Wednesday, November 21, 2012, is a day I’ll never forget. I can’t go into too many details but the day ended with my husband in handcuffs waiting for his parents to pick him up from the side of the road on I-49. Joshua has bipolar disorder. Have you ever watched Silver Linings Playbook or Infinitely Polar Bear? I can’t watch those movies without tears streaming down my face. Building and keeping relationships is extremely difficult for people like Joshua. They either block people out or push people away for fear of losing them. Satan used Joshua’s illness in a tragic attempt to end our marriage. November 21, 2012, was the day I let him go.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
When God says to let go, we may do so eagerly (out of anger) or fearfully. I was terrified. I knew I was doing the right thing, but a) I wasn’t sure what to do next and b) I was afraid he would make some terrible, unretractable mistakes. I was fearful of the unknown. Would he drink? Go to clubs? Sleep with other women? Letting my husband go, knowing he was very ill and heavily medicated, is indefinitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To say I cried would be an understatement. That night, and for weeks to follow, I wailed and yelled… loudly. I didn’t understand. My soulmate had told me he wanted a divorce, and God was telling me just to let him go?
For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so. In such cases the brother or sister is not enslaved. God has called you to peace. For how do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?
1 Corinthians 7:14-16 ESV
I spent plenty of time crying, but I spent more time in prayer each day than I ever had. The absence of my husband was a constant reminder to pray for him. Though he had been raised in a Christian home, Josh was lost. He had all the head-knowledge of being a Christian, but he had never chosen to become a Christ-follower. The only way I would gain my husband back would be for Christ to lead him back to me. So that’s what I prayed for. I decided to get Joshua a Bible for Christmas, something easy to read because he always told me he couldn’t understand the King James Version. I bought him an English Standard Version Bible.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I read Paul’s Epistles from Corinthians to Philemon. I underlined everything I thought he needed to read since he was lost and he wanted a divorce. The more I prayed and read, the more I desired to pray and read–I became so hungry for God during that time. I started working as a Sonic carhop early in December, and I always arrived at work in plenty of time to pray and read God’s word. I went running several times each week, spending 30 minutes to an hour with praise music playing in my ears and flowing from my heart. It was at least a week after we separated before I heard anything from Joshua, though I had reached out to him daily (just to let him know I still loved him). He came to town to retrieve his things, but he wasn’t ready to give up his dreams.
My soul melts away for sorrow; strengthen me according to your word!
By the time Christmas rolled around, Joshua invited me to join his family for the holiday. I asked Joshua to take the KLOVE 30-Day Challenge beginning on January 1, and he accepted. Still, he wasn’t ready, so I went back to the life I was slowly starting to build away from him. My sister was going through probably the worst battle of her life–when it rains it pours, and my whole family was hit very hard in 2012. My grandmother asked me to live with her to help with my sister’s kids. They gave me purpose during a time when I felt hopeless. We would jam out to Needtobreathe on the way to school in the morning and memorize scripture together before bed. My niece and I made Valentine’s Day cards for Joshua and mailed them to him. While my sister and her friend were at my grandmother’s house that weekend, I felt a familiar prompting from the Holy Spirit. God told me it was time to let her go, too. I reported the license plate numbers of the truck they were driving.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3 ESV
My sister was arrested on Valentine’s Day. Why would anyone be okay with their loved one being tangled up in the devil’s snares? I wanted freedom–the kind of freedom only Christ can give–for my sister and for my husband. That’s why I chose to put them in God’s hands. When people are under Satan’s reign, they don’t realize it. They are told that the circumstances they are going through are just a part of life, the hand they were dealt. I hugged my sister so tightly after the first custody court hearing and expressed how I love her children like they are my own. She hugged me tightly and told me to go back to my husband and have babies of my own. She didn’t know I had been seemingly infertile for nearly two years; she didn’t know that it was my husband who didn’t want me.
But women will be preserved trough the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
1 Timothy 2:15
A few days after Valentine’s Day, I met up with Joshua for what was supposed to be a positive and productive conversation. By the end of it, I left without my wedding bands. If he wanted his divorce, I had no use for them. He still wasn’t ready. I’ve never been a Target-lover, but somehow I found myself there browsing aisles and having sporatic meltdowns. God placed a couple from my church right there at the same Target. Not just any couple, but the very woman who I had given my previous engagement ring to when I was too nervous to face my ex-fiance. She had been through a divorce, and though somehow I knew my story wouldn’t go the way hers did, I found so much comfort in her presence and encouraging words. God takes care of his sheep.
They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children…
Titus 2:4 ESV
Josh had started to enjoy KLOVE radio. They are what they say they are: positive and encouraging. Positivity and encouragment were two things Joshua needed during that time. Somehow having my wedding bands made our separation and the idea of love lost more real to him. All my prayers and obedience led up to the most crucial moment in Joshua’s life; he was driving to work when the song Lead Me by Sanctus Real played on the radio. Unable to hold back his emotions, he pulled his truck over and began to pray. He asked God’s forgiveness. He told God he would be obedient, he would give up whatever he had to, if God would save our marriage. If you read my blog titled Count Your Miracles, you’ll see how God saved Joshua from another great tragedy which lead us to a life of intentional ministry.
For perhaps he was for this reason separated from you for a while, that you would have him back forever,
Philemon 1:17 NASB
Tragically, not every spouse comes back. Not every spouse turns to Christ. Half of all marriages end in divorce, Christian or non-Christian. That statistic breaks my heart to pieces. Regardless of the results, all Christians have the same calling: to desire what God desires. During this particular season of my life, I desired two things: 1) to grow closer to and serve God, and 2) for my husband to do the same. Even in cases where we put a loved one in God’s hands and that person does not return, God still works things out for the good of those who love Him. Sometimes our prayers aren’t answered in the way we expect or prefer, but God will be there to comfort us through those painful realizations.
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4 ESV