Eager for closure, I arrived early at the courthouse. My marriage had been stressful from the first day and never got better – instead, I feared for my life at the end. When I signed the divorce papers, a heavy weight lifted from my shoulders.
Seeking new direction for my life, I joined a gym with an excellent childcare center for my six-year-old son, Zachary.* I met an attractive man named Ron*, who took an interest in me and offered me free personal training.
How could I fall so quickly for another man who didn’t have my best interests at heart? Over the next seven years, Ron and I carried on a long-distance relationship and signed a lease for a business studio together. I opened up new credit cards in my name only. When the bills began pouring in, Ron was critical about my distress.
“Obviously this is too hard for you,” he said. “Maybe we’re not meant to be together because I need a strong woman.” Ron began showing increased anger as well as stealing money from our Houston business, “to use for my similar business in Florida,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, I became intrigued with Christianity, though my family background was Hindu. When a friend invited me to a Christian service, I was amazed to find Christians who shared my Indian ethnicity. I spoke with a woman afterwards who prayed with me.
“I have been thinking about becoming a Christian,” I told her. “But I have been so scared of what my [Hindu] family and friends would think.” But somehow I was no longer afraid. I accepted Christ’s death for the forgiveness of my sins that August day in 2016.
Ron eventually walked away from the business and our relationship, leaving me to shoulder crippling debt. I continued paying rent for the studio and my credit cards were maxed out. My fear and depression became evident in my hair texture and weight gain. Sinking deeply into a personal pit, I also felt ashamed of the choices I had made for the last seven years. Sleep eluded me every night. I tried every kind of medication, prescribed and over the counter. Nothing worked.
I prayed every night for God to help, yet he was silent. My son asked often, “Mom, why are you crying?” Each day I struggled to get out of bed and dressed for work. Just after Christmas, 2019, I began having suicidal thoughts. On New Year’s Eve, I prayed again in desperation for God’s help. I woke up later that night feeling worse than ever. I found a knife in the kitchen and began stabbing myself.
Suddenly, I thought of Zachary and the man I had divorced years ago. I didn’t want to leave my son to be raised by an unstable father. In my irrational, distorted mind, the solution was to take Zachary to heaven with me. I went into his room and prayed, asking God to please forgive me for what I was about to do. I stabbed my son twice. When he woke up, I continued harming myself. Zachary called 911.
In God’s kindness, my son did not need stitches and was released from the hospital the next day. However, I had stabbed several vital organs that required two extensive surgeries and a stay in the trauma intensive care unit. My life was in grave danger. After the first surgery, my physical pain was worsened by the deep shame I felt for hurting my son. A respiratory therapist would pray for me as he worked with me. Because I didn’t have my glasses, I saw him through a blur — just as I saw God’s love.
Because I was a criminal as well as a patient, I was handcuffed to the bed railing as I recovered. I even walked to physical therapy with shackles on, humiliated. Finally discharged from the hospital, I went straight to the jail psychiatric ward.
God showed mercy on me through a visit from a friend named Brittany* the first night. But the following days passed with my unawareness of whether it was day or night: I couldn’t see the outside world at all. When my hearing date came, a friend there woke me up early. “Don’t you want to brush your teeth and comb your hair?” she asked. She knew that many women had cases pushed back further and I needed to make a good impression. When I appeared before the judge, God again had mercy on me. My judge was kind and instructed me to take care of myself. A few hours later, my name was called and I was released until my next hearing.
Although my sister came to pick me up, her sons were afraid to have me in the house. I called Brittany, who had visited me that first night in jail. When I arrived at her house, she told me she had been praying about my coming to her place. Because I really didn’t know Brittany well, I was shocked she wanted to deal with me.
Over the next eight months, Brittany was by my side for everything from required drug testing to attending church and cooking meals. One day she asked why I no longer dressed up or wore makeup. I told her I didn’t deserve it because of what I had done. But she showed God’s kindness to me. We would go on walks together, and Brittany urged me to take vitamins and care for myself again. My outward return to wearing makeup and nice clothes reflected my gradual acceptance of God’s love and forgiveness.
After many postponements, I finally faced a judge to determine my sentence. My lawyer had been telling me the more my case got pushed back, the more time I had to show the prosecutor and judge my stability. Brittany prayed with me before I saw the judge that afternoon. I entered the courtroom with a mix of confidence and nerves.
“Ms. Nichols, I know you are bothered by the events of that night and that you love your son,” the judge said gently. “I’m giving you four years of probation but I know you will do well … have your supervisor turn in the necessary paper work after two years and I will sign off on them.”
I was stunned. My lawyer was speechless.
Some of the difficult consequences remain. I will always have physical scars. I endured many months of only supervised visits with my son. But in God’s marvelous mercy, Zachary not only has forgiven me, but also has deep faith in Christ.
God did hear my desperate prayers. I used to say he was supposed to hear them before that horrible night. But my story can help other women. God lifted me out of a pit that seemed too deep for rescue. As Psalm 40:2-3 says, “He drew me up from the pit of destruction … and set my feet upon a rock … He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
*The names in this story are pseudonyms