A Letter

To the man who promised me forever:

I forgive you.

I remember the black and white checkered pattern of the hospital floor, pacing back and forth that day you were in detox, pondering hopefully, as I am oft-inclined to do, that our situation can only look up from rock bottom. I had never loved you more than in that moment when I thought I would lose you forever. I loved you more than life itself and I would have done almost anything to stay by your side and help you through your darkest hour… but you left me… your faithful wife who only wanted to support you.

I thought my heart would always belong to you and I would never get it back. I thought I might never heal from that intense pain. I thought the aching emptiness might never go away.

But I forgive you.

There has been more than one man who won’t date me because I am your “left overs.” You chewed me up and spit me out and now no one seems to want me. I feel like Hester Prynne with a giant scarlet letter on my chest warning everyone to stay far away because I’m unable to keep a marriage together.

I finally met a God-fearing man who doesn’t mind that I’m divorced. “It’s your past but it doesn’t define who you are,” he assured me. But he thinks that his family won’t understand. He thinks they won’t accept me, at least not right away. He asked me not to tell them just yet.

Tears fought to spill from the corners of my eyes. I thought I had worked through my guilt. I accepted my truth and learned to love myself even when I wanted to despise myself. The harsh reality is that I may have moved on from mourning but people may continue to judge me (as I had once judged others in my situation) and that judgment may stir up the regret and sorrow I thought I had buried and finished grieving. Every time a man I hope to date rejects me for being divorced I feel the grief once again.

But I get it. I really do. If I’m honest with myself, I’d rather not date someone who has been divorced, either.

Whether I like it or not, you’re part of me and you always will be. You’re part of my love story because you’re the first man I ever passionately loved; the first man I would have laid down my life for because I loved you that much. You taught me how to love unconditionally… Not because you showed me what that was but because I learned to love you despite you not loving me. My world revolved around you. I was infatuated with the spell you cast on me. Even when you were absolutely horrible to me I couldn’t see anyone but you.

I won’t deny that you were once the most important thing to me on Earth.

After you left I tried desperately to win you back. I must have been plumb crazy. But that’s how I know I am a fool when I am in love and I will make someone an amazing wife one day because of you.

So thank you.

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Part 2 of My Confessions

“Raise your right hand, please. Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God?”

“I do,” I answered… the same two words I uttered with all my heart as Pastor Larry asked me if I took Mathew to be my husband as long as we both shall live.

Standing before the judge, she asked me if I believed my marriage was “irretrievably broken” with “no hope of reconciliation.” I felt my whole body tremble and a hot tear streamed down my face. “The tissues are over there, honey,” said the judge softly with compassion in her voice. I grabbed a couple and wiped miserably at my nose. I explained that we went to marriage counseling with my pastor and that it hadn’t worked. That I waited for two years for him to come around, but finally decided to end the marriage legally because he wasn’t going to do it himself.

“Do you wish to return to your maiden name?” asked the judge.

“Yes, please, your honor.” Then I signed Dannielle Albert at the bottom of the divorce certificate and…

That was it. It took all of about five minutes. “You are now single,” said the judge.

I sat back down with the rest of the people getting divorced that day; a few were with their spouses and a few, like myself, were there by themselves because their other half didn’t show up. One woman was sobbing. One woman was trying desperately not to. One man was sober with a serious expression I couldn’t read. One man was cracking jokes that we were all invited to his “divorce party” afterwards with drinks all around. To me, this was nothing to celebrate. I wanted to have a funeral, not a party.

tearsAs I sat among my fellow peers, I couldn’t help but wonder what brought them here today. What were their stories? Were they anything like mine? I prayed silently and wrote two Bible verses in my journal.

“I will restore to you the years the swarming locusts have eaten; you shall be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God who has dealt wondrously with you.” -Joel 2:25-26


“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and faithful in all He does. The Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.” -Psalm 145:17-19

You know all those prayers I prayed after my husband left me? They were not a waste. And all those tears I cried? They mattered. They were collected in God’s bottle because they are a precious treasure to Him (Psalm 56:8).

The four years of my marriage were not a waste. The two years I spent waiting for him to come back were not a waste. The year I will spend healing and not dating anyone will not be a waste. I look around at all my peers who have babies and are living their dreams and it hurts so deeply because I wish that were my life, but that is not what God had planned for me. I’ve grown to accept that and be content that He allowed me to marry Mathew. He knew that it wasn’t going to work out since before I was born, even though I was certain it would be happily ever after.

Every moment of my courtship, engagement, marriage, and two years of separation were a part of God’s ultimate permissive will and I believe it was for a reason, even if I do not know why He let it happen if it wasn’t going to end in “death do us part.”

I felt stuck in a horrible marriage, but I wasn’t going to give up. Every day I gave my marriage to God and asked him to heal it and restore it. I believe my prayers were a sweet-smelling, Christ-like fragrance rising up to God in worship.

