Surprise! I am hosting two Unraveling Grace posts this month, just because. I am honored to be able to share these vulnerable words from one of my friends; a young mom. This post is longer than usually but I didn’t want to take away from this testimony and the amazing work that God is doing.
Today’s guest has inspired me because of her perseverance.
Bethany is a young wife and mother of three children. She has been through a lot in her life and is a testimony to God’s sustaining grace. She likes to listen to Skillet, can relate to Mom’s Night Out, and deserves a medal for getting 3 kids (2 and under) to church. Would you join Bethany in praying for her family as they walk through a particularly challenging time right now?
When Life Unravels And You’re Barely Hanging On
Two days after Christmas my life unraveled. I was twenty one years old and had twin daughters who were almost two and an eight month old son. I was facing the possibility of being divorced and alone; raising three young children. I didn’t understand why this was happening. All I could think was, How do I raise a son? I don’t know anything about being a man.
I was spiraling in a whirlwind of worry, fear, and doubt. I was having panic attacks several times throughout the day and waking up in the middle of the night with them too. I had reached the end of trying to handle this alone.
So, I reached out to a couple in our church, the same couple that we went through our premarital counseling with and had grown close to. This couple turned out to be how God was going to get a hold of my life. I called myself a Christian, but I wasn’t living it. I wasn’t letting God come into all the areas of my life, especially not my marriage. When I tried to pray I felt like I was talking to a brick wall and gave up.
I relied on my husband to give me everything. I expected too much. Only God could give me what I was expecting and I believe that played a part in why my marriage was going up in flames.
I began meeting with this couple. We talked about everything going on and how I felt about it. They suggested I pray about it and pray for my husband. Yeah right. Like praying is going to help my husband come home. They invited me to a small group that they were hosting; they were studying prayer. The first time I went I felt awkward. I didn’t believe there was power in prayer. I didn’t believe God wanted to hear from me and he sure had bigger problems than my shattered marriage.
At the end of the night I was asked to share about what was going on in my marriage and we prayed over it. I felt different. I left feeling energized and stronger. I began praying for my husband. At first it was awkward and I didn’t know what to say, but God knew what was in my heart. I began praying blessings over my husband. I asked God to bring my husband home.
My husband wasn’t even speaking to me. He wouldn’t answer my calls or my messages. I had to rely on God for the strength to get through this. We went from talking everyday to not talking at all. One day at a time God got me through it.
Another crushing blow came on my birthday of all days. I found out my husband had a girlfriend. Neither of us had filed for a divorce, and he had a girlfriend. I struggled for weeks, wondering if I should leave him or if I should wait it out and see what God might do. I asked God to tell me what path I should choose. He told me to be patient.
God was working behind the scenes and I wasn’t even seeing it. He taught me forgiveness, and what it means to love unconditionally through The Love Dare. I chose to forgive my husband and love him right where he was, flaws and all, just how God loves me.
I decided I wasn’t going to be the one to walk away.
I felt like God was nudging me to get out of His way and let Him work. I stopped messaging my husband. I stopped calling him and writing him. I focused on my own life and being the best mother I could be. I started seeing a counselor and signed up for EMT-Basic classes. I still prayed for my husband every night, but my prayers slowly changed. Instead of asking God to bring my husband home, I asked God to work in his life and set him free from his addictions. I asked God to protect and heal him. I prayed for my husband to come to know the Lord, whatever it took.
I believed God was doing something great. I had hope and trust that God would show up, and He did.
I wasn’t expecting it. The kids were in bed and I was crawling into bed too. It was late and I was tired. My phone rang. It was my husband. We hadn’t spoken on the phone in nearly three months. I was too tired to handle it and sent him to voicemail, twice.
God spoke to me and I had a feeling that I needed to call my husband back because something was wrong. I decided to text him and see what he needed. He told me he was going to commit suicide. I called him right away. We ended up talking on the phone for three hours. He told me everything he had been doing. He told me about the effects it was having on his life. He admitted to having a girlfriend.
I silently asked God to give me the words to speak, and He did.
I told my husband that I had chosen to love him unconditionally. I had chosen to forgive him. My husband couldn’t believe it. That wasn’t the reaction he was expecting at all. He told me he expected me to tell him I hated him and that it was over. My husband said that he wanted to come home and didn’t want a divorce. I told him he could come home but that it was going to take some work. He agreed and said he was willing to do what it took. He told me he was going to get some help. We said our goodbyes; I told him I loved him.
I got this feeling I needed to pray for him. I asked God to send angels to protect my husband through the night. The next day my husband called me. He told me that the night before he had taken twenty two pills and hadn’t expected to wake up. He couldn’t explain it. He didn’t understand why he had woken up, but I did. I thanked God for answering my prayers of protection.
My husband is currently getting some help. I pray that God uses this time to reach my husband and that he will come to know the healing power of trusting in Jesus. I know this isn’t going to be easy but I believe that God has a bigger plan for our lives than we had for ourselves. I know, with God, we will get through this.
God has taught me so much through this experience. He’s shown me that storms come in life and there is no getting around them, but, if we allow Him to, He will go through them with us. God met me right where I was. He took something messy, broken, and shattered and turned into something beautiful, but only after I placed my shattered heart in his hands and surrendered.
God is a lot stronger than the problems we face and nothing is impossible to him.
I am happy to say that by God’s grace, I am now panic attack free. I know that no matter what happens in my life God will never leave me. I can trust Him with my life, He loves me unconditionally and He only wants what is best for me.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
P.S. No matter what comes our way we are loved by the One who holds us together. Holley Gerth has written an excellent book, You Are Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to Be Perfect. You can read my review of this book here. I’m linking up with Holley for Coffee for Your Heart. Won’t you join us?