I have spent the last few days ruminating about how to proceed. Events at this stage happened quickly. I do not want to do them an injustice by simply stating what happened and moving into an epilogue; however, I do not want to drag this out either. It is in this entry, I hope, that you will see God take over and do an amazing work. It is impossible for me to connect all the dots, for we are still seeing connections as we look back to where we were and all that happened. I will, though, write out the obvious connections. Tying the loose ends together isn’t always easy to do in paragraph form. One of my favorite illustrations is that depicting the underside of a tapestry. That is what we often see of our lives since we do not see the finished work. My writing this story has, to me, seemed messy at times, just like that tapestry. I wonder if anyone reading is getting all that I am trying to convey, for even as I go back and re-read some of what I wrote, I remember small details that may have helped to clarify what was written. Again, though, if I included every detail, not only would this become laborious to read, it would also have the potential to betray things that do not need to be made public. That said, regardless of whether you have followed the story from Part 1 or if this is the only entry you have read, buckle up and get ready to wade through a complicated series of events that, I hope, will not only show the power of God, but also give hope for any who may doubt that God can still work when man says it is far too gone…
I sat at my desk the evening of April 9, 2012. Staring at me from the top of the desk was the piece of paper with the name of the attorney I had talked to and his phone number. I stared at it, almost in disbelief that this could actually be happening. It seemed so much like a nightmare. No one starts their marriage planning for it to end, especially after 24 years of surviving it. Yet, it seemed that was inevitable. My heart had been broken so many times by this man I called my husband, I could not take one more blow. I thought about Anna and how this would affect her. Like me, either way it seemed she would suffer. I thought back to March, 1999, when Dave and I had separated. That year I spent as a single mom was difficult beyond words. I remembered the day I decided to ask Dave to move back home. I figured I could put up with this marriage just long enough for the kids to reach adulthood and then I would leave for good. Anna was two years shy of that mark still, and here I was, resolving that I was done. Was I making the right decision for her? For me? For all of us? Dave had made it clear that he wanted to stay married. His actions, though, had made it clear to me that he wasn’t willing to work at the issues either. The two could just not coexist. I folded the piece of paper and tucked it inside a book where I knew Dave wouldn’t find it. I moved to the bed, put my head on my pillow, and let the tears fall. I stifled sobs as I mentally focused on the picture of us on our wedding day. My mind ran wild with thoughts. How could twenty-four years just be thrown away? Why did God hate me so much? Why couldn’t things have been different? What will happen to Anna and me? Where would we go? The noise of the back door closing snapped me out of my own head and I quickly wiped the tears from my face, though the fact that I had been crying so hard for so long could not be hidden. Dave walked back to the bedroom. I turned to look away so the evidence of my tears could not be seen. He told me he needed to go to bed. I picked up my phone off the bed and headed into the living room. Soon the bedroom light was off and the snoring coming from the room signaled that Dave had fallen asleep. Once again, alone, I tried to distract myself from all that was happening. I played a computer game for a while but soon my eyes, tired from crying, were hurting too much to focus. I laid down on the couch and soon I was crying so hard I felt sick. My whole body was shaking, yet I couldn’t stop the deluge of emotion. I must have fallen asleep, although I do not remember lying down.
I was awakened somewhere between 2:00 and 2:30 AM. I bolted upright, still on the couch. I heard something–a voice. My heart was pounding like it would if I had just been awakened by a nightmare. I thought maybe it was my oldest son, Zach. I cautiously get up and walk over to the top of the stairs. All the lights downstairs are off. That meant Zach was already in bed. I returned to the couch and peered out of the curtains that were closed across the front window. We lived on a busy street so while it was unlikely that someone was out at that hour of the morning, it was a possibility. I looked but saw no one. There weren’t even any cars on the road. This all happened within a minute or so. The voice had been in my head, yet it also filled the room it seemed. The four words I heard were unmistakable: Be patient. I’m working. Again, I thought it was Zach–maybe he had been doing something in the kitchen. I checked but saw no sign that anyone had been in there. Still shaking, I figured I’d better get to bed.
Dave was gone by the time I woke up the next morning. I couldn’t stop thinking about the events of the previous night. My decision to divorce loomed large, but it was the voice I heard that really bothered me. I tried to think through a timeline of how things might play out. April 14th was coming quickly. That is my birthday, normally not a huge deal, but this year, our daughter had scheduled her saxophone junior recital for this day. We would be leaving early on the 14th to make the three hour drive to her college. What she didn’t know was that DJ was planning to surprise her. He had never been to her college and wanted to be there for this special occasion. He would be arriving at home via the Megabus on the 13th and would head to Moorhead with us the next morning. We planned to stay in Morrhead Saturday night and then head back home. After a quick stop there to pick up Anna, we would drive to Chicago. Not only were we taking DJ back to school, but Anna was scheduled to do a college visit in Chicago (at the same school DJ attended) that Monday. DJ had arranged for her to spend the night on campus Monday night. We would head back home on Tuesday then. There was no way I was going to ruin any of this by announcing my decision to divorce. I was just biding my time until the following week. Thinking again about the voice and the words I was sure I heard, I headed to the church to talk to Pastor 2. I had to know what his thoughts were about this voice I heard.
