Though I was the one to physically leave the home in November of 2006, my ex-husband was the one to file paperwork in January of 2007. I had no idea what I was doing or how to go about the divorce/disillusionment. I just wanted out. He and I quickly agreed to terms (I let him keep the house because he had my dog, and I had moved to an apartment where I couldn’t have an animal), we split everything down the middle for the most part, I read through the first draft he gave me, questioned if there was any hope for us, and waited for the end date to come. While I waited, I drank Miller Lite like it was going out of style.
When the day finally arrived, it was a Tuesday. Thankfully I wasn’t present at the courthouse. We were told only one of us had to go, and my ex volunteered. I remember the day very well. I was scheduled to tend bar that evening and had woken up late that day around 9am. I didn’t even want to get out of bed. I felt so anxious.
Finally my phone sang on the coffee table at the rental I was sharing with a roommate. I don’t remember the exact time, but the words were in black and white.
The text read, “You’re free, have a nice life.”
I think that’s when I started shaking. I, who had gotten sick of his verbal abuse and finally stood up to him, now all of a sudden had a shocking realization: I WAS COMPLETELY ALONE.
I had gone through moments since I’d moved out of the house, battling the confusion I had in my mind: thinking maybe we’d work things out, maybe I’d still have to chase him to bars, maybe we’d do counseling, maybe we’d have kids and they’d never know their father because he chose not to be home with me, maybe we’d learn to love each other again even though I was completely numb. I believed anything was possible with God. After all, I’d returned to church and felt renewed in my faith.
Yet, when the text came that alerted me to the freedom I’d prayed for so much, I shook with fear, thankfulness, timidity, joy, and anger.
At that moment, I freaked out. Had I done the right thing? Had I really disliked his behavior so much that I went against the commitment I had stated in front of God, family, friends?? Was this even allowed? What if my selfishness at wanting to be away from him kept me from Heaven? Doubt and fear consumed me, and I had never felt so scared in my life. The battle in my mind continued for months. And my behavior declined as I began to self-destruct.
That is one time that Satan really had a hold on me. I began doing drugs with the people who would come into the bar. A lot of the patrons were not shy about their extracurricular activities, and I finally felt “FREE” so I had no one to answer to, but myself (or did I?).
I lied to almost everyone I met. It became such a pattern, I couldn’t even keep the lies straight. I called off of work just because I didn’t want to get out of bed. When I did go to work, I went to my day job still hung over from the night before. I was working two jobs to pay my bills, and more than anything, I just wanted to die. I eventually got to a place where I was okay with my marital choice, but the shame I had caused in myself had overwhelmed me.
Eventually, we had to be real with each other. We had become best friends, so we had to say something. And finally we did.
We screamed, we argued, we cried, we laughed, we yelled some more. But eventually, we broke. We sat there holding each other, realizing our lives were both complete messes and we had to make some serious decisions if we were going to take our relationship further.
We vowed to never do drugs again (and I can proudly say I haven’t SINCE), and we promised each other that we would contact one another if we ended up in a sticky situation that could turn ugly.
We became accountable to each other, and love blossomed where disgusting darkness once lived. Where I felt Satan holding on tightly to my disobedience to God, his grip began to loosen as I began to stare into the darkness without fear.
I dove into Bible study. I slowly pulled away from the bar scene. I had already quit my job as a bartender, I just had to stop going to the bar on the days that I felt bored. I prayed that God would transform my mind, as I believed Scripture says in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” I became more aware of my decisions and my choices.
I realized that just because a peer wanted to do something, didn’t mean it was right, and I was free to say NO if I wanted.
The truths that were provided in that book helped me realize that I did have a voice, I could make my own decisions, and not everything I did had to end in shame/regret.
I began to protect my body, my mind and my heart. I recommitted my life to Jesus Christ and walked away from a lot of the temptations that used to have a hold on me. I’m still a work in progress, but where sexual sin used to abound, it no longer even entices me. Satan lost the battle on that one.
My best friend stayed close to me, believed in me, and began to go to my church with me. His eyes were opened to the truth of the gospel too, and he recommitted his life to God as well. He changed his harmful behavior and let the Lord open up his heart to the idea of loving again, knowing this time it would be reciprocated. We made choices that benefited our own lives, but also each others’ lives. We gave God complete control of our lives, and learned to step back and wait for His response in certain situations. The love that blossomed from the ugliness of our pasts grew into a full-blown relationship, dating season, engagement and now a new marriage.
I trust no other man as much as I trust my husband. He has seen me at my worst, and never rejected me. He loved me when I felt unworthy. He endured watching me let go of “old Grace” and rejoiced with me when I was able to get my license back, name cleared, a new job, new car and a new home. He stood by me when I thought all hope was lost, and he provided constant attention and encouragement. He is such a remarkable human being.
I catch myself staring at my husband every day and in my mind, I let myself go back to one of my old memories. When he asks me what I’m thinking about, I just reply, “You” and we both smile.
I wish every wife would take a moment to look deep into the eyes of the man they married, and remember the newness of meeting him, getting to know him, and falling in love with him. Initial feelings of lust do subside, but the longevity of love, trust and commitment can withstand time. With time, comes familiarity and a closeness that bonds us together so incredibly. And with Jesus at the helm, we are accomplishing much.
Though I divorced my first husband and felt guilt at leaving a then-hopeless marriage, could it have been saved? Knowing what I know now about the power of God, my answer is yes. Yet, I live in the present. That time is gone.
I did have to forgive myself for not believing God could restore what my ex and I had broken. I had to learn to love myself again and see myself the way God does, covered in the robes of Jesus’ righteousness. I will not rejoice that my first marriage is over, but will continue to pray for my ex-husband that he sees the need for God in his life, that he surrenders to him, so that maybe we can see each other again when this life is over (who knows, maybe even before).
And for now, I’ll be happy with the choices that brought me Kevin’s love, and the desire to know my Lord more.
Every disgusting memory I had in my old life is blurry, every unfathomable scene that haunted my mind in fear of losing God’s grace is gone, every lie that Satan told me has been conquered with the truth of the gospel.
I’m not indestructible. I’d like to say that I conquered sin, but that was Jesus’ job, not mine. I know now to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6) to fend off the darkness that consumes us even though we can’t see it. We are at war with the unseen, in a struggle for power over our souls, and I am not letting Satan have me. God claimed me long ago, and I am now strong enough to stand under His protection. My choices now are to accept my past faults that led me to a new life in Christ, accept the forgiveness for my sin and the redemption of my life from my Heavenly Father who fought for me, and accept the outpouring of love from a man who overwhelms me with his adoration.