This is a continuation of a new series every Friday where I will be highlighting the growth and healing of one of my readers, a new reader each week. I sent out the call for stories that answered either ‘what is one lesson God has taught you?’ or ‘what is one way God has healed you?’ through their hard marriages, their separations, their divorces, their single mothering seasons, their forays into dating post-divorce, or even their remarriages. These, my sweet ones, are their brave and vulnerable stories. Take heart…you are not alone.
First, I want to thank Elisabeth for giving us the chance to share our experiences. Her books, blogs and Facebook groups have been a lifeline for me and I truly thank God for placing her in my life.
The past few years have been very transforming for me. After being married for eight and a half years to a narcissistic, verbally and emotionally abusive man, I truly felt God was telling me to leave the marriage. I was scared to death to start over, since my then-husband provided me and my children with financial security, but I stepped forward in faith. God has given me wonderful parents who have been a huge support to me (the kids and I live with them) and I don't know where I would be without them and their unconditional love and acceptance.
I grew up in a Christian home, attended church every time the doors were open, went to church camp, youth group, and did all the “right” things. I believed divorce was not an option for a Christian. I thought God would change him if I just prayed harder and submitted more. But I have learned that God cares more about PEOPLE than institutions. He loves and cares for us more than we will ever know, and it is not His will for us to be mistreated and abused.
When we were separated, I found great support in a group called DivorceCare (which I would highly recommend). I bonded with people who were going through similar experiences and I saw firsthand how there is purpose in our pain. God turns ashes into beauty and we can use our experiences to help others, just as the DivorceCare leaders were doing.
Since my divorce, I feel like I can more openly share about my experience. Women who are in hard marriages are reaching out to me for help, and I can speak out against abuse in hopes of saving another woman's life and sanity. God has been faithful, He has led me to friendships and community with other women through Elisabeth's Facebook groups and we see that we are NEVER alone.
I look in the Bible and see countless people who “messed up” and thought they had ruined God's plan for their lives but He was still able to use it for good. So even though Elisabeth asked us to share one lesson God has taught us through our divorce and healing process, I can think of many.
The first lesson is you are never alone. There are so many resources out there for women in hard marriages, and those who are separated or divorced. Reach out for help and find a community of people who can uplift and encourage you. God gives us community so we know that no matter what we are going through, someone else will understand.
Another lesson I learned is to show more compassion and empathy. You should never judge other people because you never know what they are going through. I used to be judgmental towards Christians who were divorced until I was in the same boat. Now I know that we are all trying our best and God loves us and forgives us and will help us start over.
Lastly, I know that God is not finished with me yet. My story is not over, it has just taken a brief detour but He still has amazing plans for my life and divorce has not ruined that. Our suffering is not in vain. God uses our pain for a purpose and he makes beautiful things out of it. I hope to continue to use my story to help other women who need to be encouraged.
Please know….you are loved. You are cherished. You are never alone. God sees you and He is faithful. Your story is not over yet.