Two words no one likes to talk about, whether you've been through it or not. It's taboo in our society.
The difference between me and everyone else, though, is that I'm not ashamed of my life.
I'm not ashamed of the path that I've walked. Abuse should carry no shame, and divorce from a marriage that was based on lies should carry no shame.
Over the past year I have met so many women AND men who are stunned by my openness about my life. They don't understand how I'm so willing to tell my story. Acting as if I should be ashamed to be a Christian with the black mark of divorce on my record. But if I don't tell it, no one else is going to tell it for me. And more importantly, our testimony enables God's goodness to shine through us.
I'm divorced, not because I believe marriage is something to be taken lightly, but because my husband was abusive. I was raised in a strong Christian home surrounded by many positive examples of what a Godly marriage looks like. Marriage is still forever to me, my divorce didn't change that. Instead my divorce only further showed me the importance of a marriage centered on God. I entered my marriage expecting it to be forever and continued in my marriage willing to do whatever it took to make it last.
I was willing to spend many nights helping my drunk husband into bed.
I was willing to watch him preach on Sunday mornings, only to use the tithe money for beer on Sunday nights.
I was willing to be told lies about who I was: too fat, not intelligent enough, not independent enough, too independent, that I loved my family too much, and even worse that I was a terrible excuse for a preacher's wife.
After all those years, I stopped seeing who I was in Christ and started to believe all the lies that were continuously thrown in my face.
I was willing to put up with that and so much more just to avoid being divorced. I was even willing to face a swinging fist, just to avoid the taboo of divorce. But I realized something. God is a loving God, and there is absolutely nothing about my God that says any of that is okay. Love is patient, love is kind. Love isn't abuse. So I prayed for strength, and I walked away. To believe that God wasn't involved in my divorce ignores the unfailing, unconditional love that He embodies… and I will never be ashamed of my God. When the mystery of those three and a half years come up in conversation, I share my story. I'm open about my brokenness, because it's in that brokenness that God's light is able to shine. I'm not ashamed of my divorce, and I'm not ashamed of my abuse. Instead I'm proud of the strength God gave me to get out. In those moments I am able to share my story with complete strangers, that is what I consider an honor. Because in those moments, I know God is working through me. In those moments I realize that I survived my horror story for a reason, I survived a nightmare. If I share my story with thousands, only to save one woman's life… I consider every painful memory a success. I've talked to many women, and the scariest moment is realizing as they walk away that they may be the next headline story of domestic abuse. Their story may not end like mine. I only hope to show there is strength, not shame, in rising above the pain.