Today, meet Sara. She attended our Wednesday morning Bible study for a number of years. The Christian walk was new to her. And just as she was getting her feet steady on the solid ground, her life fell apart. Sara lived through an unwanted divorce. She graciously shares that experience with us today. God, and her Bible study gals, were by her side the whole time. Even when she didn't realize it. Thanks Sara for sharing your story.
If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm....
What do you do when everything you know, feel, love and have worked hard for changes?
When your whole world comes crashing down?
You are lost, hurt and confused.
Who do you turn to? Do you run to God or do you yell and blame God?
Let's start by introducing myself. I'm Sara, I am 27 and have two beautiful spunky daughters, ages six and three. I have been divorced from their biological dad for two years officially, separated for three. For those doing the math; yes, my youngest was just born when he left.
Also, I am about to walk down the aisle again (T-minus 42 days!) with an amazing, generous and, might I add, handsome man! A man who has stolen my heart, swept me off of my feet and taken on an incredible role.
But I will get to that in a bit.
I am going to backtrack for a bit here so bear with me. I was not raised in a home where going to church on Sunday, or any day really, happened.
We didn't pray before meals (unless my grandparents were around) or go to VBS or anything like that. My parents did teach us here and there that there was a God. It was when my Aunt passed away that my mom really started talking about God. I saw a need for prayer at that point and didn't really know "how" to pray but did.
My mom started talking a little more about God and she asked me if I was saved or if I even knew what that meant. I didn't know. She explained and we prayed I would accept Jesus into my heart. Sometimes I really wonder if he knew truly how much work I would be.
That was at 16. I was not really in the best spot in my life, Dating a boy no one approves of. Cut from our schools softball team (this was huge for me as softball remains a big passion of mine). I just didn't care anymore.
This was when I met a new boyfriend. He pulled me out of that bad place. Down the road a little, he proposed to me and we got married when I was 19 (he was 22 and I am pretty sure my dad hated that)! I was 21 when I our first child was born and I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM).
This was also when God really laid it on my heart to seek Him. I started to desire a relationship with Him. I wondered how to find a church to call home. I needed to be fulfilled and I really wanted my kids to grow up with a church home.
So I prayed.
Through social media, I stumbled across a local group called Praise and Coffee, which introduced me to Jaime. Which in turn led us to visiting church. Really my first time. Jaime led a small group at the end of Praise and Coffee and she invited me to bring my family to visit her church.
She also asked if I wanted to join their women's Bible study. I was terrified. I didn’t know anything about the Bible, Scripture, nothing. Then add on I didn't really know anyone at the church. I didn't want to look stupid or out of place.
But there was something inside me that gave me the courage to take my family there. To go. Now I can say that was the Holy Spirit leading me, but then I was clueless!
Things moved quickly for me as I soon discovered I had two good friends already attending that church who were also a part of the women's Bible study!
We started attending regularly. I started volunteering in nursery and joined the bible study. I was learning so much about our awesome God and about myself! I was making some great new friendships and deepening some old ones! I was trying to better myself and set a good example for my daughter.
Fast forward a couple years and I have a new bundle of joy. However, joy was not something that came easy for this newborn. We discovered through some testing that she had Acid Reflux alongside colic. Combine those two and sleep rarely happens, although puking frequently does!
I had my hands full to say the least. An almost 3-year getting ready for preschool and a fussy newborn.
Unfortunately at this time, things quickly started turning for the worst in my marriage. My husband and I had one of many arguments, which led to him staying out all night.
When he returned, he uttered to me four words that made my stomach drop:
"I want a divorce."
Surely some of you have thrown that awful word around. If you have, I urge you NEVER to do that again!
“Come on, let’s talk. You don't want that.”
He's firm and now angry. He repeats that is what he wants.
The smart aleck in me replied,
"What's her name?"
You don't just walk away from a marriage of six years and two children without any desire to TRY to fix things.
“There is no one else. I just don't love you anymore.”
Now, if you have never experienced anything like this, imagine a dagger straight through your heart. Yup, that is exactly what I felt at that moment. I lost it. I was sobbing uncontrollably by this point, which did not help the situation.
