Updated: Dec 27, 2019
In July, I got back from visiting my ex-mother-in-law and ex-sister-in-laws. I was bringing my ex’s daughter back to them. She had spent the summer with me and my children. My sister lovingly told everyone at our family reunion that “Sharon got Anniya in the divorce” and it’s true. She is my baby and she always will be. I am grateful to God for the restoration of that relationship. I mourned it so heavily and this little girl knows now that I love her deeply and so do my children. She’s always going to be in our lives.
While I was out there, I spoke to my ex’s mom and sisters, as well as his cousins about my stand and how, despite Chris’s being engaged, that God had not released me yet from the covenant and I was still standing in hope that our marriage would be restored. Although it hurt them to hear it, they stood with me and prayed with me for the restoration. Their hearts longed for it as deeply as mine did. They love me and my children. They missed us. They could see how wonderful I was for their son and brother and cousin and how he flourished in our family. Though he struggled with his addiction, he was better with us. They spoke poorly of his fiance, which made me all the more sad for him. They rejected her and it was not by anything that I caused. She didn’t reach out. Chris had isolated himself. He didn’t just abandon our family. He abandoned his family there too. It was heart breaking. I spent the week pouring out prayers for Chris.
When I came home though, something in my heart shifted. God began speaking to me about giving up control. He started teaching me about trusting Him. He started convincing me to step away from the promise and let Him have the space again to work. I had made the desire for restoration into an idol in my life. I had to give up control. I had to step away from my stand and allow God to have that promise back. He was asking for it. I struggled and stumbled in the darkness, even holding the Lord’s hand. I wanted to say no. Instead, I gritted my teeth, shed the last of my tears, and said yes.
On July 17th, as I sat in sadness and blindness, praying and pondering this new thing God was trying to convince me of, my sadness overwhelmed me. I scrolled through my emails aimlessly and came across a dating website I had signed up for two years prior. I knew I was acting in my sorrow, but I got on the website. I felt the Lion of Judah sitting behind me and pressing against my back. His warmth was all around me, even as I was letting go of this battle into His hands. It was painful for me. I’ve been fighting for so long. I cried so many tears. Moving on is a waste of time Lord. It means all that I fought for was in vain. Yet here, I feel God’s arms pressing me forward regardless and regardless I move.
I messaged a guy on the website. Then I texted my friend who told me to abort. I immediately got off the website. What was I doing? I ran straight back into hiding place. The Lord was with me the whole time. On my scary journey out into the unknown and on my retreat back into safety. That night, the Lion slept under my head with me. He was my pillow and his mane was my blanket. He held me under his strong paw and let me wipe my tears into his skin. He held me and comforted me. His warm breath filled my nostrils. His heavy sighs calmed me. His heartbeat synced with mine. I slept in peace that night.
And I woke in peace the next morning to a message. The guy had messaged me back. I read the phone number and before I even really realized what I was doing, I texted the phone number. His name was Jay. He’s handsome. We start texting. He’s nice. And I am wrestling, wrestling with the Lord here. On the one side, I want to stay in hiding place and remain in my stand. On the other side, I hear the Lord’s voice outside the door calling me. Calling me. He won’t relent. He keeps calling me out of the darkness that used to be a shelter in this cave, and into the scary unknown. Not into the arms of another person. No, He is calling me into His arms. I know Him. I love Him. And I trust Him. So, once again, with the Lion standing behind me, I venture out and begin taking steps forward. Away from hiding place. Away from the stand. Out into the scary unknown.
Once again, the fear and doubts confused my mind. The moment I step out, the enemy sees me. He is fearful of the Lord, but his words still drift in the wind. “Go back. Go back and hide.” But I am stronger this time. Hiding was good for a season. I needed it to heal, but the only way to make steps toward His kingdom is to take steps towards Him. He was calling me away from there. Away from hiding. Away from the stand. Am I willing to give him back this promise?
