How could I go to church and face someone who felt so terribly about me?
I grew up in an amazing, stable Christian home. At nine, I prayed with the pastor’s wife and asked Jesus into my own heart. I can count on one hand the number of Sundays I missed church during my childhood.
It was just a given: Sunday morning meant worship.
I adored every part of church, from the Wednesday night teen group to sitting in the back pew on Sunday mornings with my friends.
Then it happened, that one thing that shakes you to your core and makes you doubt Christianity. As I graduated high school, a small get together was held at church. A very prominent man in the church congratulated me, hugged me, and whispered, “We know what you’ve been doing and it isn’t very Christian-like; we’ve been praying for you.”
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I stood there, mouth gaping. The “horrible” actions he spoke of referred to my dating a Catholic boy.
At that point, Sunday mornings became a challenge.
How could I go to church and face someone who felt so terribly about me? What if everyone felt that way?
My college years were spent pretty far from God.
Church was more of an afterthought; it certainly wasn’t my first priority anymore.
Not long after college, I met my husband. It was a whirlwind romance. We met in February, engaged in May, and married in June. I don’t think there was one time while we were dating that we spoke about God, church, or how we wanted to raise our children. There we were, a young married couple at just 20 and 22, trying to survive in a divorce-ridden world.
We had babies super quickly, one the first year of marriage and the next in our third year of marriage. So now we were young people who hadn’t known each other very long, newly married, still learning how to live with each other and now raising babies. You can see the writing on the wall, can’t you?
Throughout our first few married years, we attended church a few times a year. We were, sadly, what I like to call the “Holiday-ers.” You would see us on Christmas and Easter.
I always knew when it came to my babies, I wanted them to have the exact same Christian foundation and upbringing that I did. So I worked hard to instill those values and morals in them. I read them Bible stories from the same book my momma read to me. I knew they needed that stability.
The first few years of marriage were hard. We were living two separate lives as strangers. We had endured affairs, hurt, heartache and pain, but it wasn’t enough to wake us up. We took turns being the villain, shifting blame back and forth, and never guarding our hearts.
Then it happened, the day I had dreaded: my husband left.
He walked out the door leaving the children and me.
I was broken. Totally broken.
But, in that brokenness, somehow I knew exactly what I needed to do. Though I had ignored God for years, in that moment, He was seeking me. He was nudging my heart, telling me to come to Him. And I got on my knees.
One evening, not long after my husband left, I drove my car back a dirt road. I followed the road to the top of a hill and pulled in to the perfect spot, nestled among trees and open fields. It was a gorgeous, clear night and the sky was filled with stars. I sat there that evening and cried for hours while talking to God like He was sitting in my car with
me. That evening the seed of forgiveness was planted in my heart.
I realized my relationship with Jesus had taken a backseat to life, along with my marriage. Actually, Jesus wasn’t even in the backseat, He was in the trunk and had been for quite a few years. I did not have time for Jesus to trip me up when I was busy living the ways of the world. Once I realized that, I asked for forgiveness and started to nurture my relationship with Jesus. THAT’S when things started to change,
when I started to change.
I began spending time daily with Jesus, something I hadn’t done for years. Every evening after putting the kids to bed, I would grab my Bible and a book I was reading on divorce. God revealed much about how I needed to change before my marriage could be fixed. I realized I hadn’t been giving 100% to my marriage, I had been giving 50% and expecting my husband to pick up the rest. God showed me I needed to give my all and expect nothing in return. I began to see patience and kindness in my heart that I’d never experienced before.
Slowly, my husband and I began talking more frequently and I could sense a genuine regret in his heart. We decided to just start from the beginning and date each other again. Those dates have become some of my sweetest memories as we spent time spent getting to know each other again and reconnecting, remembering what it was that made us fall in love years ago. We spent hours on the phone or texting, expressing our feelings. Every day I felt us growing closer. After 3 months, my husband sent me a simple text that changed my world. “Can I come home today?”
I was overjoyed and immediately thanked God for His restoration of my marriage.
God not only restored my marriage,
He also drew this broken girl’s heart right back to Him.
When my husband returned home, together we decided to return to church. We both realized the only way to make our marriage thrive was to have God at the center. It has been ten years since that decision, and what a beautiful journey it has been! I teach Sunday School, and my husband has even led a men’s Bible study. God has done amazing heart work in both of us throughout the years!
God mended my broken, angry, damaged heart. He picked it up, held it in His hand and put it back together piece by piece. He has transformed the way I think, speak, love and live. Things that were once important to me aren’t any longer.
I am so thankful to be a daughter of the King!