If this is your first time here, welcome! You can read all about this project right here. This series is intended to offer encouragement to you in your darkest days and in the midst of your worst moments. No matter where or who you are, God knows your name and He cares for you. May these stories uplift you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you are in need of prayer or just to talk. My inbox is always open.
What has been THE most difficult thing that you have ever endured?
A little over five years ago I learned that my military husband was in the middle of his second affair. As if that wasn’t bad enough, this time he was in a relationship with one of my closest friends. We were stationed overseas and I was facing the possibility of becoming a single mother of three without a college degree and no current work experience. I wanted so badly to put my marriage back together and I stayed for four months trying to work things out. Eventually, he made it clear that he no longer believed in God and didn’t want anything to do with me or the kids. He sent us home “to visit” and then told me not to come back. In August of 2011 I started the single mom life with $17 and a lead on a job at Starbucks.
How did that circumstance make you feel about God?
It was hard for me to understand why God works in some hearts and saves some marriages but even though I did all the “right” things, my marriage died. However, I can honestly say that due to His abundant Grace and goodness, and the deep heritage of faith I received from my parents, I was never angry with Him or doubted His goodness. I trust that He is sovereign and this is the plan He has for me.
At what point did you see God in action-whether through financial means or the actions of others?
I could never list all the ways that He has provided for us over the last five years. I worked full time and went to school full time for three years in order to graduate with a B.S. in Business and Marketing in May of 2014. We lived with parents for a year in a two bedroom townhouse and then He provided a three bedroom mid-century home nestled in the trees for us to live in at the same price I would have paid for a two bedroom apartment. Sometimes it comes down to dollars in my checking account before He comes through in a huge way, but He always comes through.
I have many stories of specific instance when I know He showed up, but this is one of my favorites:
One evening just a few months after we separated, I was have a particularly rough day. I was stressed over work and school and money and I was just so, so sad. We had to meet my parents at a restaurant for dinner that evening and as we were walking across the parking lot my four-year-old grabbed my hand. I remember that the air was very cool and crisp, the sky was clear, and the moon was big and bright. I said, “Look at the moon, Levi! Isn’t it beautiful?” And he squeezed my hand and said, “It sure is. Mama, did you know that God is holding your hand? You can’t feel Him, but He always feels you” I was dumb-struck. Where did a four-year-old get these words and why did he choose to say them at that moment when I was feeling so very lost in all the big issues? I believe with all my heart that God spoke right through my baby that night.
How did that change your view on God & his handling of the circumstance?
I think my view of God is just way more personal than it ever was before. I talk to Him all the time and I expect to get answers. I know He will handle things and it has made me so bold and brave. I know He is bigger than all the mess.
Was there a particular verse or song (because I personally tend to hear God speak through lyrics and music) that you felt God speaking to you through?
My favorite verse through these years has been Joel 2:25-26 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…you will have plenty to eat, until you are full, and you will praise the name of the Lord your God, who has worked wonders for you; never again will my people be shamed.”
That first Christmas I went to see Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb concert and one of his guests was Jason Grey. Jason sang his song “Nothing is Wasted” and cried big, ugly, silent sobs through the whole thing. My husband had just told me that he definitely wanted a divorce and I felt like my whole life had been a waste. These are the lyrics:
The hurt that broke your heart
And left you trembling in the dark
Feeling lost and alone
Will tell you hope’s a lie
But what if every tear you cry
Will seed the ground where joy will grow
And nothing is wasted
Nothing is wasted
In the hands of our Redeemer
Nothing is wasted
It’s from the deepest wounds
That beauty finds a place to bloom
And you will see before the end
That every broken piece is
Gathered in the heart of Jesus
And what’s lost will be found again
As Jason sang, I felt again as though God was speaking directly to my heart.
Looking back, how have you seen God work through you and through this circumstance to bring glory to HIS Kingdom?
It is amazing to me how women in broken relationships seem to find me. It is a gut-wrenching process to tell my story and walk through their struggle beside them, but it is also a great privilege. When I knew my marriage was in deep trouble I did a lot of research and I found a lot of stories about marriages restored. Don’t get me wrong- that is wonderful! I am so glad that those stories exist to encourage women to fight for their marriages. However, I reached a point when my marriage looked hopeless and I couldn’t find stories of the women who survive and thrive. The death of my marriage was not the death of me. Jesus died for my happily ever after and it doesn’t depend on whether or not I can keep my marriage together.
Do you feel like this is something that has ultimately shaped who you are or shaped your faith?
My struggle has shaped my faith in many ways. I believe that I am braver and stronger because I have learned to rest in Him. When I get knocked down, I get back up much faster than ever before because I remember who is really fighting this battle.
If you felt like that circumstance made you a better person/made your walk with Christ or your faith stronger…despite the hard, would you endure it again?
I think about this a lot. It is hard to say yes because I hate that my children had to endure it as well. However, I know that Jesus loves them even more than I do, and He is using this for their good. I am more concerned about their holiness than their happiness so I would absolutely walk this road again.
What one verse or piece of advice would you offer to someone who may be enduring their own storm right now?
Just do the next thing. Hold onto Jesus and do the next thing. You don’t have to have a plan for ten years down the road. Just concentrate on getting out of bed. Then maybe concentrate on taking a shower. Feed your kids. Do the next thing. He’s got tomorrow. He is going to make it all new.