As far as the timeline, I had left off with Parts 17 and 18...and Parts 21 and 22. Those parts are all kind of related.
Where were we? Joel and I had come back together September 1st. Joel moved back in. And we had started to tackle getting to know each other again. I had physically/emotionally/spiritually/mentally needed a break starting in the Spring of 2012 (after a really, really rough year in Brazil...I need to do an actual post on just that year and all that it involved that served as just the straw that broke the camel's back in my life) and as discussed, was denied that needed rest by my husband constantly...over the 2 1/2 years prior to us coming back together (January 2012 - Sept. 1, 2014). Because of this, we had gradually gradually gradually started living very separate lives. So, here we were, not really knowing each other at all now after coming back together. Joel had turned into a person over those 2 1/2 years that I needed to distance myself from for my own safety and well-being...and in that distance, we grew to know nothing about each other.
So, when we came back together, we spent the first few days reconnecting. Getting to know each other. Discussing the hard things. I've talked about this before. Some of it wasn't easy. But, it was necessary.
I had found the correspondence written about in Parts 17 and 18 in the Spring before Joel ever even moved out...but had never told Joel. I told him that I had seen that correspondence as we discussed things. And then, in reconnecting, I saw the things written about in Parts 21 and 22. There were more things I found out about...lots more of the same. And some other things that I'm not even going to go into. Needless to say though...it was a rough few days for me.
But because of who the people were that were involved in this particular correspondence...because they were people who were close to esp. Joel...I knew that it was something that needed to be addressed soon. It's already been established that it was family, so that just takes things to a different level. And you treat things with family a little differently than if it was just some other random person. It's just different.
Along with that specific relationship (the fact that it was 'family') being a reason for it needing to be addressed soon, also because of the divisive role these people had played for the past few years, that root issue (of divisiveness) needed to be completely cut out. It needed to be dealt with. We were together again. We were putting us and each other priority. We were rebuilding. There was going to be no room for tearing down and tearing apart.
So...we set out to deal with it.
I thought I knew these people. So when I was reading the correspondence, I was absolutely floored. I couldn't believe what I was reading. It was just so incredibly horrifying. How could someone be so two-faced and cold? How could someone speak with such authority about what was happening...and speak with such authority about me...and they've never even talked to me in years...and certainly not about any of the topic at hand. And...those things they were saying with such authority?...truly horrible things! I was literally just flabbergasted.
But hey...I also knew that Joel had been talking to them about all of his perceptions and fears and uncertainties. And since he had just ceased to see me and hear me, of course he wasn't actually relaying...me. He was relaying himself...and that I hadn't followed him in his wishes. And that I had refused to do this or that. And that I was being so not myself and doing things like not functioning...how dare I!!
Meanwhile, I am laying on the floor, wounded, injured, damaged, hurt. Yet, how dare I!! (ugh) Anyway...
Although these people were incredibly wrong in not actually asking me...and not actually valuing what I had to say...I still honestly just thought that we'd be able to talk this through and reach the other side. I thought that we would be able to be honest with each other, we would be able to clear the air, we would be able to right the wrongs and clear up any wrong beliefs or misconceptions. So...
Joel and I set out to do just that.
It wasn't going to be fun. But, because of who I thought these people were, I really did think that it would be a relatively easy and quick fix. I think you all know by now that I was sadly mistaken.
I know there are many of you out there who have dealt with/are dealing with conflict and/or difficult/broken relationships. I'm going to explain to you our specific story here...and go into principles and definitions so that hopefully people at large can get a better understanding of how to deal with conflict and others. And hopefully, we can once and for all, clear up what forgiveness is, for heaven's sake!
Joel sent an email first...just letting them know that we had gotten back together...that we were reconnecting...that we were knitting ourselves back together bit by bit, that we had started the (probably long) walk down the road to recovery. I honestly did not have anything to do with this first email. I didn't feel connected to him enough yet...we were still pretty distanced in many ways. While he showed it to me, I said nothing. In it, he had mentioned how he thought that I had been wronged by himself and them...and that repentance was needed. Again, I said nothing.
Personally, if I'm being honest, his email seemed a bit abrupt and kind of rough...but, that's how Joel writes. As I've mentioned here before, he is the first to tell you that he is no wordsmith at all. It's why he doesn't write. It's just not a gift he has. And especially when he's presented with a difficult situation and conflict...remember, he doesn't do well with conflict. So, when presented with a situation with conflict, he's usually either hot or cold. Either he comes off as abrupt and a little rough...or he is super passive and just practically pretends like there isn't any conflict or problem. He is the first to tell you that...it is just not his thing.
In general, he prefers talking on the phone or meeting face-to-face when possible...conflict or no. But, that wasn't an option here. So, he wrote this email. And I said nothing.
