Stages of Grief: Bargaining

Even in my darkest, most rage-filled moments, I had never been able to forget that 13 years earlier, I'd looked into J's eyes and asked my Father in Heaven if this was the man that I was to marry. My heart had been flooded with warmth, and my mind had seemed to expand to view years, decades, eternities into the future-- and I could not deny that marrying him had never been a mistake. I had loved him. I still loved him. Even when I hated him, it was because loving him hurt so much.


The Anger drained out of me as I uttered my feeble, hopeless prayer; and while it was a relief to let it go, I was left utterly exhausted and crushed beneath the weight of the options before me.

Leaving felt like an impossible choice. If it were to all end now, then why had I felt so right about our marriage to begin with? Why hadn't it ended years ago, when it very well could have? Why had I felt so strongly that we should continue to have children? I was in. I was committed. I had decided to trust. I couldn't leave now.

But staying also felt impossible; it would strip me of every shred of dignity and self-worth I had. Despite J's protests, I knew the pattern we were in. Staying would be the very definition of insanity- doing the same thing but expecting a different result. I couldn't become the emotional equivalent of a battered wife.

There were no easy solutions.

I want to say that I gave the decision to the Lord because I trusted him to see what I could not; to fix the unfixable. And there was some of that. But mostly, I was tired. Trying to navigate my way was too heavy a burden, and my mortal mind was just too flawed to believe that there could ever be an end to the misery.

I gave it up because I had to.

Yet even as I exercised this fraction-of-a-mustard-seed worth of faith, I tried to Bargain as well. "I'll do whatever you want me to do, " I'd say, "as long as you save my marriage." Or, "as long as my children aren't traumatized" or, "as long as this just stops hurting so much."

I woke the next morning knowing that I would leave. Peace settled on me as I packed bags and made arrangements for the children and I to visit my parents in their tiny farming community.

For the rest of the summer, as I went running past fields of wheat ripe for harvest, I'd pray for guidance and fight to stifle my own desperate desire for things to turn out the way I wanted them to. Bargaining wasn't a stage-- it wafted through my days like smoke and blinded me to the ease of trusting Him completely. It still does. But as I teetered between fear and faith, it became clearer to me that He could see what I could not. That He could fix the unfixable.

So I decided to let Him.

Tomorrow: Depression

{image via The Grangeville Project}

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