This is a continuation of a series every Friday where I will be highlighting the growth and healing of one of my readers, a new reader each week. These, my sweet ones, are their brave and vulnerable stories. Take heart…you are not alone.  -Elisabeth

At the beginning of the year we always fast and pray as a church for a week.  So like every other year, 2017 began with a fast. The Lord spoke to me Isaiah 58. “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens. To let the oppressed go free.  (v. 6) I thought “Ahh, yes. This so applies to my husband right now. Good word, Lord.” He had just gotten out of 3 years of a rehab program. But the Lord gently nudged me and said in an almost audible voice “No, this is for you to go free. You are loosed from your covenant.” In my heart, I thought never, never would I EVER get a divorce. It was not who I was…divorce was not in my vocabulary.  You see, I had fought too long and too hard. I had given up about 7 years prior to ever having a happy marriage. But for sure, I was holding on, not giving up! If I could just hold on, if I could just be faithful, then God will bless me in the end. At least that was what I thought.

About 13 years ago I had met my husband. We met at my best friend’s wedding. I was the matron of honor and he was the best man. Cliché, I know. We dated for a year and then got married. Our best man and matron of honor were the couple that we had met at their wedding. One year later we had our first daughter. About 3 years after that we had our second daughter. The first five years of marriage were really good. We communicated well, had a good marriage, and had a good church family. I worked part time in the medical field, my 21 year old niece babysat for us, and life was pretty good.  Then about a year after my younger daughter turned 1, my husband started drinking heavily.

I would find him passed out on the front lawn, or in the garage. I would drag him inside (not so gently sometimes) and talk to him the next day. He would apologize and it wouldn’t happen for a while. Then a few months later it would happen again. He seemed “off” but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

While the cycle of this was going on, we got news that our best man (his brother who was married to my best friend) had brain cancer and was given 2-4 years to live. We jumped in to action and moved 450 miles away, almost overnight. Things spun out of control….it wasn’t until I was leaving the hospital that I worked at one night that I realized it was something more than substance abuse, there was something really wrong. He had called and left several messages saying that he couldn’t find our house…I called and gave him directions. He eventually was diagnosed with schizophrenia and admitted to the mental hospital. I think total in just under 13 years of marriage he was admitted to mental health hospitals/rehabs and now add jail to the mix a total of 11 times.  Sometimes he would have to leave rehab to be admitted to a mental health hospital for a few months.

The thing he did not admit to me until the beginning of 2017 was that what started it all-he started struggling with pornography; then he slept with a prostitute on 3 separate occasions and then started abusing substances because of the guilt. Because of the guilt, he lost his mind and became schizophrenic. After years of waiting for him to get better enough to leave the mental hospital (I waited for 5 years) then he admitted to me what happened.  I have not seen him have any schizophrenic symptoms since he admitted all of this to me.

So as 2017 rolled on I realized that I needed to divorce my husband. I needed to be free and that the Lord was giving me permission to be loosed from this covenant. I wrestled. I agonized over this decision.  In the end, I realized I was being oppressed.  I needed to be free, and like a good Father, the Lord was giving me permission to be free. I was oppressed all these 13 years and I didn’t even know it. How could I have not known?

While I reflect on the past five sets of holidays my now ex-husband has been in rehab, mental hospital, rehab, rehab, mental hospital and this year he will be in jail. He just notified me that he will be sentenced tomorrow. So because I needed to be free from this roller coaster the Lord has given me permission to be free. He has set me free. And because of this freedom I am truly set free from all the bondage he chooses to entangle himself in. I am so thankful to the Lord for this freedom. True freedom. In 2017 I have come a long way, from oppressed and not even knowing it, to being truly free. Free in Christ. Free by Christ. And for that I am truly thankful.

-Vanessa

If this sweet woman’s post resonated with your heart, please know that you are not alone. Here are a few resources for you:

If you would like to join my closed Facebook group called Hope & Healing, you can find it here.
If you’d like to receive my free resource “Is Your Healing Halted?”, sign up here.
If you need a nudge in your healing, I would love to work with you! Join me for one of my coaching courses.
If in a difficult marriage: 
Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books
If separated/divorced: 
Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage is available in paperback/e-book: http://tinyurl.com/phowp95
If a single mom: 
Moving on as a Christian Single Mom is available in paperback/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/books

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