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).

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))

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Walking around today in the beautiful weather with my new cowgirl boots and haircut… I felt like a new woman. Today was absolutely splendid spectacular and I am feeling so blessed and loved.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I have some friends who are definitely going to find out just how much their friendship has meant to me, especially during the most difficult year of my life.

Rose

Happy Valentine’s Day to all the people who stood by me and helped me through this difficult time of my life. I love love love you sooooooooooooo much!

Speaking of my friends, I am friends with three married couples who are going through the worst kind of trial imaginable right now. In all three cases there are young children involved and in all three cases it was the wife that cheated on the husband. I feel as though the Lord is using my heartache to reach out to these young couples and encourage them in any way I am able. I am much better at expressing my thoughts through writing and I never truly know just what to say when they call, but sometimes I think the Lord speaks through me. I find myself saying things like, “You can either go through this or grow through this.” // “Stop. Breathe. Be still and know that He is LORD.” // “Remember that He is in complete control of this situation and He will not let you experience more than you can handle.” // “You cannot change the past but you can forgive and forget. Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re okay with what happened, but that you will no longer harbor anger, resentment, and bitterness in your heart. Live in the present, taking it one day at a time. Focus on the small tasks at hand that need to get done and dwell on positive, praiseworthy things.”

I wasn’t always able to shell out advice so easily. Only a few months ago I was a complete train wreck myself experiencing mental breakdowns at least once a week. I didn’t feel whole without my husband’s love and commitment. I was in utter shock, incapable of thinking clearly or doing much of anything productive. I refused to accept the reality of what was happening, choosing to believe that it would all eventually go away like waking up from a bad dream. I kept feeling like I was this shameful failure at life. A loser. A leper. The worst kind of sinner… a woman headed towards the long, lonely road of divorce. Oh, “if only, if only,” I cried so many nights. (Which is SO unhealthy by the way!) No matter how relieved I was to be extricated from my intolerable state of affairs, I was still utterly heartbroken and kept reliving all my lovely memories and the beautiful hopes of what was supposed to someday be.

I felt massive insecurity, helplessness, and instability. I was in tremendous upheaval calling up my loved ones and family so much when I was crying hysterically that a few of them needed breaks and asked me to stop calling so much. I felt like something was wrong with me because I wasn’t getting better and I was distancing my friends in the process. Everything in my life was topsy-turvy. I was getting sick and was freaking out about the bills that had to be paid. But the Lord provided and I was able to keep going… even though at times it felt like I was going one step forward and two steps back.

1 Forward, 2 Back

One step forward and two steps back…

In the early stages of marital separation, it is imperative that you lean on your support group for balance, otherwise you may not be able to stand on your own two feet. It’s so easy to curl up in a ball and shut out the world. Depression can be a comforting friend that we cradle and embrace and drink tea with on the porch. It’s all we know and it’s easier than pulling ourselves out of it and trying to feel something else. But there comes a time that you’ve got to woman-up and reassert yourself as a functioning, responsible adult who can take care of herself. There were times that my own sister was so worried for me because I could not act in a rational manner and seemed completely unable to cope emotionally. When she called me all excited to tell me her wedding date I just panicked because I thought she was getting married too soon and I guess I just projected my own fears and insecurity onto her upcoming nuptials. Instead of showering my affection on her and displaying my overwhelming joy for her engagement, I pushed her away a little bit. That day was the wake up call that showed me I have a lot of growing to do in the area of emotional healing and I better start lickity split. I HATE being in pain! (Especially when those close to me are rejoicing.) “There is a time to mourn and a time to dance,” the wise king says in Ecclesiastes 3. If I couldn’t celebrate with my beloved sister when it was time to rejoice, then I had serious issues. I decided I needed a spiritual makeover. I had to rebuild my self-confidence and remind myself who I am in Christ. I am a Princess of the One, true King and I am precious in His sight. He is mine and I am His.

I had a song in my heart as I walked in the sunshine to the bus stop today to get from my first job to my second job. I was so cheerful that even the attitude of one particular co-worker did not get me down. (For some reason, she has always enjoyed picking on me since day one and we simply don’t get along.) This is the song I was singing:

Who can cheer the heart like Jesus
By His presence all divine?
True and tender, pure and precious
O, how blest to call Him mine!

