“It was a beautiful, hot, but perfect day in July the day Marcus and I got married…. (it really was perfect) but, to be fair, it wouldn’t be the whole truth if we jumped in and started right there. Truth is, this story of healing and happily ever after started, unfortunately, with a really hurtful past.
I was in a relationship prior to meeting Marcus. Dating right after high school, and from the very beginning, this guy was incredibly cruel. Always making remarks about my weight, ridiculing me about my beliefs (raised in church I KNEW better than to be unequally yoked – Long story short, ladies/guys make sure they love JESUS more than they love YOU. No exception.) This guy I was dating would cheat on me with other girls and actually be proud of it – it was funny to him for me to find pictures on his phone of half-naked women or answer the call from another girl thinking I was his sister, giving me a message that went something like, “tell him I was just calling to let him know he left his phone charger here last night…” or something like that.
It was your typical textbook unhealthy teenage (19 years old) relationship in every way. So, like most young girls who are in any relationship for a long time, those things tend to become your “normal” and this day turns in to that day, turns into that week, that month, that year and you stay because it’s “normal” and you just hope things will surely change.
We got married but there wasn’t a proposal, no bridesmaids, no saying yes to the dress, no guests at the ceremony (my parents weren’t even invited). Now, I know all of the “pomp and circumstance” of a huge wedding with a big dress, 7 tier cake, and 14 bridesmaids isn’t a necessity and doesn’t guarantee a good marriage, but my point is… for me, for what I wanted for my life, it was a mess from the very beginning and only continued to get worse year after year.
The emotional abuse turned into verbal abuse which turned into physical abuse. The shoving and pushing turned into things being thrown at me, which turned into hitting and choking which got worse and worse and then so much worse. I had bruises I had to cover up, I had cuts that I had to cover up, I had burns that I had to cover up. At one point I was held at gunpoint until he could decide what he wanted to do with me. I had after many years of this convinced myself that I wouldn’t make it out of this marriage alive. I thought, as long as my kids are ok (thinking they were too young to know what was going on) I could just “deal with it”. I had always been taught and believed (and still believe) that God hates divorce, so I thought this was it. This was my life from now on.
You’re probably wondering what in the world I did to provoke him to do all of those things, but for those who have been there or those that are there right now… you understand that I didn’t really have to do anything. He was a sick individual and what set him off could be the simplest of things.
Maybe “I dressed too sloppy. I dressed too nice. I interrupted him. Talked to loud, not loud enough. Sat down when I should have stood up, Stood up when I should have sat down, etc…” Sounds silly, but so very true.
After many years of living on this emotional roller coaster, I started to see the effects that it was having on my children. One night, in particular, he had me pinned up against the wall in the dining room, in a complete rage when all of a sudden in mid-sentence, he stopped and I fell to the floor. I looked up to see my little girl (4 at the time) staring at us. I knew then I had to find some help. I had to tell someone.
The process from that day to the day we got a divorce involved a lot of soul searching. A lot of praying and reading God’s word. I knew God hated divorce, but I also had to come to realize that abuse was not ok. I sought counseling from my Pastor, confided in my parents, and the few (really, like 2) friends that had caught on to what was happening.
I’ve been asked many times before, “How did you do it? How did you leave?” because if you have ever found yourself in that situation, it’s a scary place. I have described it as standing on the edge of a cliff. I knew that if I jumped there was a good possibility I might not make it (leaving would only add fire to the flame). I also knew that if I didn’t jump, I definitely would not make it. So, I closed my eyes and jumped. I moved myself and my kids in with my parents until I could find a place and we started the long, drawn-out process of divorce.
I would love to say that it started getting better that very day! I would love to tell you we split everything right down the middle, shook hands, high-fived and co-parented like all great Hollywood families do. Unfortunately, that is far, far from the truth. It was a terrifying time. My life was threatened, my health declined, I borrowed thousands without knowing how I would pay it back so that I could fight a battle for my children – a battle that I still can’t stand to think about today, without crying. It was awful and life as a single Mom of two babies was hard. Hardest job in the entire world. I learned the most important lesson of my entire life on that road though. A lesson that has carried me every day since….
