Melissa Garland is out guest blog writer this week. A friend of mine from way back in the day of high school. She shares from the depths of her heart her love of Christ and the brokenness she has faced. I asked Melissa to share her story. I know it wasn’t easy to write for her. Through her posts on Facebook I’ve watched her go through the hardest period of her life with love, grace, and honor. Her testimony will bring you to tears. The realness and honesty she is sharing, I pray, will do what this site is designed to do: inspire you, comfort you and let you ladies know you are not alone. God is with you just as He has been with Melissa. Through His grace, God is making our lives more radiant every day and we do have to go through the trials in order to shine like diamonds. Melissa my friend is a diamond and a light shining for God.
“I love the hell out of you, but I’m not in love with you anymore.” 18 months and I can still hear those words and remember the moment my entire world came crashing down.
In our home, away from family and friends, I stood there in disbelief as the tears streamed down my face. More hurtful words spoken in a moment of drunkenness — just like other nights after he’d had too much to drink. The next morning, he would wake up apologetic, again, and take them back. But still, I walked away with tears streaming down my face and I laid awake on the couch all night crying. I can’t remember a time in my life where I cried more than I did that night and the days following because he didn’t apologize. I knew in my heart he was serious when he told me I needed to leave and that there was nothing more between us. I became weaker as he became tougher, stronger, and more adamant that our marriage was nothing more than an idea he “thought he wanted” , but had now changed his mind. I reminded him of our vows, covenants we shared. He threw back at me stating they were “just words”. Words I meant with every ounce of my being as we both stood before God and promised each other.
Nothing prepares you for a moment like that. When you get married you don’t plan on, “What if he decides he doesn’t love me anymore? What would I do?” It was supposed to be until death do us art…there was nothing in our vows about, “or until he says we part”. Nothing prepares you for the moment your heart is shattered in a million pieces by the one who worked so hard to win it over. Building trust, convincing you with not only words, but actions that he was different than the rest and ready for commitment. I let him in. The man who claimed he was yearning for my love and was ready to be a partner. Yet, he damaged me more than any other. How does one prepare themselves for that?
I left in my tiny car, now packed to the brim and my puppy sitting shotgun. Tears streaming down my face I yelled at God asking Him how the heck He could let this happen. It was in that moment I knew I had two choices …
- First: I could stop crying, get angry, go home and tell everyone all the horrible things about him. Get everyone on my side to make it “easier” to get through it. My family is a force to be reckoned with.
- Or second: Be vulnerable and go to a safe place and cry to someone who would push me to Jesus and not away from Him. Admit that it’s ok to be vulnerable and ask for help. This was not my favorite option because I wanted to prove I was strong, not weak.
The drive home was three hours. I knew that my choice would be defining and impact every moment afterwards. Not knowing what the future held and praying for a miracle, I went to a woman who knew him, us, and would push me to Jesus. I knocked on that door with tears streaming down my face, hugged her, and told her we needed to pray because her son had changed his mind and didn’t want to be married to me anymore.
There are moments in your life that change your outlook on a situation. This was one of those moments. With her guidance, I made a decision that day that I will never regret. You see, I love Jesus and I loved my husband. But, my husband had decided he didn’t want to love Jesus or me anymore. There was nothing I could do about that. The only thing I could do was decide that even though he changed his mind about honoring me and honoring God, I was not going to. In fact, I wanted to show people that I will hold true to myself and to my God and somehow have people see Jesus in this mess. I had a purpose in the pain and I was convinced Jesus would work a miracle and save my marriage. And I had a very Godly woman who just happened to be his Mom who pushed me to Jesus that day and every day.
The days turned into months and there was no miracle. I endured a heartache than I’ve ever known. Waking up wishing for a text or a call saying he’d made a mistake. Shedding tears on my pillow night after night when the texts or rare phone calls were hateful and filled with words I wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy…words used to destroy me more and destroy any sense of hope I had. My heart and mind couldn’t quite understand how someone who just days before was telling me he loved me. How, in the blink of an eye, could he hate me? I fought hard and I aimed for grace, even as his words angrily shot into my heart. I even got my first tattoo “grace” on my wrist during this season to remind me to show grace to those who don’t deserve it. Honestly, it may sound crazy, but you have no idea how many times I looked at my wrist in moments where I wanted to say every horrible word that came to mind, and it would give me peace (even though sometimes I said things I shouldn’t have). Grace is given to me daily when I am beyond undeserving. I wanted a reminder that even though he doesn’t deserve it, it’s still the right thing to aim for, even when it almost kills you. Sometimes loving Jesus is so much harder than getting even.
