This article is part of the #flamfaces series.
Here, Sarah Groenewold shares a snippet of her story.
When my husband said he wanted to separate, I clutched my pregnant belly, ran to the bathroom and collapsed on the floor. I was a mess. I had two children; my unborn baby girl, and my 2-year-old son.
I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know what to even pray. It was excruciating. At times, when I was home by myself at night, completely isolated on the farm in the middle of Tassie, I would kneel down on the lounge room floor, hands lifted high in the air.
“God … please … help me. Please God bring my husband back to me. Help me be a strong and faithful wife and please give me some sort of hope that he will come back.”
I was more telling God than asking God. Demanding that He fix this right now. What did I ever do to deserve this? Sometimes I couldn’t get any words out. I would literally beg God through tears of anguish and heartache and utter stabbing pain in my heart.
I became desperate, sending my husband long messages, using binoculars to look out for him. He gave me small signs of hope but then he would crush them. He would tell me he had broken up with her, but a bit of Facebook investigation would reveal otherwise.
I would literally have to look in the mirror every day and tell myself, verbalise that I loved myself because I had zero self-worth. I always thought, “if my own husband doesn’t want me then who will?”
Things didn’t change … but God slowly changed my heart. My husband would still give me hope that we’d fix things, I would still believe him; he still had a girlfriend. I’d had enough. I called it quits. I don’t think he liked it very much that I had made that decision because then he didn’t have a choice. I slowly started to feel empowered, a little bit stronger.
Then came the custody battle. I moved home, to the other end of the state, and the morning came when it was my turn to have the kids for a week, and I received an email from his lawyer saying it wouldn’t happen. I’d moved without his or the court’s permission. I didn’t see them for 15 days. By then my little girl was nearly two and my son was four. It was extremely painful, like my limbs had been cut off, like I was walking around in a thick cloud and couldn’t see anything. A nightmare. I was forced to meet his demands in order to see my children for short periods of time.
A verse popped into my head sometime during this traumatic time and it was 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God didn’t give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and self-discipline.” Finally, I gave myself permission to be strong, to love myself and to be self-controlled with my actions. So I didn’t retaliate but let the legal process do its thing and trust God that He would fix this because I couldn’t. I’m a slow learner.
Every fortnight I clean a little church and before the custody dispute was due in court, I knelt down in that church and talked to God. I asked God to speak to me and let me hear His voice.
When I woke up the next day I had the song, “Be still and know that I am God” in my head. So that’s what I did. Be still. I surrendered it all to Him. I thanked God for all He had done and trusted Him.
“God, I am lost and I literally don’t know what to do or where to go from here. Please don’t make me stand up in court to fight for my kids, I just don’t want to do it. If that’s how You want justice to be served then I know you will give me the truth to speak. Please guide my path.”
The long and the short of it is that my now ex-husband had a huge change-of-heart during the court proceedings and allowed me full custody of our children. The day after, I picked up my children, so filled with joy, and squeezed them tight. God is so good.
If you try and picture a timeline, right at the start is a woman who is helpless, a mess, broken into pieces and placing her hope in a human, a woman who placed her precious self-worth in the hands of a person who did not care to nurture it.
If you skip forward to now, that woman is confident and powerful. Not confident in the way that society tells us to be, but confident that God is a man of His word (Jeremiah 29:11). Even in her weakest moments she is still strong because her hope is placed in the one who made her. Her self-worth was tenderly cared for and nurtured in such a way that she knows how very precious she is in God’s sight.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Photo credit: Jessica Turale.