This is hard to post. Not because of any of the normal feelings that surround this sort of thing. No shame, no embarrassment. But, it's just risky. It's always risky to put yourself out there. You never know what people are going to think, or say, or come up with about you (many times, just complete misconceptions about you...and that's hard). But, with something like this, it's esp. risky...and esp. in our 'line of work' (should it be that way?...maybe not...but, it just is.). Plus, I just hate to post it...again, not because of shame or embarrassment or anything like that...but just because I honestly hate that this is part of our story. But, we pray that this all will be used for our good...and that it will be an encouragement to others.
It was also hard to decide whether it was time to do all of this...to share...to post. Some of you might think that it's not. Some of you might think that we should never post such things, ever. But, the truth is that a few events have led us to believe that it's time to share. I would much rather people just know the truth, out of my very own mouth, rather than speculate. So, here we are...sharing.
[First of all, I'd like to fill you in on us as far as *missions.* Joel continues to work for Asas de Socorro, our mission organization, from here. We love them. We still hope to someday, as soon as is possible, be able to go back to Brazil and work with them there in person. But, until that time, Joel continues to serve them in a remote role, working several hours with them each day/week here (he also works as a pilot/mechanic locally in order for us to make ends meet, as our support has understandably gone down since coming back to the states...a special thank you to those of you who have held on with us through this journey in a non-foreign land). So, that's us as far as missions...still plugging away...but still hoping to return to do missions non-remotely as soon as we can. Read on to be encouraged in the progress being made so that that can be sooner rather than later.]
You all know that I've always been a super honest person. You can read my blog in general, but also most recently, my accounts of my latest miscarriage, really shows that I'm pretty much an open book. The only time I'm not able to be an open book is when whatever I'm wanting to be open about concerns others too.
Therefore, for the past few YEARS, I haven't been able to be completely open. Sure, we've mentioned a thing or two in our newsletters, so it's not like it's just completely unknown. And...we're still in the states, so people know that something must be up. But, to just be able to share openly...I haven't been able to.
That's so hard for me. To not be able to. I'm a sharer. But, when you're going through some really hard things, and there's no end in sight...1) there's really nothing to share, unless you want to just sound like you're complaining all the time (nobody enjoys a constant visit from Debbie Downer) and 2) you have to focus all your energy on survival anyway...so you literally have nothing left in you with which to share (or answer questions or have conversations)...because you are literally just exhausted...always.
So, when interacting with others or when doing anything publicly (for instance, posting on Facebook), you just act like that hard part of your life is not happening...not because you are fake or because you want to live a lie. But, just because you can't do it any other way. And...there is nothing to tell yet. But...you hope and pray that things will change...and that there will be something to tell one day.
Praise the Lord, that day has come!! :)
This is the story of how 'Joel and Michawn,' of the Joel and Michawn Story, came to be 'Joel. Michawn.' In other words, there was no 'and.' We were no longer a team. We were no longer one. There was Joel. And there was Michawn. And we were far, far apart.
Here's the super condensed version:
We had a super terrific marriage for the first 9 years...so in sync, so in step with each other. Perfect team, best friends, etc. etc. All the good things. It really seemed as close to perfect as you can get.
We had a pretty good marriage for 2 years after that.
Then the 2 1/2 years after that...basically like hell on earth.
Obviously compared to some people's lives...where there is literal starvation, torture, sex slavery, war, etc. etc....it was not like hell on earth. Please do know that I know how to keep my perspective. But, compared to the first 11 years of our marriage, and compared to what we both knew that God wants and has for marriage (and the things that we felt we were supposed to be doing in our own lives personally)...for us, it was the closest thing to hell on earth.
As one of our counselors put it, we just experienced 'level 10 trauma' after 'level 10 trauma' for a few years there. Add on to that some major marital issues that developed...it really, really took its toll.
It finally resulted in Joel moving out this past mid-May. Yes...we lived separately. On purpose. Not job-related.
