God's Brave Women - Teresa's Story
The moment he told me he was leaving, I faced my most-feared scenario.
I was the abandoned spouse in a marriage that had disguised itself as loving and God-centered. On the outside, all appeared churchy and fine. But in truth, the foundation of God had been replaced with rage, addiction and fear. I had stuck it out, thinking I should. And now I felt embarrassed because I was the one left behind.
Amidst the emotional, verbal and borderline physical abuse, I hid who I really was. I allowed my greatest desires and dreams to become stupid thoughts that inconvenienced others. I stifled my gifts of discernment and wisdom, falling for the lie that I was just paranoid and weird. I shut my mouth, fearing that my truthful words would bring me great punishment. I put aside ministry and leadership because I believed that my imperfections were so shameful, and I could be exposed. The hiding became my normal, something I relied on for stability. I could always depend on fear and shame to show up.
You would think I was finally free from this dysfunctional relationship when he chose to leave, yet I still wanted reconciliation. Yes, for the sake of redemption. Yes, because I believe – and still believe – that no one is too far from God to be healed and made new. But I also know it was for the sake of my own codependence. I was not sure I could face life independently, and it crushed me.
My greatest fears became a reality. As a follower of Jesus, I had painted a picture of what life should look like for me. I can tell you that it didn’t include abuse, abandonment, divorce and a complete identity crisis. I often asked God why He would allow this to happen? And why He would seemingly not help reconcile the marriage? He didn’t resolve the situation how I expected, but in this greatest disappointment I was healed. The crisis led to my freedom and allowed me to become myself… again. It gave me a courage I never knew existed. Christ-empowered courage.
"The crisis led to my freedom and allowed me to become myself… again. It gave me a courage I never knew existed. Christ-empowered courage."
No, I didn’t put on a cheery face, constantly quote happy scriptures or appear strong. I was weak and unsure and sad in most moments. The thought of living by myself, and liking myself, made me sick to my stomach. I cried a lot, sometimes only having the strength to lift a hand to Heaven to express my need. Family and friends had to encourage me to get out of bed and eat one bite or do one productive thing for the day. My first step of protecting myself (closing a bank account) was quite the event. It included one phone call to mom for support, two stops on the side of the road to catch my breath, and one trip to Culvers for a milkshake in an attempt to avoid the task at hand.
But it got done. I took the first step towards independence and self-protection.