Moving Forward

For those of you just now stumbling upon my blog, welcome! It’s nice to “meet” you!

Foundations of Sapphires 

I started this blogging journey to chronicle my personal struggles with separation and divorce. Over time, it became a place of lighthearted venting about my dating escapades. I haven’t updated since last September which is the month I met my boyfriend!

YES! I have found love! (But more about that later.) Lately I’ve been thinking about the fact that I’ve neglected this blog because I’m no longer grieving the loss of my marriage or dealing with difficult decisions regarding that. I’m also no longer involved in online dating shenanigans so I’ve stopped writing about that as well. What other purpose does this blog serve than as a record of a broken woman who climbed out of the pit of despair and allowed Jesus to put her back together again? Jesus bulldozed my old foundation of abuse and hopelessness, threw the wreckage away, and rebuilt my structure on a foundation of sapphires- the symbol of faithfulness, wisdom, virtue, and true love. I’ve decided that this may or may not be my last entry as I wrap up this chapter of my life and move on to new horizons. I hope the words I’ve left here over the course the past five years can be of some help to you if you are going through a tough time and faced with many difficult decisions.

matthew2

I’m so blessed that we found one another. He showers me with affection in just the right way that fills up my heart with love. He consistently puts me before himself and brings me closer to my Heavenly Father.  I thank Him that He brought us together.

Overcoming my Past

Nearly five years after my husband left, I still feel like the same old me, but in a way, I am a new and improved version of myself. Through this experience, I have changed negative attitudes and developed a positive outlook, gained new perspectives, set new goals for the future, grown stronger in my faith, and become an individual that has more love and respect for myself. After years of biblical counseling and personal study, I can smell bull crap from a mile away and I don’t put up with it now, no Sir-Ree-Bob!

What I Have Learned in Dating After Divorce

  • Your new partner is NOT your ex. Just because something seems familiar doesn’t mean the same patterns are going to repeat themselves. I’ll admit that things were pretty difficult in the beginning of my relationship due to the trauma, brainwashing, and various types of abuse I experienced in my marriage, but I’ve learned to give these fears and burdens to God, open up my heart to love, and let myself be vulnerable. It feels so good to trust again.
  • I’ve learned to avoid saying things like, “You’re doing ‘X’ just like so-and-so used to do.” It’s important to share your feelings about the past abuse with your new partner, but try not to compare them because they are two different people with different personalities, values, behaviors, and life experiences. If you are genuinely concerned about your new partner’s actions, speak with a trusted friend, family member, or elder at your church to gain insight from someone who is emotionally removed from the situation.
  • Do not rely on your feelings! Feelings change so you cannot trust them. Every day we must choose to love the person we picked for who he is, not for how he makes us feel.
  • I used to believe that leaving a marriage for any reason other than adultery was sinful, but now I believe that God wants you to be safe. Even though my ex-husband was cruel and frighteningly unpredictable, I remained patiently committed, naively believing that my persistent, undying love would conquer all and that if I just stuck with it, we would eventually reap the “happily ever after” outcome of a healthy, mutually respectful, and intimate partnership.  Boy, was I delusional!
  • The abuse was NOT my fault. I can be pretty hard on myself as I’m a perfectionist, so I blamed myself for years for what happened to me but I learned that there was nothing I could have done to make the abuse stop except get out sooner. I was never going to leave so God provided a way of escape, as He always does for those who love Him.
  • Above all, I have learned to let God write my love story. I’ve given Him the reigns of my relationship and let the Perfect Lover teach me how to love and be loved. It is the most freeing experience to trust God that my life is in His hands and He loves me with an everlasting love. When I put Him first, my joy and sense of security come first, too.

Tips If You’re at the Beginning of Your Journey

  • Sometimes it’s hard to recognize abuse in your own relationship. Being able to call it by its name is the first step to stopping it. Abusers can’t abuse if they don’t have a victim! Abuse can be so subtle that you don’t even realize it’s happening or perhaps it’s gone on so long that it has become normative. Here are two resources I’ve found to assess whether or not you’re being abused: [One] [Two] Once you are able to acknowledge your situation for what it is, educate yourself about it. Knowledge is power.
  • Find accountability. This is your support network. It’s important to have people you love and trust in your corner. Speak the truth, no matter how scary it is. Personally, I struggled between my need to speak out about what was happening and my perceived need to  protect my abuser’s reputation and integrity. After you share your burden with others, it will be such a relief! Validation will empower you as you take the steps to make positive changes in your life.
  • Time will bear witness of true, heartfelt change. Your abuser will try to get you to come back once you are safely at a distance but don’t put yourself back in harm’s way unless you and other witnesses have seen serious change over a period of time. Abuse is not normal and you shouldn’t have to accept it.
  • Remember that you can still be who you want to be apart from him. You are deeply cherished because you belong to God and He has prepared a beautiful purpose for you even before you were born. If your relationship doesn’t survive, you still have a bright future ahead.