I wasn’t expecting what happened next. The one thing I hoped would never happen. The ONE thing that makes you wish you didn’t have the constant reminder of grace right in front of your eyes…there’s another woman. Not just ANY woman, either. I don’t care what any woman says. Even when you feel it in your heart that there is, there is absolutely nothing like the feelings that come when you have proof. When a picture gets sent to you “accidentally” via text one night from the one you’re so desperately wishing would come back. “This is _____. We’ve been in love a long time.” It was her. The girl you feared it was. The girl who dated a married man before (as shared to me by her own sister). The girl you knew yet had never met because you had a bad feeling about her. Her. Her brother in law was in our wedding party. How was this happening?
The thing with people is that you never know when they start lying. You can assume, but we all know what that does. The only thing I’m certain of is that within days of him telling me he didn’t love me anymore – he was in her arms. The rest only God knows. Truthfully, I’m thankful for that. The less I know is better for my heart in this situation.
I wish I could have somehow prepared for all this heartbreak. As it continued and she so easily stepped into the life we had created together. Before papers were even filed another woman claims to be the wife of a man who spoke vows before a God he claimed to serve and to me: his actual wife. Your house, your husband, your baby puppy, your life as you know it. Stolen. The pain brings tears to my eyes even now thinking of all I lost. His choice to take my puppy away forever without even telling me. His choice to propose to her before our divorce was even final. His choice to marry her less than two months after our divorce was finalized. All these things kept coming at me. It was as if the Devil himself was saying, “Hey girl, how much can you take? I know at some point you will quit. You can’t handle all this.” If he was, he was right. I can’t handle it. But Jesus can and He continually gave me the strength to make it every single day. He still gives me the strength, daily, to make it through. When those moments of sadness creep in, He continually has shown Himself to me.
A moment that will always stand out to me was the week before I was supposed to go to court and face him for the first time since he’d taken my sweet puppy. I was terrified. I was so stressed and scared I didn’t even want to go to church the Sunday before. Honestly, at this point, I was asking God how come He didn’t work a miracle like I expected Him to? I honestly thought He would, and as I walked into church with all these emotions I couldn’t help but think I didn’t want to even be there…until my Pastor said, “Today the scripture will be read from 2 Chronicles 20…” I froze and thought to myself that someone was playing a joke on me.
You see, months before in one of the strangest moments I’ve ever had with Jesus and His Word, I came across that chapter. I had never done this, but I randomly started underlining verses throughout the chapter. Sentences that read like this when I finished:
“Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword or judgment, or plague, or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us. For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your position and stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord with be with you. Give thanks to the Lord for his love endures forever. And the kingdom of Jehosaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest at every side.”
If you read that chapter you will see all those verses spread throughout it. God gave me those as a prayer and I wrote it down on index cards. I prayed it, I cried it, and I believed Not only that, but the week of my divorce trial my Pastor preached from that chapter. Of all the chapters in the entire Bible. Never in my entire life had I felt so loved. Despite my emotions and doubts, I knew without a doubt that Jesus was holding my heart and holding me up. That He would hold me up as I walked into that courtroom and faced them. That day and every single day after that. No matter what I felt emotionally. But not only did He give me that, He also sent an angel to come up to me ten minutes after church – in my mess of an emotional state and said someone told them to come find the girl in the Seahawks jersey and pray for her. I can’t even make this stuff up. Jesus loved me so hard through that season and I pray I never forget it. And that if and when someone comes up to me with a story of her husband leaving her, that I tell her that there is hope and that she will make it through if she puts her hope in the One who will hold her through it.
I’ve learned that in the midst of your worst seasons you have to make a choice, and usually, that choice is how you will deal with your mess. I could continue to look at the chaos in front of me and wonder continually how I got here and only see it getting worse, or I could choose to look up. I look up to Jesus knowing that he continually kept sending people into my life to show me that He was still here, even if it felt like the enemy kept winning. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I would tell myself with tears in my eyes, “just look up”. The best part of me looking up was that in those moments where the pain was almost unbearable, He gave me a rainbow or a sweet soul who breathed love into my broken heart. If the Devil was whispering in my ears to quit, Jesus was painting pictures and sending people who were visual images of Himself to let me know that He will never leave me or forsake me.
When I was weak, He was truly strong and carried me through the hardest season of my life. I may never understand why this happened, but I what I do know is that when I read Exodus 14:14:
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still”
…I believe it with all of my healing heart.