One day I had just got home from working all day and as I parked, I noticed a disconnect notice hanging from my apartment door. One of my utilities had been cut off, again. I was working full time (had a great job that paid decently), but wasn’t receiving any help in child support, still paying thousands in court costs, supporting two kids with groceries, sports, rent, utilities, car payments, etc… it just wasn’t working out and that disconnect notice was the last straw. I was physically exhausted, mentally exhausted and spiritually exhausted. I was mad at God. Where in the world was He? I had lived for Him since I was 14 years old and I knew for a fact this other person who was causing so much trouble for me had not in fact lived for Him like I had! I know I wasn’t always perfect, but I certainly didn’t do anything too terrible for Him to let this happen to me, or to my kids! Where was He?? I had been praying and praying, asking Him to do this and that. I even told Him what to do for goodness sake. I told Him exactly what would fix this. Where was He and why wasn’t He listening?
That day when I saw the disconnect notice, I walked into my apartment and I never even took my purse off of my shoulder. I can’t remember, but I’m sure I shut the front door!? I do remember just collapsing right there on the chair by the door, crying and screaming out to God “I give up. I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t. Unless You fix this God, all of this, it just won’t get done. I’ve hired everyone that I know to hire I’ve prayed all I know to pray. I have no other choice now, I am giving this totally to You. I’m done.” I surrendered it all to Him at that moment, and at that moment He started doing what we all know He does best, to those who put their faith in Him… He started working it all for my good.
Lesson learned. I didn’t go to Him with a solution anymore, just submission. I chose to trust Him.
Isaiah 61 says that God will give us beauty for ashes… that He may be glorified.
In biblical times it was customary for people to sit in ashes or cover themselves with ashes to express grief over a distressing situation. Today ashes, I believe, can represent the wounded, messed up things going on in our lives. Everybody has ashes–and all kinds of them.
Isn’t it beautiful though that God says He can give you beauty for ashes? I love that. However, I think we concentrate on just the beauty sometimes though and forget that unless you give Him your ashes, you don’t get the beauty. We hold onto our ashes and wonder, Why doesn’t my life change? Where is His beauty?
Well… where are your ashes? There is a substitution plan here, and you have to be willing to trust Him in handing over all of your distressing situations. He is promising you restoration if you give them over to Him!
I grew closer to God during that awful time in my life, more than I ever had in my life. I developed a relationship and a bond with my children that was thicker than mud. I became a better Mom, a stronger woman and a walking testimony of Psalms 91!
It wasn’t an overnight fix, there were still many battles I had to fight, but never again did I fight alone.
Marcus and I met in December 2011 and although the divorce had been final, he still had to walk through too many of those bad days, long nights, back and forth to court we go, custody fights, emotional days that followed with me. God knew what He was doing when He made him for me though! He would pray over me and the kids every day, encourage me, and fight through every single battle with me. “We are in this together” he would tell me (him, me and two cute little kids)! He made our days better and restored my hope in happily ever after. Although I felt damaged, undeserving and less than good enough, by loving me and treating me like a real man should, he helped me find myself again. God knew exactly what I wanted and needed in a Godly man like him.
Happily Ever Afters
Remember when I said to find someone who loves Jesus MORE than they love you… told ya, it really does work. We’ve been together almost 8 years now, married for almost 5 (in July) and God has been so, so good!! We have an amazing marriage because it is built on a strong foundation in Christ (the key to any amazing marriage)! Our little family started with four but has now grown to five! And while some would consider this to be a “blended” family, we’ve never thought of it that way…. we are family. The thought of it being anything different has never occurred to us. We are family and we are living our beautiful adventure…
Jeremiah 29:11 (MSG) “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.”