I was recently listening to a message by Pastor Steven Furtick called, “Shake the Snake,” and was reminded of a time in my life when a simple question rocked me to my core and made me confront my fear of what the future holds. It was the summer of 2006. I had moved four hours north of Los Angeles to the coastal town of Monterey, California. A few months prior, the man I was married to served me divorce papers on what was our fifth wedding anniversary. He had met someone new and wanted to start a new life with her. I was shocked beyond belief. Heartbroken. Devastated.
I did not see it coming.
Even though we got married in a church, God was never at the foundation of our marriage. I had issues, he had issues, and together we had issues. Still, I loved him with all of my heart. We fought through some tough times together. I am not here to bash him. He was in many ways a wonderful person and (ironically) often told me my future was bright and I could achieve anything I put my mind to. It’s hard to explain, but in some ways the death of my marriage hit me harder than the death of my father. It’s a screwy thing when someone wants to be ‘dead’ to you but remains fully alive.
In California, there is a mandatory six-month period between when a divorce is filed and its completion. An attorney told me that the court instituted this ‘cooling off’ period with the intent that if a marriage could be salvaged, there would be time to work on it. So, there would be six months of waiting, wondering, hoping: will my marriage be saved? Because the truth is, I loved him so much that I was willing to take him back – willing to go down that hard road of rebuilding trust – only he didn’t seem interested. In my brokenness, I called out to God and He answered me. I felt directed to do many things, one of which was to pray to God to help me forgive. I knew needed to get out of L.A. – out of the home we shared full of memories and framed pictures of happier times — so God opened a door of opportunity. Monterey.
I was living in a small seaside apartment and working at a local television news station. It was my first producing job and I had a lot to learn. I was also a “new” Christian in a sense, and I had a lot to learn about my faith. I started attending a church called Calvary Chapel Monterey. I sat under the teachings of Pastor Roger Scalice, a Godly man who, with his wife, spent decades in the mission field. Pastor Scalice helped me so much during this time when I was completely grief-stricken about my impending divorce. I had already made it clear to my husband (who was living with his new girlfriend) that I wanted to make our marriage work. He was adamant he did not. I believe his words to me were: “I do not want you or your God.”
One day I asked Pastor Scalice if he would meet me for counseling. He agreed and we met on an open-air patio, surrounded by lush foliage and flowers. I poured my heart out to him – told him everything. Over the course of time, we met somewhat regularly. Always in the open-air patio surrounded by nature’s beauty. But it was one day, and one QUESTION that he asked that shook me to my core. A rather innocuous question at face value, but it penetrated deep into my soul and seemed to reverberate throughout my mind, body, and soul. It was after yet another session of me pouring my heart out about the state of my marriage and the upcoming six-month mark when the divorce would be final, that he leaned in, and with a very serious and concerned look, asked me: “If he never comes back, ARE YOU GOING TO BE OKAY?”
I sat stunned as my brain processed the question. Am I going to be okay? Well, of course I am going to okay! What did he mean by that? Why did he ask me that? Why God… what does he mean???
And then like a flood I saw myself. Flashes of me literally on the ground begging my husband to stay. Begging on the phone for him to change his mind. Begging God to make him change. The Pastor could see my utter desperation for my husband to take me back and a dependency on his wanting me again as the only way I would be happy and live a fulfilled life. But I had not seen it. Not until that moment and that question. I had put ALL OF MY FUTURE into a man who walked out on me, and believed without him my life would be bleak, meaningless and without purpose.
My hope was in him, when it should have been in Him.
Because no one, not you or I or God Himself, can make someone bend to our will or His. Sure, God could, but He chooses not to. He gives us a free will. We can accept or reject Him, which has consequences not only in this life, but the eternal life to follow.
I did continue to pray (fervently) for restoration and reconciliation. But it never happened. The day the divorce was final was a hard one. The final nail in the coffin of a drawn-out death. I clung to the hope that God could make beauty from the ashes. I had to believe that one day He would bring a husband into my life that would truly love me and never leave. That He would bless me with children that I had always wanted. That I had a life after divorce.
And guess what?
God redeemed my story by writing a new one. He gave me my husband and children. He gave me beauty for my ashes, and He can do the same for you.
Whatever your situation, if you’ve been rejected or your life has been in upheaval because of the actions of someone else, keep praying for them! But remember, you have a life to live too. God has a plan and purpose for your life that is not contingent upon anyone else. Yes, people’s actions can hurt us. Tremendously. But in the end, it is our faith in God and His deep love for us that pulls us out of the pit, out of the muck and the mire, and gives us a firm place to stand.
YOU ARE GOING TO BE OKAY.
Here is a scripture God spoke to me during that time in Monterey:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
Be blessed in the faithfulness of our God!