Saturday, March 28, 2015

Harsh Hope Against Time

It's been months since I've last written here. You may have noticed. Maybe you have not. If not, I surely am not offended, but if you have, let me start with an apology.

I'm sorry for avoiding my blog. It's exactly what I have been doing. Because, who am I if I am not honest? That's all my writing has ever been- honest reflecting and confessions of my heart and mind, out there for others, who, as I have in the past, felt alone in their journeys.

This post has taken me a lot of courage to write, and then even more to share.

If you're not a follower of Christ, you may find this post hard to read, support, or comprehend. That's not on me. I ask you to try not to judge too harshly, or throw out words of condemnation after you read.

Today, I'm parked alongside the road, a dirt road, in the middle of nowhere. My children are all asleep in the van. It's funny when the urge to write hits you.

Why now? 

Well, I was listening to music, and as it usually does, music gets me reflecting. 

"I am not afraid to bear all my weakness, knowing in meakness, I have a kingdom to gain." -Jennifer Knapp, "Martyrs and Thieves"

If you've known me long, you may recognize that song. It's always been on my personal soundtrack.

The last blog post I wrote was over seven months ago. Seven months ago, I was living in a clouded state of reality. Seven months ago, I thought the struggles in my marriage were finally coming to an end, and we were mending and growing stronger.

Days later, my husband told me he wanted a break.

It crushed me. It broke my heart. I do not think I've ever cried so long and hard in my life.

I was suddenly alone. I was very alone. I was surrounded by children, two toddlers and a baby, but my house felt deserted. 

I've always believed in God, but in those first weeks especially, I felt He left me, too. For my marriage vows were promised with Him, too, and just like that, my marriage was dissolving.

The following months piled on stress and struggle, deception and lies, fear and self-doubt. 

But they also brought forth so much hope, faith, and love. 

As I look back today, I know that all of the darkness was brought forth from dark forces in our faith lives. Somewhere, the devil broke us down. He led my husband out that door. 

So, my husband, the man I chose to love with my whole heart, for the entirety of my life, up and left us. He took away my dreams of our future together, my hopes for our family, and my home and security (or what there was of it at the time). I was a stay-at-home-mother with no income, who had entrusted our everything to him.  Within months, his promises failed, and on my birthday, my children and I lost our home.

Through all of that, a part of me was strangely hopeful. I'm not sure how or why. I felt so abandoned and a bit separated from God, but in my heart, I still believed He could bring a miracle. I prayed for me, for my kids, and for my lost husband. I felt there was something amiss within him, but didn't know what, and just prayed someday and somehow he would heal.

This is where the blessings started rolling in.  A few friends helped pack, move, and store our stuff. A friend let my children and I stay with her for a few months while I started my job hunt. This job hunt felt endless and hopeless for quite some time as I barely had more than an interview for weeks. 

One day, when having coffee and a play date with a friend, she mentioned a daycare she had once worked at and suggested I look there. I searched it up, and emailed the director asking if there were any openings. She replied within the hour stating there weren't at that time.

The very next day, I received a phone call saying there was now an opening, and they would love to meet me.

I interviewed and was hired, and started working at the church-based daycare, on Jake's birthday.  We were a one-vehicle family still, which was incredibly awkward and frustrating for me and for him, as I depended on his undependability still to get to and from this new job. I began working in two infant rooms, one of which Norah was in. That was a huge blessing to me, because  I was spoiled with the time I had with both boys, and this allowed me more time with her still.

Also awkward was the illusion that we were all a happy family, as my husband would escort us most days. Because of all of the emotional turmoil I was going through at this time, I did not have it in me to set them straight and explain, so I kept my story vague and somewhat superficial for a while.

The daycare was a huge blessing. It was stability and consistency for my children that they hadn't been experiencing as much as they should have been. They were SURROUNDED by people that loved them, every day of the work week. It was the best place I could have ended up. 

Fast forward, and it was beginning to feel crowded at the apartment, and I felt like a huge burden, and after contacting many agencies and finding most rentals that would work with my situation required either six months employment history or a giant wait list, I took my children to a homeless shelter in town. In the dark of the night, in a huge room that echoed my sick toddler's fierce cries, I felt like I had hit rock bottom. We had to be up every day at 6:45am because of staff change, so I had to beg my husband to be on time, because January in South Dakota is freezing and I didn't want to sit around in the cold until we could go to work. 

