I’ve had a life-long battle of who God is and isn’t and what that means I should and shouldn’t do and be. I accepted Christ for the first time in my life at the age of eight at a youth camp at Yellow Creek Lamp in Northern Indiana. At the age of eight, I had no idea of course what would cross my path in life, and I don’t really think I had much of an idea about what it meant to “accept Christ”. That, however, is a portion of the definition of child-like faith, I suppose.
Shortly thereafter, my dad “received a calling” on his life, and I could not at all comprehend what that meant to him personally. All I knew was that I was loading up all of my earthly possessions to move away from my family and friends; from a beautiful farm to a single-wide trailer. As I look back now, I could not be more proud of my father and his dedication to what he believes is the will of God in his life. He let absolutely nothing stand in his way of that calling; and you have no idea how many things attempted to squash it.
I was actually a very GOOD kid in high school. I know everyone says pastor’s kids are the worst, and truly I have met my fair share of crazies, but I didn’t fit into that role. Aside from annoying my parents and siblings with my stubborn streak and wanting to grow up much too early in life, I was good. I endeavored to create a closer walk with God back in those days through many methods, not the least of which was surrounding myself with some amazing students and staff at the Christian school I attended. Those persons have left a forever mark on my heart and soul.
I married young; possibly much too young. I married for all of the wrong reasons – that much I can assure you of now, though at the time I didn’t see it, of course. And shortly thereafter, the new man in my life announced that he had “received a calling” on his life. (Anyone else seeing a pattern here?) As I had seen my father pursue his calling and watched my mother let absolutely nothing stop that pursuit, I believed it was the right thing to do, and so off we went.
Very few years later my marriage began to go south – very far south, unfortunately. It wasn’t all his fault; it wasn’t all her fault. A marriage never ends because of just one person’s side of the story. As my marriage crumbled in front of my face, I often found myself believing if I just tried hard enough it would all be better. The truth is, sometimes trying is not good enough, and this is especially true if two parties don’t work towards the same goal.
I am the one that filed for divorce. I sat in a counseling session where I was once again told by both the counselor and the spouse that if I would only change my ways, absolutely everything would be perfect. I was, after all, married to the perfect man, of course. I left that session, and I told him I was done. I signed the papers first. I chose to give up custody of my children (which is a whole other conversation we will have one day soon).
And then it was announced from the pulpit that there was a divorce going on. I was cornered in local grocery stores by “concerned” members of the church who begged me not to leave the man. I stopped going to places I would normally run into others I knew. I lost all of the support I had had before – even those who knew exactly what my life was like behind closed doors and all the while had begged me to get out of the relationship. When I did, they got out of my life too, sadly. I stood, a woman against the world, uncertain of how to put one foot in front of the other. All I knew was that I had finally, after six years, made the correct decision for my life and for my children.
I went from being a well-respected leader in the local church to being publicly outcast by all involved in leadership there. I remember receiving one card that read, “I had no idea what you must have been going through in your personal life. My prayers are with you.” Aside from that one very amazing soul, I felt excommunicated. (Who knew that still occurred in churches today?!) There were a few who stayed around for a while, actually even one or two who stayed around much longer than that. But, there’s always a blatant his side/her side ballgame going on, and eventually you realize it’s probably just better off if you don’t rely on someone you’re not sure you should trust to begin with. Always words get twisted as stories are relayed throughout the community, and eventually I’m being accused of telling my children horrific things I truly could never dream of saying, let alone thinking.
The thing about this divorce word … It doesn’t make me a different person than I was before. I can safely assure you that the person I was created to be is exactly the person I am today, and most always attempted to be then, except for the chains that held me captive. The only difference, really, is those chains … those chains, which were burned in a fire and tossed into the ocean after being bathed in years of my tears. I am not an un-Godly woman suddenly because I chose this path. In fact, I am possibly more close to the Creator of the World than I ever was before in my life, and he knows even the darker corners of my world than I may ever dare share with many of you.
I’ll never be able to understand why the church chooses to turn it’s back on a person for what they deem an unforgivable act, and yet as far as I can remember back, Christ died for my SOUL, not for the sacrament of MARRIAGE. Please hear me! There are many very quiet voices out there, suffering needlessly, for appearances’ sake – because of who will think what, if only it was told. Just so you know – there’s someone else who understands. The nights when you cry yourself to sleep because you just don’t know what else to do next. The days when you work out 50 different plans in your head for how to make it all better, but then for a moment you “come to your senses” and convince yourself just to keep doing what you’ve been doing because it LOOKS better that way. The loneliness you feel, even though you’re surrounded by so many who CLAIM to love and know you – and you’re certain that they do not love nor know you, and that possibly neither does the Creator of the Universe. The sinking feeling that it will never be okay, let alone happy, for you in life; that there is no rainbow at any spot in your life, let alone a pot of gold.
Breathe, just breathe. Remember exactly who you were created to be, and breathe your way through it, moment by moment.