“Life isn’t a book. Life isn’t logical or sensible or orderly. Life is a mess most of the time. And theology must be lived in the midst of that mess.” ~Charles Colson (from Carol Kent’s A New Kind of Normal)It was the end of a long and frustrating week and I was anticipating the call and conversation with a friend that I hadn’t spoken with or seen in at least two years. As the call came through and I excitedly picked up the phone, it seemed as though we picked up right where we had left off two years ago.
We went through the normal questions… you know. How are you? How are the kids? How’s life etc. Then she asked the question that I had been dreading. How is your husband?? Ugghhh! That question is the new knife in my side.
Author Carol Kent calls this new phase of my life “A New Kind of Normal” and honestly I couldn’t agree with her assessment more. It is definitely “new”, but just four short weeks in, it hardly seemed normal. My mind reflected back to May 5, 2012. While everyone was celebrating Cinco de Mayo with the flavor and flair of Latin cuisine, I was working in California while my husband was moving out. For me, the unthinkable had happened AGAIN, but this time it was permanent.
The last few months of this year have been filled with what I had been trying to pass off as normal behavior. You know, get up in the morning, and get the kids off to school, go to work, clean the house, make dinner, go to bed and repeat the next day. However, in our house there was a deeper secret lying beneath the surface.
My husband of ten and half years had chosen to leave our marriage, our home and rip the heart out of our family again. Yes, I said it again!It happened in somewhat the same way as the first time. It was 2008, and it was the exact same time of year when he looked me in the eye and said almost the exact same words “I don’t want this marriage anymore. I’m not happy with who I am and therefore I am not happy with our marriage.” Thinking that this was just a normal phase in marriage, I didn’t really take it seriously. I suggested we try counseling, speaking with our pastor, reading books, listening to tapes etc. you name I suggested it. All to no avail, nothing would change and suddenly it became real. He came home one day announcing that he had found a place and would be moving at the end of our lease.
In that moment, the beautifully constructed castle that was my life crumbled right before my eyes. So, naturally, being the “good Christian girl” that I am, I began to pray. I began to seek and yearn for God like I had never sought Him before. I prayed on behalf of my marriage, my daughters, my husband and myself. I called Him on every promise written in the bible. I desperately wanted my marriage to work. I had seen God working so many times in my life and I knew that, He alone had the power to heal our broken marriage. So, for a year and a half, I prayed, I believed and I studied his word. In the process, a genuine authentic relationship with Christ began to form. It was a relationship with Him that only brokenness and heartache could produce. It was fire-tested. As time passed, I felt myself becoming content with how I thought my life would look without my husband.
Then in 2009 just weeks before our anniversary, he came back! It was like God picked me out of a crowd, looked into my soul and granted me the desire of my heart. I felt like Charlie receiving the golden ticket to Willie Wonka’s factory. My husband wanted his family back. I was elated. As I cautiously re-built my relationship with my husband on the outside, the inside of me was rejoicing, praising and thanking God for what I knew was a blessing from Him. The following year for our ten-year anniversary, we celebrated on the beaches of Puerto Rico and for me it was a dream come true!
So when, on Valentines Day 2012, my husband again said that he didn’t want the marriage because he wanted to work on himself, I knew that this time the outcome would be different. I knew because my prayers were different, the seeking was different, the petitions were different; it was all different.
My prayers were no longer petitions to God to save my marriage, even though I longed for that to be the outcome. They were no longer requests to make me the wife that He created me to be to my husband. Those prayers had already been answered. I was that woman, I was that mom, I was that wife and God made sure that I knew it.
This was different. The prayers that I prayed, or rather cried this time were filled with questions demanding to know why. Why would you allow this to happen again? Why would you do this to my girls? Why would you do this to me? Hadn’t I done everything you asked? Hadn’t I given you everything you wanted? I did it all according to your word. Why? Why allow us to reconcile only to be back in this hurtful, shameful, embarrassing and humiliating place again just two short years later? Why tease me with this false sense of hope for a marriage that would eventually end? What kind of God does that? WHY?
