…Was everything a lie? How much had Todd deceived me? Even more important, how much was he going to keep deceiving me? How deep did Todd’s problem go?
I looked at Grandma’s Quilt, all the crazy patterns and colors; it looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle someone put together without the benefit of the picture on the front of the box. It was more a symbol representing our lives it was proof you can take the bits and pieces of your life, the good and bad, give them to God and He makes your life into a quilt for His glory. Oh, how it hurts in the making.
Looking back on that night, when Todd revealed to me a very painful part of who he was, my own hurt was crushing. It was so difficult to reconcile the man who, on that night and so many others in our future, would wrap Grandma’s quilt around us tightly and call out to God for himself, for me, for Ally, for release from “his thorn in his side” and for our marriage.
The official diagnosis would be “sexual addiction” which sounds awful and certainly made me, the wife, feel sick inside. Todd didn’t feel so great either. It’s a dark diagnosis and not one you get up and request prayer for in Sunday School or church. It’s not something you confess to your friends or at marriage conferences. It doesn’t come up in casual conversation. So, although our pastor knew and a few friends Todd and I found our way through each day of our marriage with God, one another and professional counseling.
More and more in my heart, every time Todd “slipped” and I’d find out or he’d confess willingly the quilt became an engrained symbol of our marriage. It comforted me in my deepest sorrows. It was a shield when anger would erupt over us. Todd often referred to it as his prayer mantel and many, many times I’d find him knelt in prayer weeping into Grandma’s quilt.
It took over 20 years for Todd to gain long term remission from sexual addiction. I am just now free of the fear that feasted on the darkness of Todd’s addiction every time he is a little late coming home or doesn’t answer his cell phone when I call. In 20 years there were over thirteen slips, not counting the kiss with Lisa. Sometimes it was women he sought and met online, women he didn’t actually meet face to face but with whom he spun fragile hopes of futures he could never keep. Twice it was actual women he “dated” and one he tried to carry further than dating but couldn’t. The other encounters were online pornography. Amazingly none of these slips ever led to physical fulfillment. Todd’s therapist told us sexual addiction isn’t about sex, he was right.
The quilt had issues of its own…
There’s a rip I repaired with a piece of cloth from the bathrobe I was wearing the day a woman knocked on my door and introduced herself as someone Todd had been “dating”. Stains from picnics, and Ally’s belief that chocolate should be another food group. (Okay, she gets that from her mother.) When pieces of the original twin size quilt began to wear I often used cut off pockets from Todd’s shirts to cover the places which resulted in there becoming places Ally and I would tuck “take along’s” into, probably not a great idea, as they are now “baggy”.
Through twenty-seven years of marriage I used odd pieces of cross stitch thread to sew up seams. Quilting thread to replace old squares with new ones making stitches Grandma would be proud of. Like Grandma’s original design my handiwork didn’t seem to follow any pattern yet it fit. Only now I rarely notice the imperfections because they seem right at home on Grandma’s quilt. Todd and I still take Grandma’s quilt out to our deck and wrap it around us as we talk or pray. It has a place of honor hanging over the rocker we used in Ally’s room until it was no longer needed but has permanent residence in the corner of our bedroom. A corner Todd refers to as his prayer closet.
Sometimes I just pass by the quilt and run my hand over it to remind me how wonderfully comforting it is, so soft, so us. It’s the only thing Ally has requested we leave her when we pass away. One day I want her to know how precious this quilt is but the time for her to know is yet to come.
Tonight just before I turn in my eyes linger on the quilt and I know I am blessed. Blessed that my grandmother made it, told me stories about my grandfather and dad; blessed my mom had her part in it too. I’m blessed my husband recognized the value in working hard for a healthy marriage and in prayer and that he chose Grandma’s quilt to be his prayer mantle. Blessed that we have a bright, wonderful, talented 26-year-old daughter whose life is still entwined with ours and recorded as much on Grandma’s quilt as our family picture gallery and who recognizes the quilt’s importance. I am blessed to have such a loving God who used Grandma’s quilt to cover our wounded hearts, celebrate our greatest victories and help us face the future because He uses it to remind us where we’ve been.
Our family is blessed to have such visual evidence of the handiwork of God. Many women would have left Todd and many would disagree with my decision not to. Recovery from sexual addiction is not easy and it seems it’s one of the addictions many people would rather go through life with blinders on about. It’s a shame really. Men or women who struggle with pornography or lust often wander through it alone and because they do they heap shame upon shame upon shame.
God took what was severely broken and made it whole. Grandma took scraps and pieces and began a piece of art that was usable, functional and it became a recorder. God takes all the pieces of our lives, ALL THE PIECES and though we rarely get to see the quilt from His eyes, one day we will. One day we will.
The End of This Series of “The Quilt”