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Triumph Amidst A Broken Family

There was no possible way that I could prepare myself for this. Many times before this I had shamefully wished it to happen. How stupid of me for that thought to ever cross the threshold of my mind? In my anger I wanted everything to stop. The world to just stop and just give me a break. What I craved was peace, harmony and for us to be complete. They don’t teach you how to cope with this at school. They don’t give you a handbook on how to take on a role like this. School doesn’t tell you what to do when your parents are going through a divorce. You just go through it.

You know those adverts you watch on television, the ones where your eyes are graced with this idyllic view of the perfect family, the perfect holiday with everyone in harmony with each other – the ones where ‘perfection’ is metaphorically slammed onto their foreheads. I used to want that. I guess in some ways I still do but that is exactly what it is – “ideal”. No family is like that. No family is perfect 100% of the time.

There is no easier way to put this other than – divorce sucks. It really does. I think it’s more the sense of lack of control that you have as a child. Floods and floods of thoughts fill our heads as children of the divorced that go a little something like: was it our fault? What could we have done to prevent this? Why is this happening to us and when will this all be over?

The whole framework of the family unit becomes utterly destroyed. It falls out of reach from your fingertips and shatters into a million heartbroken pieces that may or may not take you a few years to gather up again. Divorce is that knife in your back that you don’t expect and boy, does it hurt. It hurts a lot. More hurt, pain and unanswered questions pile on top of each other and most of the time, we don’t know what to do with it.

I was around 17 or 18 when my parents separated, my mother moved out of the house in pure defiance and of not being able to cope anymore. In a way, it was almost retiring from many years of hurt in a brave and courageous defeat. We all knew that it was for the best but that doesn’t mean it makes the whole ordeal any easier. For a while I felt like my mother had gone missing from my life, although she wasn’t far away I missed not having her around the house.

Gradually as the years rolled on I held on to so much anger inside of me towards both of my parents. I would find myself pressured to take sides, I would hear insults thrown and pasts being brought up. I remember coming to a place of just sitting in front of the Lord and just weeping. I remember being at such a loss for words that I didn’t even have any thoughts. I remember going through a time of numbness and hopelessness and of unhealthy mind-sets where I would never see an end to this turmoil of my family being ripped apart. I grew angry and moody and my whole being was shaken from doubting who I am in Christ to letting my studies fall rapidly to the wayside.

What lay before me was the shattered expectations of what we dream of families to be like and there was nothing I could do.
I was affected by this whole process more so looking back than I ever realised when I was going through it. No child ever wants to hear one parent undermine the other when they are not around. It’s almost as if suddenly these people that you trusted in to have it all together when you were little suddenly show their vulnerable sides and you just want to shout through your tears “YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER!” What lay before me was the shattered expectations of what we dream of families to be like and there was nothing I could do.

However there was someone that would hold me together when my world was doing the opposite. The hatred that I felt did not last long, let me tell you. I had an incredible support system throughout all of this that God raised up to help me.

Most importantly God held my hand throughout the whole process. The relationship that I maintained with God enabled me to be there for my little brother, who took the transition much harder than I did.

he-heals-verseAfter countless nights of crying to the Lord behind closed doors He was strengthening me. I may not have all the answers as to why my family had to go through this, maybe one day I will find out. All I know is that from those times of hardship God turned into good, to the good of all His people and I can safely sit here and say that my relationships with both of my parents and my brother has never been stronger.

Yes, at times I do wish that we were all together again but then I remember what it was like when we were all together – the fights, the struggles and I look back and think no, those moments aren’t worth going back to whether you could have prevented some things or not. I am getting closer and closer to my parents everyday despite being away at University. I look back and I realise how much time I wasted holding onto hatred in my heart that wasn’t good for my soul.

When I let the Lord into my heart and I mean really let the Lord into my heart – He replaced all of it with love. A love that expands towards my parents every day, accepts their differences, their quirks, their annoying ways and loves and embraces them for who they are, who the Lord is moulding them to be and trusting in Jesus to determine my moves.

