March 16, 2010, felt like the beginning of the end for me. This was the day my husband sat with me on our beloved porch swing and told me he was attracted to another woman. I will never forget the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. That day started the battle for my marriage as well as the battle for my soul. Over the next year and a half, I interceded, sought counseling, made changes, all in my desperate attempt to save our marriage. At times we made progress, other times it felt like a step back. I told no one. Who could I tell? Many would label me a fool for even wanting to stay in the marriage. At least I felt like there was hope while he was still there. I was just sure if I prayed enough, was sweet enough, and got thin enough my marriage would make it.
October 15, 2011, was the day my husband moved out. Just when I thought things were getting better and we were going to make it, his emotional affair turned to a physical affair and our marriage was over. He wanted a divorce. Words bombarded my mind, “You are a fool. Why did you even try? You look so desperate.”
In that moment I had a decision to make. Let the voices continue to berate, or look in the mirror and realize only God’s opinion mattered. What did God think of me? I still had many questions: after being involved in ministry with my husband for over 25 years, would there ever be a place for me again? Would my children lose their faith? Would I live in poverty for the rest of my life? Would I be the one of whom people whispered, “I don’t understand. They always seemed so happy.” With dozens of questions in my mind, I sought out the One who has all the answers. One by one, He systematically, methodically and with great purpose answered my questions.
No, I was not a desperate fool who tried unsuccessfully to salvage a doomed marriage. I was simply a woman who loved her husband and was committed to marriage. Yet, I had to realize I could not control anyone else’s choices.
God still loved me. His opinion of me had not changed. His love had never wavered. Since I tried to walk this trial with integrity, releasing all bitterness and anger to God, I felt I pleased Him. I understood the answer to the question, “What does God think of me?”
Would I ever be used in ministry again? This was largely in my control. How did I respond to this trial? If I chose bitterness and anger, my testimony could not be used. However, if I chose to allow God to build better character through this, He can open doors for me to use a very painful experience for good.
Will I always be poor? I may not live with the degree of financial security I previously enjoyed, but my children and I have learned first-hand the unique beauty of God’s provision. Instead of losing their faith, this has increased my children’s faith. Their walk with God has become deeply personal and intimate as they have had to search out things for themselves.
If anyone “whispers” about me, it is with complete concern and compassion. I have felt nothing but total love and care from the family of God. The church has been a safe place for my kids and me. Our choice to stay involved has served us well.
Oct 30, 2013, was the day my divorce was final. It began a new chapter in my life. God is still writing on the pages of my heart, and I am with anticipation watching the direction the storyline takes. This Author can be trusted to take a heartbreaking story and write a joyful end.
NOTE: Jill has been blessed with four incredible children and a beautiful daughter-in-law. Jill enjoys music, reading and day spas! She attends The Sanctuary in Hazelwood, MO, pastored by Mitchell Bland.
Information from: UPCI Ladies Ministries – https://ladiesministries.com/programs/hope/article/-if-i-chose-bitterness-and-anger-my-testimony-could-not-be-used