I Don’t Want to be Strong

I don’t want to be strong. I don’t want anyone to tell me to be strong. I don’t even want anyone to tell me that I am strong. In my experience, if that character trait is being mentioned, and I need to muster courage and resiliency to get through a situation, then something must be difficult. And distressing. And quite possibly, wrong.

Certainly there is a well meaning encouragement behind the words. An offering of support. Perhaps even given as a compliment. Or a reassurance of hope and the calming of a storm.

Early in my recovery from sexual betrayal trauma and the effects of my husband’s sex addiction and intimacy anorexia, I was tired of holding it all together. I didn’t know how to. And the thought of fighting the destruction was exhausting and overwhelming.

Hearing the exhortations to be strong made me want to scream “But I don’t want to be strong!” I just wanted to be. Whatever that was, I just wanted to be. I wanted someone else to be strong for me. Or better yet, to not have to be strong at all.

If my husband wasn’t a sex addict, I wouldn’t have to be strong. If I hadn’t lived in a sexless marriage devoid of love and affection for twenty years, I wouldn’t have to be strong. If I remained silent and willing to live in an emotionally abusive marriage, I wouldn’t have to be strong. If. If. If.

I thought I had to be strong. And I couldn’t do it. I felt defeated. I remember waking up in the morning already beaten down by the fog of a day covered in pain and uncertainty. My prayer before I arose from bed was not a petition for God to provide me with strength and courage to tackle my day, heal my wounds or save my marriage. My prayer was much simpler, honest and broken. “God, please hold me today.”

God, please hold me today. And He did.

I didn’t have to be strong after all. In my brokenness and weakness, God was more than able to step in and be strong for me. And what I found was that as I ceased fighting, and rested in God’s arms, He began to infuse me with His strength. It just came because it wasn’t mine. I didn’t have to put on my big girl pants because God put His armour on me instead.

God made me ready for my battle of restoration. My Defender. My Protector. The Mountain Maker. The Ocean Tamer. The One who put my life back into place when I thought it was falling apart. The One who showed me that He really does bring beauty from the ashes.

This would be a nice, tidy ending to the story now. But……that’s not how it always works. At least not for me. Sometimes I forget and try to do things on my own strength again. Someone may tell me that I am a strong woman, and that makes me feel proud of the recovery work I have done. I feel affirmed that someone has noticed the changes in me. Sometimes I forget that it wasn’t my own strength that brought me to this place of healing and restoration. Or worse, sometimes I don’t forget, I just don’t acknowledge the One who carried me through and lifted me above my circumstances.

Recently, as my husband and I have committed to improving our emotional, spiritual and sexual intimacy, I have found myself once again relying on my own strength. And that isn’t working very well for me. I am struggling. Doing the one step forward, two steps back dance. I pray. But sometimes it isn’t with all my heart. Sometimes it isn’t with a surrendered heart.

God’s grace is sufficient for me. If I let it be. His power is made perfect in my weakness. If I give Him control. But I am still a teeny bit scared of trusting my husband with all of my heart and body. Which also means I’m not trusting God to protect me either.

I have the same power living in me that rose Jesus from the dead, and yet I stifle that power even when God has proven Himself faithful over and over and over again. Even when the battle has already been won.

Now, it is time for the tidy, happy ending, but I don’t have one to this part of my story yet. But it is coming.

God, please hold me today.

O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress. Isaiah 33:2

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8 thoughts on “I Don’t Want to be Strong

  1. I love how you said that, “But I am still a teeny bit scared of trusting my husband with all of my heart and body. Which also means I’m not trusting God to protect me either.”
    WOW! This really brought it home for me. Absolutely true!
    Does your husband know that you are having a difficult time fully trusting him? If so, what is your husband doing to make that trust easier for you?
    Trust has been such an issue in our marriage. My husband has always questioned why I do not trust him. I have told him that, “When my heart is at full trust you break my heart again.” Now I am questioning if it ever was. Wonderful post!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmm, how to answer your question about trust…..
      My husband knows I am having a difficult time building sexual intimacy. Whether he has connected it to being a trust issue, I’m not sure, as I haven’t directly used those words with him.
      Our marriage was devastated by addiction, deception and rejection. It takes time, effort and a commitment to change and growth to rebuild trust that was shattered. My husband has gone to counselling; participates in a recovery support group; has accountability partners; reads and listens to recovery materials; intentionally speaks my love language every day; and daily initiates an intimacy building exercise called “The Dailies” where we share feelings from our day, give each other praises/compliments and pray together. He is very patient and gracious with me, as he has taken ownership of the pain he inflicted on me. That is what he has done, and continues to do for almost three years now.
      As for me, I do all the same recovery work adapted for the betrayed partner. Although he needs to show me he is trustworthy, I am the one responsible for healing my own brokenness. He can’t do that for me.
      We have regained and rebuilt an extraordinary amount of trust. I have faith that time and continued recovery will erase the last teeny bit of fear. I just don’t know yet when that will be.

      Liked by 1 person

      • God has really helped you both through this journey of pain.. You truly give me hope. I know it is going to take a lot of time for the hurt to subside. However, you are both going in the right direction. I pray that my husband will not be so blinded. And he too, one day, will see the light.

        Liked by 1 person

      • God has definitely done incredible healing in both my husband, myself and our marriage. And I know there is more to come.
        My husband often says that he once was blind but now sees the light! Keep hoping sweetie. God can start the change and healing with you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “Sometimes I forget and try to do things on my own strength again.” — It’s human nature to want to wrestle control of a situation away from God and try to do things in our own strength, and so hard to trust wholeheartedly and give up control. I’m sure many of us struggle with that often. I know I do. At least you’re acknowledging that’s what’s taking place. Realizing what needs to change is surely the first step in correcting the problem. I pray you’ll continue to allow Him, in all His power, to work in you and through you for complete healing and restoration of the relationship.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your comfort and truth, picking me up and putting me in God’s lap. Yes. That is where I want to be. He welcomes me there and I want to be able to stay there longer…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and me both, dear Lydia. Snuggled against God’s chest with His arms around us. Protected, loved, cherished. He is the breath in our lungs.

      Like

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