FLAM Faces, Uncategorized

“How God helped me through divorce”

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.

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“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.
Jeremiah 29:11


Photo credit: Jessica Turale.

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This entry was posted in: FLAM Faces, Uncategorized

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I am a writer, mother, wife and believer in a reality bigger than my own. I love exploring the small epiphanies of life. Nothing is humdrum. Every moment is charged with opportunity, each one mixing its ideas with the ink in my pen. You call it alchemy, I call it God.

8 Comments

  1. Hi Claire,
    Thanks for sharing Sarah’s story – you’re really good at putting feelings into words.

    Recently I have been listening to a series of sermons on the book of Job by American Pastor Alan Bondar from LIFT Church. He has some insightful things to say about why bad things happen to Christians. He reassures us about God’s sovereignty in all situations, which are ultimately for our good.
    http://myliftchurch.com/previous-messages/
    (It’s the sermons from 1/10/2017 and following)

    Thanks Claire.

  2. Teeny Brumby says

    Really loving your beautiful emails Claire!!!! Bless your socks off

    Teeny Brumby Alderman Burnie City Council

    Sent from my iPad

  3. It’s very heart warming to hear when someone finds the strength and faith in God to help them over come their problems. Sometimes life doesn’t always turnout the way we plan and it can change in an instant.
    In Sarah’s case her husband must have had a very good reason for leaving knowing she was pregnant with his child. He must have been very unhappy in the first place regardless of who else was involved. I do find it hard to understand why Sarah has made her life so public by telling this story. I don’t really think it’s fair on the children or their father to bring this matter up in such a public way. I’m sure Sarah had her own good reasons for moving to the other end of the state but despite the reasons for parental separation we need to remember that a father also plays an important part in a child’s life just as much as the mother. It must be very hard for the children being so far away from their dad? I’m sure this decision to move was made with the children’s best interests at heart. I do wish Sarah all the best with finding the confidence within herself to move on with her life. I do truly hope that Sarah, her children and their father can all find the happiness we all desire. I guess we all need to remember that in every situation there’s two sides to every story.
    As Matthew 6:14-15 says, If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father In heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.

    • Hi there, thank you for your comment. And you’re right, there is always another perspective to every story. However, God’s design for marriage is between one man and one woman and, sadly, we live in a culture where those marriage vows are set aside all too often, leaving many hurting people. Sarah has shared with me much more detail of her story than is revealed here. She didn’t want to cause hurt to others, including her ex-husband, who she has wholeheartedly forgiven. Her children do see him regularly and she desires for them to have a good, healthy relationship with him. Sarah’s primary reason for sharing her story was to encourage others going through situations that feel hopeless. As her story clearly expresses, there is always hope when we fix our eyes on God, the author and perfecter of our faith.

  4. Catharina Visser says

    That was very brave of you to share your story Sarah. It must have really been heart wrenching what you went through.
    I have been through a divorce too, and I had 4 children, but he left me and went interstate. I still encouraged the children to stay in touch with him, as they still loved their father.
    The pain does go eventually, but takes time.
    I hope all goes well for you and your children in the future

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