All that thrills my soul is Jesus
He is more than life to me
And the fairest of ten thousand
In my blessed Lord I see

For passels of days, I can feel exactly the same. Not any more sad than yesterday but not any more content today. It’s as though healing came by for a visit but didn’t stay long enough for a cup of tea. There is no timetable for grief. There are some weeks where all I can think about is my husband and how much I still love him so dearly. My faithfulness can be a curse because it will not let me let him go so I can finish grieving and move on. Separation feels worse than death because there is no finality and closure as when someone dies. At least if he died I could have a funeral and all my friends and family could come and we’d grieve his loss together and then bury the coffin and walk away. Yes, I am still mourning him and it happens whenever I think of a fond memory- something he said or did that was so precious and endearing that I just cradle that memory and rock it for a moment too long and it breaks me up inside. For instance, just the other day, I was remembering this one time that he baked me up some wicked pistachio whoopie pies. I loved when it was his turn to cook for us; he was always making such yummy things to fill me up with.

Pistachio Whoopie Pies

Pistachio Whoopie Pies

There’s nothing wrong with cherishing old memories but when I dwell on them too long it breaks me down and I miss him so bad. I want to call him and talk to him and tell him how much I miss him, but I have to remind myself that the person who picks up the phone when I call won’t be my husband, it will be the stranger he has become.

There are so many things I miss about him but one thing I really miss is being the most beautiful woman in the world to one special someone. I REALLY miss that. I miss being absolutely perfectly beautiful in the eyes of one man. For some reason I’ve been extra conscious about my looks lately. Someone once said that a woman thinks about her looks every seven seconds. I don’t think that’s necessarily true (at least not for me, but it’s crazy to think about if it is true for someone out there!) I know I have been more self-conscious than I’ve ever been about my pimples and skinniness and small chest etc. I literally believed my husband was the most handsome man in the world. I COULD NOT see the attractiveness of any other man no matter what anyone said about “that hot guy over there.” I simply only had eyes for MY man. When I saw him for the first time in 8 months a few weeks ago…. I was surprised to find myself looking into the eyes of a stranger. This was not my husband! Who was this thin Kurt Cobain doppelganger? I had to sit on my hands so as not to run my hand through his sexy hair… but other than that, I no longer felt he was the most handsome man in the world and that scared me. It really, really scared me. What does this mean?

Okay, so I have this cavernous wound that I can’t seem to get over. When will I truly surrender my pain to Christ? Oh Jesus, fill my emptiness and make me whole. Teach me to fully rely on You alone. I want to know You as my Husband, my Best Friend, and my One True Love. Jesus, You are everything I need and You were madly in love with me before I even knew You. Be my Valentine tomorrow and fill my heart with Your unfailing love. I feel like a little vulnerable girl who wants to crawl into Your lap and cry. Fill me, Jesus. You are the only One who knows and sees and fully understands. You are my Healer. Help me to remember when I feel rejected that no one else knows better than You just how I feel.

Image
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

-Galations 6:9

Still Healing as My Marriage Unravels

Reclaiming My Identity

I am a wife. For better or for worse, my identity is wrapped around it like a warm, comforting, patchwork quilt. I don’t even remember how to be single. I spent the majority of my adulthood either preparing to be someone’s wife or working hard at being the best wife I could be. But since my husband left me, who am I now? Where do I belong? I’ve always felt that a wife’s place is with her husband, no matter what. She supports him and helps him in any way she is able and never gives up on him.

My sister Jacqueline is a decorated athlete who recently learned of a debilitating hip and back injury. It made my heart swell with encouragement to hear her say, “My identity is in Jesus and not my athletic ability so this transition will be hard but not life-stopping.” I ought to fall in step with her as I transition from wifehood to singlehood. At the end of the day, my identity is “In Christ Alone.”

Enough is Enough

I’ve always loved this scene from “The Mexican” when Julia Robert’s character asks Brad Pitt’s character, “If two people love each other but they just can’t seem to get it together, when do you get to that point when enough is enough?”

What I never intended to discover is that sometimes, it’s okay to say “enough is enough.” Sometimes you just have to protect and preserve your innermost being. When an individual is not living out the biblical definition of love and has no intentions of ever fulfilling his or her marital responsibilities as instructed by God, then it’s okay to let that person go. It’s unhealthy to keep holding on and hoping he or she will change.

As a child I had always said, “No matter how bad things get, I’d NEVER divorce my husband and I’d never be so stupid to as to marry anyone who would ever divorce me.” I hate to admit this, but I even looked down a little upon the people I knew who had gotten divorced. I silently judged them for not trying hard enough. In a culture that likes to sell us slogans like “Never give up” that sound good on motivational posters and T-shirts, we have to step back and say, “That’s simply not feasible in reality.” I had the absolute best intentions to make my marriage work, but I think it’s not conducive to keep waiting around in marriage purgatory.

