Never before had I thought of denial as a sheer gift of God’s grace.
Quite the opposite, really. Before adultery hit me personally, I judged those who lived in denial about their circumstance and deemed them unwise or foolish. Now I see that at the time of discovery this stage of grief acted as my life vest in the sea of devastation. Hardly foolish or unwise.
Before I got to the place of denial, however, you must know that the days leading up to that involved an unleashed fury aimed at my husband. It wasn’t my “first stage” as many suggest. The night before I was set to travel to Michigan to “clear my head”, I told him to get a hotel room. His things were nicely put in a bag out on the stoop for him to come and pick up. I didn’t want to see his face (I wanted him to live). When he requested a certain pair of shoes I threw them out in the middle of the driveway for him to retrieve.
It wasn’t pretty. I was weak. Unable to deny this incessant pain.
When we arrived in Traverse City, MI (my home town) late on a Sunday night, it had been two long days of driving and nothing about it was normal. While the kids thought we were on an adventure, I was falling apart inside. While we were all quite excited to see our dear friends, it was under circumstances that were uncharted territory for my heart. I longed for Monday.
I just needed to wake up and do something familiar.
Upon waking up Monday morning, “normal” was exactly what we did. I wiped butts. I made breakfast. I played blocks and watched endless movies (I mean read books – of course). We took a nap. And had a bath. Prayed at bedtime and sang the usual bedtime songs. I jumped into our usual routine with full force because there was only so much trauma I could handle.
That is the very nature of denial. It settles in with shock to help pace the feelings that are flooding in. What a gift! Never before had I felt such comfort in mundane tasks. Denial of what was happening helped keep me from exploding and committing murder. There is only so much a person can take, and God designed our bodies to know our limits.
I didn’t know at the time that I was in denial and shock.
In the thick of tragedy one doesn’t sit around calculating which stage they are in because they are occupied in coping with the news. Looking back I can clearly see how God bestowed on me the gift of denial in a time of catastrophe.
Did denial give me a false sense of control? Maybe. But I am thankful that while in utter brokenness Jesus brought glory to himself through our ordinary routine.