I returned from my business trip on May 6th thinking I was ready to deal with my new reality. However, when I walked into “our” home and saw all the empty spaces where his things had once been, I realized I was more unprepared than ever. This is hard and it sucks! I wanted so bad to be that strong woman that just bounces back from the trials that life had dealt me. To be a picture of strength for my daughters, my family, my friends and all the people that had prayed for and supported us the first time. I wanted so badly to just fast forward to my “happily ever after”, but I’m learning day by day that there is no such thing as happily ever after (even for Christians) and that each day is a new opportunity to choose life in Jesus.
It would be super easy to just pretend like none of this is affecting me, like my husband leaving me twice, was part of God’s big plan for my life. It would also be easy and completely understandable to just fall apart and stay in bed with my grief and despair while life passed me by. But God isn’t a God of “easy”, He’s a God of purpose, healing and redemption.
Furthermore, that’s not what I believe needs to happen. God has given each of us free will to make our own choices in this life. My husband has made his and I’m making mine. For me, I’m choosing to believe that while God didn’t cause this, He will redeem it (Romans 8:28). I’m choosing to believe that the faith of my daughter’s will be stronger because I walked through this “valley” with integrity. I’m choosing to believe that He will use my testimony to help other women in similar circumstances of brokenness. I’m choosing to believe that He was with me during every step of this dark journey, walking and many times carrying me through, when I was too weak to walk on my own. I believe that daily He gives me the courage and the strength that I need to take care of my children and myself.
Even in the midst of extreme brokenness, I’m choosing to cling with every fiber of my being, every ounce of energy to the God of Hope. I’m choosing to live a life that honors God. It isn’t easy, and there are days where my comfy bed coupled with chips and dip win out over reason. But every day the choice is mine.
God is carving out a new normal for me. In her book “A New kind of Normal” Carol Kent quotes Ken Gire who says this. “When suffering shatters the carefully kept vase that is our lives, God stoops to pick up the pieces. But he doesn’t put them back together as a restoration project patterned after our former selves. Instead he sifts through the rubble and selects some of the shards as raw material for another project-a mosaic that tells the story of redemption.”
So, when despair tries to take me under… I choose life! (John 3:16)
Instead of trying to figure out What God was thinking in all this…. I choose to trust! (Proverbs 3:5-6)
When I desperately want relief from the pain of reality… I choose to persevere! (Romans 5:3-4)
When I feel oppressed and overwhelmed by disappointment and sorrow…. I choose gratitude! (Philippians 4:6-8)
When I want to keep my feelings to myself….I choose vulnerability! (1 Peter 2:9)
When nothing goes according to my plan … I choose to relinquish it to God!(Jeremiah 29:11)
When I want to point the finger…. I choose forgiveness! (Ephesians 4:32)
When I want to give up…. I choose intentional action! (Philippians 3:12-14)
I don’t know why horrible things happen in life. I do know, however, that the same God who loved me enough to send His only son into this world to be a perfect sacrifice for an imperfect world. Was there with me through each of those dark days, and that He will one day turn my weeping into dancing (Psalm 30:11) and redeem my pain for His greater glory!
Danielle is a full-time work from home mom in Las Vegas, NV. She runs a successful business helping women transform their look and their lives with the beauty and affordability of high fashion jewelry. She currently serves as a leader on the Women’s Ministry staff for The Crossing, Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV where she attends with her family. Most importantly, she is intentionally parenting two beautiful daughters to know and seek the heart of God for purpose in their lives. This fall Danielle will be launching a blog and speaking ministry to share with others the blessings God has for us in our brokenness. She also is planning to share her love and experience in children’s ministries to help churches build their own healthy children’s ministries that will benefit both the children and their families. She welcomes your email and prayer requests at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Each of us have a story to share and we would LOVE to share the story God is writing in your life! Your testimony matters. It may be the very thing God will use to minister to someone else. If you are feeling God tug at your heart to share, please contact me at email@example.com or via private message on our Facebook page. I look forward to sharing your testimony very soon!