I have been doing much reflection on the past four years of my marriage and many memories I chose to suppress out of basic survival need have been resurfacing and haunting my thoughts during the day. (I’ve also had some bad nightmares recently.) I have been struggling with whether or not to share specifics with everyone. It can be cathartic to get things off your chest, but it’s also important to protect the ones you love from scorn and I’m trying to find that balance. By sharing my story with others, maybe someone in a similar situation can find encouragement. That is my hope as I continue here, without giving out too many unnecessary details.

What very few people know is that my marriage was, at times, very dangerous. I frequently found myself in situations where I feared for my physical safety. My marriage was dysfunctional almost from the very beginning. I think the first time I noticed a problem was when my husband told me right after our honeymoon that he didn’t feel like going to church. I told him I didn’t either and we stayed home and cuddled in bed. But the next Sunday he said the exact same thing and the Sundays that followed. I felt that I was dragging him to church against his will and that he was resenting me for it so eventually I stopped begging him to attend with me and just went by myself. It was awkward being a newlywed sitting alone in church having to explain to everyone who asked that my husband was just “exhausted from working” when, in reality, he no longer seemed interested in worshiping with fellow believers.

One day, not too soon after we tied the knot, my husband asked me, “If you were faced with the valid plausibility that everything you ever believed about the Bible were an outright lie, would you continue to ignorantly follow its teachings or would you look into it… even if the Truth deeply hurt?” I answered honestly that I’d rather believe the Truth, even if the Truth were painful and earth-shattering. Little did I know, that answer was to be the beginning of a journey into a very dark time for me spiritually. My husband asked me to listen to anti-Christian radio programs with him that caused me to begin questioning everything I believed in. The doubts threatened to strangle my sanity and I allowed myself to fall into a deep depression. I didn’t like listening to the radio shows and they were destroying my hope and joy. My husband kept telling me how much it meant to him that I listen with him, and I wanted to be submissive and respectful to my husband, so I continued to listen. I also wanted to be on the same page as my husband, and it’s no fun trying to “be one” when you’re on completely different wave lengths spiritually. I sought counsel from my pastor and his wife and they gave me the courage I needed to say, “no,” to my husband so that I could protect what little faith I had left. The more I tried to cling to my belief that the Bible was the absolute, infallible, inerrant, inspired Word of God, the more my husband and I drifted apart.

The Death of a Dream

Growing up, I had this beautiful image in my head of how my life would play out. I dreamed about my wedding day since I was a barefoot, starry-eyed six-year-old. My whole life I’ve dreamed of “happily ever after.” I bought into the myth of the formulaic “perfect Christian marriage” and I thought that as long as I was being a good wife to a good man, we couldn’t possibly have a bad marriage. And I thought I had picked a very, very good, godly man!

When the dust settled, I was terrified to air my dirty laundry. I didn’t want anyone to know that the fairy tale I had longed for my entire life turned out to be a very grim nightmare. For years, I accepted this as my fate and learned to pretend that things weren’t really as bad as they seemed for the sake of keeping up a good façad for those I cared about. I didn’t want them to worry about me and I didn’t want them to think badly of the man I married. I took and still take my sacred marriage vows before God very seriously and so I chose to honor my vows by staying in what was, in hindsight, a very chronically frustrating and unfulfilling relationship. At the time I somehow convinced myself that it wasn’t that bad or that it would get better in time. It was the only way I could keep putting one foot in front of the other without losing my mind. I chose the lesser of two evils: a life of perpetual disappointment and heartbreak rather than separation without sound biblical support.

1 Corinthians 7:13 says that if a husband is not a believer but is willing to live with his wife, she must not divorce him. For years I co-existed with a man in whom I had nothing in common with. A man who said he loved me but wouldn’t provide for me, lied to me about doing drugs, physically, emotionally, and spiritually abused me, and stayed out all hours of the night without answering his phone making me worry about him. In the end, he went chasing after another woman.

Even after I found out about the other woman and the drugs I was still willing to make it work with him if he wanted to make it work with me. I know from friends who’ve gone through similar experiences that living with a recovering drug addict can be a miserable experience but my deep, unconditional love for Mathew could get me through anything.

My husband’s decision to leave me was a scary and confusing time. I grieved the loss of what I had and what could have someday been, but somewhere in the recesses of a dark, unvisited corner in my heart I felt the strange tingling pleasure of relief. I finally had a biblical reason to get out of a bad marriage. I felt absolutely awful about it though, and still feel ashamed that a small part of me was sort of glad that I had been able to break free from the bondage of being tethered to an unbeliever.