God will use my sorrow and grief and pain and suffering to mold me into a stronger believer and transform my heart into one that trusts Him completely each and every day. My sufferings in this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us one day! (Romans 8:18). I look forward to that day with eager anticipation.

Someday, I pray, my LORD will bring a godly man into my life who will be an equally yoked partner; I will be his helpmate and we will work together toward a common goal, making decisions together, discussing matters together, sharing the burden of life, supporting one another. I know without a doubt that if the good Lord doesn’t provide a husband for me, He still has a beautiful plan for my life and I will look forward and ahead, forget my messy past, press onward toward the prize and not look back (Philippians 3:13).

The Truth Will Set You Free

The truth is a gift. The truth will set you free. No matter how hard and scary it is to speak the truth, you must find the courage to get beyond your vulnerability to reveal how you honestly feel. Speak the truth as kindly and gently as possible, but never hide the whole truth. It is the key to living an authentic life that honors God and honors yourself as well.

The truth?

Mathew wants to get back together with me. He has written e-mails stating thus. However, my pastor has talked to him and does not feel that Mathew wants to be reconciled with the right reasons. He feels Mathew only wants a roommate, but not a wife.

The truth?

I am completely open to the possibility of reconciliation, but it can only happen if my husband does a complete 180° in the direction of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He must totally surrender his life to Him and follow Him with all his heart, submitting to the Lord’s headship as the ultimate authority. I care so very deeply for my husband and it hurts that he wants nothing to do with Jesus. A marriage simply cannot work if he is unwilling to yield to God. God is number one in my life and I have nothing in common with a man who does not trust in God. I was willing to try to make it work for years and years, but when he finally abandoned me, it gave me the courage to move on from what was a very abusive marriage in which I was unequally yoked with an unbeliever.

The truth?

I drove to the courthouse to file the papers. The whole way there I listened to Christian music. It was a very difficult road and I almost turned around and went home twice, thinking that I love my husband very much and maybe I could give him one more chance to make some positive changes in his life. When the song by Casting Crowns based on Psalm 103:12 came on the radio, tears streamed down my face during the lyrics “You know just how far the east is from the west… from one scarred hand to the other.” In His great love and grace, Jesus sacrificed his life to remove my sin as far as the east is from the west. He remembers it no more. His compassion and mercy gave me the freedom to continue on the journey to the courthouse and file the papers that have been signed and sitting in my house for months when I did not yet have the bravery to stamp them officially.

It took me another couple months to actually have the papers served to my husband. This morning they were served. I felt a mixture of relief that it is finally done and a little bit of grief that it’s over.

This is my story: I am getting a divorce. I, who am a daughter of the most High King and who hates divorce, yes, I am divorcing my husband. In a way, he already divorced me in his heart two years ago and I’m simply just making it legal.

I never thought this would be my story. I am a stronger woman because of the pain that I’ve experienced and the grace that has set me free. I trust God with my future and I can’t wait to see where He leads me next. I am totally open to Him and ready to go where He guides me.

Remembering a Special Day

“Your wedding day is still one of my most cherished memories,” whispered my best friend Anna who was a radiant bridesmaid on that special day five years ago. “The fact that he left you doesn’t make that beautiful day any less sacred or meaningful.” (That sweet lady always cheers me up no matter how low I am feeling.)

Anna and I on the Happiest Day of My Life

Anna and I on the Happiest Day of My Life

On this particular evening, I had begun to regret the day I ever said “I do.” My wedding day was once the best day of my life and I was beginning to feel guilty that I still thought of it that way, circumstances being what they are. “If it’s inevitably going to end in a divorce, then wouldn’t that make my marriage a mistake?” I wondered out loud. “Is it wrong to keep those Facebook wedding albums public? Is that precious picture of me smiling ear to ear with my sisters after the ceremony somehow tainted now and better preserved in a private scrapbook rather than displayed in a pretty pink frame on my buffet table?”

I felt angry at myself for not having been able to see red flags that this marriage was not going to last. All the expenses to make June 7th, 2009 the most incredibly amazing and unforgettable day of our lives were pretty much kicking me in the stomach like a huge waste of money. My once gorgeous, white wedding gown is now yellowing with age and collecting dust in my childhood closet… it feels less and less to me like the flowy, satin raiment of a virgin queen bestowing her beloved king with the treasured gift of her everlasting commitment and more like the gown I wore on the last day of my purity I can never get back.

I wish I could write a happily ever after ending for this entry like my husband and I are now living out the purpose God has intended for us, but that would not be accurate. Too many times I fantasized ways out of my destructive marriage… the sudden, unexpected death of one of us, for instance, because I was slowly dying each day and death was better than abandoning the one I promised to love, honor, and respect “until death do us part.”