For further reading, please visit this library of resources I put together that helped me transition into this new stage of my life.

Thank you for joining me on my road to healing! This is not the end but the beginning of something new and beautiful!

Advertisements

Thoughts on Marital Separation & Big Decisions

I love this scene in the movie “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” when Andie discovers the wilting plant in Ben’s apartment. “Oh, no… our love fern; it’s dead! You let it die. Are you going to let us die?”  It’s a funny scene and makes a great point that relationships are like plants: if you don’t water them with care, they wilt and eventually die. Even old married couples must go on frequent dates to keep a relationship healthy. So too we ought to make dates with God. It’s important to always be aware of His presence at all times but especially when we need Him to soothe our aches. It’s so easy to worry when we aren’t focused on the fact that God is with us and in control. We need learn about who He is so that our heart can be sensitive to what He might be trying to tell us throughout the day.

I realize that, even though I’m praying daily, I’m not intimately conversing with God. I’m talking to Him, but I’m not really hearing His response nor trusting Him in the silence that follows my prayers. I cry out to Him daily but it seems I’ve found myself in a purgatory of sorts where God just wants me to make a decision instead of sitting in limbo and it doesn’t really matter which way I choose, just that I take a step forward on the path. I constantly wonder what it is He wants me to do. Does He want me to continue waiting for my husband to have a change of heart? Clearly, my husband has made up his mind and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change it. As my pastor and many close confidants have suggested, “Would you really want to be reconciled with someone who you’d be unequally yoked with? Maybe you should see this as a blessing in disguise.” My husband has actually called me a few times to chat because he misses my companionship, but he doesn’t want to be reunited as husband and wife. Three times he has asked me if he could borrow the money he needs for the divorce because he doesn’t have the funds for it. I refused each and every time because I still have a little sliver of hope that “until death do us part” will still happen. Some people are telling me I should just divorce him myself so that I can put it behind me, wipe the slate clean, and start over fresh. Well-meaning people have told me, “Why shouldn’t you be happy and have the family you always dreamed of? You can’t move on if you keep pining away after a man who has already divorced you in his heart.”

I would wait for years and years if I knew for sure he’d return to God and to me. But how long, Oh Lord? How long must I wait? At the mall where I work I see children giggling and swinging from the hands of their parents. There is a deep yearning within my soul for that connection between mother and child and to share my life with a partner in whom I would be his helpmeet. I hate to say “time is running out,” but it really is if you think about it. At my age, there are not many eligible bachelors left and even fewer are God-fearing men. I recently gave my cousin the book “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy and now I’m thinking it may be time for me to re-read it. At the moment I am reading “Where is God When it Hurts? A Comforting, Healing Guide for Coping With Hard Times” by Philip Yancey.  So far it has been encouraging but I haven’t yet gotten to the part that tells me why God allowed this to happen.  I keep wanting answers! All I can rest in is the fact that Job was a righteous man who found favor in the sight of God and even he had to endure great suffering which was appointed to him for a purpose though Job, in his entire lifetime, never found out what that purpose was.

It bothers me that I still don’t know the specific plan God has for my life. (I know that everyone has the same purpose: to serve and obey Christ with sincerity of heart and serve others, especially “the least of these” (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 25:34-45) and to share the gospel (1 Peter 2:9, 3:15-16, Mark 16:15). Maybe it doesn’t matter exactly what I do as long as I “work at it with all my heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23, Ephesians 6:7). When I was in college I believed I was called to be a teacher and minister to troubled youth. I wanted to help young people and give them hope so that they didn’t have to experience the same torment that I did at their age. Many young people are searching for answers: Who am I? Why am I here? If I can be there for them during those difficult questions and maybe lead them to discover for themselves the answers, I will feel as though I have made a difference in the world.  Five years ago I took failing the Praxis exam as a sign that the Lord didn’t want me to be a teacher but to be a stay-at-home wife and serve my husband faithfully by his side in whatever he needed me to do. I regret that decision today. (Not getting married, no, I shall never regret that. I regret not furthering my education.)

