NB: This is a story about a divorced christian woman who prays to God about her painful experience in marriage. It is purely fictional and a result of my active imaginations. It is unrelated to any person dead or alive; any such resemblance is purely coincidental.
Mabel had done all she could to hold on to her marriage. She had endured her husband’s physical and emotional abuse at the expense of her joy. She took her marriage vow seriously and knew divorce was not an option for her. Haven been brought up in a broken home herself she determined none of her three children would ever experience her predicament. As a respected member of her church and women’s leader, she helped other women hold on to their marriage as she silently suffered. However, when her husband hit their eight year old daughter one day in a fit of rage, the thin line holding their marriage broke. She had taken all the pain and unfaithfulness from Robert. However, she was not ready to sacrifice her children. Thus, even though she had held on to the fact that God hated divorce for so long, she took a bold decision. No one could change her mind as she went through a painful divorce. But she knew that the lord who hated divorce did not hate her for that one important decision, her divorce.
My dear lord,
You know I have tried. I have done all I know how to hold on to this marriage though I knew for a long time I was chasing the wind. How many times have I not fasted and prayed that you heal my marriage? How many times have I not wet my pillow with tears as I cried my heart out to you? How long have I called on to you to save my marriage and turn back my husband’s heart to you? I have lost count and you alone have the mind to remember.
Why me? All I have tried to do is to live by the Christian tenets in my attempt to please you. If I had known behind that gentle look and handsome face was a monster that lived in Robert, I would have gladly died a spinster. If I knew behind the biblical quotations he gave, were abusive words that could tear at a person’s soul, I would have ended up with an unbeliever. If I knew he waited to marry me to have sex only for him to cheat on me because of his insatiable sexual desires, I would have avoided him like a plaque.
If I knew he pretended not to drink before me only to booze in secret, I would have confined myself in a convent. Why me Lord? After all the waiting, did you have to bless me with this curse? I thought he loved you as I did so I did not hesitate in marrying him though we didn’t meet for long. What was there to know when he was a junior pastor admired by many? How could I say no to our pastor who gave his blessing to our marriage when I told him of his intentions to marry me? At first I thought the lion was the most dangerous animal but now I fear the chameleon more than any wild beast.
How does one perfectly hide his true character even from a man of God who had known him for so long? Even though I was 26 when we got married I was in no hurry since I was content in waiting for your will. It saddens me that I believed our pastor entirely instead of carefully seeking your will. He is even dismayed about the way our marriage has turned out and blames himself for my pain. But what use will that do? My broken heart cannot be mended and I am devastated.
How could a man who said he loved me bring me so much pain? How could the one I freely gave myself to turn around and force himself on me when I was so tired from doing all the house chores? How did the so-called humility turn to such egotistic chauvinism? How did I get here? I am wearing my mother’s shoes though I vowed never to break my home. But what is there to break when the hearts are already broken?
Where did I go wrong? Have I not been the virtuous woman in proverbs 31? Have I not submitted myself to him even when I knew I was right? Have I not endured humiliation and lied to my colleagues at work about the bruises he gave me on the face? have I not subjected myself to all sorts of humiliation for his sake? What more could a person do? I wonder how you felt when you looked down at my pathetic life. Did you feel my pain? Did you wish to hold me in your arms as I cried myself to sleep.
When older Christian women who I confided in urged me to hold on to my marriage, I totally agreed with them. After all, you hate divorce. I did not want my children to be fatherless as I saw the effect this had on my own brothers who went wayward. It is sad when the bible is misused to encourage women to endure abuse. I now marvel at the strength you gave me these eight years of marriage.
I loved him so much and accepted his apologies that followed immediately after each abuse. My house is filled with gifts he gave me after his bad behavior and his promise to change. Why not, after all no one is perfect. But I have endured so much for this marriage and there comes a time when one can take no more. I didn’t deserve to be treated that way because I never used my higher education to Lord it over him. I saw him as the man in every way because I wanted to please you. However, although I submitted, where was the love?
Is the man not supposed to love his wife as Christ died for the church and died for it? Why should a woman submit to a man who does not submit to you? Is this submission not supposed to be a two way thing? Help your daughters God, for your words are being manipulated to suit evil. I have gambled greatly and lost though I have come out wiser and tougher. No wonder my mom did not approve him. When she told me there was something about him she didn’t like although she did not know what it was, I just laughed.
I called her an old woman and teased her though she was obstinate. I should have listened to her and taken my time to know him more in spite of the outward perfection he displayed. I was in love and blind but refused to heed the eyes that could see beyond the handsome pastor. Life is not fair but I take this as my share of its unfairness. I know I should have left the first time he hit me but I thought he would change. After all, he told me he was sorry. A thousand sorries and he never changed.
I was too ashamed to leave a marriage I had just entered for fear of what people would say. I should have used the opportunity I had when I was not yet pregnant to escape but no one held my hand and helped me. All I was told was to stay and pray until he changed. Oh what a cross I have had to carry at this young age? What did I do wrong? Is it a crime to love? Was I wrong to hope and pray for his change?