“For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)

Flying Solo

My friends don’t like it when I refer to myself as a “wreck of a woman.” I don’t feel as though I have anything to offer anyone but broken heart. When will I ever feel whole again? I’ve met so many divorced people lately. Many of them tell me that I will always be “in love” with my husband, I will never fully “get over” him, and I’m probably right now as healed as I’ll ever get. That thought troubles me.

It’s funny how important having a good job is. Never in my life have I worried about money because I never had to take care of myself financially before. As I am typing this I have a 102.3 degree fever and I’m unable to attend work. I get sick maybe about once every other month and it is frightening to have to stay home and worry about how the rent is going to get paid if I’m sick for a few days.

My husband recently called and said he would reconcile if I would give up the Bible. “You’re brainwashed by the church,” he told me. “If you burn your Bible, then I will know you really love me and want to see eye to eye with me.” I see absolutely no hope for a reunion unless he comes back to the Lord, if in fact he was ever the Lord’s to begin with. No matter how desperately I want to be back together with my husband I responded, “Mathew, I love you dearly, but I love God more, and I choose Him.”

I thought my husband was the strongest believer I knew when I first started dating him. Somehow along the way he lost his faith. The Bible says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” For those of you who don’t know what a yoke is, it’s a piece of wood that binds two draft animals together at the neck so that they can work together to till the ground or carry heavy loads. God gave the Israelites special instructions in Deuteronomy not to plow a donkey and ox together. The reason that a donkey shouldn’t be paired with an ox is because the ox will have all of the heavy load on him. The donkey will be dragged alongside in the dirt and continually trying to pull the ox in another direction. A donkey is not the equal partner of an ox.

A Confusing Verse

This verse haunted me ever since my husband left me:

Matthew 5:31-32 says, “Anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.”

This verse has always confused me. Why, it isn’t fair! Why should the woman be considered, through no fault of her own, an adulterate? It seems to me that the husband should be considered the adulterate as he violated the holiness of the union, adulterating what was once beautiful and making it unclean and impure.

My pastor offered redemptive solace by helping to explain to me that the Lord does indeed want me to be filled with joy and that I should see this divorce as a blessing because the Lord will bring much good from it. He doesn’t think that verse means my future husband would be an adulterer or that I’m an adulteress. This verse is similar to 1 John 5:10 that says, “Whoever does not believe God has made Him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.” Obviously God is not a liar; it is against His nature to be anything but truthful. It is as if you were calling God a liar… just as though divorcing a faithful wife is like making her out to be an adulteress.

Hope for the Future

We are now going in to the 11th month of marital separation.  The only reason we haven’t officially divorced yet legally is because it’s $250 to get a quick, easy divorce and my husband hasn’t had a job in 3 and a half years and whatever money he had was spent on drugs. Given the choice between me or him, I really wanted him to divorce me as it is the principle of the thing… I wanted my hands clean of the business. However, it is currently looking like if I don’t divorce him we might be forever in a sort of permanent separation limbo. My pastor says I have biblical grounds for a divorce according to 1 Corinthians 7:15. I was abandoned by an unbeliever and now I am no longer bound. This has been the catalyst of my healing. To be a divorced Christian is to be an anomaly. No one wants that stigma. How do I navigate my way through this uncharted territory? It is incredibly scary. But I trust that God brought me to this so He can bring me through it.

I even have hope that one day I might find a God-fearing man with a passionate desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Anyone who has seen my pinterest lately knows that I have been thinking a lot about the possibility of falling in love again, especially with the recent event of my beloved sister’s engagement.

Shane and Joanna

Shane and Joanna are in love! Check out their wedding website.

Aren’t Shane and Joanna the cutest couple? They both love Jesus and allowed Him to write their love story. I am excited to see where the Lord takes this couple and the amazing things they will do for Him as a team. Seeing these two happy love birds gives me great joy and I pray that the Lord may one day bless me as He has blessed them with each other.

I Don’t Really Believe In Karma

Karma is a popular topic people have been talking about these days. I’ve been hearing things like, “Karma is a b!%$#” or “what goes around comes around.” Also, I’ve been asked on numerous occasions recently whether or not I believe in karma. First of all, what is karma?
Karma
Hah! But seriously, what is karma? There are various schools of thought regarding the concept of karma. For instance, the Hindus and Buddhists believe differently about how it works. I still have to look into it more, but I’m pretty sure the true definition of the word karma is just the universal principle of cause and effect. Karma is not fate nor punishment, retribution, or reward. Basically, karma gives a name to the idea that for every action there is a consequence. I suppose I believe in this notion as it is basic logic. “If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the presence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.”