Do you ever feel like you’re just waiting waiting waiting for your life to actually start? I have always felt that the Lord set me apart for a special work though I know not what. I have known this since the age of 16. 12 years ago I was going through an immense inward struggle as I fought an intense spiritual battle. I will not get into the specifics with what I was wrestling with, but one night it all came to a head and I didn’t want to live anymore. I was seriously contemplating suicide because I was ready to be in Heaven with the Lord where there would be no more tears or pain. As I sat selfishly on my bedroom floor with my head in my hands, trying to think of the least painful way to kill myself I could have sworn I heard God speaking clearly to me in my mind. He wasn’t yelling at me or telling me I was foolish for pondering such a thing. His voice was tender and gentle. He whispered, “I LOVE you! Your life is precious to Me. Don’t end it. I am the One who decides when you die. I will take care you. You can get through this; you can do it. I want you to do great things for Me. Just wait and see what I have in store for you… just wait! I have BIG PLANS for you!” Those two words “big plans” have never left my mind and I’ve always wondered when they would come to fruit or if they are already taking place as I type this. As God set apart prophets and leaders like Jeremiah and Moses for “special work,” I wonder if I, too, was called for a special work or if my special work is just living out a simple life without complaining, but being thankful and praising God in all things.

Sometimes I think, “What am I still doin in Tucson making a lousy $10 an hour? I should be in Connecticut living near my family and friends I grew up with working at a great job making a decent living.” (But many people tell me $10 is a lot more than most people make and I should be thankful that I make that much.) However, it never seems like it’s enough to live on. There’s so much I want to do! First of all, I want to be debt free and second I’d like to have my own mode of transportation. Last but not least, it is my dream to just save up a bunch of money and buy a big, beautiful house and open it and my heart up to a bus-load of orphans. The Bible commands us to help the orphans (James 1:27). It’s what everyone is supposed to do, not just certain people who are called. Someday I’m definitely going to adopt but until that time has come, I help provide financial grants to loving, Christian families who want to make a difference in the life of orphans with a percentage of the profits from my business Eskimo Kissesz. Of course I want to have my own biological children as well and be the kind of wife who rubs my husband’s feet when he comes home from a long day of work, take a hot bath with him, and then cuddle all night long after a wonderful home cooked meal. But I digress.

Newsflash to self: life is NOW. We are to be making the most of what we have in the moment. We cannot wait ‘til tomorrow because tomorrow may never come. Do the best with what you have and the rest will come later in God’s timing. If you keep waiting for some big “AH HAH moment,” it will probably never come. Sometimes you just have to choose to walk toward the door and open it yourself. Find your identity in Christ and you will never again wonder who you are. If you aren’t content with where He has placed you right now you will continually try to find fulfillment and satisfaction elsewhere- in things or in other people. For some reason the saying, “bloom where you are planted” just came into my mind.

Everyone says they’re proud of how strong I am for going through this without tearing down my husband or speaking ill against him. I confess I don’t feel very strong. I feel the pain is too much to bear sometimes, but I know I must stand firm and always remember that God will never give me more than I can handle (1 Corinthians 10:12-13). I also need to bear in mind that the Lord is taking care of me, and wants me to lean on Him. Whenever I start feeling totally hopeless it is good to remember that Christians all over the world have suffering even worse than I do… some are in prison and some are being tortured for their faith. My heart breaks for them. I pray that they will have some reprieve soon.

God has called me to eternal glory in Christ, and while He allows me to suffer on this earth, it is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to me on that WONDERFUL SOMEDAY! Oh, I simply cannot wait for the return of my KING!!! Eventually He will restore me and make me strong, firm and steadfast (1 Peter 5:10). It is so encouraging to know that one day my suffering will finally end. In the meantime, I need to watch my attitude and conduct, always being prepared in season and out of season to witness both with my lips and with my life. I’m so thankful for the many opportunities lately that I’ve been given to share my faith and encourage other believers going through hard times. The Devil is poised to pounce, and he would like nothing better than to catch me with my guard down so I have to be extra sober and vigilant now than ever before. I have fallen into darkness one too many times, but I am trying to remain on the illumined path and not stray into the thorny weeds that grow alongside. When I doubted the Bible was the absolute infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, it was the most depressing time in my entire life. I didn’t want to get out of bed or do anything. But praise the Lord! In Jesus Christ I have found eternal peace of mind, true, unconditional, everlasting love and joy. I have no limits in Christ and I have unlimited freedom in Christ. I have broken free from the chains of bondage and I have found security in the knowledge of His grace. Amen!