The dawn was still clinging to the earth as the sun was beginning its ascent into the heavens. We traversed a road well known as we wound our way through the lush canyon walls.
Our destination was the ocean, and our beloved little café nestled just a few hundred yards from the shore, yet surrounded by an abundance of trees and shrubs. The café’s banks of windows facing the ocean allowed for a picture perfect view of the foamy white waves.
The café was a place we often went early on Saturday mornings. Our brief jaunt would wash away the tensions of the week and give our kids the pleasures of roaming a nearly deserted beach.
As we drove, a cacophony of sounds emitted from the backseat. Chattering, arguing, laughing, and quarreling, three kids amusing themselves as only kids can when cooped up in a vehicle for more than ten minutes. It was quiet in the front seat as my husband generally talked to me only in monosyllables.
I was content the way one is when headed to a place of repose for the soul. My love affair with the ocean had started when I was just two years old. My parents and grandparents often told of becoming frantic as I waded in as far as I could before they intervened. Still in love with being in the water, I felt confined living so far inland that it was an hour’s trek to the ocean.
Although excited about our destination, I felt ever so lonely in my interior world. Long ago I had learned that my husband was not interested in what I felt or needed. Consequently, I had developed the art of letting God nourish me from within and today, a concert of favorite music played softly inside my soul.
We arrived, ate breakfast, and headed for the shore. Blissfully liberated, the kids scattered to run and play in the sand. Their father started building a sand castle, intent on making it so grandiose it would be noticed by everyone.
Hurrah! I had a few moments of freedom so I hurried away before someone called to me with my sights set on a groping of large rocks. Finding one flat enough for sitting, I climbed up and settled in for my precious few moments alone.
The water reflected the pearl-grey sky, making it appear very cold, though its droplets sparkled like thousands of brilliant diamonds.
Pondering the future, I agonized. My adored children enjoyed playing with their father, not realizing how strained our relationship had become. Generally, he vented his abusive remarks at me when they were not around. However, it was growing ever more difficult to shield them.
I did not want them growing up apart from their father. I did not want them suffering through a divorce. I did not want our lives torn apart. But to go on as we were was literally killing my spirit, with my body not far behind. I had grown so thin that people were starting to ask questions.
There seemed to be no simple answers ~ only many tangled questions.
Gazing out farther, I realized the sun was now fully up and its reflection created a distinctive path of golden sunlight across the water. I stood, riveted to the radiance and warmth.
My soul and spirit settled. No audible voice spoke, but God filled my heart with an assurance that He would make a path for me through any sea of change I might experience. I became absolutely certain that He would walk beside me and guide me, whatever the future held.
Later while sharing this moment with a friend, she shared with me verses from Isaiah which state, “I am your God . . . who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves.” Isaiah 43:15 & 16 (The Message)
This confirmed my understanding gleaned at the water’s edge that while I did not know where the path ahead led, God did. I could rest confident in His wisdom and guidance.
God did walk beside me as He carved a path through the unknown waters I soon had to navigate. Shortly after that day, I learned that my husband was sexually abusing our daughter. I am ever thankful that my young daughter was courageous enough to ask me if her father’s actions were appropriate.
When confronted with the facts, my husband denied them, and threatened me with great physical harm. It was no longer safe for us to live with him; we fled to the protection of my brother’s home.
My faith in God sustained me through the next several months of drastic changes. Friends provided a safe haven for the kids while I hired an attorney, found a new job, and secured a place to live.
My family helped settled the kids into a new school as well as helping them adjust to our new life. Incredible friends and loving family also provided the kids much needed fun and adventure, giving them a temporary distraction from their pain and confusion.
My daughter’s initial revelations were ominous signs of the frenzied storm to come. Harsh, tumultuous months followed filled with multiple court dates, monitored visitation, counseling sessions, detective’s investigations, involvement by the district attorney’s office, child protective services, and analysis by court psychologists.
Finally, the matter was decided in court, the kids did not have to be alone with their father until they chose to do so.
Liberated to make a new life, we moved to a new county and purchased a home near our extended family. Our new neighborhood was filled with children and it provided my kids many tranquil hours as they relished being young and carefree.
We reconnected with a church and acquired new friends.
With the tempestuous years left behind, we felt safe once again in the peaceful harbor provided by our Heavenly Father.