, he began speaking of divorce. This time he had paperwork drawn up. He wanted me to take it down to the courthouse and submit it. I told him that I wouldn’t do anything with it until I had a friend from church who is a lawyer look it over. I later found out that it was that very line that struck him as odd. He didn’t understand why I wouldn’t trust his judgement in this… Didn’t I know that he was “looking out for me,” that he would be “fair.”
A week passed and he unexpectedly called, he changed his mind, he said. I’m not divorcing you, we’re buying a house, he informed me. The conversation was nearly as blunt as my paraphrase. I was speechless. Full of trepidation he would change his mind again, and hope that he wouldn’t we bought our first home together.
Our daily talks were exciting again. He was planning to visit in May and see the house I had chosen, and so we eagerly looked forward to our reunion.
His homecoming was exciting, passionate, and full of work! We joyfully approached unpacking and setting up our new home, together we worked, and played, and were a family.
I finally thought we were through with the half-life we had been living for the past 18 months. Surely a mortgage would be enough to cement his commitment. So, after visiting for a month, I sent him off on a plane back to work, and we planned his next trip. We could do this for a couple more years while he finished his tour in Germany, and then we’d be together, forever. I thought…
And then communication stopped again last month. I knew it was different this time. I felt it in my bones. He wouldn’t take my calls and I just knew. It felt like an ending. While in the past, there always seemed room for big prayers and grand gestures, this time I knew it was over. I started listening to “Holes” before his email ever graced my inbox.
It was a short letter, not entirely emotional yet not entirely rational. And when it came, I only felt that fear-bellied anxiety for a moment before heading out the door to church. It was Sunday and life carried on…We haven’t spoken in a non-text format since our e-mail “break-up.” I’m trying to keep the sarcasm at bay… it’s not helpful, and doesn’t aid me in loving well through and in spite of this. Yet, I fear it’s become a bit of a coping mechanism. It’s easier to jest about this trial that to be vulnerable with it. Yet, that is what I want.
I’ve lived a lot of lives in the past 28 years, but I know the one I want is seated at the feet of Jesus. This is the life that I have been called to… not the life I would have chosen, or even envisioned as possible for myself, yet it’s where I’m at. God has never led me astray, so I will keep following Him through this.
I can’t change Jon’s heart or his actions, and I don’t have to. My job in this is to keep my eyes fixed on my Father. I like the quote above, it’s based on Daniel 3, and it now resides in the frame that used to hold our wedding photo.
I do not question God’s goodness, I’ve seen His presence in my life too many times to doubt that He won’t also use this for His glory and my good. I don’t currently know the way through this, but I know my God, and that’s all that’s really necessary.
So for now, I’ll keep following Him down this path. I’ll hold the kid’s hands as we face the unknown together. I’m looking for employment, they’ll soon be starting kindergarten and preschool… It’s a whole new world for our little family, but not one without hope.