But, while there, for that short stay that felt like an eternity, more blessings started to appear. An agency I had contacted previously came and met with me, and they had a furnished apartment we could live in at reduced rent for up
to a year while they helped me get our lives back on track to self-sufficiency. So, after staying with a friend for the weekend so we wouldn't have to leave the shelter two more cold mornings, we moved in.

The apartment is amazing, the program feels harsh sometimes, but it's a blessing. I may not have visitors when I want, but my children have a home. They have stability. I've been blessed with a vehicle, and with that and now a savings account for the future, we are really on our way to being okay.

It is hard to not have money to spend and have them monitor what seems like your every move. I've been blessed by others for diapers and clothing for my children.

During the past few months, though, my marriage has fizzled out even more. More lies and decker and control and manipulation. Less communication and my children seeing their dad. 

I finally opened up to one of my coworkers, who prayed with, over, and for us all. I felt brave and opened up to a couple more. I cried at work, prayed at work. I asked yet again for a miracle, feeling as if it might be useless, but still feeling the urge in my heart.

One month ago, days before I received the vehicle, I realized that my hope was naive, and the marriage was really over. My caseworker and I began looking at divorce information. I prayed more, alone and with my friend, as I tearfully accepted the reality. 

Then, I suddenly felt free, and stronger. I began to laugh a bit more, smile more, pray more. I got angry- very angry. I embraced every emotion I had been rejecting over the months.

Then, this past weekend, God happened, big time. My husband must have hit rock bottom, stumbled upon church, fully realized and embraced his choices and actions. He asked to talk to me.

It was TOO LATE. I was DONE. I cried at work to my friend, telling her how stupid this was and that I couldn't do it anymore. My heart had been shattered.

But, I had to talk to him. I cannot explain it, but I could sense something was happening. Something was different.

I talked with him. He told me about church. It was the first time in MONTHS that I felt I was with my husband, my friend. He cried. I cried. He apologized and explained how the enormity of the situation and reality of his mistakes had cost him everything he had ever dreamed of and hoped for. He told me he knew he didn't deserve my forgiveness, but asked for it. 

Because I had prayed, deeply and continually before speaking with him, I was able to forgive him. I've always been blessed enough to be able to forgive easily. 

He explained how he would someday love to have his family back, and that he loves me, and wants me to remain his wife.

Miracles can happen.

I know people doubt that. I know people don't believe others can change. But, I do. I've seen it before. Not in this situation, but with others in my life.

I agreed that I would love to be together again. To mend these wounds. To reconcile. To really, truly fight this through like I promised all along that I would. And I will. It will be a long, hard road, which I told him. But if he's willing, I'm willing.

Truthfully, I'm scared. I'm guarded. I will probably spend more nights crying in bed or on the shoulders of friends. I'm hopeful but not naive. I know I can be happy regardless of what happens next. It hurts to admit it, but it's refreshing too. 

I look back, and I know God has been here all along. He's been on my side while Satan had ahold of our marriage. But God is bigger than all of it. And I truly believe, so long as we both cling to God, we will be together again someday.

To those who have known this story and been beside the children and I, I thank you, deeply, sincerely, with my everything. 

I know there may be some who disagree with my choice to give three thousand chances, but, it is my decision. As I said, I am guarded, but my heart is telling me that, for my children and myself, it is worth this chance. I would never willingly subject them to agony or despair. But, I have a strong conviction this time.  

If you could pray for all of us, I would greatly appreciate it. For clear minds, kind hearts, spirits susceptible to God's work... It's going to be a long road, and I know the prayerful support is absolutely essential. And also, please do not condemn my husband. He is the father of my children, and he is now humbly broken. He's ready for healing. I can see it in his eyes.

God forgives, so we can forgive. He loves so we can love.

"There is peace and love in the light, I am not afraid to let Your life shine bright in my life."

I've been told both that this situation has made me stronger, but also shown weakness. That I'm doing the right things, and doing the wrong thing. What I know, undoubtedly, is it has made me stronger, and it has brought me back to the God that I was not fully letting into my life.