Right Relations / You said ‘I do’ / My marriage testimony /Commitment

Here is the continued work on ‘Right Relations’

I have written a little about Adam and Eve. The first couple God created and joined together. I guess it was a matter of choice for Adam or Eve; they were the only two living in the Garden of Paradise. Today we have a lot more to choose from when seeking out a mate. Too many of us have chosen to test the waters and date around, and I am using the term date loosely. We even have brothers and sisters in Christ who are what some call, ‘Shacking up.’ This is not God’s way, and it should not be acceptable within the church. Then there are those who get married because they feel pressured to do the right thing. They say they love the person they are with but they are not sure if it is going to work out so they would rather wait. Then there are the couples who before getting married sign a prenuptial agreement. This is a big red flag to me that says there is no real commitment; it is more like a lease to own arrangement. ‘Till death do us part’, has given way to until you do something I don’t like, then I am out the door. Then there is the grass is greener on the other side and you see something you like better than what you have. I know too many of us have been divorced. I am not saying that there are not marriages that needed to end, because there are. My marriage is included in that group. It was not that it was not a happy marriage or that I did not love him. I did love him and when I said ‘I do, I meant it not only to my husband but to God. We were supposed to be married in October of ‘95’.  The date changed to July, not because I was pregnant or that this was my idea. I had gotten off work and I was informed that the upcoming Saturday is when we were going to be married. I was utterly confused, Robert told me that he had discussed it with our Pastor and that there was no reason to wait till October. My response was, ‘Yes there is.’ I was still planning a wedding in October I had friends who would fly from California to Missouri, to be in my wedding, and my father was going to be driving up from Texas. He told me we could have a big wedding on our anniversary and they could come then. Then he told me it was already set with the church. He followed up with, ‘Don’t you love me, and aren’t we getting married anyway?’ I foolishly agreed, thinking this was my first act of submission to my husband.

I look at the wedding video and it is more like a funeral procession and the only one smiling was Robert. By this time it was too late, I had said ‘I do’, and I believed in till deaths do you part. Then I got pregnant shortly after we were married. I had an instant family. He was thrilled of the news of a baby. To be honest I was not so sure. In the beginning he was sweet and attentive. He knew all the right words to say (He had even written a beautiful letter that I framed, unfortunately it was an exact copy of a letter he had written to another woman.  I found this out by coming across the letter to the other woman)and I felt happy to be with him. Then by the time I was a few months pregnant, we moved two hours away and it did not take long for things to change. We had moved back to his old stomping grounds. The abuse, drugs and cheating began. By the time I had my daughter, I had been in every room in the ER. and the nurses and doctors definitely knew who I was. The shame I felt when he would leer at the doctor as he examined, like the doctor was doing something wrong made me feel like such a disgrace. The sad part was in the little town we lived in I was the bad guy. He would call the police after beating me and they would try to arrest me! Thankfully they didn’t when I pointed out that I was not only hurt but pregnant, and that I was raised in California, ‘Sue capitol, USA’. That if they arrested a pregnant woman who had just been beaten I would go public. They would leave and do nothing to him. Meanwhile he also had a number of girlfriends he cheated on me with. I know what you are thinking, ‘Why didn’t you leave?’ I know I had every right to leave, but if my marriage was going to end it was not going to be because I ran away. I had made a covenant with God, and I care more about my relationship with Him than about what people thought. Not that there were many who actually cared about me in our community or our church. Thankfully there were a few. When my daughter was born, things did not get better. Within less than a week of being home from the hospital, I was being taken by ambulance to the hospital. He had punched me so hard in my stomach which had been staple after having an emergency C-section. Nurses started making visits to my home unannounced to check on me. I guess they figured out what was going on. We started going to counseling. All but three women from our church had turned on me. I had been told by leaders and members of our church,  that my husband would have to cheat on me, or beat me if I was a better Christian wife. I was not being a true Christian. More and more damage was being done to both my body and my spirit.

The counselor began meeting with us separately and asked if I wanted to go to a shelter. A part of me wanted to go, but I said no because if I did there would be one less bed for a woman who was in worse shape than myself, that somehow I would get by. Then one of his friends was over one night, and he was the only one of my husband’s friends who was not a drunk or an addict. Houston was the only good friend Robert had. He was spending the night and had heard what Robert was doing to me in the bedroom. When I came out to go to the bathroom, he asked to get me and my daughter out, that he would protect me and my daughter. This time I had to refuse for his safety. I told him that where we lived a black man taking a white woman out of her husband’s house was very likely to find a cross burning in his yard. So once again I said that I would be okay somehow.

