I was a few months away from my thirtieth birthday when my life fell apart. I had a beautiful home, new vehicles shining in the double garage, and the financial stability to add to the rooms of my house pretty much anything my heart desired. Four bedrooms, but basically silent halls. I had a wonderful 9-5, good friends, and who can forget the double shelves of alphabetized DVDs. Life was good. Or as good as life got, anyway. Right?!
I can remember the heartache like no other. My throat was raw with it. The deep pain in my chest rose with bile and acid up my esophagus, and the tears just kept falling. They had not stopped since the night before, and glancing at my red-rimmed eyes in my new car’s mirror made me glad I had not reported to my job site that morning. They would have known immediately.
“What’s wrong with me?!” I wondered.
I drove along an unknown roadway. Despite having tossed and turned most of the night, and regardless of the six-pack I had numbly swallowed to help usher in the sandman, I had managed to leave my happy (looking) home early to get to work on time. My promotion had brought along new training, and it seemed the best bit of luck that this particular day would be one spent commuting over an hour to work, alongside strangers who wouldn’t question my melancholy. This was back when I believed in things like luck or coincidence.
“Why am I so unlovable?!” I questioned the pristine interior of my vehicle.
I was almost thirty years old, and I felt like I should be thinking about starting a family. Not this. My mind traveled back to the prior week, how my primary care doctor had questioned my desire for children in light of the birth control prescription she was writing. I didn’t know when she asked why we hadn’t started a family yet. We both wanted children. But in the silence of the rubber meeting the roadway that morning, I knew. I finally understood.
“What did I do wrong?!” I cried.
I racked my brain in the dim, morning light. I tried to be a good wife. I didn’t nag. I kept fit and trim. I had even fixed that flat chest situation. Thank you, Mr. Surgeon. I was a good cook, a complimentary companion, and always quick to concede in an argument. So why did he not want me?
“I don’t want to be married anymore,” he had said the night before.
He had asked me to take a seat, then had spoken the words matter-of-factly, like turning off love and ending a marriage was as easy as changing the color pattern of the living room. Perhaps easier.
“Help me, God!” I cried into the silent car, as I replayed the night before my marriage ended.
God. I still believed in Him. I had never stopped, really. I just hadn’t spoken to Him in a while. In fact, the last time I remembered hearing His voice was before I had gotten married. As things began to heat up in our relationship, some six years prior, I remember the whisper of the Holy Spirit reminding me of something I had learned as a young woman at a discipleship training school overseas. The speaker had cautioned the room full of us young adults about the dangers of “missionary-dating.” You might be familiar with the Bible’s instruction about being unequally yoked, and this was the caution the Lord brought to my mind.
So, over a table full of empty beer bottles, in a smoky bar, I had asked my soon-to-be spouse if he believed in Jesus.
“Of course! I’m Catholic,” he answered with a laugh, and that had been the extent of my prayerful consideration of our relationship.
I don’t want to paint the object of my (then) affection and ex-husband in a bad light. I certainly was no saint, and the point of this story is me. I had ignored the voice of God, His guidance, His Spirit, and relationship with Him for over six years. Yet in the midst of my utter failure and pain, He was the One I cried out to for help.