I couldn't cry. I knew if I started I would never stop. My whole world had crashed before my very eyes but I had to be strong. I had to hold it together. Things needed to seem like everything was all right. For their sake I needed to be in control at all times. Did they know the pain that I was hiding? Could they see in my eyes the terror of what was happening in our lives? Did it show or had I fooled even my children?
A year had passed since the separation. He had finally brought divorce papers so he could marry someone else. I wasn't the same woman that had gathered up my children and ran for our lives. He could no longer control and manipulate me. I had drawn a line and would not cross it until he was delivered and free from the chains that had him bound. The chains that had so harshly molded our lives into a living hell would not destroy my children as well. No, I would not let them grow up like that. They didn't deserve that kind of life. I would face the shame of a failed marriage; I could suffer the loneliness if that's what it took.
But this, he was just going to throw away our marriage, our family so that he could have “someone”? How could a fifteen-year marriage just be tossed aside in a moment? Oh the rejection, the pain, the horrendous need to scream from the very depths of my being. Oh no, they could not see. They could not know. I had to protect them.
I had been a stay at home mom since the birth of my first child. I was home schooling the older ones and spending my days just enjoying and loving my kids. I knew there were things missing in our lives but I couldn't change them. I had left all of that lying at the feet of my Lord Jesus. He knew our needs and I trusted that He would make a way for my family. I didn't see how and I didn't know when, but I believed that He would heal our family and our hearts. I spent many mornings crying out to God about my family. I could see anger growing in my oldest son. He was so confused by the torment of his father. God's plan that had been spoken over us time and time again seemed to be fading. My heart was breaking with each day and its disappointments. And then, it was over. That was another lifetime and it almost seems unreal.
Some things didn't change though. I still had to protect my children. That my heart was broken in two, and mangled so that it didn't even feel anymore had to be my secret. I couldn't bear to think of them feeling the same pain that I was suffering and not recovering from.
And so life goes on, we were living in a small home about the size of a shoebox, we didn't have much but we had a peaceful home. The kids started public school and I began to search for a way to make money to support this family. It was amazing how God carried us during those years. I look back and am in complete awe of His grace and mercy. He promised me that He'd be my husband, be my friend, my provider and protector. I had never been taken care of like that before. My biggest struggles were not paying the bills it was getting up and going on each day. It was hiding the holes in my heart that was hard. Looking my children in the eyes and seeing their sadness looking back at me.
I was in a season of mourning and did not know how to escape. I wanted to go on, but I was stranded, not having the mental strength to rise above. It was like I was in a world in the middle. I was no longer in the pit of chaos and destruction but I had not climbed out to the fresh air of freedom and new life. I just couldn't see my way and I was a little afraid of what going on might mean. It was comfortable here, I knew I was hurting but no one knew what was going on. I didn't have to laugh or cry I was in control. I was mourning the death of my past life and that was all I had to do. What was next? That was too scary to think about. Moving forward left too many unanswered questions, I was safe here and I knew the pain that faced me everyday. Every time I tried to see some hope in a situation it seemed to slip between my fingers. It was devastating to get disappointed again and again. No thank-you, I'll just stay here where it's safe.
I had never been through a mourning process. I recognized some of the stages of grieving and was surprised. I didn't know that you could grieve even though no one had died. I kept everything inside and found ways to control this process. I began wearing black and brown clothes. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that those were the colors of death and dead things but no one else knew what I was doing. I thought I had fooled everyone. It was my way of seeming strong and ok to the world but hurting with intense pain on the inside. But there was one who could not be fooled.
My Lord Jesus who knows me inside and out knew exactly what I was doing and knew that I needed to get on with my life. He spoke to me that New Years Eve as I was getting dressed in my black underclothes, brown slacks and black blouse. My heart was crying to be refreshed and alive that's why I had driven with a friend 500 miles to a conference. I now know that my mind was bound, afraid to hope, afraid to go forward. And then He spoke, He said, “No more”. I looked at the black blouse in my hand and knew where I was. It brought me to a reality that changed me again. At that moment I realized what I had been doing and knew that I was holding myself back. I was clinging to a back-up plan in case God's hope didn't work. That was not faith and could never heal my broken life. I said, “Yes Lord”. I made a decision to let go and let God have it all. Whatever that meant. He had been there for me in so many ways already. I could count on Him to supply my every need. I trusted Him to carry my children through this horrible time and knew that they would be ok, why had I refused to trust Him with my future? Every morning I would get up and have faith that He would carry me through that day but I could not give Him tomorrow. I had been holding on to it, afraid of what it would be. When I said, “Yes” to Him it changed everything. I began to hope again. I began to cling to the scripture in Joel 2:25
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.”
As I began to hope again I let the Lord restore and heal me. The first step was to have faith. Without faith in Him we can accomplish nothing. He is in control and He is faithful. All of the promises in the Bible are for us and we can hold on to them and know that He loves us and wants good for us. Another scripture that I held on to and actually posted on my refrigerator so that I would not forget was Jeremiah 29:11,
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope.”
Yes, He had it all under control. I could rest in His arms and in His unfailing love. He is so good!
copyright Joann McDonald
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