My Story Part 3

Being a wife to a godly man and mother is a noble calling. I’d lost everything and that heartache hurt badly. The following is a short version of the circumstances surrounding my divorce. Our two greatest human needs are to love and to be loved. Only God Himself can meet these needs.  As many young couples, my ex and I had the ridiculous hidden expectation that the other could be “god” and would fill the lonely void that only Christ can fulfill. People make lousy “gods”. When I came to follow Jesus, I began to realize that in God these needs are met. I learned that I am not on this earth to be served, but to serve. When we first got together many years prior to the divorce, neither of us believed in Jesus. I knew there was God, but I did not know Jesus as Lord. My ex was an atheist and I’d hoped to convince him that there is a God.

I had a terrible temper. Also I had been selfish, much more selfish than my ex. Both of us became bitter towards each other. Bitterness is a cancer that poisoned our hearts and turned what love we had known into frozen apathy towards one another. This apathy is really the true opposite of love (not hate).

When I became a Christian, I tried to change to be a “good” wife. However, my ex decided to leave me anyway. So, in May of 1983 he told me that he would be leaving me in September. Our son was 6 years old at this time. Divorce is so terrible for children.

I pleaded with my ex and fasted and prayed.  I also lost so much weight and became anorexic. It hurts a lot to be rejected. That summer of 1983 I tried to obey everything my ex said. I tried to be a “perfect” 1 Peter 3:1-5 wife. I made sure the house was clean and dinner was on the table. I helped my ex get the house ready to sell by helping him with painting, cleaning and fixing it up.

But when that summer ended he left me anyway… It was a cold and brilliantly sunny September afternoon.

I’d been a Christian for about two years, but  this was the first time I couldn’t pray. I just felt dead inside. I had slammed headfirst into the brick wall my ex’s justified bitterness towards me. Through Jesus Christ, the source of love, I could learn to love but how could my ex learn to love me again when he did not know the source of love?

Jesus said to love your enemies. After that time I considered my ex to be an enemy which I now realize was a misconception on my part. Jesus says to love your enemies. When my ex withdrew his love and financial and emotional support from me and divorced me, I felt he was my enemy. My income went way down and I had to move into the poor section of town.  He kept the house because his parents helped us pay for it. But I forgave him. That evening that he left,  the Lord brought to remembrance Psalms 42 and that comforted me somewhat. I did all I could to reconcile but he left anyway.

I was alone.

I was single-again.

I did not date.

I had no interest to date or have any kind of relationship other than with God and His Church.*

*I do believe that 1Corinthians 7 makes provision in such cases where the unbeliever leaves the Christian is free to remarry. I know that in special cases God does call some noble women to lifelong singleness such as Amy Carmichael and God blesses that single state so mightily and fulfills Psalm 34: 22.

Fall, winter and spring passed and just before the following summer, my teaching job was ending in June since the school year was over. I faced the prospect of no income and was terrified. I cried out to the Lord just as I imagine Hagar cried to Him when she was cast out and on her own with nothing left. God Saw. God Heard. The next day after I cried myself to sleep a member of my church who was the manager of a local gym offered me a cleaning job for the summer. I thank God for His provision and Compassion.

The years preceding the actual court date for the divorce, my ex and I had a terrible custody battle. We battled in court until 1986 for the custody of our son.

My attorney bills mounted. However, my family and the church helped me pay for them. Anytime I had to go to court, a friend from church would go downtown with me to every court appearance.

Finally in July of 1986 , the court gave the final decree of divorce. The judge ended the custody battle with shared visitation. However the judge ordered that my son not to live with me but with my ex. The judge said that my poor neighborhood was not a good influence for my son and that the richer neighborhood my ex lived in was a better place for my son to live. I was heartbroken. But that is another story.

So, for many years, I saw my son Justin one evening a week and on the weekends. On Sunday nights when I had to drop Justin off, I would see him enter the nice house of my ex and his new wife. From my car I looked into the lighted living room window with longing after my son. Then I would drive off into the night with loneliness and tears.

A year after the divorce, I was sued by my ex for child support. Even though we had shared custody, my ex was able to do this legally because my son lived in his house, not mine. It was in the summer and I was working as a cleaning lady again. I was making minimum wage.  My ex had an income of three times that of my own. I put the court order letter before God and prayed.

The following year I received a higher paying school custodian job.  I gave up teaching worked there for 10 years. This job paid 3 times more than that of my teaching job in the private Christian school.  This job allowed me to pay my bills, student loans, and child support. Thankfully, my ex put aside all that money for our son’s college education.

Throughout the grieving process of separation and the custody battle over our little boy and finally the divorce and ensuing single-again loneliness God was with me in compassion. He abundantly supplied. He comforted me and has been a Friend and Provider for me for everything I’ve ever needed and much more besides. He comforted me with His Word, His dear people in the church and my dear coworkers in the Christian school where I had taught. God always brought to mind the verses in Psalm 31, “I will rejoice and be glad in thy loving kindness. Though hast seen my affliction and though hast known the troubles of my soul.”

My ex remarried the year following our divorce to a wonderful woman. My ex now has five beautiful children (including our son who is grown now). My ex, his wife, and I are Facebook friends. She is a good woman and loves my ex as he deserves. Over the years, God helped me to become friends to my ex and his wife.

When our son turned 16, he started to rebel against his father. Justin dropped out of high school and ran away from his father’s house. Proverbs 17:6 says that the glory of sons is their fathers.  I did not slander his father but found ways to praise his father. A child’s sense of worth comes from the way that the  mother portrays the father to the child. A godly mother will teach the child to respect and honor their father. So I tried to reconcile Justin and my ex.

During this time, Justin got his new girlfriend pregnant. Nine months later she gave birth to my beloved granddaughter. On the day my granddaughter was born I was able to hold her tiny being. My heart was full. Her name is Destiney, and that is another story.

God hates divorce. With every tear I’ve cried and for any other couple’s marriage I’ve prayed for I also hate divorce. I hate the economic and emotional turmoil and trouble it throws a family into, especially the most innocent victims of all, the children.

Divorce is often handled too lightly in our society. However, at other times divorce is handled with no compassion for the abandoned party. The victims of spousal abandonment have been mistreated through the ex-spouse’s choices: choosing to commit adultery, or abuse (physical and emotional), choosing drugs and alcohol over marriage, or simply choosing to give up.

Through the pain of my divorce, I’ve learned about how faithful, loving and compassionate  the Lord is. I’ve learned about Him in such a way that I would not have been able to had it not been for this suffering. Years ago, when the storms of being divorced were mostly passed, I went on a “High Ropes” course. The course started with team members building trust  on the ground and then finally 40 feet up in Michigan trees walking on tightropes held only by a carabiner.  The only way down from this elevation  was to fly down a zip line. At first, I was so afraid of the zip line, I thought that I would live forever 40 feet up in the trees and never come back down. But after much encouragement from my friends I finally took the zip line. In that fateful zip line ride,  a rush of exhilaration and new confidence flooded through me. Trusting God through trials is like that.  He never let me fall.

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