On March 28, 2012, I celebrate my wedding anniversary. And this is a miracle. A year ago, I was ready to file for divorce, and two years ago, I had a restraining order against my husband. It has been an amazing road to restoration, and I can testify that not only have we completely reconciled, but our family has welcomed our 4th child, now 6 months old.

The past two years have been incredibly challenging, both in growth and difficulty. Becoming a single parent with all its challenges, grieving what I thought was the death of my marriage, and giving up my hopes and dreams of family was emotionally draining. It’s true — divorce is as devestating as the death of a spouse, perhaps even more so, with the guilt and confusion that come with it, and the agony of still being able to see, communicate and interact with the other person. The physical work of parenting then three young bewildered girls, trying to protect them, and explain why their mother and father were no longer going to live together was exhausting, and added another layer to my own emotional distress.

There were long nights, that I cried myself into exhausted, restless sleep, angry at my husband, angry at God. How could he (and I wasn’t always clear on who “he” was) do this to me? How did this happen? What did I do wrong? What did I do to deserve this. I felt punished unfairly and utterly confused.

My questions were never fully answered, and I realized I really didn’t need the answers. Slowly, through articles, books, Christian mentors and friends, God showed me the true meaning of forgiveness, and gave me comfort and strength.

I learned to forgive my husband for all the pain and his desertion of us. I learned to take responsibility for my part in the demise of our relationship — and more importantly, to leave his with him, without blame! That was a major stumbling block for me. I needed to accept that he responsible for his abuse of me, without holding it against him. I wanted to blame him, to make him somehow pay me back, to hurt him the way he had hurt me. But I needed to let go of what he owed me — because he did owe me!

In the process of forgiveness, I decided to give that debt to God. I figured God would be far more likely to collect. I took great satisfaction in the verse that says “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord, I will repay.” For awhile, that allowed me to learn to not hold my pain against my husband.

But soon, I realized even that was wrong. I had to become compassionate, to love as God loved, and love him as my enemy, as Jesus commanded. What helped here was learning about the spiritual law of sowing and reaping – what you sow, you shall reap. And my husband had not sown well. As I learned about the pain that, short of a miracle, would be visited on him, it was a key that turned my heart towards him. Though I no longer loved him as I once did, I did feel sorry for him.

I also had to learn to forgive myself. Not that my actions and attitudes were “ok” or justified, but that I couldn’t change or fix it, and God still loved me, I was still a Christian, and I was still righteous in His sight, because of Jesus. And that because of God’s great love and mercy, I could deal with the consequences.

Forgiveness was the first miracle. And while I was learning forgiveness, God was doing a miracle in my husband — a spiritual “heart transplant.” God had used my statement of finality (divorce and moving away) to grab my husband’s attention and start the process of growing him up (finally..). Just as my perspective had to change from what he owed me to what was owed him — his focus changed from what he wanted to what I needed, from his pleasure to making me happy. His heart turned towards me, and he began to want to do whatever it took to make me happy.

We were learning this separately, but God was bringing us together. When I told my husband I was filing for divorce, I also told him I was moving with our kids to another city, 8 hours away. He and I arranged for monthly visitation, and he stayed with family nearby for the weekends he would visit. After the first visit, he asked if he could call once a week to talk to the kids, and I consented. Then it grew to 2-3 times a week, and after the second visit, he and I were talking nightly. He asked me to tell him everything I was feeling and thinking, and believe me, I didn’t hold back. Yet, through it all, he didn’t once get angry at me, or yell at me over the phone, and he never once pushed my boundaries.

I sensed his restraint and his trying to show me that he really did respect me. We began discussing what it would take to bring our marriage together, and steps we thought we should take. I was very hesitant, but willing to try, slowly, very slowly. We were going to “start over” as if we hadn’t met, and “date” with the goal of getting remarried eventually. My thought was that it would take years before I would be ready.. But God had either plans.

Christmas 2010 was special. My husband had decided to follow us to where we had moved, and had found a new job there. He was considering moving in with his family nearby, and had come down a week before his job started. I agreed to let him visit us every day that week, and even more, agreed to let him stay overnight Christmas Eve, so he could see the kids Christmas morning.

Well, I decided to give him a special Christmas present.. And God took my gift to give me a special gift, our third miracle. Against all odds, our fourth child was conceived. With the news of our baby coming (and I had to have it confirmed by ultrasound because I couldn’t believe it!), we couldn’t exactly act as though it were all brand new. Plus, I now needed to find a new place to live, as a 2 bedroom apartment was cramped with 3 kids, let alone 4.

Our fourth miracle was brought about in April 2011. God knew exactly what we needed. As soon as we said “yes” to moving in together, he provided the home, a 2 week moving date, a landlord that wanted to sell and was willing to accommodate us, plus a couple that was able to take over my old lease. Within 2 weeks, we were unpacking in our new home, that had all I wanted in a house, right down to a sidewalk outside (though it was a small village we had moved to) and a store I could walk to – across the street! – plus more, including a huge yard, a garden plot, and a swing set for the kids.

The final miracle was the provision of the tools we needed to start the process of learning how to be married again, without abuse, destructive patterns, and constant fighting, and to deal with the past. We needed to learn how to relate to each other in a healthy way, to communicate effectively without hurting the other, and to work together as a team. We found a great book and DVD series, by a couple who had survived 10 years of abusive marriage ending in infidelity, and had their own miracle (for more info, check out http://www.godsavemymarriage.com).

Today, we can stand before the world united. We have a home, a life, a church together. Our hearts are slowly becoming one and our family is healing. We’re excited to celebrate God’s transforming power evidenced in our lives, and testify to His glory that He made this possible. Thanks be to God – for nothing is impossible with Him. And we cannot wait to see what He will do next, in and through and for us!

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