We all have our stumbling blocks, things or people that we continue to stumble over, time and again. Most of us try to avoid them or walk around them, but often, they’re blocking our path, and we can’t go up, around or beneath them. We have to pray our way through them.
My ex-husband is my greatest stumbling block, and that is not to say that he is a bad person. It’s just that we have extremely different perspectives on things, and we clash on a continual basis. Our biggest stress point is money. He feels that the child support he provides is a lot–and that he shouldn’t have to provide anything over and above that amount. And when it comes to child support, the amount is more adequate than what many single moms receive. And I am grateful. And blessed.
Our main sticking point are all those large expenses above and beyond “normal” expenses, things like the removal of wisdom teeth, braces, college supplies, etc. He feels pressed as it is to provide the child support, and feels that I should be covering these extra things, even though our divorce decree is fairly specific about such expenses. This has been a source of ongoing wrangling, and it has added additional bitterness to my already bitterness-encrusted heart.
Time and again, the Lord has spoken to me and said, “Gwenn, I am your husband, he is not. Trust me to provide what you need. There’s no point in arguing.” And true to my nature, I keep saying, “OK, Lord, but…” I have a lot of “buts.” Things like, “But he agreed to help pay for that…” “But it’s his responsibility to help pay for that…” “But why should I be stuck with that?”
At the bottom of it all is my lack of faith. Again. But (there it is again) until I let go and free-fall into the arms of Jesus and trust Him implicitly for everything, I am going to continue to stumble over my husband. And man, am I tired of it. It’s like he’s the elephant in the room, and I just want to get him out (no offense) and have room to move and breathe and stop tripping over him.
I realized just how bitter I was a few months ago when we had a graduation party for our daughter. Since I have nearly no family left (my entire family of origin is dead), all of the people who came from out of state to her graduation party were my husband’s side of the family. And I love them, since they are like family to me after being married for 25 years.
During those few days, 20 of us went out to dinner. My ex-husband, who was sitting at the opposite end of the table from me, was joking with the waitress and told her to add his tab to mine. I didn’t hear him saying that, and when the bills were handed out to each of the families, I looked down at mine, and realized there were food items on there that weren’t mine. When I asked the waitress, she pointed at my ex-husband.
I was instantly ticked. No one in that group knew about the ongoing money arguments we’ve had for nearly two years, and before I knew it, I said angrily to the waitress, “I’m not paying for his food!” It got strangely quiet at the table, and I could feel the blood rushing to my face. I found out later that my ex, after joking about putting his tab on mine, told the waitress he would pick up his tab and mine. But she apparently didn’t hear that part.
While I feel that his initial joke was completely inappropriate, my response was a clear sign that I was still drowning in bitterness. That I hadn’t relinquished it to Jesus. I was still stumbling over my personal stumbling block.
Daily now, I keep taking it to Him, and asking Him to help me let go of the bitterness, the expectations, the annoyance, the disappointment, and simply trust in Him, and Him alone. I don’t want to stumble anymore. And He clearly doesn’t want me to, either.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When we trust in Him, our paths become straight. We’re no longer dodging or tripping over stumbling blocks.