Let me just pause here to say...in future posts, I will go into more detail about the traumas and marital issues that we experienced. Not right now though. But, I did want to let you know that it had nothing to do with any '3rd parties' or any sexual sin whatsoever...just so you know that. Those are common causes to marriage breakdowns, so it is very understandable that that is where our minds tend to go first in wondering what went wrong. But, I just wanted to assure you that those were not the issues in our case. As I said though, we'll talk more about some of the specifics later.
But, truly miraculous things started happening in the wee hours of Labor Day, 3 1/2 months after Joel moved out.
Things that the HOLY SPIRIT alone could do. Blinders that were removed, true and deep understanding that had been completely nonexistent for literally years...just came. Just appeared. Just like that.
The work began. And Joel moved back with his family.
There has been LOTS of damage done. Lots. Sadly. But, we are doing it. It is really hard. Not every single minute of every single day. We have our good times. And we're so very thankful to have made the progress that we have. But, it's hard. Because of the damage done, there are just things that come up, and will continue to come up, to work through...and that will just take time. But, so far, we are just taking it step by step...and learning as we go...so something like this NEVER ever ever happens again.
Back to the subject of sharing this news...
I had actually written out a newsletter that I wanted to send out when Joel moved out (I might share it at some point). I wrote it before he moved out and planned to send it a few days after he left. But...then I told a trusted friend our news, that Joel was moving out. And I literally spent the next few days consoling her and answering questions and helping her to understand and assuring her that everything would be ok. Truly?...it was exhausting. And I knew after that experience that there was no way I had the energy to do that with literally hundreds of others. So, we decided to save it for later...and to just focus on the task at hand.
But, since Labor Day when it all began to turn the course toward healing (finally...2 1/2 years can be a very very long time), I wondered when it might happen that we would feel the release to share. I wanted to do it then...but just didn't feel the release or peace to share.
Enter our sweet, sweet babies. :) Something came up recently in a conversation during school. They told me how they had been asking for prayer requests at church in their classes 'for our family to get all better,' etc. I love their little hearts and how honest they are and how open they are. I never want to discourage that. And I never want to discourage them from going to God and His people when they have a burden to bear. Apparently, they thought it was time to share. They've never been in the dark about anything...we've been honest with them about it all (on their level, which is very high...people sometimes underestimate children, but if you explain it well, they get it). But, they've chosen only recently to really ask for prayer. They see the road to healing...they see that it's incredibly wonderful to finally be on that road...and they also see that it's hard. They are here...they know.
So, our kiddos have let us know that it's time. Perfect really...they were another reason we were being silent on the whole matter. But, they're ready. And so are we. Plus a few other things have just made it clear that it was time to share. So, here it is...all laid out for you.
So, what now? Now that you know, just continue to pray for us. The miracle that happened on Labor Day was just the beginning. And that was less than 2 months ago. We are far from out of the woods here. We are still healing. We are still becoming one again and becoming a team again. Things still come up, almost daily, that are hurtful and damaging and stressful, and that have to be worked through. But, I can tell you that we are literally 180 degrees from where we were before. Truly, truly miraculous. So, just continue to pray if you will.
And, hopefully some of you will be encouraged. It's been a looong road. Some of you are on the same kind of road. For some of you, it's even been way longer. You have been waiting for your 'Labor Day Miracle' for a very long time. Just be encouraged. Look to Him...*wait on Him*...He will direct you. He will sustain you. He will.
I'll continue to talk about this. I'll share...because now I can. We're still on the road ourselves, so who knows...it might look sloppy at times. Grace, grace...we pray for it from God...we pray for it from you. But in time I will tell more of our story and how we got here, I'll talk more about what it was like. I'll share some of the things we are learning. And please...feel free to share your story here too, even if you want to do it anonymously, and we can pray for you too.
Thank you for being supportive. And thank you for your prayers and love.
Until next time...