[Guest Post by Sue Birdseye. I met Sue through my friends at Tyndale Publishers about her book When Happily Ever After Shatters. If your story has ended and you feel like a failure because of it–I hope her story will encourage you.]
My story ended and began with these few little words uttered by my husband of 17 years.
“I think I’m going to leave.”
As our 5 children and their friends raced around us, my husband spoke words that changed the course of my life, our lives, and our family forever.
The next few days and weeks were a desperate attempt on my part to convince my husband to stay–even after the revelation of his affair.
I held out hope that God could work a miracle–that our marriage could be even stronger because we had faced this, determined to reconcile and relied on God to work mightily in our family.
Unfortunately God allowed something entirely different to happen.
Although I tried everything I could think of to save my marriage, I couldn’t.
My husband had already decided to leave.
I thought we were happy. I’d been blissfully unaware, and now I was blindsided by his betrayal. I couldn’t reconcile what was happening with the man I loved.
And although that was a nightmare and more painful than I think I could ever express, there was a beauty to the way God met me in my sorrow. He showed Himself so real and faithful to me.
While the man who had covenanted with me broke all his vows, my Heavenly Father who had covenanted with me, kept His over and over and over again. Even while I struggled with trusting Him, He remained loving and kind.
I lived grace.
Grace to go through difficulties with a focus on Christ. Grace to love when love was not returned. Grace to fight for something against all odds. Grace to let go of anger. Grace to struggle. Grace to trust.
Grace to forgive.
I believe learning to forgive and be forgiven was the biggest thing. The biggest thing in my healing and the biggest thing in my life.
Forgiveness was a process.
It began when I asked that God would enable me to forgive. I thought He’d grant me some supernatural ability to forgive my ex-husband, instead He revealed the state of my own heart.
And yet I’m so grateful He did.
When I saw my own tendencies to sin, it gave me a measure of compassion for my ex-husband. And with that the process began.
I learned that grace is more than just something I received at the Cross.
It’s something to experience every day–and not just the bad days. God’s grace gives me something I don’t deserve–forgiveness and a relationship with Him. God’s grace also gives me the ability to live each day with hope and peace no matter the circumstances.
As a single mama to 5 children, every day has its challenges.
And I’m continually reminded that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). Even in my weakest moments–when sorrow, frustration and fear overwhelm me–His grace is sufficient.
I’ve also learned that grace is more than just what I get, it’s who He is.
Grace is a defining attribute of the Lord.
Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
Grace is part of God’s character and it’s the very reason He offers us grace.
I want to be a graceful woman–a grace-filled woman.
When I think of being graceful words like wisdom, compassion, and gentleness…kindness, justice, and love. It’s one of those words that brings many ideas to mind–all good.
This grace thing is definitely a work in progress.
I’ll be trying to grasp this concept for quite a while, but I know my God is the originator of it and each day I experience it. And although things haven’t been easy since that sorrowful day years ago, God has been faithful, loving and kind to me and mine. He’s been graceful, offered grace, and enabled me to walk this path gracefully.
My married story has ended–although maybe I should say that chapter has ended–and a new one has begun.
One filled with grace.
And that is a beautiful thing!
After seventeen years of marriage, adultery, abandonment, and divorce changed Sue Birdseye’s world forever. But God made beauty of ashes, gave her the ability to find hope and humor even in difficult times, and blessed her with a sweet ministry to others facing challenging circumstances. As a writer and speaker to women’s groups around the country, Sue comes alongside those who find themselves on a similar path—helping them to find joy in the face of shattered dreams, trust in times of great trial, and the ability to extend grace on very little sleep. Sue is a single mom to her 5 wonderful children, one in every stage of development—proving God has a sense of humor.
[Written by Sue Birdseye, author of When Happily Ever After Shatters, releasing from Tyndale House Publishers March 2013]
[Photo: Brandice Schnabel, Creative Commons]