If divorce has taught me anything, it is to remind myself:

  1. The Lord is my strength
  2. I must trust in Him
  3. I cannot waste my time in anger
  4. I must love always

If your parents are going through a divorce right now I want to pray God’s healing and restoration into your life. You may not see the clearer picture at this moment but trust me He sees it and one day you’re going to find out. But in the meantime every day you have until then holds a choice – you can choose whether you want to serve Him and His kingdom or you can choose whether you want to serve the Kingdom of darkness.

Remember that divorce is not your fault even if your parents have said that to your face before, regardless, they are lies and you must speak Jesus’ name over the power of those words that they may have no effect on you. Our Father is the only one who on this earth and far beyond it will be there for you constantly especially when your parents, siblings, friends or boyfriends can’t – what a marvelous relationship to invest your precious time in. Keep on keeping on and let the Lord carve you into the beautiful masterpiece He has been working on since before the world began.

“Lord, deliver me from this hurt and this pain that I am suffering from right now. I speak the blood and the precious name of Jesus over my situation Father and I declare Your goodness and Your will over my life today. Grant me peace, joy and comfort amidst the storm that I may rest in Your love for all of eternity. Keep my eyes fixed on You always that I may constantly be reminded of your presence in my life. I know that You know the bigger picture Lord and I am filled with faith and trust in who exactly You say You are and I hold onto Your promises for You are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords that holds my very being and looks after my fragile heart. You grant me strength for all the days of my life and I know Lord that You are good, You are wonderful. My soul will trust in your persistent and everlasting love.”


photo credit: Lotus Carroll
Linking up with: Monday Musings

Complete Surrender

I can’t remember a day where I didn’t know who Jesus was.

I prayed “the prayer” kneeling down on the rock hearth of our fireplace when I was six years old, and I know the Lord honored that prayer, but let’s be real, here. The impetus was the argument I had with my older sister not thirty minutes prior about the status of Jesus occupying space in my heart. She said no, I said yes, and as all of us with siblings know, I would rather have died a thousand deaths than admit she was right. So I thought I better just make really sure she wasn’t right.

Up to the age of thirteen or thereabouts, I understood Christianity as a ticket to Heaven and church as the place where all my best friends were. I’m ashamed to say that our primary accomplishment was tormenting the adults who so graciously served us in the children’s ministry. There are a few out there who deserve some sort of medal. (Dr. J, I’m looking at you.) Until one night, perched on the edge of my mother’s bed, in a moment where the Kingdom of Heaven opened up a door in the suburbs of Atlanta.

In reading the Word, about the Word, the alchemy of Christ on the cross changed the composition of my heart. In that moment, I began to want more, to know more.

High school was rough.

For the better part of two years, I hid in the library. For thirty precious minutes in the midst of my day I would tarry there with the piles of books. It was a brief respite from the torture of eighth and ninth grade, the years when I would step off the bus in tears, unable to navigate the halls without torment, to sit through a class without snickers. I hovered there, peeking into the unchanging lives of beloved characters. Virtual friends before there was such a thing, whose existence was wholly unaffected by my scabby knees, tomboy looks and utter social ineptness. I was lonely in the stacks, but I was safe.

But then-in my quest to know more, to want more of this Christ-in my junior year, I discovered, truly, the redemption of the gospel and the freedom of being His creation, of being known, and loved. I knew then that when my value comes from being a daughter of the King, I would never be alone.

It would be easy to stop here, to give you a picture of my life now, a snapshot of my handsome Soldier Husband and our three wild and beautiful children. To talk about being hashtag blessed. Too easy, in fact, and a big fat lie. Because our road to redemption and the cross doesn’t end in this lifetime, friends. My story doesn’t stop when I sought out a true relationship with the Savior.

See, I exist in a small slice of the world that lives in relative ease and comfort. At age 25, I was married, pregnant, healthy, and impossibly wealthy compared to 99% of the world’s population. I was {am} privileged beyond compare with things I did nothing to earn. And unknown to me, I had, slowly over time, put my faith in the security all of those things could offer. I was untouched by true loss and grief, and all the brokenness the world could bring.

The end of 2005 and 2006 would be the year of my breaking.

