From Heartache to Joy: My Story
It’s in the seasons of heartache and waiting that we grow the most because we must cling to God. We must trust that God knows best and His timing is perfect.
I have been wanting to share other people’s stories to encourage you, but the story I wanted to share first was my own. I’ve been thinking about it for quite some time and it’s a struggle for me. I’ve had a fear of what others will think of me. There are people who will read this that know me personally and have no idea of the details surrounding my story. Some may not even know my story at all. It’s hard to share personal details of our lives. It makes us vulnerable when we open up our heart and our past, especially like this.
It may seem crazy to share our stories to the public, but I believe there is power in our stories. I believe our stories can help others find hope and grow in their relationship with God. My desire through this blog is to be real and honest and through that, I hope to encourage you. I want this to be a community where we as Christian women can share without fear of judgement. I want us to grow in relationship with each other as sisters in Christ. When we’ve been through heartache, we don’t want to dredge it up again. But if we share how God brought us through it, others may find hope and be encouraged in their own struggles. It’s also a reminder that if He brought you through that situation, He can bring you through anything.
I’ve shared before that when I was growing up, I was boy crazy. Boys never really liked me for one reason or another. I was overweight, loud, and obnoxious a lot of the time. I tried to fit in with the guys thinking they would like me if I could do what they could do. But most of the time that didn’t impress them. A guy that is beat by a girl at arm wrestling is probably not going to develop romantic feelings for her…it just crushes his ego.
I confessed my feelings to boys I had crushes on throughout my young life and was repeatedly turned down. It continually crushed my self-esteem because no one liked me or wanted me to be their girlfriend. By age 18 I had already done some things I wasn’t proud of to get boys’ attention or affection. But it never worked and only made my self-esteem worse. I was pretty desperate by that time and I had been praying that God would bring me the man I would marry so that I wouldn’t have to date a lot of guys. It’s crazy, but I thought since I didn’t have a boyfriend at age 18, that I would be alone forever.
It was then that I met my first ever boyfriend. I was going to a new church and when this guy that went there asked me out, I was completely flattered that he was giving me attention. Even though I didn’t really like him in that way, and actually had a crush on another guy there, I also didn’t want to hurt his feelings. That goes to show how naive I was. So I told him we could go out as “just friends,” but he showered me with affection. I got caught up in the attention and assumed he was “the one” because he seemed so interested in me and no one else had before.
But I wasn’t confirming he was the one with God and I wasn’t seeking God’s direction about the relationship. I was just caught up in the thought that a guy liked me. In a matter of a week or two, we were talking marriage. Within a month, I had a promise ring on my finger. He bought me flowers and mushy love-bird cards, doing all the things a boyfriend “should” do. I realized later that he didn’t do that stuff because he loved me. He just did it because he knew girls liked that sort of thing. There was no meaning in it. But I thought that God brought him to me and had arranged it so I wouldn’t have to kiss a bunch of “frogs” to meet my prince charming.
We were officially engaged within a few months and married within a year of knowing each other. I was 19 and he was 23. There were so many red flags while I was dating him. We fought all of the time. I wanted to break it off so many times. But I had given him a promise when he gave me the first ring, and so I thought I had to follow through with that. I felt like I was already bound to him and I had no right to break it off. Planning the wedding was so stressful that I kept making it smaller and smaller until we had just a backyard wedding planned with immediate family only. Even then, we were officially married at the courthouse in secret. We still had the ceremony and never even told our families we were already married. I felt like being married would just take the stress away, but it only added to it. I guess he just wanted to consummate it sooner. I felt so much guilt over it all. I wanted to tell our families but didn’t know how. He didn’t want to say anything to them because he figured they would be upset. So nothing was said and we went on with our new life.
Within a month of being married, he quit his job without talking to me about it first. He couldn’t hold down a job after that. He lied constantly about everything from money to what he did during the day. He even lied and told me he was fired from one of the jobs he worked for briefly, when he actually quit. I couldn’t trust him. He also had a temper that scared me. There were many nights that I locked him out of the bedroom and pushed the dresser in front of the door because I was scared. He had guns for hunting in our bedroom closet and I was afraid he would snap when we had arguments. He would leave the house during one without telling me where he was going and would not answer his phone. Then he would show up hours later in a rage or want me to come pick him up in the middle of the night when I had to be up for work the next morning. I don’t think I told anybody about this during that time, but it scared me.