The very few people I told about the domestic violence asked me, “Why don’t you just leave him? One of these days he’s going to go too far; you need to protect yourself.” I can’t pretend I didn’t think about it. I had an emergency escape plan in place just in case I needed it, but I prayed it would never come to that. I was going to be faithful and loving ’til death do us part, even if I died trying, so help me God.

Just as Christ washed his disciples' feet (John 13:5) my husband and I promised to serve one another. I truly meant this with all my soul.

Just as Christ washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:5) my husband and I promised to serve one another. I truly meant this symbolism with all my soul.

I’m in a better place now. Tragic though my story is, it is also a story of hope. I no longer pine for a way out or desperately cry out to God for some kind of miracle. His ways are above my ways and while I don’t understand them, I know His will is good. Now I look forward to the future, forgetting the former things. I’m done dwelling on the past. I am making a way in the wilderness and straining toward what is ahead. (Isaiah 43:18-19, Philippians 3:13)

If you are struggling in a difficult matrimony, please don’t ever believe the lie that your wedding day was a mistake. If you truly meant those vows with all your heart that day, they are just as real and valid today as they were then. If he’s told you, “I regret the day I married you,” that doesn’t mean you have to regret marrying him. I chose to love my husband for better or worse within God’s Divine Providence. I committed my marriage to Jesus Christ and tried my absolute best to make my relationship honor God. He could have disallowed it if He intended, but I’m convinced everything happens for a reason.

If you are grieving over the death of your marriage, please remember that your pictures and memories of that special day are still just as precious and it’s okay to feel warm and happy when remembering that day you put so much time, energy, and money into making memorable.

I still look back on my wedding day fondly, even though now my memories are tinged with an edge of bitter-sweetness.

“The heart dies a slow death, shedding each hope like leaves…”

I was re-reading “Memoirs of a Geisha” this morning on my day off. The first time I read it was about six years ago when I was engaged to my husband. Today, for the first time, I saw a little bit of myself in the character of Sayuri and also in her mentor Mameha as they must not allow themselves to truly open themselves up to love because the jealousy of the other women their danna was with would destroy them. I came across a quote by Mameha to her protégé as she tried to teach her not to dream too big. To be practical and detached. To keep her passion under control or it would control her. “Young girls hope all sorts of foolish things, Sayuri. Hopes are like hair ornaments. Girls want to wear too many of them. When they become old women they look silly wearing even one.” After reading this passage, I put the book down and felt hopelessness over my whole situation. I wondered if I’d ever be able to have the kind of teamwork that my sister and her husband have if I am to do my duty as a Christian wife and wait to reconcile with the prodigal husband. I was hopeful for a while there that I might have a biblical reason to divorce him and find someone who will truly love me as Christ loves the church. But now I just feel empty with despair at the thought of him coming back and having to live day after day in a divided house. Jesus said “a house divided cannot stand” (Luke 11:17). I felt so lazy the rest of the day like I couldn’t do anything.133067363960558541_Tu6eZOaB_f Have you ever been debilitated by your feelings? Sometimes I feel like I’m shackled ball and chain to my feelings, incapacitated by their burden, and completely at their mercy. I don’t think feelings are necessarily good or bad but the thoughts we harbor and choices we make based on them are what either honor God or dishonor Him. I love the saying, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head but you can prevent it from building a nest in your hair.” In other words, if a feeling passes overhead, you can choose to let it fly by or allow it to take up permanent residence in your mind, giving it free reign over your actions. But it seems hopelessness likes to keep haunting me. My whole life has always been filled up with hopes and dreams. I was the one at birthday parties who, when everyone else was playing games like Spin the Bottle and Seven Minutes in Heaven, I was in another room of the house reading a book because my kisses were for my future husband. I wanted to give him and only him every part of me, including my first kiss.  Part of me wished to be included in the revelry and not feel left out but another part of me realized that this kind of intimacy with boys was cheap and superficial. I didn’t want to have insincere make-out sessions with boys who were meaningless to me. I wanted to be tenderly kissed by someone I deeply cared about who was as passionately devoted to me as I was to him. I saved that first kiss for years and years and gave it to my husband six months after we were engaged. I had hoped he would be not only my first kiss, but my last and my only. Is my destiny for my husband to return to me? If so, I must not ever love him too passionately or I will die a slow and painful death once more if he should choose to leave me again. If he did return, our relationship would never be the same again. It would take eons for my husband to gain back my trust.

