I'm certain that I'll never forget that long, dark night. I was stunned. And very scared. I had not seen this coming. Of course, how could I? I was living life from one miserable moment to another, running in confusion and fear from the past with no hope for the future. It took all my energy to recover each morning from the nightly bouts of anger and sorrow, dress and go to work where my mind was safely occupied.
I never imagined myself in this position so had no idea what to expect. For weeks after, I truly wondered if I was responsible for any mishap, normally taken in stride as "just life." I rode to a nearby town with a friend and worried that her car breaking down was because of me. How would God show his anger with me? What would my life be like now that I was in the Devil's sights? I imagined him laughing in glee, rubbing his hands together and plotting his hideous plans for me. I was undone. I was utterly alone and abandoned.
I had fiercely believed since childhood, enchanted with God and His wonderful attributes. I turned away from the party life in college and sought others who understood the depth of my desire. I stepped away from the organized church, angering and confusing my family, believing that relevant truth could not be found in the printed Sunday School material delivered so carelessly. I struggled mightily with my human fallacies and cried out to God for strength to believe. I faithfully taught my children, lovingly correcting them, striving to be a good example. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!
I sat on the floor that evening and repeated the only verse that would come to my anguished mind. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) Over and over I chanted this through wracking tears. If this was not true, I was surely lost. I sensed evil in my bedroom that night and to this day, believe a battle waged around me.
I feel tears welling up as I type this. It’s been almost ten years and I’ve never dared put this experience down on paper. The church elders who wrote the letter breaking fellowship with me and instructing the congregation to do the same, my children included, have since acknowledged that it was not the right thing to do. I call some of them friend and see them when I visit the area. My relationship with my children has healed with time, though years were lost to that dark period when I was anathema.
I do not know what became of the letter. What’s most important, I do not care. In spite of the horrific pain, I am grateful for the experience. It shaped me into who I am today – hopefully more compassionate, forgiving, patient and kind. I chose divorce among people who considered it unthinkable. I understand now that they seek refuge among their rules because they are afraid. But, now I know from experience, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” For this I am humbly grateful.