Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Elephant in the Room (12/05/13)
TITLE: Elephant in the Room (i)
By LaCretia Peters
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Going back to church has been so difficult since the divorce. I was so involved before. We went to church every time the doors opened. Ironically, it was all pretend, a hoax.
We were married about six months before the violence began. I think it was placing cups on the wrong level of the kitchen cabinet that resulted in the first bruise. After the forgiving him once, it was as if I had opened Pandora's box. But he never missed church.
Now when I walk into church, I feel as if all eyes are on me. I feel as if I have broken every Christian rule possible and, even though I still love God desperately, I am not sure if He could ever forgive me.
I was taught from early in my Christian walk that divorce is sin. I was taught to submit to my husband. I was taught to forgive and turn the other cheek. When I met my first husband, he seemed to be misunderstood by many people in the church. I had always wanted to meet someone that needed acceptance and to be the one that provided the edification needed to be successful. We dated only a few weeks and he announced to his mother we were getting married. He never asked me. I guess that should have been the first sign. I was embarrassed to protest so I just went along with him. After she left the room, he then said, “Oh by the way, will you marry me?” I can't remember my response. He didn't even have a ring. There was no romance. He didn't even get down on one knee. I guess that should have been a sign.
Now I've remarried. I love my husband. He is kind and gentle. He would never raise his voice to me, much less his hand to hurt me. He laughs at all my jokes. He tells me that I'm pretty and that he loves me every day.
Here's what I'm not sure God can forgive. Not only did I divorce my first husband, but before the first divorce was finalized, I decided to have a baby with my new husband. He had asked me to marry him after only two months of dating. He knew it would take a while to finalize things. I was having to pay for the divorce on my own while trying to care for my son. He didn't care. He just wanted us to be together forever. All I wanted was to be his wife and start my life anew with a great man. I didn't want my abuser to take another day of my happiness.
I discarded God's rules. At first, I associated all the hurt with God and church. It was hard to even think about God without thinking about the violence. I often got hit right before church and would have to go and sing on the Praise and Worship team. I fulfilled my responsibilities at church many Sunday mornings after a beating, as long as I had been hit where the bruises were not visible.
Now, as I walk back into church for the sake of my new family, I feel like all eyes are on me, like the elephant in the room. I expect the ceiling of the church to fall on my head because I am disgracing God's presence by entering His house. I feel as if I'm pretending I belong in church all over again, another hoax. But my heart wants to thank God for His mercy and for giving me another chance at happiness. But maybe I should just do this from home. So I go through the motions and then find a reason not to return to that church.
I have learned as I reject church after church that my sin is not the elephant in the room as much as my fear. My fear of rejection and shame keeps me prisoner and separates me from God. So every day I pray to be forgiven. Every day I pray for courage. Every day I pray for a kind heart to reach inside and pull me out of the fear. Today I will continue to believe God has forgiven me and wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. Will there be someone to help me return to a place where I can feel worthy to worship God in public again?
Today I will trust you, O Lord.
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