I haven’t been back to church since the end of my marriage, although I was practically raised there. Growing up, it felt like I was there every day – and everything in our household was God-centered. We even took vacations in the summer at a Christian retreat. My life’s plan was to grow up, graduate from college, get married, and have children (in that order). And that’s exactly what I did.
Influenced by my family, friends, and church…marriage was the next step in my relationship after dating. A year later, I was pregnant with my son. Four years later after moving into my new home, I got pregnant with my daughter. Everything was going according to plan. I had what appeared to be the perfect life. I regularly attended church, celebrated holidays and birthdays, and hosted friends and family in my home for all sorts of occasions. But when the last guest left, the mask came off and I went back to being a roommate. The disconnect seemed to occur right after my son was born.
When my daughter was 4, a revelation shocked my entire world. A part of my heart died, and I mentally and emotionally checked out. I prayed to God to bring back the love I once had and to let go of the resentment. I even prayed for God to help me fulfill my “wifely duties.” I went on a women’s retreat two years in a row with my church and I prayed fervently for God to answer those two prayers.
But He didn’t. Revelation after revelation ruined holidays and other plans for two years straight. I couldn’t understand! “God is this your answer to my prayer or are you just torturing me? Is this a test?” I obviously didn’t study and was failing in a major way. Attending church became more and more dreadful. I slept in the basement and cried every night. My pain and resentment opened a door for the enemy to creep in and I began to do and say things very unlike a Christian woman should. I was trying to prove to myself and others that I was in fact, very desirable.
My children were still young, and I had no idea how I would survive as a single mother, even though I was raised by one. That was definitely not in my life’s plan! They say we plan, and God laughs, but surely God was not laughing at his daughter. I soon grew angry at everyone and everything. I had always tried to do the right thing, but no more. Instead of being a good girl, I was now THAT GIRL. The one I swore I would never be. The one who stayed despite being disrespected.
After nine months of sleeping in the basement, I was no longer welcome in my own home. The atmosphere became so uncomfortable that even the kids and dog were uneasy. Friends and family told me to stay until I was ready because “that’s your house too”. I still left, moving into a one-and-a-half-bedroom apartment.
The years that followed were like being in the belly of the whale. Unlike Jonah, I was angry and not praying to God. Eventually, I grew depressed beyond belief. I lost my car, my job, and nearly lost my mind. I felt shunned by my church as if I was wrong for not staying in a dysfunctional situation, because divorce was just wrong, period. So, I stopped doing something I had done all my life – I refused to attend church. I felt like it was structured in patriarchal and religious rules that had nothing to do with relationships with God and other people.
I was so concerned about how this all was affecting my children. We were no longer in church; my very impressionable teenage son was showing signs of harboring deep-seated anger, and my preteen daughter had become a recluse. They both continued to excel academically, but the emotional changes were evident. They did not want to talk with me, but I persisted on occasion. I didn’t want them to completely shut down.
It appeared that my son still had hope that things would resolve, and life would go back to the way it used to be. My daughter, on the other hand, finally vocalized her feelings of relief that the marriage was over because “no one was happy.” As a mother, I just began to pray for my children – I prayed that God would have mercy on them and not allow them to have to pay for the sins of their parents. I prayed for their present, and their future. As God showed his mercy on us, and I saw Him answering my prayers, I started finding my way back to Him.
After about four years, I began working with a new organization and was renting a 3-bedroom house that provided more space for the children. Things were beginning to look up for us. Then came the punch in my gut – I was notified that divorce papers were filed. Being separated was one thing, but the finality of a DIVORCE knocked the wind out of me. I cried all night. A week later, I casually went to the notary and signed all the paperwork, and just like that, 19 years were over.
Eventually, I began to feel less angry with God and tried really hard to heal from my heartbreak. I wanted to have a well-functioning co-parenting environment for the kids. Moving on was difficult, especially when dealing with family issues and mutual friends. I had no control over who was invited to holiday gatherings and have often felt like I had to take one for the team. When you grow up in the church and spend most of your time there, the lines become blurred, and many of the church members become your family.
I continue to raise my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord despite my shortcomings. I know that if it were not for God, I would not be where I am today. Even when I gave up on Him and myself, he carried me. When I felt discouraged and hopeless about the future, God gave me hope and reminded me whose I was.
You see I had a PRAYING mother. I’m talking early in the morning before the sun came up, she would be praying and seeking God’s face. I watched her persevere in the face of adversity and come out as a conqueror. I knew I had to set the same example for my children.
I never received the closure I had hoped for and probably never will, but I’m still moving forward. I strive to co-parent amicably, showing a united front for our children for every important event and occasion. I want them to know they are loved and supported.
I realized I lost myself after I became a wife and mother. I was Love long before I became Mrs. or Mommy. And now at 49 years of age, I’ve had to find myself again, and I’m getting to know who Love truly is. I am NOT what I’ve been through. I am a child of God, mother, warrior, fighter, and survivor, and I am MORE than enough!
My son is a senior at Penn State University, and he will graduate in December 2023 with a degree in Political Science and plans to go to Law School. My daughter is a senior at Masterman High School, which is the #1 high school in Pennsylvania and ranked in the Top Ten public schools in the United States. She has been accepted at the University of Pennsylvania for Neuroscience. Back when I was sleeping in that basement, I would have never dreamed that this would have been in their future. Words can’t describe how thankful I am for what God has done in my children’s lives.
Although I lost myself during all of my adversity, I know that God is a keeper, as He has kept me and provided all my needs through everything I’ve experienced. I am now pursuing my Master of Public Health Administration and Management at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), and I’m grateful that my story is still being written.
And maybe that story will include going back to church one day…
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR MOMS:
Be encouraged sis, this too shall pass. This is a stormy season of your life. Cover yourself in God’s word and hold on to your faith. God loves you unconditionally. You are beautifully and wonderfully made by God and that does not diminish because someone else devalues you. You are more than enough and the sun will shine again!
May the LORD bless you and protect you. May the LORD smile on you and be gracious to you. May the LORD show you his favor and give you his peace.
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
PRAYER FOR MOMS:
Dear Heavenly Father God,
I thank you for this opportunity to share my story with my sisters. Lord, I pray that you would comfort their hearts and encourage them during this time. Please bless them and keep them and remind them that you are an ever-present help in the time of trouble. Please give them peace and courage to go through this season of uncertainty and doubt. Build them up, Lord. Restore their faith in God.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Want to hear more of Love’s story? Watch our Mom’s Night In conversation here.
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