I packed the girls up and head for my parent’s house. On the way, I called his sister and begged her to call him and talk some sense into him.
The next few weeks are a blur to me, even to this day. I cried, I yelled, I prayed and nothing I did changed his mind. All I felt was sorrow. So hurt and worthless. He refused any kind of counseling and hardly talked to me at all.
I tried everything you could imagine.
Then, I started getting messages on Facebook about a girl from his work. Rumor was they had been having an affair. It was about three weeks into all this when he finally admitted to "seeing" another woman.
I’ve never been so angry, hurt and confused in my life. Why me? I had been doing everything to try and live this better Christian life. Build up a great foundation for my kids and family.
I started thinking if I was only skinnier, prettier, smarter. The list went on. How awful that's where our minds go in these situations. I should have been a better wife.
I was so angry at everyone, especially God. I started questioning this faith that I had built up the last three years. I am far from a perfect Christian, wife or mother but I was trying.
How could God allow this?
I knew I was strong, but what about my kids? What did this mean for our daughters? Why did they have to suffer?
I wasn't working. I didn't have any money of my own. Or a home. This was all going through my mind.
Instead of seeing what I had, I was focusing on what I was losing.
What I did have though, was my family, friends and my Savior. I didn't realize the last three years God was preparing me for this. He was preparing my sisters in Christ for this!
At this point, my parents took the girls and me into their home. Never did I imagine I would move back in with my parents at 25 with two kids. I am pretty sure they didn't either!
I am beyond thankful we had that option and that they took care of us. Things were far from easy. I was working a lot now and trying to figure out where I was supposed to go from here.
Everything was changing. Work. Where we lived. My oldest was starting preschool and now she had bad separation anxiety. We stopped attending church because she refused to leave my side but wouldn't sit through the service.
That and I just couldn't face going back.
I knew divorce was a sin. What were they all going to think? I felt like everyone was looking at me. Staring and judging me. *Disclaimer - my church family never did this to me. I was extremely insecure and making this up in my head.
The next few months consisted of a lot of ups and downs. Mostly downs. I really didn't know what to do with myself.
The girls started going to their dad’s every other weekend, which left me feeling alone. I cried. A LOT. I was depressed and not taking care of myself. I didn't eat right, if I even ate at all. I started smoking again (had quit four years prior). I started drinking and going out at night.
I surrounded myself with people who gave me this fake attention. A false sense of feeling important. Not everyone I spent time with did this, but I picked up some new people and surroundings that were not good for me.
While all this is going on, these woman who I had built these friendships with in Bible study, they never left my side. They never stopped praying for me. Along with them, I had a couple of lifelong friends and my parents. All of whom literally held me together.
They took me in, fed me and the girls, made sure we felt loved. They held my hand. Listened to me cry, yell and anything else that came out.
I did a lot of things I am not proud of now. The devil was definitely starting to win here. I didn't trust anyone. I wanted to hide. I hated myself, and believed that I wasn't good enough.
People would tell me things like:
"You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only option."
"If God brings you to it, he will bring you through it."
“Everything happens for a reason."
I remember yelling and saying to God,
“Stop trusting me with so much! I can't take anymore.”
A few friends suggested I start going on dates here and there and meet new people. I learned quickly I am not cut out for dating. I was a hot mess and didn't know how to handle the emotions I was still having from the separation. Let alone new feelings and emotions.
How was I to know if I just want this person around because I like the attention, or if I really feel something? I didn't like the idea of being alone, so needless to say I made a lot of mistakes.
But there was something awesome going on this entire time and I was clueless!
I didn't realize it for some time but there was someone who loved me (besides my amazing family and friends). This someone had been carrying me through this entire journey. I am worth it to him. I am beautiful and smart. I am good enough.
You know why?
Because this Someone created me and made me in His image. He forgives me no for even my biggest sins. He listens no matter how ridiculous I sound.
I think you have probably figured out who I am talking about by now. Our awesome God!
That whole time I was blaming, sinning and just not following him, He still loved me. He was still there for me. Carrying me through, calming me and forgiving me.
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand, it is I who help you." Isaiah 41:13
My God never left my side. And those moments when I felt my weakest were when I would receive messages and cards from my sisters in Christ.
They were still praying for me.
Our God is so great He laid on their hearts exactly when I needed prayer and they listened, responded and I FELT IT! If you have never felt and experienced the power of prayer, words cannot describe it. The calm that comes over you is simply amazing.
I slowly, and I mean slowly, started to try to heal. I realized I had two beautiful girls who needed me. Which meant taking care of myself and rebuilding my life. Figuring out where I was supposed to go from here. I started being able to laugh again. To have fun again.
In baby steps.
Those who read this and saw me through all of this, I thank you for your love, compassion, prayers and mostly for your honesty. Sometimes it hurts, but you have to hear it.
Get up, brush it off and keep moving.
I thank you for always being there and you will never know how truly grateful I am. God placed all you in my life strategically. It's amazing to me how we don't see that at the time.
Now fast forward again to when I met Ben! It was amidst my being a hot mess. Somewhere in the middle of starting to care, but still not quite on the right path.
There is much more to our story of meeting and getting to know one another but that is a whole ‘nother book in itself!
After a few months of spending some time together, simply as friends, I shared with him my situation. He never once judged me or made me feel like I was bad for being divorced.
A few months later we were playing Guitar Hero in his basement (ha ha), when he takes the controller from me, looks at me and says,
"I have to tell you something."
Now, in my mind this is never good!
I'm slightly nervous at this point and say,
He looks right at me and says,
“I am falling for you.”
Now I am pretty sure my face showed pure panic. My reply,
This poor man's heart was probably shattered at that moment. He apologized for saying anything.
Crap! Did I really just say that out loud? No, no no, I plead with him. I assured him it is OK and I am glad he told me.
I just have this gigantic wall up and I don't know how to break it down. No one is supposed to be ABLE to break down that wall. I have to be strong and not have feelings anymore.
I quickly recovered from the terror and embarrassment about my response. I suggested we go on a real "date."
Gulp, what did I just do?
So we go out, to the place where we first met, and have a great time. Not that I would have expected anything less.
We moved very slowly, for my kids sake and for mine! It was quite some time before those even closest to us even knew we were dating. I knew regardless of how long I waited, I would encounter those who thought it was too soon or wasn't right.
But I was always honest with Ben. He knew what I had been through and somehow knew what to expect. He realized I was still a mess and he didn't care.
Fast forward to present day. Now here we are, getting ready to walk down the aisle. He has not only stolen my heart, but two little girls’ hearts as well.
He has taken on so much responsibility by being with me. He has taught me how to trust again. Love again. Truly shown me more love and passion than I ever knew existed.
He stepped up and provides for our family. He has chosen to be a father to two children. He has been so patient with me as I have learned to break down walls and trust again. I’m still a work in progress but have learned a lot about myself and others in the last three years.
Ben had a church home when I met him and I started slowly attending with him. We introduced the girls after a while and we all attend regularly now. I’ve served on the praise team for about a year and help out in other areas when I can.
Our new church has been amazing. I have never felt judged there either and everyone welcomed the girls and me with open arms.
I still have daily struggles and constant reminders of the past. Sometimes those reminders are needed to keep me focused.
It's easy to blame. It's easy to be angry.To feel hurt.
What is hard is forgiving. Healing. Trusting.
We each must chose. Do we want to spend our lives being angry or do we want to find happiness?
Looking back, I did learn a few lessons. May I share them with you?
The biggest lesson I learned was you can't be happy with anyone if you are not happy with yourself.
You define your own happiness.
God is good, all the time!
Everything does happen for a reason, even if we never understand all the reasons.
If I can inspire even one person by this blog post, it makes everything worth it. I want to thank Traci for giving me the opportunity to share my story. I was, and am still, nervous to put this down for the world to see. It is all a part of my journey!
I'm going to leave you with a verse that I clung to through all of this.
“I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13