When You Aren’t Sure if You Should Stay

Lysa TerKeurst
Lysa Terkeurst

“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD — how long?”

Psalm 6:2-3 (ESV)

I love today’s passage because it’s a prayer first offered up by someone who knows the pain of languishing. That’s not a word I use often, but it’s the perfect word to describe what I felt during the years of great pain and uncertainty about my marriage.

Devotion Graphic

Many people ask why I stayed and fought for my marriage after my husband’s affair. The answer to that is as complicated and intricate as trying to understand what makes the ocean pull back and stop at the shore. There was a season where it wasn’t reasonable or responsible to stay, so there were long stretches of separation in our journey. Much like when the ocean doesn’t respect the boundary of the shoreline and hurricane conditions force evacuations.

But then the shoreline became safe again. And I had a choice.

To say I wrestled through fears of being hurt again are an understatement. There was also so much pain and damage done that it felt like trying again was harder than walking away. Our journey had lasted so long with many dashed hopes along the way that I just didn’t know if I had anything left to give.

So, I gave the only thing I could — and that was time.

I made the decision to let some time pass and just observe how committed Art was to pursuing healing, whether or not I was open to him pursuing me. And I sought wise advice from people who had been through life-altering heartbreaks and were now walking in healing.

Maybe you’re standing on the shoreline of your own difficult circumstances trying to figure out what to do. Here are three statements that were truly helpful in my own journey:

1. “Trust is built with time plus believable behavior.”

My counselor taught me this, and it took the pressure off me to feel like I had to figure everything out. I just had to pay attention to choices Art was making, what the Lord was saying to me in my daily time in His Word and how my own healing was going. I was honest during this season about both my progress and my setbacks. My emotions got triggered and I often wanted to talk about what I was experiencing. And honestly, the very best gauge I had was Art’s reaction. If he was patient and understanding, it built my confidence that his heart was in a tender place.

2. “He will either be in recovery or relapse.”

A wise friend of mine who knew how addictions can complicate healing situations shared this with me. It isn’t as clear-cut in some situations, but for me, I could tell by his daily choices. The choices someone makes often point to the habits they are establishing for their life moving forward. Healthy choices become habits that become healthy patterns that become a healthy life of recovery. My part in all of this is to always be honest about what I’m seeing … health or unhealth? Recovery or relapse?

3. “Lysa, what do you ultimately want?”

This simple question also proved incredibly helpful during this season. My answer was that I wanted to be able to enjoy simple moments again. And if that’s what I wanted, I had to make choices that fed peace into my life rather than constantly jumping on the emotionally charged opportunities that are often presented in moments of relational crisis. I didn’t do this perfectly, but I did do it intentionally. I intentionally chose not to take the bait Satan offered me to say cutting remarks, pile on shame or present myself as the one who made better choices.

Forgiveness is a process. Healing is a long journey. And after time had passed, I realized it was possible to heal together. But I’ll never ever criticize another person for choices they made that were different than mine when placed in the same horror and heartbreak as me. And certainly, if it’s not possible or safe to stay … you can feel like you have no choice at all. But, always remember, reconciliation and redemption are not the same. Even if your situation doesn’t allow for relationship reconciliation, redemption with God is still yours for the choosing.

So, my dear friend, if you find yourself in a situation today where you feel like there’s nothing else to give but time, I know that painful ache all too well. That’s why I don’t want you to miss these words near the end of Psalm 6, after David’s honest cries about his troubles: “The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9, ESV).

God hears your plea.
God accepts your prayer.

And whether it’s redemption with reconciliation or not, God will breathe life into the shattered pieces of your story and create something new and more beautiful than ever before. In His way. In His timing.

O God, thank You for working on my behalf even when I feel at the end of my own strength. I trust You to bring beauty from my story even when the pieces of it feel so broken. Thank You for carrying me through this day and through this season. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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