Everyone has a story to tell. When we make the connection between our story and God's great story, we come away with HIStory, which involves each and every one of us.
"God is within her, she will not fall..." - Psalms 46:5a
Just over two years ago, on July 4th 2013, I got amazing news. I learned I was pregnant! I had two amazing children, but it was an uphill battle to conceive those precious gifts. This third child, he was God’s perfect plan. An unexpected, unplanned, but so very welcome addition to my family.
I thought I had everything then: two beautiful, healthy children, a hard-working husband whose job allowed me to stay home to raise our kids, a network of family and friends who I knew would support me no matter what. But then my world came crashing down.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, my husband’s behavior became erratic and unpredictable. He was drinking to excess and staying out all night. He was unkind when he was home. Just one month after the birth of my baby, I found out the reason for the absences. He was cheating. I’d love to say that I was strong and confident and that I kicked him out and never looked back. That’s not the way it went, though. I was devastated. I was desperate. I wanted my marriage and my family to be whole again. I would have done anything to make that happen. I read every book on “winning him back,” praying for my prodigal husband, begging God to bring him back to our family.
For months my husband cycled between wanting the freedom of the life he shared with his girlfriend and the stability of his wife and kids. Each and every time he returned home with his belongings, I welcomed him. I assured him he was forgiven. I promised him we’d overcome what had happened. Yet each time he left again, I was more devastated than the last.
I tried hard to understand why God didn’t want my family to be whole. Why he didn’t want my kids to have their daddy at home. Why, when I begged and pleaded and cried each night, did God refuse to bring my husband home to stay? And yet, I was committed. Forgiveness is what God asks of us, right? So my job, my duty as a Christian, was to forgive my husband and be a safe place for him. And I did; at least 10 times. At least 10 times I welcomed home a tearful and broken man, setting aside my own brokenness to give him forgiveness and love. And each time he left again, my heart was broken anew.
The turning point for me was Christmas day of 2014. My husband, so full of promises and hope, failed to come home on Christmas Eve. When he appeared Christmas morning, he admitted that he’d spent the night with his mistress. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I walked out of my house wearing only my pajamas, and I wandered over to the Cal train tracks, which run right by my house. The only thing I wanted was to stop feeling pain. I couldn’t bear it any longer. Why was God punishing me? How could I possibly continue to live with this pain? I was barely functioning. I wasn’t eating, and my nursing newborn was frustratingly underweight. I remembered to feed the two older children, but only because they asked me to. I was a shadow of a person. I reasoned that they would be better off without me. I was barely taking care of them anyway.
I read somewhere that when you can’t find the words to pray, you should just say “Jesus.” And I did. Jesus, please help me. Help me Jesus. It hurts too much. I can’t do it. I don’t know how. I’m not capable. There was no peace in my heart or my soul, but somehow God gave me the strength to get up, go inside my house, and get dressed. I drove my children to my sister’s house where they played with family and had a Christmas feast. I still couldn’t move, couldn’t eat, and couldn’t function. And God whispered to my heart. “You’re right. You can’t live like this. I never meant for you to live like this. It’s time to move on.”
And that Christmas day, that’s exactly what I did. I finally understood. God didn’t want me to suffer anymore. You see, I was desperately in love with my husband. We’d been together 15 years and married for 11. I gave him my all. And in return, he was emotionally abusive and unkind. He worked to support our family but refused to do anything more than that. He was not giving of his time or affection. In my marriage, I felt unsupported and unloved, but I was willing to accept that because I loved my husband and serving him gave me joy.
But God began to show me He had something beautiful in store for me. The next several months were challenging, but I learned to receive the support of my family and friends. I began seeing a therapist, which was paid for by my amazing church. I began putting together a life independent of my husband. When the one-year anniversary of my world-changing discovery arrived, I celebrated. I got a tattoo on my forearm of Psalms 46:5: “God is within her, she will not fall” because by then, that’s the truth I had learned.
My baby is now 18 months old, which means it’s been nearly a year and a half since the affair discovery. I just started a new job teaching Kindergarten and First grade. God has fulfilled my every need, from childcare to emotional support and beyond. I feel peace and joy in ways I haven’t for years. He is the author and perfecter of our faith and He will create the most beautiful story in spite of our pain and suffering. It’s still a struggle sometimes. We’re so good, aren’t we? At picking back up the things we’ve already laid at his feet?
But God has a perfect and amazing plan for every single one of His children. Sometimes we are so entrenched in our own desires that we forget that His plans are not ours, and ours are not His. The amazing, beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking truth is this: His plans are far more perfect than ours. I held on to what I wanted until I was so broken I had no more strength left. And only then, only when I was too tired and too hurt to fight for what I wanted, did God step in and begin rebuilding my life. I thank Him for that every day.
Though God hates divorce, it always takes two willing participants - Tami was willing, but her husband was not. No matter what happens in your marriage, know that there is help and that God will walk through it with you and give you His strength. If you would like to receive prayer over your current situation, please reach out to us as we would love to pray over you.
Damaris U. Avila lives with her loving husband and their two inquisitive and sweet girls. Through personal storytelling, she invites women to share and see themselves in God's story. She leads young girls through BeYOUtiful Girl Time, a sisterhood where girls are encouraged to become the women God designed them to be.
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."