Trust

My husband texted me yesterday that he misses me and that he was thinking of revoking the previous ultimatum that I need to give up my faith in Jesus Christ. His most recent correspondence was that maybe we can agree to disagree. I don’t like the idea of living with a man who doesn’t submit to the headship of our Savior because there are so many problems that come from a marriage where one member of the team yields to the leadership of Christ and the other does things his own way however he sees fit, ignoring the instructions from the Bible. I lived like this for three and a half years and I guess I could go back to it, but I know I’d be miserable. I could continue to try to “win my husband over with my chaste conduct” (1 Peter 3:1-2). This is what the church elders from my home church back in Connecticut advised me to do as they suppose my husband to be a believer. But what harmony can there be between us when I answer to my Father’s Word and my other half doesn’t? (2 Corinthians 6:14-15) It wasn’t working then so why would it work now? My most recent text from my husband says, “I can at least consider another go at it…” Consider. Getting back together is not definite but now, after a full year, he’s finally reevaluating his decision to leave me. If his decision had come months ago I would have been overjoyed but now I can’t help but feel a deep sense of loss for what I might have had with someone else: a godly man. I must not let myself feel so disappointed, but instead fulfill my obligation as a faithful wife and try to make the marriage work.  My pastor from Tucson thinks I should not rush back into a relationship with my husband (especially if he only wants to come back because he wants to use me a sex object.) He told me to wait for him to prove himself that he can hold down a job, stay clean, and not lay a finger on me. broken_rings I know I ought to respond with a renewed mind that aligns itself with God’s will. I can either accept these negative thoughts that come into my mind or I can refuse them. New thoughts come from new perspectives. If anything exalts itself against the knowledge of God I have to bring that thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I do not need to be helf hostage by negative, unbiblical thoughts but instead, capture those thoughts that go against God’s Word and bring them into submission to Him. I can’t control what happens to me anymore than I can control the weather but what I can control is how I respond to these feelings. I believe there is a potential good in every situation and when I choose to dwell on God’s Sovereignty rather than a seemingly hopeless situation, I choose to rest in His grip instead of losing my grip. God has called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). The devil wants me to live in futility of thinking, embracing the darkness and all of its attitudes, perceptions presuppositions, and expectations. But those who walk in darkness are separated from God with hardened hearts, living in all kinds of impurity with a continual lust for more sin. However, as believers, we are called to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1) and we are urged to live a life worthy of our calling (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Unbridled emotions can can be so powerful as to paralyze us with fear and rob us of peace and joy. Our thoughts directly affect our emotions but we ought not to let them manage our decisions. Feelings cannot be depended on and they don’t always tell the truth. We need to always compare our feelings with what God’s Word says. Train your feelings to serve you so you don’t become their slave.

Uncertainty

I always seem to be in a perpetual state of confusion and uncertainty. Questions plague my mind. Every choice seems huge and every decision feels wrong. What does my future hold? What does God want for my life? Will life ever stop being so stressful working three jobs just to make ends meet? Will I ever be loved and taken care of again someday? Will I make it through this difficult time in one piece? Will I mess up my testimony if I make the wrong decision? Will I always be this lonely?

DOUBTI’ve been praying a lot lately. It seems I’m in a constant state of prayer. Verses keep coming to my mind…

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” -Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and He will give you everything you need.” Luke 12:29 -31

I think for now I will hold off on getting a better apartment and a car and just wait for six months to see where my financial situation is then. I am miserable with no hot water in my apartment and I’m tired of wasting hours upon hours waiting for the bus, riding it (it takes four times as long to get to any destination riding public transit) and being late for work if it’s behind schedule. But hot water and better transportation are luxuries, not really needs. I test-drove a Camaro this past Easter weekend and I imagined how much easier it would make my life to have it. (And of course how cool it would feel to be behind the wheel of one.) But coveting is a sin and letting my mind feast on this desire for a car is wasting precious time I could be thinking about other things of more importance like God’s goodness and His grace. I have brought my petitions to God and He will either bless me with a better job or He will tell me to wait longer. As it stands now, I can afford the car payments and insurance but I would have to finance the car and I’d rather save up and pay for it in cash so that I can avoid the interest.

As to the situation with my husband, the latest news is that he still wants to get back together with me but he wants me to give up the Bible which he claims “brainwashes” me. He says that until I start thinking along the same lines as he does, there is no possibility of us ever reconciling. Even though he lost his faith years ago, he was willing to dwell with me. I have absolutely no idea how unequally yoked couples do it! There were so many problems in our marriage because my husband did not want to submit to God. Untimately, it was our major differences in worldview that caused him to leave me. (This is the answer he gave when I asked him last night “WHY did you leave me!?” .) He said we are just too different and we have absolutely nothing in common because I follow Jesus and he doesn’t.

Some of you reading this may be asking yourselves if my telling you all of this really all that necessary? Maybe not, but I still think it’s important to share my testimony. I need to. I need someone to say, “I’ve been there,” or “I’m going through something similar,” or “I don’t know what you’re going through, but I’m praying for you and I’m here for you.”

Here’s what 2 Corinthians 4:1-2 says:
“Since God has so generously let us in on what He is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.” ((The Message))