Rebuilding Burnt Bridges

How does one earn back God’s forgiveness and mercy, after tearing his family apart? Is it possible to take back the words once said that have damaged the trust within a marriage? Can the eyes of perception be shifted back to the place they were, before the tears arrived? How can I undo the pain that I’ve caused upon others? Will Christ still love me, even through these sins?

Welcome to the Orthodox Trucker blog. We’re back again after being dormant for over three months. I apologize for being gone for so long, but you’ll have to forgive me. We had a few issues to resolve first.

I haven’t been happy for quite a while. I was living in the world, of the world, and was struggling to develop a deeper relationship with Christ. Without Church, or an active Orthodox Community to engage with, being orthodox on your own can feel like living on a deserted island. The other problem was a lack of communication. My wife and I were not communicating to each other. Sure we were talking, but were we really hearing each other? I was struggling with my job and the lack of miles being given to me. No miles, means no pay. I decided to head back other the road at the end of September. Get out there, see the country, and make some decent money while I’m at it. The problem with that is being away from home causes an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. And with there already being strained relations between my wife and I, it was easier to stay out. Combine that with my living in my head, and my negative thoughts, I soon decided divorce was the best option to resolve our misery.

Soon came the negative thinking and the depression. I fell into a pretty big depression and started putting all the blame for my problems squarely on the shoulders of my wife. I had plenty of people backing me up, encouraging me to see how “abusive and manipulative” she was. Any problem I had, I could trace it back to her. No relationship with my parents? Wife. No dreams? Wife. No goals or plans for the future? Wife. Plans for a return to school? Derailed, thanks to my wife. Was this fair of me? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Were these allegations I made against her correct? NOPE. However, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind and was living in a chaotic spiral of depression and negative thoughts. I was upset and angry and not living in the right frame of mind. The devil was working overtime on me, and I couldn’t see it at the time. I had stopped praying and stopped attending divine liturgy in person or online.

I came home at the beginning of October for her Grandma’s funeral. I visited for a week and then on Sunday, we went our separate ways. Me heading back to Portland for work, and her, back to lacrosse. I blocked every family member she had from being able to contact me and went off the grid. I started filing for divorce, and soon I was gone.

I got a new phone number, deleted my Facebook and took down the Orthodox Trucker blog. I allowed myself to drop off the face of the earth . Because as far as I was concerned, I was never going to talk to my wife again. I mean I was convinced that it was she who had hurt me! I was convinced that I was the victim and she was the abuser against me. How foolish and wrong I was!

You know how when you’re doing the opposite of what God wants, and even though you’re marching to the beat of your own drum, you still hear the soft voice of God trying to talk to you? Maybe trying to remind you of the right path, or ask what the heck are you doing? I spent several weeks trying to ignore that voice. I tried so hard to not reach out, to not call her. For if I did, she would sink her hooks into me and I would never break free. But as the days passed, my resolve weakened and God continued to chip away at the walls I put up. I soon found my self missing my wife and of course my son. For three weeks we did not communicate. For three weeks I lived in false belief that I could be happier with someone else. For three weeks, I was not Orthodox.

My resolve however, was starting to break down and as much as I tried to ignore the soft still voice of God, deep within my heart, eventually it won. I realized that by leaving my family and causing this split, I was only creating more pain for myself and for everyone else involved. I slowly came to my senses and came to understand that the problem wasn’t me versus her, but rather a lack of partnership and ability to face the demons together. We weren’t together. But if we were going to make it to the Kingdom of heaven, we needed each other. And frankly, I still loved her. Forget the negative feelings and doubts, you can’t change how I love someone. And when it comes to Emily, I love her with all my heart.

I swallowed my pride and sent her a video message, asking to talk. She was scared, but agreed that a marriage together in Christ, was better than being split apart to wander the wastes. We needed to put in real work, together. And commit to working towards a common life, not separate ones. We quickly came to some understandings. For starters, our marriage can only work, when both of us are there to participate. No more over the road long distance driving. Second, both of us needed to take accountability for our words and actions. For me that meant coming to terms with my depression and negative feelings, and learning how to be open about them and communicate. It meant no more isolating and no more lies. I had to be honest about everything, including the hard emotional stuff. For her, it meant recognizing the fact that she didn’t always place equal share of our life 50/50 on us. It was more like 50/25/25, with that last 25% going to either her parents or to her sister. It also meant more honesty for her as well. Being honest about how she feels and the things we have done. If we were going to make this work, then we were going to need to make some major changes.

So we did. We made a commitment to tear down our old life and start over. Our new commitment involved not only the voluntary surrender of our trailer, but also a move back to Vancouver, Washington. The rejoining of a church family, and an active engagement in family actives. We’ve been working with our spiritual father and having video chats with him, which has been tremendously helpful. At the end of this terrible year I can say that while I started a major fire in regards to my life, the rebuilding process has been fruitful. We’ve started attending St George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Portland, Oregon. We’ve moved into a nice two bedroom ground floor apartment with an easy commute for work, and have started visiting with my parents and extended family again.

We aren’t 100% healed yet, but were getting there. We still have to make amends with her family, which many aren’t too happy to hear that we’re back together. I’m hoping that it’ll just take time and a little work ethic, family work ethic to show them. But for the time being, life is better for us than it’s been in a very, very long time. My son is finally getting used to having his father home and a part of his life, and I am learning how to really be a dad now. It’s a daily lesson in patience and love. Glory to God. And now that we’ve returned to the church and have embraced the faith once more, I can say that yes, Christ’s mercy extends to even the biggest of sinners. And even more so, the eyes of the Theotokos once again look upon us with love.

Thanks for reading my friends. Sorry for leaving you all in the dark for so long. I hope you all have a wonderful new year! Until then, take care.

– Orthodox Trucker

The night we moved into our new Apartment. It was Thanksgiving, and we had a lot to be thankful for…

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