It didn't really matter though. It wasn't the fault of this email that it wasn't well-received. We figured we might get a little pushback since Joel had spent the past few years actually saying some pretty incriminating (and untrue) things about me. And of course, the people he was talking to had not tried to find out if those things were true or not. So...they were believing some pretty outrageous things about me.
Again I thought, fine...this is normal. Yes, they shouldn't have believed those things. And yes, they should've come to me and actually asked. But, since they didn't do the right things...this is normal for them to be pretty taken aback (and even mad). I thought, that's ok...everything will be explained, they'll find out the truth of what has happened, I'll find out exactly what they are thinking and believing about me and will be able to explain all of my side of the story for these past few years, they'll see the error of their ways in believing what they believe about me, and we will be able to work it out and move on.
That didn't happen.
They all eventually did say that they were sorry, that they wanted to ask my forgiveness...that they had believed Joel before in all that he was saying about me during those years...they could and would choose to believe him now that he was saying that he had had it all wrong during those years. That's what they said. That's all they said. No questions. Just 'Whatever...we're sorry.'
I said, fine...forgiveness is yours. Thank you.
But I also said, now that you know that forgiveness is readily available to you in your repentance, let's talk.
And even though their apologies had seemed less than sincere as related to me (basically 'fine, we'll believe joel...whatever' after some pretty serious pushback), I truly believed that they were capable of true repentance, esp. as they gradually found out the truth...about me, about the past few years, etc.
So I said, "Forgiveness is yours. But, I'd like to discuss all that was said and done. It won't be pleasant, but I think it will be worth it."
Specific permission to discuss, with full knowledge that it wouldn't be easy or pleasant, was granted by one. The others, Joel just told them that I'd be emailing them in order to discuss things. Theirs was a less 'confrontational' type email since there had actually been correspondence with me, so we were going to just discuss the actual correspondence between them and me, and them and Joel. That's what we did with them.
But, I took all the correspondence. I wrote a warning about how I was completely just flabbergasted as to how this all had gone down. I was completely honest and told them that I was angry at how it had happened and how they had acted. I told them that I would respond to each thing that was written about me...and that in those responses it might even seem snarky at times...because I was seriously just completely floored by what I was seeing. So yes...I even warned them about the seldom snark. Because, as I wrote to a friend to explain true repentance...
when there is true repentance, the two parties can discuss what happened, ask questions, get answers, express anger even.I told them that I would write them mostly in bullet points (there was a LOT to cover)...so in that writing style it might seem more pointed, but to take all that I said in the best possible tone of voice and assume goodwill. But that, yes, I was angry and shocked and stung by their beliefs and words and actions. I told them that, even though this was all true and I might seem angry and even snarky at times in my confrontation, that I was really hopeful that, with honesty, we could work through it all and reach the other side...reconciliation. But that without that honesty, it wouldn't be possible. I even praised the good I did see in hopes that that would just soften hearts a bit...and that through that kindness they would see that my heart was to get to the bottom of it all, not to 'attack' as I know confrontation can often be seen that way. I assured them that that was not what I was doing...but that a really honest discussion was needed in order to work through things.
So...I responded to each thing that was written about me. I confronted the perpetrators about their beliefs about me, their counsel to Joel, their lack of getting my side of the story, their lack of believing me (the ones who actually did ask me, 2 years in, yet chose not to believe me), their 2-faced and backstabbing actions, their continued actions (starting in January 2012) that were clearly bringing about division between Joel and I instead of encouraging unity, etc. etc. etc. And I said all of those other things (listed in the paragraph above) in the beginning, throughout, and at the end.
I was hopeful that this was the beginning of an honest dialogue.
These initial emails were written during the first 2 weeks of September. There were ongoing emails until the end of October...all of their emails refusing to discuss things with me...all of our emails trying to convince them to just talk to us honestly, that that was O.K....that that was what was needed. I was prepared, and wanted to, give an answer for all of my actions over the past few years. They refused to give answers for theirs. And weren't interested in any dialogue at all.
One of the perpetrators actually took 6 weeks to answer my initial 'confrontation' email (the one where I responded to all that he had written about me and asked him questions, etc.). 6 weeks. Because he was 'busy.' What profundity did he write in his response that we had waited 6 weeks for?
He did say briefly that it was wrong of him not to get my side of the story...and for that he repented. But then he said...
At this time I do not feel to discuss further everything I said. God our Heavenly Father forgives us when we repent, and no longer remembers our sins against Him. He who knows all things chooses to forget our individual sins against Himself. He does not come to discuss them with us, but remembers them no more. Then His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth works in us bringing His truth to us that sets us free and changes us so we no longer sin against Him.To some of you, that might just seem sweet and holy and lovely.