I arrived at the church and waited for Pastor 2 to finish up with someone in his office. While I was waiting, Dave texted me to say he was calling the dealer to cancel the new van. My heart was broken. He also said he was canceling the meeting we had scheduled with Finance Guy the next night. By the time Pastor 2 could see me, I was frustrated with Dave. I told Pastor 2 all that had happened the previous night. He told me that he was very encouraged by this and felt the voice was certainly God. I wasn’t sure I bought that, but didn’t have any other explanation. We talked about the four words I heard and Pastor 2 encouraged me to listen to what was directed–be patient. I had thought about telling Pastor 2 of my decision to divorce but decided against it. I left his office and went home and tried to prepare for the upcoming weekend.We also were scheduled to meet with Pastor 1 that evening. I wasn’t sure, after texting with Dave that morning, if I really wanted to but felt I had to keep the appointment.
We arrived at the church for our meeting at 6:30. Pastor 1 was waiting for us. He seemed agitated. We all sat down and Pastor 1 asked how the week had been. Neither of us said anything right away. Before we could, Pastor 1 suddenly says, “I am done working with the two of you.” I looked at him in disbelief. He went on to say that the church didn’t want him to get involved in long term counseling situations and that he could only work twenty hours a week. (I know the first one was a lie; I suspect the second one was as well) I looked at him and said, “So you’re just abandoning us?” He asked Dave to leave so he could talk to me a minute. Surprisingly, Dave did. As soon as Dave was gone, Pastor 1 said, “You need to divorce him. If you divorce him, I will walk through this with you. If you don’t, I am done with you.” I was extremely upset. He got up, put on his coat, and walked out. I didn’t know what to do. I stood up, followed him, and accused him of not caring. He shot back that all he had done was care and I was the problem. As he got in his truck I yelled to him that I was just going to leave–maybe even die. He responded with, “That’s your choice.” And he left. Dave called for me to get in the car, but I would not do that. I began walking home. I felt like a knife had been driven in my back. As I walked the side of the busy highway, I tried to call DJ. He did not answer, but I left him a voice mail. I tried to call Friend 1. She didn’t answer either. I felt this was a sign from God that everyone had abandoned me. I thought about stepping into the path of an oncoming car. What I didn’t know at the time was that Dave was following me. He was moving the car along the frontage road, staying out of my sight. He had called Mentor as soon as he got in the car. He told Mentor that our marriage was over. Mentor replied with, “Not unless God says it is.”
I made it home and grabbed the keys to my van. Dave asked where I was going. I told him I didn’t know, and I didn’t know if I was coming back. I drove to the lake and sat and cried. I called Pastor 2 and told him what had happened. He told me I needed to go home. I refused. He told me my children were there. I told him I didn’t care. He encouraged me again to go home. I knew I couldn’t do that. I knew Dave would be SO angry at me. I was afraid knowing Anna was home with him, yet I was more afraid that he would take his anger out on me. I called Friend 2 who then called Friend 1. She talked me into going to Friend 1’s house. I pulled in the driveway and knocked on the door. Her husband answered and told me to come in. Soon, Friend 1 came. She sat with me as I cried. We talked a bit off and on. At 10:30 PM, she asked if he could at least call Dave and tell him where I was–he had called her a few times and was worried. I agreed to allow her to call. When she hung up she told me Dave wanted me to come home. I was scared. She said she would go with me and if he got angry, I would leave with her. I agreed. When we pulled into our driveway, all the lights were still on. I walked into the house and Dave was standing just inside the door. I cringed not knowing what was coming. He put his arms around me, drew me into his chest, and began to cry. Stunned, yet relieved, I also began to cry. Friend 1 was behind me. She motioned Dave and I to the living room. We sat on the couch and she sat in the chair. Dave told me that when he had asked me if he could take the series Pastor James had sent, he listened to those CD’s on his way to work. In fact, he would listen to a disc on the drive in and then listen to the same disk on his drive home. The next day he did the same with the following disc in the series. He had gone through the entire series several times. He apologized for all he had put us through–he didn’t think he could do anything about his anger since that’s how he had always been. He told me he learned that God could change him and that he had been allowing God to do just that. We talked until 12:30 AM. Friend 1 said a few words and then said she felt it was okay for her to leave. We agreed. She left, and Dave and I sat and talked for a while longer. I wasn’t sure who this man was that was now sitting next to me on the couch, but for the first time in a very long time, I saw a bright light at the end of this dark tunnel. God was indeed working; I needed to be patient.
Looking back, how is it that a sermon series on CD ended up at our house four months after I had sent Pastor James a letter about it? How is it that Pastor 2, Friend 1, and DJ all were able to keep helping me hang on even when I “knew” there was no hope? How is it that Finance Guy appeared in our lives at just the right time? How is it that Mentor knew exactly what to say to Dave to calm him yet encourage him at the same time? How is it… I could go on, but I know the answer to the question. It was–and is–God. God had a plan for our marriage all along. He worked through other people–some who didn’t even know they were being used by God at a crucial time. He worked directly in me by “speaking” to me–getting my attention to not give up just yet. There are so many dots that were connected at just the right time that helped the picture make sense. The tapestry looked terrible in my eyes, but in God’s eyes it was a beautiful work of art in the making. I am so thankful for those people who allowed themselves to be used by God. I am amazed that I am still alive. My broken heart is no longer broken. The scars are there, but the pain is gone. Forgiveness and reconciliation have allowed our marriage to grow and flourish for the first time. I am SO thankful to God for all He has done and continues to do…more on that tomorrow…