Thursday, June 1, 2017

10 Years Ago Today....

Ten years ago today the world as I knew it crumbled and rocked every ounce of my being. It was ten years ago today that my almost five year marriage fell apart right before my very ears and eyes. 

The morning of, before heading out on a rafting trip with a great bunch of folks, I hit the floors in my brand new beautiful home. The carpet, the walls, the paint, the bricks, every bit was less than 6 months old and seemed to be the perfect backdrop for future dreams.  However,  I hit that fresh carpet with my knees and laid out the most honest prayer/pleading I had ever done up to that date. At this point in life, I had never experienced a hard loss or true heartache (not even the loss of a grandparent).  Fortunately when God has given you that gift at age 28 the need for such begging and pleading simply hadn't been present.  That is, until that day.  I begged the Lord to show me what was wrong in my marriage, I had been "spinning my wheels" for months on end. I needed divine intervention. And I was beyond desperate.

Just 12 short hours later I got my answer. Had I known what the answer was, my anxious and insecure heart would never have had the courage to utter a word of that morning prayer .

On the trip, in the silence of the middle of the night/wee hours of the morning, I discovered my very best friend and husband were having an affair. I couldn't believe my ears. I was paralyzed in so many senses. I prayed then and there and at the risk of sounding absolutely crazy, the Holy Spirit intervened.  As things unraveled I quickly found myself in a jeep with a friend traveling down 575 straight to my parents house at daybreak. I wept, ok that may be putting it lightly.  I was in flat out hysterics the entire way home.

My parents met me in the driveway with open arms. Their hearts shocked and broken too. How I would maneuver the days ahead was beyond me. This was bigger than I, bigger than anything I'd ever faced. I've said many times over the years, I was CERTAIN I would not survive. Yes, I was certain I would not be able to  physically live through this- the pain was just too great.

But I did.

And I'm living a most imperfect but redeemed and restored life. I give the glory to our Heavenly Father. And if that sound crazy to you, it did to me at the time too.

He works in the most mysterious ways. It's no coincidence I had just dove into Beth Moores "Breaking Free" and was begging to be free. Not from my marriage, but from all that was holding me back.Once again, I would have never prayed that prayer had  I known what the outcome would entail. After being at my parents a few days. I picked that book back up and the next chapter was as titled "how to mend a broken heart." If that wasn't God, I don't know what was. But, that was only the beginning- albeit a small beginning, but a beginning nonetheless.

The next few months were met with so much uncertainty. My marriage was over.  We had dated 7 years before our marriage of almost 5 years was shattered.  We were together 12 years total and he had been the only love I'd ever known. My life long "best" friend had been a friendship that people envied.  She was like family and our friendship had spurred on our families friendship.  The consequences of this relationship didn't affect just me.  It affected our our parents, our sisters, and especially our friends. Our group of friends, was going to be divided (so I thought) which further compounded the predicament of how was I going to face life alone.  The dreams that brand new house represented disappeared right before my eyes. I was a 28 year old woman who had never lived alone. How would I survive?

I was the first or my high school buds, & my college friends to find myself in front of a divorce attorney.  A position I dare say isn't one people aspire to  be in.  The shame was deep, but the immense pain was deeper. As deep as it was, I'm here to say God met me in every moment. Was it pretty? Never. It was messy as hell. It was the messiest, angriest & honest prayers that saw me through those next few months. God used friends to hold me up much like Aaron & Hur held up Moses when he grew tired and weak in the book of Exodus. My family poured truth and encouragement into me DAILY, hour by hour, even moment by moment. They loved me fiercely and deeply.  Over and over and over again.

That next year was full of new. It may have seemed glamorous to start over.  With help, I purchased a 1950s bungalow with a pink bathroom & BMW convertible to go with it.  These things helped meet the need of housing and transportation but what I really needed was something to help my broken heart heal faster.  The question of "who would love me again?"  was constant.  I felt like"damaged goods" at best. However the Lord in all His goodness and sovereignty placed tremendous teachers, friends, and even new friends in my life who poured so much truth over me. Let me say this here-if you know someone going through something similar, reach out. Over and over. They won't forget. 10 years later and even a few new email addresses and all, I still have every email and hand written card that was sent to me duringr those years of heartache. I recall friends traveling states to be with me, love on me, plan girl trips and I even remember the phone calls in my mind. They served as reminders of all "the backs" I had. I felt alone in a firing line with a lot of loving folks, standing in front, protecting me only as they could. So love your people. Love them deep and love them hard even (or more so especially) in their darkest days. 

By the grace of God, and with love of lifelong friends and family (that were hurt and devastated too), we survived those dark days.  Furthermore, what I once that impossible was now reality.  I had survived and lived through a nightmare.  And maybe just maybe, God wasn't done with me or my story just yet!

I can't began to tell you the healing process in one blog, but with some great mentors & encouragement I'm getting there in sharing it all. Because perhaps you, or someone you know is facing divorce and all that it entails.

I'm here to tell you, we serve a God of grace, miracles and a God of REDEMPTION. I'm living proof.

What was lost , was found. What seemed beyond broken was healed. What the enemy meant for evil, was turned to good.

Three years later, after that awful June 1 summer morning, I married a man that loved me as me. All my brokenness and heartache he took. He knew it all. He had a similar heart break and we shared some deep, unconventional and intimate conversations those first few months of dating. We have had some gut wrenching times in our marriage too ( see any blog post of 2011) but we still serve as a reminder of redemption. A love I never knew was out there, was divinely placed right around the corner. Literally, around the corner (he lived just a few houses down from that bungalow mentioned above). Our marriage is not always pretty, we are so imperfect, but we are so thankful for God's sweet promises.  He won't leave or forsake us and His love story is the best that could be written. I'm so thankful that He wrote it, turned our ashes into beauty, and continues to be the center of our marriage. We shouldn't be where we are, but thanks to His love and grace- his promises hold true.  Thus, we can continue to have a marriage that brings an immeasurable amount of love and joy into my once shattered life.  A true measure of God's grace and redemption.

I used to spin about town in my little white convertible with the Glory Revealed CD blaring. It came out that following March after life seemingly ended for me. I'd blast it on the way to work in the mornings, or after a late night out with friends & would play #3, "Waters Gone By" on repeat. What I loved about this cd /project is that every song was straight scripture. Doesn't get much purer than that when you're banking on your faith like never before. I claimed those words and held God to His promise. I begged him to show up; on several occasions I found myself standing front of my closet getting ready for the day and shout those exact words, often in anger. And He did. He showed up. Every time. And I'm here to tell you, each of His promises are true. They're good yesterday and today, and for the ages to come.

You will lift up your face without shame,

You will firmly stand with no fear inside

You will surely forget your troubles and pain

Recalling them only as waters gone by 

Job 11:15

Again, this is just a small glimpse into the years that followed. So many more incredible stories of his goodness filled those year, and I'll get there in sharing them. I find it so painful to return to the past to share and write. But with some incredible mentors urging and filling me with encouragement, I find it even more important I share His good works in my life. And knowing, He has just the same for you. 

***Edited, as always, by my fabulous sister, Shannon.


Kristine Gibbs said...

A beautiful testimony, Jennifer!

Pj willis said...

Sweet Jennifer I so needed to read this today. It really hit home for me. I'm still struggling in this four and a half year storm. Seeing your story reassures me that God is by my side and I'm holding His hand ever so tightly and counting on His promises. I pray my heart will heal and the pain will go away. I often think about you and Jimmy and your family, love and continued blessings to you all!

Anne Tully said...

I hope to continue to learn more and more about you and your life stories... grateful our paths have crossed!