In November of 2005, while my Husband was on his first tour in Iraq, I miscarried our first child in a particularly traumatic fashion, undergoing emergency surgery while he was half a world away. I was grieving, but receiving tremendous amounts of grace that kept me from being bitter, or afraid. I did, however, inform the Lord in no uncertain terms that while He took my child, under no circumstances could he take my Husband, a helicopter pilot in the midst of a war. And then. THEN. On January 7, 2006 my best friend, also a helicopter pilot, was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

I was swallowed up by fear. It consumed me, saturating every thought, every step, every conversation.
I was swallowed up by fear. It consumed me, saturating every thought, every step, every conversation. It was irrational but so real, so present, directing me at every turn. Taken moment by moment, the events of the previous three months had been survivable: I ran towards the Lord each time, availing myself of the grace so freely given. But with one phone call, I was undone, those moments stacked upon each other into a weight I truly believed I could not bear.

The moment of my final surrender started with a vague feeling of unrest. The kind you get when you think you left the door unlocked, or the water running, or the stove on. Husband’s unit was currently forbidden from the communal phone bank for abusing the time limits and we hadn’t talked in two weeks.

come-to-me-verse3I was spiraling downward quickly, as I began to obsess about the potential dangers Husband was facing right that very second. It was the middle of the night, I was alone, and so very afraid. Leaky, silent tears were rolling down my cheeks as I faced down my fear, mentally, physically, and spiritually empty.

At 2 am, shaking and sobbing, I grabbed my phone and called my mom. And somewhere, between the tears, and the comfort from my mama, and the grace overflowed from the Words of Truth, in the depths of the deepest well…I saw the brightest stars.

I didn’t have to bear the weight.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
Matthew 11:27-29, ESV

surrenderFor the first time in my life, I truly surrendered.

I relinquished my deal. In that moment, I knew, unequivocally, that He could take my child, He could take my best friend, He could take the Husband, and I would live. And eventually, live well. But I could not take another breath without Him moving the air in and out of my lungs. I would not survive without Him. I said He could have Husband and I meant it.

From that moment, forward, I was mending.  Slowly, mind you, but I was rebuilding on a foundation that cannot be moved.

“For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken”
Psalm 62:1, ESV

(You can read the whole story of our First Year on my blog, www.allthegracebetween.com).

My story is divided into the before and after, the demarcation line being this middle of the night cry from the depths of my shattered heart. True, our redemption stories keep coming, and that was not the first time I suffered the loss of a child, or said goodbye to the handsome Soldier Husband when he went to war. But friends? He alone is my Rock and my salvation. And, always, always, there is hope.

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him’”

Lamentations 3:21-24, ESV

There is joy in the morning.

With love,
Molly Huggins.

photo by Ryk Neethling
Ralph’s Story – God’s Redemptive Power

I was raised in a Christian home, and have known about God since I was a child. It was at a young age that I first realized I was hopelessly lost and needed a redeemer, and my young heart was filled with His love. As is typical with many who know God at a young age, my heart wandered as I matured, and the world became very interesting to me. God, however, never lets go, and He held on when I questioned what I had been taught, what I had experienced, even what I knew.

God often works in mysterious ways. At one point in our marriage, my wife came under severe attack by the enemy, to the point she questioned God’s love for her and even His very existence. I would like to say what I told her came from my years of wisdom, but that is far from the truth. I now know it was divinely inspired. I said, “Tell Him that, tell Him you’re angry, that you doubt and that you have to see something or you’re just done with it all. He’ll give you exactly what you need”. God is faithful to His children even when we doubt, and He showed up in a very definite way.

Our son, now an adult, was diagnosed as a child with Bipolar Disorder, but as he grew it became painfully obvious that the medication he was prescribed just wasn’t working. He became dangerously angry and often threatened to kill himself and as many others as he could take with him. We were advised often to get rid of him, to just kick him out of the house, but God wouldn’t let us. We just couldn’t take the risk that he would hurt someone else. Year after year, we prayed and worked with him. He knew God, but like many of us, thought he deserved only punishment, and couldn’t receive mercy.

It wasn’t until he reluctantly attended a healing service at our church and saw God at work first hand for himself that he was able to let go of his hurt and anger and accept God’s healing. Today, he is a Godly man, a husband and father, and testament to God’s redemptive power.

So, even though I don’t have a huge crisis story in which I hit rock bottom and God turned everything around, I have seen Him work over my entire lifetime. There is no way I could turn my back on Him now.