You know how it took a long time for people to believe he abused me. I protected him so much at the detriment of my life and now I regret it. I should have opened up an sought for help but I thought you would be angry with me. When he refused counseling, I should have left. Instead I stayed on, hoping and praying for the miracle of change that never came. I held on to something that was not.
I wonder why I stayed on when he was unfaithful to me even though I caught him red handed with that young woman at his office? I now look back at my folly and cringe in disgust because I feel I threw the wisdom you gave me away. I was foolish but in love. Anytime he said he was sorry I melted. He was my first love and what I felt for him was so deep. God, it was hard and even if no one believes me; you could always see with your omnipresent eyes.
This divorce is so difficult for me but when he hit my daughter Emelda, I stopped deceiving myself. The fierceness of a mother’s protection over her daughter took over and I went mad. I still remember her sprawled on the kitchen floor and I know I would never have forgiven myself if something terrible had happened to her. I can still hear the terrible screams of my two younger boys as they looked on in horror.
When I saw fear enter Robert’s eyes for the first time, I knew the bitterness in me had overcome my fear. If he had not run away, I would surely have stabbed him with the kitchen knife and went to prison for murder. Never again will I endure such nonsense and indignity. Never again will I put my children’s life in danger at the mercy of this beast. Never again! Thank you for the courage to remain obstinate despite his pleas and that of his family members to give him another chance.
Even the Pope couldn’t have coerced me to rescind my decision. I now realize I was waiting for a moment when I would rise above my fear to claim my dignity. I no more care what people say because I have realized that society has been unsympathetic toward divorcees. They say the word as if we are an inferior part of society. God help me, but this time I care less.
I am glad I have a good job to support my children and that my family is willing to support me. I now realize my loved ones were always there to lend a hand though I kept the truth from them. I pretended to be strong though I was tearing apart. I thought I could face it alone but now I know better. I am not as weak as I thought I was or helpless like I was made to think. The woman in me is stronger now and with your help, I know I can make it.
I am glad the law has allocated the properties perfectly and I have no financial concern. Even if I did, I know your provision will suffice. Thank you for the three beautiful children you have given me because at least I did not lose it all in this terrible marriage. You blessed me with fruitfulness despite my situation. You are a good God!
I don’t know if I will ever get married again for marriage has left a bitter taste in my mouth and I don’t want to taste it again. When I remember how he used to stand at the pulpit preaching; I feel so angry at the hypocrisy. I sometimes wonder if the congregation could not see through him. But who am I to judge how someone receives their salvation? You alone know why you do what you do. No wonder some pastors caution us not to use their righteousness as a yardstick due to their imperfection.However, how does one separate the two? Is a person’s character not supposed to conform to his teachings? You alone know, I will not judge.
I am glad the police report put fear in him and he has been warned not to come near us. I hear he was suspended because the senior bishop was disgusted with his ways. However, it brings me no joy since he is the father of my children and I wish him well. I am so relieved I have left that church to a peaceful one where no hands will be pointed at my children and me. I am so much at peace and envy the single who disregard their solitude in their quest for a marriage that may not end well.
I am so happy now and confident of your love and your ability to heal me completely. I am doing better at work and the promotion could not have come at a better time. Tears no longer wet my bed and sleep has visited me again. You are faithful and I love you. I thank you for seeing me through this bitter experience that could have killed me. In counseling battered Christian women, I have become more experienced and wiser. I will not make decisions for them but I will share my experience and leave them to decide. After all the choice has always been ours to make. Even you who are God never force us.
Help me raise these children with your support and that of my loved ones. My children are less anxious and it makes me happy. I will do the best I can; as far as you are with me I cannot fail. If it is your will for me to marry again, let it be. But next time; I will look before I leap. Thank you father, that although you hate divorce, you still love me. Amen.
RELATED BIBLE PASSAGE
1 _ My children, listen to me. Listen to your father’s instruction. Pay attention and grow wise, 2for I am giving you good guidance. Don’t turn away from my teaching. 3 _ For I, too, was once my father’s son, tenderly loved by my mother as an only child.
4My father told me, “Take my words to heart. Follow my instructions and you will live. 5 _ Learn to be wise, and develop good judgment. Don’t forget or turn away from my words. 6Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you. 7 _ Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do! And whatever else you do, get good judgment. 8 _ If you prize wisdom, she will exalt you. Embrace her and she will honor you. 9She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.”
10 _ My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life. 11I will teach you wisdom’s ways and lead you in straight paths. 12 _ If you live a life guided by wisdom, you won’t limp or stumble as you run. 13 _ Carry out my instructions; don’t forsake them. Guard them, for they will lead you to a fulfilled life.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Do you think Christian women sometimes refuse to leave abusive relationships using the bible as their basis?
2. Like Mabel, do you think the word of a pastor or spiritual head should be the most important consideration in choosing a life partner?
3. Does submission in a marriage mean a women should endure abuse at the detriment of her life and children?
4. Do you think God hates Mabel because of her divorce?
5. How do you think the church can support abusive women in the congregation?