Where I judged you wrong due to wrong beliefs, I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth.
This is my only hope for change and transformation.
God reveals His truth little by little. His truth sets me free and changes me. That is the only way I can truly be changed.
That is the reason to accept my brothers and sisters in Christ and my family members because I know God is not finished with all of us He is still at work in each of our lives. I will be patient with others as we are all God's handiwork, it is an ongoing project.
We love you and from this day forward choose to fully accept you knowing that God is at work in you as He is in me.
1) to repent for not getting my side of the story...and then to, in the next breath, refuse to discuss things with me (including my side of the story) - that is NOT repentance; that is a clear sign that this person has not reached actual repentance.
2) "He who knows all things chooses to forget our individual sins against Himself. He does not come to discuss them with us, but remembers them no more." - exactly. He who knows all things! You know, the One who sees our hearts. He knows all. For example, if someone is truly repentant. If that someone who is saying things like "I'm sorry" and "I repent" has truly turned a corner for good. If that person even believes he's done something wrong in the first place. In order for God to forgive you, you have to ask. You must confess your wrongdoing, be truly repentant (as demonstrated by actions, not just words), and ask forgiveness. God, who knows all, actually knows (without further discussion) whether or not that person truly believes they've done something wrong and are repentant. People don't know all...but we can know more through discussion. We are instructed to forgive as God forgives...and He forgives when men repent and seek His mercy; not before.
3) ^^^ nobody was seeking my mercy during those couple of months. lol. Not even close. It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to even email us. I had done my part...and actually gone way above and beyond. Bent. Over. Backwards.
4) as I replied to him addressing the 'not feeling like discussing it further':
i'm very confused as to how you think that this is ok...or why you think you are the one who gets to decide. if i wrong someone, it humbles me to the ground. i feel horrible. i ask them, "please...how can i make this right? how can we bring resolution to this and restoration to our relationship? what will it take for you? what do *you* need?" it's not about penance or, again (as we seem to not see eye to eye on) 'unforgiveness' on their part...it's about meeting that person that *i've* mistreated, that *i've* wronged, where they are. *i'm* the one who has pushed them away. *i'm* the one who has caused them damage. *i'm* the one who is then subject to whatever they need to make it right. *i'm* the one who is just longing to bring them back into a relationship with me. i *want* to do whatever it takes to bring us (me and the one i've wronged) back together. even if that means discussing what it is, in detail, that i did wrong...and how on earth i was at the point that i *could* do such wrong to that person. if that person wants answers, i give them to that person. it takes *way more* than just "i'm sorry and i repent, but i no longer want to discuss what i did."5) he said that the Holy Spirit can reveal all of his wrong beliefs to him. O.K. Sure...the Holy Spirit can reveal all, of course. But, another translation of this part is 'I just refuse to talk to you. Yes, discussing things with you and your husband could also be a way to reveal wrong beliefs that I've had about you and this situation. But no...I'll just refuse you the thing you say you most need from me in order to reconcile our relationship...because I'm super holy and I don't need you, you little peon, to help reveal my wrongdoings. The Holy Spirit is the only way we can hear truth. Thanks though. Bye, Felicia.' lol. Just throwing in some humor here. Ha. He wouldn't actually use those exact words. But truly...this is a basic translation of what he did say.
6) basically, as the one person I shared this email with said, "i dont want to judge him, but in those lines he sounds very self righteous and the religion he is putting forth is yucky." I agree.
7) and I love his last sentence there. "...we choose to fully accept you..." We also have the beliefs that you are controlling, manipulative, deceived by satan, have a mental disorder, and are 'uppity,' along with a few other things. But, we'd rather just continue believing those things instead of actually discussing those things with you. Thanks though. But...'we fully accept you'...and who we think you are.
So yeah...as you can see...what I thought would be a relatively quick and easy fix was actually over 2 months (over two months!) of really, really difficult communication leading us to a dead end. Which, of course, (sarcasm following) was just exactly what Joel and I needed when we had finally come back together after 2 1/2 years of hell in our marriage. What support for us and our union! :/
I had been wronged so badly by these people. Of course, by far the easiest and most comfortable (involving the least amount of stress) thing to do would have been to just distance myself. But, I knew that wouldn't be the right thing to do. So, I sucked it up, chose to deal with it the way the Bible says to, and went to them to work it out. No matter what we said, they just refused to work it out with us. I/we had been wronged, yet I/we were the ones who were doing all the work. It was exhausting.
It was all just another devastating blow to us. Here we had just had this literal miracle occur...and had gotten back together, full of love and hope. And then this. Another trauma-filled, stress-filled two months.
I'll tell you more of the story in the next post...along with more principles and a bottom-liner of what I believe forgiveness is.