The doubts wouldn’t cease though. Lord, may I please contact Chris? I need some kind of answer. I need it out of his mouth. I called him. I explained to him that I know he is in a relationship, he is engaged, but how he acted on April 19th was that he still had feelings for me. His reply “that was a mistake.” Alright, I thought. “Then I need you to do something for me, so that I know I am free from this.” I responded. “What do you need?” he questioned. “I need you to look me in the eyes and tell me that this is over and there will never be anything between us.” He mocked. “Sharon, it’s been over. It’s been almost 2 years.” which I snapped back with “And I have still been standing. I need you to say this exactly to me.” He relented. “Alright, what do you need me to say?” I sighed and then answered him. “I need you to tell me, ‘This is over and there will never be anything between us.’ I need you to understand that if you say this to me, you are saying it to God and you are telling Him that you reject restoration and that I am set free. You can’t come back to me or our family ever.” And I knew in my heart that this was true. Him replying to this was him telling God no, I will not give up my free will to Your will. I will reject the plans You have for restoration. “Sharon, This is over and there will never be anything between us.” I choked back tears as the words came out of his mouth. I knew it was true then. It was really over. “Thank you. Bye.” And I hung up the phone.
I choked back a few more tears. The tears were for Chris. Not for my love for him, but for the fact that he just fully rejected God. He chose the world. He will hurt and suffer for this. My tears also were for me. The fear of the unknown is incredible. But I also suddenly felt an overwhelming peace. It was like the breaker of a dam that came suddenly crashing down over my head. The peace was fantastic. It passed understanding. It was like a mystery so long unseen that it was thought to be myth, but here it was now right in front of my eyes. My heart embraced it, even as my eyes added ceaseless tears to the flood. My heart now was ready for the next, new, unknown. My mind had to do some catching up. When you live in the darkness for so long, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the light. I had just really walked into the light and my eyes were just starting to clear.
Since this day, I have stepped forward. I still heard whispers of doubts across the wind. I remember hiding place. I remember the comfort of the place while I was there. I also remember how dark and sad it grew near the end. The Lord walked out of that place with me and is leading me by the hand into the next. Even though doubts and fears creep in, the Lord is my Shepherd and I am following Him.
I was walking with the Lord, my right hand pressed firmly into His. I’m looking down at my feet as I walk. I love the Lord and I hear his voice and I follow Him. It’s hard to look up at his face. He is brilliant and blinding, so I keep my eyes down. But that day, the day before I spoke to Chris, God started orchestrating something brilliant and something I could never have fathomed. I wasn’t going to move on. I promise you, I was going to stand in my stand until the day I died. My Nana did it. My Aunt did it. I was going to do it too. God had better plans for me then staying in hiding place for the rest of my life. He loves me too much to let me waste my life like that.
I’m staring at my feet on the road that we’re walking. We’re walking along this dusty little path and the dirt is kicking up underneath my feet, but now and again, I see a blade of grass creeping up through the cracks in the dirt. How does a green little thing grow up from this dust. It’s fascinating. And then I feel this presence beside me. I look to my left. There is a man standing beside me. Where did he come from? And I look into his eyes and I realize it’s Jay. It’s the man I spoke to the day before my release. I realize now that God was preparing me. I was set free, and God had someone standing right outside the prison waiting for me.
We start talking. We start looking into one anothers eyes and smiling. Then we start laughing and drawing closer to each other. I can see very clearly that his hand is in the Lord’s hand too. God’s standing before us, holding both of our hands as we walk. I begin crying. I begin telling Jay and the Lord about my previous sorrow. I am grateful for this companion. The Lord nods his understanding. He never left me and walked through the entire thing with me. Jay also nods his understanding. He is in the middle of his very own storm. He begins to tell me how grateful to God he is for me too. He’s walking through the same pain that I did two years ago. He is in the middle of his very own storm and I’m helping him. And somehow God orchestrated all of this. We both see it so clearly. He wasn’t on this path two years ago, like I was. If I hadn’t been standing, we would never have crossed paths. As we’re laughing and smiling and talking, we brush against one another and his eyes lock with mine. “I love you.” He blurts out. I burst into tears and answer. “I love you too.”
