I’m thankful to be writing this blog today. I was hiking on Saturday in a new area with a friend. We made all the mistakes a hiker shouldn’t make. We didn’t check out our trail ahead of time. We didn’t tell anyone what specific trail we were going on. We didn’t bring an extra cell phone charger in case our cell phone ran out of charge while we were hiking. We did bring water and a protein bar, that’s it.
It was a 6-mile hike on Sophie’s Flat Trail in Wickenburg, AZ and it was beautiful. My friend noticed that her cell phone was not fully charged but that was no problem because mine was. We use an app on our phones to map out our trail and make sure we stay on it. So about 4 miles in, her phone ran out of charge. NO problem. I’ll use mine. Except my phone had no service. NO SERVICE AT ALL. I couldn’t even send a text to let my husband know where I was. Then I realized she had a Verizon, I had AT&T.
Neither one of us had any map or cell phone and we were 4 miles into this hike. What do we do? Well, you turn around and try to retrace your steps back because going forward is like going into the dark blindfolded. You have no idea where you are or where you’re headed. Thus far, we had not seen one other person hiking.
But retracing your steps isn’t simple in the desert wilderness. There aren’t great markers on most mountains and there are various trails that go off in different directions. We’d come to a fork in the trail. Hmm, “Did we go on this one or that one?”
By now it’s about 1:30 in the afternoon and we have about 4 more hours of daylight to find our way out. The temperature is dropping and rain clouds are hovering overhead. On the positive side, we were grateful that the Arizona sun was not beating down on us, but on the scary side, we didn’t want to get rained on since it was getting colder and we had no other clothing to get warm with if we got wet.
This is a moment in life we all will find ourselves in at one time or another. My friend and I thought we were going for a fun morning hike. Maybe you thought you were marrying a wonderful godly man. Maybe you believed your church would be there for you when you divorced an abusive partner, and they weren’t. Whatever your “moment” is, you feel scared, tired, lost, and don’t exactly know what to do next. But you have to decide and there are two main decisions to make. What path are you going to walk, and how are you going to handle yourself while walking that path.
I told my friend, “I’m angry at myself for not being better prepared. For not telling anyone exactly what trail we would be on.” She said, “I’m angry at myself for not having checked the trail out ahead of time and not making sure my phone was fully charged.” It would have been easy to slide into fear and despair, anger, and blame. We both felt it pressing in on heart and mind as we trekked along. Thankfully, we recognized what was happening and told it to scat. Instead of blaming and complaining, we started singing the Lord’s Prayer off-key.
I told her, “I think we’re too far from that mountain over there. That’s the one we were walking around. We need to turn around” (again).
“OK”, she said. Then a bit later she brushed aside some bramble and saw another path that veered off from the path we were on. She said, “Let’s try this one, maybe it will bring us higher where we can see something.”(Like the parking lot where our car was parked). We trusted ourselves, each other, and God, to lead us to safety. We didn’t know which way, but we knew God knew. Our part was to keep walking, trusting, and staying positive. We couldn’t control the outcome, just how we handled the journey.
We kept walking and walking and walking and then in the distance we saw angels. They were dressed up in hunting gear, riding two ATV’s, but we were quite sure God sent rescuing angels to help us. They stopped, rolled their eyes a little at our foolishness but offered us a ride to our car. RESCUED AND SAFE.
Lessons learned: 1. Be more prepared for the unexpected in life. 2. We truly are #stronger together. I would have not handled myself as well if I had to do that whole journey by myself. Having a godly sister along helped me when I was tempted with fear and doubt and having me there helped her stay stronger too. 3. I can trust myself to figure it out and I can trust my friend to figure it out and I can trust God to show up when I most need it. We didn’t know all the “right” decisions, we just made the next “right” choice as best as we could discern. But as in the story of Ruth and Naomi, the background phrase of the entire story is “And as it so happened.”
Friend, nothing is an accident. As it so happened there were two jeeps intersecting our path after we had been lost for hours. Had we not taken that particular new path we would have missed them. As it so happened, LeAnne saw this new path in the bramble, believed it was the way, and walked it.
I know not every story has angels and good endings. Some stories end with loss and more questions than answers. Yet I believe that it’s more the journey we take and the story we write while we’re on the journey than necessarily the outcome at the end. Click To Tweet
If you’d like to know more about creating your own story even in the midst of difficulties, please sign up for my free webinar “(3) Ways to Move Past Victim Mindset And Into Owner Mindset.” Click here for more information.
Today’s Question: I’ve been in an abusive marriage with an image manager / covert passive-aggressive. He has moved in with our son” because we are short a car and they ride to work together.” Lately, he has been going to a different church “because they practice social distancing and wearing masks and ours doesn’t.” He has begun doing a lot of things for me such as laundry that he takes home because our dryer is messed up and things around the house when he occasionally comes home.
I’m not sure what these new behaviors are all about. Are they part of the image management? We have not had any hard discussions lately about the ways he hurt me nor has he asked forgiveness or addressed these issues. The nice behaviors are confusing me. What is going on?
Answer: I don’t know. Neither do you. But here is where it’s tempting to negate the good that is happening, even if it’s not all happening for good reasons. You say he’s big into managing his image. So you wonder, Are his kind behaviors more of the same? Maybe. Maybe he’s trying to look like the good husband to your son, or to you, or to people he tells how hard he’s trying to help you. Or maybe there is some good in him and he genuinely wants to help you, even if he is hurtful at other times.
You don’t know, and you say it’s confusing you. I’d like you to dig a little deeper into your own thoughts about his behaviors and why you’re confused. It is outside the realm of possibility for you that he can be both passive/aggressive and kind, snarky, and helpful?
I believe that’s a lot of human beings. It’s not that we don’t have bad qualities because we do, but a healthy person doesn’t deny them, blame others when they show their ugly face, or refuse to take responsibility for the damage they cause. That’s the concern here. Him not taking ownership of the hurtful things he’s done to you. However, if you don’t make a split here, then the confusion doesn’t have to be there. He isn’t either nice or passive/aggressive, he’s both nice and passive/aggressive. But history has shown that he’s unwilling to own his passive/aggressive side and pretends to himself and to others he’s all nice.
I’d be cautious about judging what his motives are right now because you don’t know. I’d encourage you to try to be grateful that he is being kind right now rather than snarky even if it is for his own selfish reasons. It’s much easier to live with a person who is superficially kind than covertly passive/aggressive.
That does not mean you throw caution and past history to the wind and pretend like he has become Mr. Rodgers, all helpful, kind, and compassionate. That would not be wise. The nice part of him doesn’t have to confuse you as long as you realize that very nice people can still be unhealthy and toxic. In fact, encourage his nice side. Enjoy it as long as you can because it won’t last forever. And when his covert passive/aggressive side shows up, here’s what you do so you don’t get confused. You can say something like, “I like your nice side better. This side of your personality is disrespectful, demeaning” or whatever it is that he does that you’re labeling as covert passive/aggression.
Then stop. Wait. See if that small dose of feedback helps him reorient himself. He may not yet be ready to apologize, but if he stops his behavior that is a good start. It may not be the heart change you want, but nice is easier to live with than passive aggression.
You are not going to change him. But you can work on you so that you create for yourself safety through good self-care including boundaries. You can genuinely encourage positive behavior changes when you see them even if they are superficial because it’s still better for you and for him when he is behaving better. That alone may not lead to a great relationship, but it leads to a safer and more peaceful one.
Friends, how do you stay focused on #your own work, when you clearly see your husband not taking responsibility for the damage he’s cause or the work he needs to do?