Rushing through the house, heart rate elevated, it was the start of another busy day. But something else was up. My heart wasn’t beating fast because I had run the stairs to wake the kids; it was much more.
My thoughts were racing, I began sweating and finally froze near the bottom of the stairs. Stopping for a moment, trying to gather and calm myself, I realized I was simply angry. It was frustration that had been building for days, and now it stopped me in my tracks.
A few weeks before, I had filed for divorce. In those weeks since my husband had moved out, a weight had lifted and, as one of my daughters said, “a dark cloud” was now gone. We could smile and breathe, and there seemed to be hope again in our home. It had been twenty painful years.
I had become a Christian about four years into the marriage and, beginning to spend time with the Lord each day, I desperately asked God to fix my marriage. I’m not talking about the normal stresses and difficulties that every couple experiences; this was far greater. In twenty years, I had never heard the words “I love you.” Instead, the kids and I often heard words telling us that we were worthless. There was unfaithfulness, a refusal to provide for the family (the Bible calls this abandonment), and abuse of all sorts.
I had all three scriptural reasons for divorcing, and I begged God daily to heal our marriage or allow me a way out. Here I was, over a decade later, and the Lord had given me the permission to divorce. Now, at the bottom of the stairs, I was angry. Even more than angry, I was hurting and in pain.
Why did God not rescue me years earlier and allow me and the kids to experience this peace and happiness? Why did He make me stay in an abusive marriage for so many years when I could have filed for divorce? These were the thoughts and questions fueling my hurt that morning.
Looking toward the upstairs, my youngest son appeared. He had one of those typical thirteen year old questions: “Mom, where are my socks?” But in that moment, I vaguely remember hearing the question, because the voice of the Lord seemed to be drowning out everything else.
In His gentle way, the Lord simply stated, “Because they were not ready.” Years later, that moment still brings tears to my eyes. I didn’t fully understand at the time the weight of His words, but in the weeks since filing for divorce, I had learned a lot about the laws regarding custody.
I had three daughters and two sons. At the time of my divorce, two daughters were adults, leaving a seventeen year old daughter and two sons, ages fifteen and thirteen, at home. A parenting plan had to be drawn up, and spending time with their father was mandatory.
At the same time, I was diving into the study of childhood development and psychology. I had started down this road trying to understand why each child, from around the age of 12, began asking me to divorce their father. Children typically want parents to stay together, but in our home, one child after another, there was a pleading for divorce.
That morning, at the bottom of the stairs, tears began to stream down my face. I realized the sovereignty of God was at work even during those painful years. He was working out a rescue plan for me and the kids, and in His wisdom, it required time to allow the children to grow up. As teens and young adults, these children could choose where to spend their time.
Had I divorced earlier, the mandatory time with their father would had given them a childhood where they would have been exposed to great evil. Instead, staying in the marriage allowed me to protect and nurture them. Those painful years, in hindsight, were for the sake of the children.
My story is a rare one, but we all have situations and circumstances where we spend time on our knees for days, weeks, or even decades and the answer from the Lord doesn’t seem to make sense. It can be frustrating at times, and yet I can attest that there is always a reason and a plan behind the wisdom and sovereignty of a God whose love is far greater than we realize.