Jay lives in a different state. The only reason I even messaged him is because there is a church there that I listen to podcasts for and I have been interested for a while in moving somewhere new. We haven’t met in person yet and we don’t intend to until his divorce is final. This deep love and friendship that has developed is from the Lord. He put us on the path beside one another. He allowed me to wait in hiding place for so long and Jay and I ended up on the same stretch of road together with the Lord. This is developing slowly. It’s taking a long time, but it is all by His timing. No, if I had had my way according to my social understanding of what is acceptable in the Christian world, Jay and I would not have met now. We would have met after his divorce was final. His divorce is painful and difficult though. God saw Jay’s heart. I gave up and at the same time, Jay quit. The moment that happened, God burst open the floodgates of that dam and His blessing came pouring out over both of us. God knew that Jay needed help in this storm. He equipped me, by allowing me to teach DivorceCare for the last year and a half. I can help and have helped him through his storm. God knew that I needed help to give up and walk away from my stand and the promise of restoration. He equipped Jay, by making him a strong man, a loving, kind, and understanding man, and a man after His heart. We needed each other to walk through this. God trusted us with one another. I saw the Lord take our hands and begin to press them into one anothers. We are still walking, each of us hand in hand with the Lord, but we’re holding each others hands now too. Somehow, God has orchestrated this beautiful love.
The timing, though it seems to the world is inconvenient, couldn’t have been better. God sees our hearts. He knew we needed one another and He knew we were ready for each other. We’ve both given over ourselves in submission again and again to Him and He trusted us with each other. We’re stewarding each other well. We will not meet face to face until the divorce is finalized.
I sat in my room, weeping a week after our meeting. My heart, fully released. 2019 indeed was the year of Release. I wept and I thanked God. My desires, suddenly, instantly had shifted. What was this strong desire and need for restoration of the old marriage has suddenly become a strong desire and need for restoration of a new marriage. The old marriage has completely died away in my heart. The new hope I carry still continues to be the old desire, but with a new refreshing hope. Like an egg that has hatched, this is a brand new thing. The old desire was restoration of my marriage. The new desire is a brand new marriage. The old desire was ministry with my transformed husband. The new desire is a ministry with my transformed husband, Jay. The old desire was salvation of my ex husband, for his and God’s and my own benefit. The new desire is still salvation of my ex husband, but for his and God’s benefit, not my own. God took the desires in my heart and put them through the fire, purified them, and has brought them into fruition in my life. I see a plant starting to sprout up from the soil I have been pouring my tears over for the last two years. Suddenly, it is springing up and I do perceive it.
I was sitting in quiet with the Lord last week and again, a wind of doubt came floating across my ears. I pushed it away and looked toward the Lord. “God, I need you to silence these voices. This door has been left cracked open. I am not going back to hiding place. I was grateful for it in it’s season, but you called me away from that. You told me to give up control. You told me to walk away. You asked me to give you back the promise and the stand. I put it in your hands, so please God help me. These doubts frustrating. I need you to close the door. Please Lord, show me that Chris has gotten married.” I prayed it and I left it alone.
The next day, it was confirmed to me. Chris has gotten married. The door is closed. When I found out, I rejoiced. I sang and I danced. Who would have thought I could feel such release! If you had told me two years ago that this man would get married and I would celebrate, I would have disowned you. My heart was in pain and turmoil. My desires were for the Lord, but the Lord knew that I needed to walk through this valley. It didn’t take me where I expected it to go, but it ended me here with the Lord as my life. I couldn’t be more grateful for the scars of that valley and the pain of it. It made me who I am.
I took my wedding ring out of my wallet. I'm getting it ready to sell. I prayed and asked God if this was right. Is this His will? I opened the Word to Jeremiah 11. It's entitled "The Covenant is Broken." I'm relieved. This is finished. God is good and He is doing something new and I trust Him! The things in this world will come and go. Life will change. God never will.
I remember two years ago. My prayer was “God, make me into the one that the one I am looking for is looking for.” He did. He has poured out blessing into my lap. He has given me Jay to love. This man is perfect for me. I couldn’t have chosen a better husband if I had placed a custom order with the Lord. He is smart, funny, kind, considerate, romantic. He is involved in his childrens lives. I couldn’t be more grateful to God, because He knew what I needed. I will have a husband to walk with in my pursuit of the Lord. He will have a wife to walk with in his. Together, we will walk from strength to strength, towards God. We will raise our four children (and sometimes five) to love and walk with the Lord.