DITCHING DOGMA AND GETTING TO GRACELAND [an excerpt - Setting My Crazy Loose Part II]

[an excerpt from DITCHING DOGMA & GETTING TO GRACELAND - Setting My Crazy Loose - Part II ]

. . . I knew what was coming next from her.  Was I able or willing to have conflict with Dr. Janelle in order to be true to myself?
“Nancy, do you forgive him for what he did?” she asked, almost tauntingly hinting that to do anything less was not in line with God.  The dialogue was playing out in my head.  It was a slow motion suspended matrixie type of moment as I heard her words mingled with my then husbands. 

I knew very concretely though that it was not merely just a matter of forgiveness.  It was far beyond that.  This was not the first time I had seen real repentive tears.  This was a lifelong engrained pattern.  The only thing my forgiveness to him would do was help me.  It would not fix him nor had 25 years of marriage.

I watched as she waited for my answer as Jeopardy music played in my head.  Dr. Janelle sat with papers and pen, legs uncrossed but proper, her Bible draped across her lap.  I, with all the courage I could muster, began my descent into conflict and further Bible thumping, “I can say the words I forgive him, but I have not forgiven him fully.  That is a process.  Not an event.  It will come with time I hope.  But to say I totally forgive him right now, I cannot do.”

She was most definitely not satisfied with my answer.  It did not fit with her connect the dot way of counseling - the way in which she very concisely ordered emotions and pain.  “Nancy, God commands you to forgive.  You need to do that to restore things.  He has been vulnerable with you and needs to know you will forgive him.”  I had been vulnerable while seriously ill for years.  My needs had gone unmet, before, during and after the illness.  His vulnerability was not my high priority at the moment.  Mine had never been his.

Further bondage is what I felt from her, expectations that I needed to meet.  It was the same way I had lived all 43 years of my life –acquiescing to what I thought were the expectations others had for me.  I knew at that moment, I could do it no longer.  It was all but over. Something had changed in me.

Dr. Janelle called both of us on everything sitting in her office.  She told us to sit up straight, to uncross our legs, to leave our arms down.  Am I in hell, I thought to myself after expressing something to her and being reprimanded for how I sat.   I wondered if she knew her words, tones and approach to me verified, even solidified my now completed inward decision for exile from a life time of boundaries, expectations, and rule based life.  There was something just too Pharisaical that didn’t fit with my heart knowledge of God.   Her style unveiled bondage in a way that struck me crystal clear for the first time in my life. 
Heresy she would no doubt say if she knew my inward thoughts.  Disobedience from a God of cross your T’s and dot your I’s.  God hated divorce Dr. Janelle would say. Yes He did.  He hated broken things. He hated that my marriage for 25 years had been broken.  God knew the pain of broken relationships - the one with us before Jesus came to heal that brokenness. I got that. His hating divorce wasn't about a rule, but about love. He was the God who loved and sought us.  God could no more disown me, than could I say that Hannah was not my daughter.  I loved her with a wild big mother’s love.  God loved me with that love too but to the fifth power and beyond.

The conflict I was having internally was fierce.  This battle between listening to my head and heart over my religious upbringing, the collective voices of expectation both spoken and unspoken, and my own negative self talk tapes made me feel crazy at times.  I had to go back to those things that I knew that I knew that I knew that I knew.  The absolutes. Everything else was unsteady and changing.

I knew that I could not stay married any more.  I knew that the levels were toxic and I could no longer survive. For 25 years I had stayed in the ring.  I knew that God deeply and passionately loved me and wanted me to know that to the very depths of who I was.  To divorce would be like walking barefoot over hot coals.  It would be lonely and intense.  I knew one day I would flourish as I never had up to this point but I couldn’t see how or when . . .


  1. Good post Nancy. I love connecting with you on FB and through your blog since I don't get to see your smiling face in person anymore. Lynn

  2. It took 25 years but glad you eventually had that conflict (with Dr. Janelle). MI