The last six months of our marriage I wanted to run so far away. I even wanted to kill myself. Yet I prayed this prayer every day for months, “Father, only You know what is in my husband’s heart and only you can set me free from his abuse. If there is any chance he will repent and stop abusing me, I will love and forgive him. I will be everything Your Word says a wife is to be to her husband. You also know if this marriage is going to kill me, and if this is the case, set me free. I am trusting You with my life and the life of my daughter.’ I prayed this over and over again till six months had passed, and it was the weekend of my birthday in ’96’. He had decided we were going to drive the two hours it took to visit his mother. I had to be the one to drive and it was raining so hard I could not see more than a car length ahead. A two hour drive had doubled. The verbal abuse I endured throughout the drive had worn me down. I was ready to drop him off and leave him behind. I was done, I could not take anymore, and I told him so. The rain may have stopped by the time we got to his mother’s house but his issue with control was in full gear and he refuse to get out of the car. He had my stepdaughter get out and go to grandma. I felt trapped. I wanted him out of the car. I wanted to take my daughter and leave. Next thing I know there is a tap on my window to roll the window down. It was my mother in-law.  She ordered Robert out of the car and told me to sit and listen. She had some not so nice things to say about her son, nothing I disagreed with. Then she pointed out that my step mother did not have a decent mother or father and that I was her only hope. She played her hand well. She got to me using my stepdaughter. She told me I did not have to spend time with my husband but I was to get my rear into her place and that she was making me dinner the next night. I made it through Labor Day weekend to come home on my birthday. Little did I know it, I was about to get a present from God.

Robert told me he was leaving. I asked him if he had someone picking him up because he was not going to take my car. He had already made two of my previous vehicles disappear.  Now we did not have a telephone of any kind. We had to use a payphone next to the community center in the apartment complex where we lived. We had not been home long enough for him to go outside and use it, so when he told me his friend was on his way, I knew he had already planned this. So to be clear I asked him, ‘You are really leaving, and you don’t live here anymore?’ He said yes. I had so much peace and I was actually smiling, which really confused him. He asked me, ‘Why I wasn’t crying?’ My response was, ‘You just gave me the best birthday present, because I don’t have to allow your friends in my house, I don’t have to put up with the pain. I am free!’ I neatly carried all of his belongings out the door and felt like the sun had come out for the first time in months. God had answered my prayers. You see my commitment to God and His faithfulness kept me alive. I might have been banged up, but I lived and He set me free. I don’t mean to say every woman in an abusive relationship has t stay because she is married to her abuser and this also goes for the men who are abused. Get out, and get to safety. I was young and dumb, and it is only by the grace of God that I lived.

Back to beginning of the end of my marriage, we separated back in September of ‘96’. He then began telling everyone, that our daughter was not his, and that I tricked him into marrying me. It took a number of times for him to submit to a DNA test, and how I got him to do that is a story for another day. Then after all of this he refused to give me a divorce. My attorney had told me that unless I needed the divorce to remarry don’t fight him, because he would win and I would be spending money I didn’t have. So I told him he could keep the marriage license I was done.  Then later he finally served me with divorce papers and we were divorced on Valentine’s Day 2000.

God had helped me keep my commitment to Him, and gave me the freedom I needed. I thank God that what He sets free is free indeed. Since then I have had many more tails and tribulations, and if you know the story of what was done to me regarding my daughter which you can read about in ‘Relations Restored’, you can see that God’s commitment to us never fails. Yes my marriage ended but my relationship with Jesus is so much better than it ever was. That is one commitment I will never regret. I could have turned my back on God while I was married, with all the abuse and anger. The betrayal of my husband cheating on me. I could have blamed God, all of this would have been easy to do. I was just learning the meaning of commitment during this trial in my life. You don’t know how many times I had turned away, angry, bitter and filled with rage. I would have liked to say when my marriage ended that all of that baggage left with him, but there were things lodged into my heart. Even though I had a commitment with God and I trusted him with my physical life, there are still things that I have not let go of and anger and trust issues that I deal with today.

My husband had not been the first to abuse me or cheat on me and he was not the last. I just learned as soon as it was going in that direction to get out and start over, until the day I got tired and stopped trying to find a relationship. I did realize though that until my life is right with God no earthly relationship will ever be right completely. I am not against relationships or marriage. I just think it is more important for me to work on my relationship with Jesus, and with myself. This way I will be the person that God wants me to be. I am just no her yet, but I will be. I am learning trust hope, love and faith are things I cannot live without, I just have to learn how to get them and let go of all the pain and bitterness. I know I am not alone on this journey, and that there is still a long road to travel but we will get there.

Once again I am asking for testimonies on relationships. They don’t have to be tragic or abusive. I would love to read some testimonies on some relationships that have endured whatever the world has thrown their way and are just as much in love to day as the day they first said, “I do’.

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