There are those who espouse themselves to the belief that “God does not make one suffer for no reason” and “if you’re experiencing pain, it must be because you’ve done something wrong.” I, however, hold to the worldview that sometimes there truly is no reason to why an individual suffers. Theists who believe in karma must also somehow incorporate God’s goodness and justice into their philosophy but I’m not sure if the two standpoints mesh.

Yeshua never promised that we wouldn’t suffer. In fact, He stated quite the opposite (John 16:33). Doing the right thing is not easy and we Christians were promised to face trials of many kinds in this world (1 Peter 1:6-7, Matthew 10:22) but not without eternal reward one day.

Remember the story in John 9:2-3? The disciples asked Yeshua, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They could not reconcile in their minds that his blindness had no cause. Today, doctors might give us a scientific answer: “Well, you see, the optic nerve was underdeveloped in utero” (or the retina or cornea or what have you). “And the cause of this was poor prenatal diet” (or premature birth etc). But Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

Some people believe that if one does good things, good things will in turn happen for that individual. Yes, sometimes, but not necessarily always. I don’t think I buy into the whole karma deal and my counter-example is Job. He was a righteous man who found favor in the sight of God and yet he underwent tremendous suffering. It is probably safest to say that when you do bad things, sometimes bad things might happen to you and if you do good things, sometimes good things happen to you.

I do believe the Lord chastens those who accept His son as their Savior (Hebrews 12:6) such as the case of David who committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:13-23). God caused David’s baby to become sick and die as restitution for his extramarital affair. I also believe God is gracious and gives us second and even third chances to repent and turn back to Him. Please note that I’m not saying all babies die as a result of sin. Most probably die just as a natural course of sin in the world. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and there doesn’t seem to be any explanation. God “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).

All this talk of karma brings me to ponder my own situation. I worried for so long people would believe my situation was brought upon myself by my own choices. (Perhaps, in a way, this is true.) But I don’t feel I did anything horrible enough to deserve the outcome I find myself in. Those who believe in karma might point fingers at me and say, “See? Maybe you did something wrong to inflict this upon yourself.”

I am journeying through a very difficult time of grief and pain right now. Spiritual oppression hits me at every turn. I was physically ill for nearly two months and the doctors could do nothing for my symptoms. I have no doubt my emotional pain was manifesting itself in the form of a horrendous, seemingly unending sinus infection. Yet I trust the Lord with all my heart that this pain is for a reason though I cannot quite see what it is. Perhaps, as this poem points out, it is to shape me into who He wants me to be for His eternal Kingdom.

The Way of Suffering
from “Christ The Eternal Tao” by Hieromonk Damascene

I give you no formulas, says the Way,
I give you no equations.
But I will heal you in My own time,
In My own way,
Imperceptible to you.
Your mind races, seeking a solution;
But there is no solution that can be grasped by the mind.
Your mind tries every avenue,
Thinking that at least one will open up suddenly on the longed for goal:
Freedom from pain.
But every avenue is a dead-end;
You are up against a wall,
The goal is not reached.
That is because the pain is there for a reason.
It is like a maddening fever that burns up and drives out disease.
By it alone do I heal you:
Without it you will die in your sickness.
By it alone do I change you unto perfection:
Without it you will be as a foreigner in my Kingdom.

Seek no formula.
Seek no equation.
Only be patient:
Wait on Me
While I do My unseen work inside you.
When you are changed and fit for My Kingdom,
You will know that something happened,
And that is all you will know.
But there is no need for thought.
Enter, then, into My joy,
You who have waited, in devotion, in My pain.

I have been reading a book right now called “Where Is God When It Hurts?” by Philip Yancey. I am beginning to see pain as a sort of gift from God. I know that sounds slightly morbid but honestly, imagine a world where people felt no pain! Really think about it for a minute. Children wouldn’t jerk their hands away from hot stoves thus receiving third degree burns. People would burn their flesh submerging themselves into hot bath water. People who suffer from leprosy literally feel no pain, and reap horrifying consequences. For example, if you were a leper and sprained your ankle, you wouldn’t immediately stop but keep walking on it because you felt no pain that would alert you to rest it. You could possibly damage your ankle for life if you continued to use it instead of resting. Pain demands that we take a break so that we can heal. Emotional suffering is kind of like that, too, I suppose. I really feel like I just need a break so I can heal. This holiday season has been a great time of recharging my batteries, but also pretty stressful because of how many days our office didn’t work which means finances are extremely tight. It is times like these that I need to REST in the Lord and trust Him that He will provide for my every need and He truly has. I am so thankful that He is taking care of me and that I don’t need to worry. I have such a great support group that I know I will not become homeless like the people I handed out food, clothing, and sleeping bags to on Christmas day. “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)

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!