Like a Beautiful Vase

Erica’s Story:

I like to compare my story to a beautiful vase. I met the perfect guy to restore my broken family’s story. As the cute, Christian couple we dated six and a half years, saving ourselves for marriage. We began trying to conceive in our sixth year of marriage, and in the seventh month, I became pregnant. My husband and I spent our seventh wedding anniversary touring the birthing center, and everything felt right. Shortly after, while my husband was on a fishing trip, I excruciatingly miscarried. Even though the moment was raw, I logically processed through the loss, telling myself, at least I knew I could conceive. My next pregnancy would result in a healthy child.

If my vase had a crack, it grew until completely broken. My husband expressed disinterest one night when it was time to be together. His response snowballed into a week of him not sleeping or eating, leaving the house in the wee hours of the morning to work, and expressing uncertainty as to whether he wanted a child. Most concerning, he doubted his faith and as a couple who founded our marriage on faith, this news broke my heart. I reached out to my husband’s friend to ask if he would check on him. Unbeknownst to me, my husband accidentally pocket dialed the friend during a lunch with his mistress, and the friend, along with other Christian men, forced my husband to tell me. I remember the floor falling out from under me.

I stared comatose at the wall the entire night but ready to fight for my marriage by morning. My husband’s less-than-excited response when I expressed my desire, exposed the reality: he loves her. This realization along with the fact that he spent time with her since the year before we began to conceive hurt deeply. After a ten-day separation, my husband surprised me by admitting he loved me and always had. We would glue this broken vase together; it wouldn’t look the same, but it could be even stronger. We sought out couple’s counseling, formulating a plan for him to end the affair through an email, come back home, and enjoy a trip together.

Excuse after excuse was given and the email was never sent. I found my husband sneaking off to message his girlfriend on our trip which ended on a sour note, as the mistress supposedly broke up. I endured watching him tearfully drive us home. That night I looked on his phone to confirm if the affair ended. Instead of reassurance I found a message from another woman. In the morning I confronted my husband. Reeling, I transitioned from thinking my husband was a good man who had made a mistake to thinking perhaps I didn’t really know my best friend of 14 years at all.

We miraculously held the marriage together the next day, setting new ground rules through counseling. The Lord faithfully revealed the truth, and by the end of the week, He compelled me to log onto my husband’s computer where I discovered a plethora of online files relating to women with whom he had connected. With the evidence before him, I learned he had participated on a sexual encounter website for twelve of the fourteen years we were a couple, both dating and then married. The shock seemed too much, and my husband left our home on our fourteenth dating anniversary. I didn’t see how this shattered vase could be glued together.

A few weeks later, we attempted to save our marriage once more, and he ended the affair come January. I prayed the Lord would show me if my husband truly desired to change his pattern of infidelity. While putting together a real estate sign in my garage, I found a Valentine from the mistress and the date confirmed it was a couple months old. He confessed he stayed away from her for a couple weeks but returned. I packed our 3600 square foot house and moved into a rental property. The day of the closing on our home my husband and I walked through the rooms including the one set apart to be our baby’s nursery. With tears, we went to closing at a title company, where I often do business and made excuses about wanting to move closer to town, so as not to give away that our lives were beyond shattered.

Once settled in my new home, I continued to assess our relationship as my husband began signing up for retreats, volunteering, and dropping off gifts. Terrified of letting go of my marriage in the hope of real change, I met with a Christian counselor. I went on a couple’s trip where my husband was un-invited at this point. While he stocked me up with thoughtful snacks for the road and showered me with cute pictures of him with our dogs, I discovered he had been with his mistress over the weekend. I sensed the Lord in my spirit, ‘You have extended enough grace. If you do it again, you will be enabling his behavior.’ Being obedient looked like filing for divorce rather than fighting for reconciliation.

Leading up to the divorce I remained open-handed if the Lord showed me true repentance. Instead I found out multiple times my husband remained involved with women. On the day of the divorce proceedings the time had arrived to sweep up the shattered vase and grieve the loss of my dream. What is more, God gave me a unique gift years later when a woman who later became the girlfriend of my ex, reached out to me. She shared with me how he cheated on her with multiple women including the main mistress in our affair story. While I remain sad he in bondage to addiction, I received this knowledge as a gift to let me know I made the wise choice. To this day, she and I offer each other much healing.

I am truly dating for the first time as a woman in my mid-thirties. It is not easy as I have felt more like dust than anything resembling the beautiful vase; however, God gives much clarity to the greater work He is accomplishing. Through the divorce, He plucked me out of what I now realize, even apart from the infidelity, proved to be a crippling relationship. I learned a lot about my tendency to look at the outer person rather than assessing the heart. I am more in touch with my intuition as I unravel some of the programming from my family, becoming my own person. I peeled back the layers of perfectionism, people-pleasing, and anxiety which plagued me, and found I draw out ‘FunErica,’ the freer version of me.

While I don’t believe divorce is God’s best, I relate to Joseph in the Bible: what was meant for my harm, the Lord turns for good (Genesis 50:20). God does not waste my pain as I put it in His hands to bring purposes I can’t even imagine. Through the process of being pulverized into dust, I feel confident I am becoming more of who God wants me to be as I let go of my agenda. By mixing the pieces that are left and bathing them in His living waters I sit on His pottery wheel and offer myself as clay in His hands. I excitedly anticipate continuing to be formed into Christ-likeness so I can shine His glory through His story in my life.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.                2 Corinthians 4:7

 

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