In Her Own Words… Jill

DisappointmentMy name is Jill and this is my story…

I sat outside in the grass, leaning against the side of the house. I sobbed. “What has happened?” I wondered. Rob and I had been married 5 years. We had a beautiful 2 year old son, lived in a new home, and I was due to have our 2nd child in a few short months. I had a great nursing job, and Rob was not only working towards his college degree, but was also employed part-time at our church. From outward appearances, we had the perfect lives. But inside I felt angry, disillusioned, lonely and depressed.

Our marriage had started out wonderfully. We were completely in love, and happiest when we were together. We developed close friendships with other young couples from our church, and spent many happy hours sharing in fellowship and worship together. Rob and I grew even closer during my first pregnancy, and when Matt was born, we were elated! Life with a new baby was challenging at times, but Rob was a great Daddy and so sweet with Matt. My love for him grew.

I don’t know when it started, but at some point my happiness began to fade. Rob and I started to spend much more time apart than together. We arranged our work schedules and Rob’s class schedule so that one of us could be home with Matt, and not have to put him in daycare. Even when we had free time, however, we started to spend it apart.  Tensions grew as money became tighter. I liked to save money, and resented that Matt liked to spend, running up our credit card bills and refusing to keep track of checks that he wrote. For the first time in my life, I was deep in debt. Although he verbalized excitement about the new baby, I didn’t feel his support like I had during my first pregnancy. We started fighting, and hurtful words were exchanged. I felt I didn’t love him anymore.

That afternoon as I sat and cried, I wanted to run away. We had no family in the area to run to, however, so I just got into my car and started to drive. I didn’t know where I was going, but I ended up in the neighborhood near our church. I pulled into the church parking lot. The door to the sanctuary was open and I went in, crying, shaking, desperate. I didn’t expect anyone to be there. I sat down on a pew and soon afterward, Bill, the associate pastor, walked up and sat next to me. He and his wife were close friends of ours, but they didn’t know the struggles that we had been facing. Nobody knew. I cried and he listened. He prayed with me, encouraged me, helped to remind me of Rob’s good qualities and his love for me, and advised me about where I could get some financial advice. I returned home, hopeful for the first time in many months.

Thomas was born in the Spring. He was truly a blessing. However, Rob and I continued to struggle. I felt isolated and weighed down with financial worries, and Rob seemed unconcerned about our relationship or finances. We couldn’t communicate about either without becoming angry or upset. Rob and I had made a promise to each other when we got married that we would never divorce. I intended to keep my promise but the future looked bleak when I imagined years trapped in a loveless marriage. I prayed, seeking God’s wisdom and help. When I had the opportunity to visit my mom, she sensed that I was unhappy. I felt ashamed and didn’t want to burden her with my problems. But she lovingly persisted in her questioning and I finally broke down and told her everything. We cried together––I because of my despair, and she because I was hurting. My mom, like Bill, supported me but also encouraged me to see the good things in Rob. She offered some practical ideas to help my financial situation and she prayed for me. When our visit was over, I returned home feeling strengthened. I had some positive steps that I planned to take, to improve my relationship with Rob and also to get our finances under control.

I made an appointment with a financial counselor. Rob had agreed that he would go with me but he backed out at the last minute. I was furious. But I decided to go alone and take whatever steps were necessary to secure my financial future. The counselor was very helpful and I decided that day that in order to protect myself and my children, I would need to separate my finances from Rob’s. This would enable me to fight my way out of debt over time and force Rob to be accountable for his own irresponsibility. It was a difficult decision but I was desperate. I left my appointment determined to follow through, but I also felt saddened knowing that God desires married couples to be united. Before going home, I walked into a shop next door. My eyes fell upon a checkbook cover which had printed on it a Bible verse:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

I immediately felt God speaking to my heart. This verse was a promise to me. I believed it and I would trust Him to fulfill it.

The verse strengthened me over the next few years. I memorized it and claimed its promises regularly. I disciplined myself, and with God’s help I was able to climb out of debt. At the same time, I remained faithful in my tithing, recognizing that God honors obedience. He provided for all of our material needs. I began to rely more on God to fill my emotional needs, and less on Rob. God was always there and never disappointed me. He also showed me areas where I needed to change and grow, and I began to be able to take my eyes off of myself more often and to see Rob’s needs.

God gave me a new love for Rob, and over time our relationship has become sweet again. We have weathered some difficult times. And God has been faithful. I do indeed now possess the future that God promised me. I am free of debt, I have all that I need materially, I have a wonderful relationship with my grown boys and my husband, and I continue to have great hope not just for today but for the future. From experience, I also know that no matter what I may face, God is faithful. He will never leave me. He loves me more than I can comprehend and His plans for me are good. I can trust all of His promises.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

May I pray?

Heavenly Father, so many of us struggle in relationships and marriage. Stress of work and family, and the heavy burdens of debt can snuff out the feelings of love we used to share. Lord, it’s not easy to hold onto the commitment we made and work through issues, especially when it seems one sided. But Lord, You are faithful to us and will lead us in the right direction when we turn to You and let go of what we think should happen. Bless those marriages that are in turmoil today with new hope. Bless my sisters who feel isolated, and let them know they don’t have to go through this alone. Amen.

Q4U: Do you have a Rising Above Real Life story? You can encourage others by sharing the ups and downs of your journey. Please contact me at Names can remain confidential.

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