By Heather Jeffery
God's Brave Women - Heather's Story
I’ll never forget the one sentence that instantly changed my life.
As we prepared for bed recounting our day, my husband asked where I saw our marriage heading. I had felt some recent disconnection, but every marriage has its valleys. He always assured me divorce was not in his vocabulary, so I was certain it was my own insecurity speaking when I responded, saying part of me worried he would leave our marriage when our daughters moved out. Without hesitation he said, “I don’t think I can wait that long.”
I was stunned.
Was this conversation real?
I knew our marriage wasn’t perfect but no marriage is. My heart shattered on the spot with the sudden but familiar pang of grief one feels when hearing of a loved one’s unexpected death. It felt as if my life had been placed in a glass ball and dropped from an overpass onto the busy highway below, only to be repeatedly crushed and scattered in the midst of my swirling thoughts.
That conversation was exactly three years ago. The week that followed was pure anguish, as I struggled to breathe and honestly, had to remind myself to do so. There was no time for processing because kids needed to get to school and work duties remained that Monday morning.
The next weekend was Easter, and we headed to my parents’ house for our traditional Easter holiday. I had no idea how I was going to get through it. I had been in the pit all week, crying out to God. Why wasn’t He answering? How could He let me stay in such a painful place? “Where are you, God?” was all I could muster as I prayed through tears and groaning.
That Easter Sunday I could bear no more. I told Jesus He HAD to come back, as if I could order the Son of God around. The grief was so intense, I thought not only of my own sorrow, but also the pain my children and family would endure through divorce. I pleaded with Him to show Himself to the world and take us all to paradise THIS Easter so no one else would have to feel the heartache.
As you’re probably aware, the world didn’t end that day and neither did the pain. But something incredible happened. I had come to the end of my own strength and as an empty vessel, begged Jesus to come. And friends, let me tell you, He never disappoints.
"I had come to the end of my own strength and as an empty vessel, begged Jesus to come. And friends, let me tell you, He never disappoints."
We somehow made it through Sunday service and the events of the day. As we began the three-hour journey back home, I was relieved. I wanted to be home more than anything since pretending was just too hard. It was a raw realization when I recognized this could be our last holiday as a family. Hot tears poured down my cheeks as I positioned myself so my kids wouldn’t see. My husband reached over to squeeze my hand while he drove. I needed to do something but what? I felt helpless, and God seemed to be ignoring my cries.
I tried to zone out in my phone but little did I know just how deep God was about to take me. My fingers typed, “Christian response to divorce” in the Google window. I had searched these words many times before but this time was different because I was led to a post on The Peaceful Wife blog by April Cassidy. The words jumped off the screen: “How can anyone hear me when you’re making so much noise?”
I was floored. God had a lot to say to me, but I had not been able to quiet the wailing in my soul enough to hear Him. As I continued reading, God used these words to reveal this was not my battle but His. My job was to be still and let Him fight it. The enemy was clearly exposed, and it was not my husband. The battle was spiritual, and God was in charge. He had a plan, and He was very much involved.
"The enemy was clearly exposed, and it was not my husband. The battle was spiritual, and God was in charge. He had a plan, and He was very much involved."
A rush of peace washed over me in the car. It was as if Jesus Himself sat down beside me and held my hand in His. He gently assured me this was His load to carry, not mine. I had spent a week in the pit of emotional hell, but God was too merciful to leave me there. I would never be the same again.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”
(Psalm 40:2 NIV)
I would love to tell you God saved my marriage, but He did something even better: He saved me.
"I would love to tell you God saved my marriage, but He did something even better: He saved me."
My brokenness had a purpose. God knew how to get my attention and what it would take to recreate me for His purposes. Who better to repair our shattered hearts than our Creator, who knows every detail of our life before we even breathe our first breath?
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
(Psalm 139:16 NIV)
"Who better to repair our shattered hearts than our Creator, who knows every detail of our life before we even breathe our first breath?"
The next three years were devoted to immersing myself in God’s Word. It was my only refuge as my marriage continued to dissolve. I learned to pray fervently for a heart and spirit to submit to God’s instruction in humble obedience and prayed this for both my husband and myself every single day.
It was difficult, but I accepted it was not my responsibility to see that anyone moves in God’s direction other than myself. There is absolutely nothing I could do to change my husband’s heart, but I could work on realigning my own heart daily, even minute-by-minute as was often needed. I could live out the love of Jesus to those around me. Through that, God could use me to reach others, including my husband, if He chose to do so. Regardless of the outcome, He had reached me.
"It was difficult, but I accepted it was not my responsibility to see that anyone moves in God’s direction other than myself. There is absolutely nothing I could do to change my husband’s heart, but I could work on realigning my own heart daily..."
If you are struggling in a difficult season, I want you to know submitting to God’s will comes with many challenges. However, it does not come without hope. The same God that resurrected Jesus can resurrect us daily as a new creation. We may not know the why, how, or when of our circumstance, but we can hold on to hope, trusting in the One who does hold all knowledge. I’ve learned to let go of my desires to embrace His.
"The same God that resurrected Jesus can resurrect us daily as a new creation. We may not know the why, how, or when of our circumstance, but we can hold on to hope, trusting in the One who does hold all knowledge."
As my wise earthly father reminded me, demolition must always precede a proper reconstruction. Jesus is the master builder, and you can trust Him with the process.
If you find yourself facing an unwanted divorce, I encourage you to seek out Biblical counseling. I’ve included some helpful resources that have been a support to me.
4) Focus on the Family has a free one time counseling service and counseling referral service.
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
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Heather Jeffery is a Christian writer, mom, and full-time physical therapist. Her blog, Straighten Your Crown, is a place to find encouragement grounded in Biblical truth to navigate the challenging circumstances we encounter in a broken world. The title was given to her several years ago when God rescued her from a pit of intense grief and disappointment. Heather writes to share this same hope with others who are walking through difficult circumstances and feel defeated. She lives in Maryland with her two daughters and loves spending time outdoors, near the water.
Heather is wrapping up a blog series titled Unexpected with a new series, Unbroken, coming soon. You can subscribe to her blog at www.straightenyourcrown.net, and follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook.