I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to put a year behind me and begin a brand new year full of fresh hopes and dreams. And I’ll tell you why.
For years I’ve believed in, written about and spoken about the promise found in Jeremiah 29:11, which says “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” It is a promise that has always given me comfort and hope about the past and the future, and the verse I’ve often referred to as my life’s theme verse. But little did I know that one day my life would take such a tragic turn, I would be forced to ask myself if I still believed with my whole heart that this promise was really true.
During the past year – which honestly has felt much like a disaster – my family and I have endured the most difficult, heartbreaking and horrific storm we’ve ever had to go through. Fifteen months ago, my husband of over twenty-five years decided to walk away from our marriage and our family. Throughout this trial, I have tried to wear a smile and stay positive, stand firm in my faith, live life as normally as possible, be strong for my children and continue in ministry. But I have to admit there have been times when the burden felt too heavy to bear and an overwhelming deluge of emotions seemed to be controlling my mind and my life. There have been days when I felt weak, inadequate and hopeless, despite leaning into God as hard as I could. It’s been beyond difficult to accept that mine nor my children’s lives will ever be the same, that the future I once thought was secure and all planned out is now so uncertain, in addition to the personal sorrow of being catapulted into the unwanted roles of single mom and single woman. I know I haven’t been as active on my blog and on social media as in years past, and I wish I could have shared sooner why that was. But it’s often hard to speak hope and truths into the hearts of others, when one’s own heart is so incredibly heartbroken and heavy.
I would have done anything in the world to avoid this happening. However, I’ve finally come to realize through a lot of prayer, faith, and emotional and spiritual healing, that sometimes, no matter how badly we want something, strive for it or pray for it, it may not work out the way we wanted or prayed for. All we can do when this happens is commit to trust God’s ways, even if we don’t understand them or like them, and believe He has an even better plan full of joy and happiness and blessing in store for us. And that is where I find myself today.
I loved my husband dearly, and have always prayed fervently for him and our marriage. Over the past year, I prayed endlessly for a change in his heart and mind, and even prayed for some type of miraculous restoration to occur if that was God’s will. However, at this point, it seems clear that restoration does not appear to be in God’s plan for us.
Even though I have solid legal and biblical grounds for divorce, this experience was one I never wanted to happen to my family and most certainly one I never wanted to talk about. Yet, here I am doing just that – through the courage of Christ alone – because this is surely the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write. Had God not called me into ministry over eleven years ago, I would have never ever shared about this situation online, or talked about it to anyone outside of close friends and family, much less publicly. But since I am in public ministry and this painful adversity is now part of the story God is writing in my life, I felt I had no other choice than to share with transparency. There are times when ministry, faith, and obedience to God stretch us to the absolute limit – and friend, this is definitely one of those difficult stretching times for me.
I must confess, that sharing this raw emotional wound and deeply personal situation publicly sort of feels like standing in front of a huge firing squad with a blind fold on and then giving the signal to fire. But rather than live in fear of judgment or opinions from potentially well meaning people who don’t have a full understanding of our situation, or worry and fret over what certain people might think or say, I had to follow the nudging of the Holy Spirit and be humble and honest, while choosing to place my fears in God’s hands and trust He will protect mine and my children’s hearts.
The good news is that God has been incredibly, faithfully present throughout this storm. I began keeping a journal the day my husband left our home, and have written in it nearly every day, albeit more frequently at first. As I read back through my journal now, tears always come to my eyes. Not because my written words hold the power to pull me back into the depth of pain I was feeling on a particular day I wrote them, or even because I can see the personal and emotional progress I’ve made from then until now. But because I am visibly reminded of how God was at work in incredible ways over many, many months and how He has been my lifeline, even when I felt He wasn’t there. I can see tangible evidence of His speaking hope into my spirit every time I so desperately needed it and how He gave me strength on the hardest of days. I’m even reminded of a few miracles only He could have orchestrated, and special encounters when His voice was so clear. You see, not only did I record thoughts and feelings and situations in my journal, but also every instance of God’s tiny whispers and the many divine ways He spoke or intervened, big and small.
His obvious intervention in my life, along with the unconditional love, support, encouragement and prayers from beloved friends and family, are what have carried me this far. Admittedly my faith has felt weak at times, but I have now personally experienced how God is strongest when we are at our weakest. So today, despite it all, I can honestly say I do still wholeheartedly believe in the promise of Jeremiah 29:11. I truly believe God has a great plan and purpose for what we are going through and for my future, and I now have a white knuckled grip on that holy promise more than ever before. I also believe God has a plan for my husband’s life too and I will continue to pray for him. I ask that there be no negative or slanderous comments posted about him or our family situation, and if any are written, they will be deleted.
The year 2016 did hold a lot of heartache and losses, but as I look back over it, I realize it also held laughter, learning, strengthened friendships, family closeness, accomplishments, spiritual growth and many fun times with people I love and cherish. I’ve learned that if we look for something good, we can always find it, even when life is hard and our hearts are broken.
Although the happenings of 2017 are yet to be known and there are more storms brewing on the horizon which I’ll have to face and endure, I am choosing to be optimistic and believe God has a wonderful year ahead with exciting new opportunities, relationships, blessings and adventures in store. I am choosing to believe my story is still being written, and trust God will be with me during the journey.
Although my life looks differently now than I ever thought it would, I know full well I am still abundantly blessed in too many ways to count. I still have bad days from time to time, of course, but I have finally reached a point where I am able to feel joy and happiness and have unsinkable hope despite these circumstances – which in my opinion, serves as proof that God really is good, all the time.
I am so thankful to have this sisterhood of believers online, and it is an honor to worship the Lord with you and stand side by side in His kingdom. I ask for your grace, love and understanding with what I have shared. But most of all, I would like to ask for and would treasure your prayers for me and my family, and for all of our friends and family members on both sides who are impacted by this unfortunate change in our personal lives.
In His love and trusting in His continued goodness,