We had to make ends meet with our savings since he wasn’t working, and after months of him being caught in lies, we separated a couple months before our one year anniversary. It was after another argument about him not working and his lying when he disappeared and wouldn’t talk to me. Afraid he’d show up in a rage again that night, I stayed at my mom’s house and went to work the next day. The following night I went back to my mom’s house since I hadn’t heard from him and then he called me and said he wanted it over. He lied to his family and people in the church about me, making them think I was an awful person. I wasn’t perfect. I’m still not. Looking back, I know there are many things I could have done differently, but ultimately, he wanted to end the marriage. It was the first time that people shunned me because they believed lies about me and it broke my heart. It still breaks my heart because I truly loved those people. Even when we separated, I told him if he were willing to work on it, I was willing to try and planned to stay married unless he chose to file for divorce.
After that, he would call me and want to get together in private, saying he wanted to work on things. I felt a flicker of hope, but I prayed hard about it. I believe God told me to only meet him in a public place. He knew I was vulnerable and could easily fall for his lies, possibly even falling back into his bed, which would only complicate matters more. I told him if he was really serious that he wanted our marriage to work, he would have to court me again and show me that he was willing to work on our problems. After we would chat and things seemed to be going in a good direction, he would call me and say it just wouldn’t work and he couldn’t bear to tell his family we were getting back together. After toying with my emotions like this on and off, I had to harden my heart, knowing that he was not truly working on it.
After we split, I sought God like I never had before. I counseled with the ministers at the church I was going to and there was much heartache and tears and anger for a long time. I knew God hates divorce. I knew what the Bible said about remarriage. I felt as if I could never marry again and have a family, even though my ex would throw it in my face that he would remarry. I felt like he stole my happiness and my ability to have a family of my own. People, including my pastor, would tell me that I was young and I could remarry one day but I was so torn. I felt like if that was in God’s plan for me, then He would make it clear at the right time.
I struggled with the idea of being in a romantic relationship and remarrying for a long time because of what the Bible says. I constantly asked God for forgiveness for it all, but since I was not the one who broke the marriage, He did not hold me responsible. Because my ex was the one who chose to end it, I felt like God gave me permission to let him go. I realized though that my original sin was running ahead of God. If I hadn’t, the entire situation would have never happened. Sometimes situations just happen to us and sometimes we put ourselves in those bad situations because of our sin. But God wipes away our sin when we seek forgiveness. He gives us a clear canvas and removes our sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12)
He gave me a clean slate, but the scars are still there. I just have to continually give it over to God and allow Him to guide and direct me moving forward. A while after the divorce was final, I was finally able to forgive myself and open my heart back up to love and date again, and eventually marry the love of my life. I believe God has blessed my current marriage and I’m so thankful for my wonderful husband! Marriage isn’t perfect because we as people aren’t perfect, but both people must be willing to forgive and work on things for it to work out. God blesses us and our marriage when we put Him first and stay committed to each other. He can use our marriage to purify us and make us holy. It’s not just about our happiness, but God sure does bring joy into it when we seek to honor Him first.
I’m ecstatic to say that my husband Cory and I will be celebrating five years of marriage next month! I couldn’t imagine my life without him. He has helped me grow as a person in so many ways and yet he loves me just the way I am. As for my ex, he finally stopped trying to contact me after Cory and I were engaged. I hear he is married now with kids. I hope he’s changed and that he treats his wife well. It took me a long time, but I forgave him. People still probably believe the lies about me, but I can’t change their mind. All I can do is pray for them and let God lead me. Now I am able to move forward in life with joy and hope for the future God has for me and my family.
I hope my my story gives hope to someone else who may be going through the trenches like I was. I pray that if you are in a bad marriage, that you are both willing to work through it. There are many wonderful stories of couples that made it through things worse than my situation. But it takes both people to try. It’s hard but it will be worth it. If you’re already divorced and there is no chance of reconciling, cling to God. Follow Him and let Him lead you. He can heal the hurt and fade the scars. Whatever you are going through, I pray that you would seek to grow closer to God in the midst of it. Only with Him can we truly find lasting joy.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!” Psalm 30:11-12 NLT