“Stories of a Prisoner’s Wife”

(Editor’s Note: Diane’s last post was back in August. Diane has had a rough time, as you will read, but her testimony is powerful, compelling, and is something we can all learn from.)

Entry 25 by Diane S.

Eight and a Half Months

I thought I knew this path would be hard.
I knew nothing.
When you think something will be hard and then it is infinitely more difficult than you ever imagined…that will knock you flat on your face. If you aren’t careful there is nothing to catch you, not even Jesus if you choose to not let him.
It’s been around 6 months since I have written an entry here. They have not been a pretty 6 months.
Somehow I got lost, and when I say lost, I mean LOST….total darkness. I stopped going to church. I stopped reading my bible. I stopped praying. I stopped talking to most all of my friends. I even stopped attempting to have a relationship with Jesus. I told Chris I wanted to separate at the end of August and in mid-November I told him I was done & didn’t want to be married to him anymore. I stopped wearing my wedding rings. I got our matching tattoo covered up by a new tattoo. I didn’t visit him from the end of July until January 23. I packed up all his stuff & everything that was “us” and put it away in boxes. I even stopped opening his letters at all for a few months. I stopped contact with Chris’ son. I could go on I am sure, but you probably get the idea.
Everything that was the past was packed away in boxes or the darkest places of mind and heart.
I’m not sure exactly why I had this meltdown of sorts, other than the situation was overwhelming & I just couldn’t cope. Maybe I thought if I walked away the holidays wouldn’t be so hard. Maybe I thought if I ignored it, it would go away. Maybe I thought if I walked away from God I wouldn’t feel so strongly that I knew giving up on my marriage and my husband was NOT what God was telling me to do. Maybe I thought if I gave up I wouldn’t be judged so harshly; people wouldn’t think I was crazy.
I was trying to find happy, trying to find joy, trying to find a way to cope. Nothing I had done until that point had worked so I think I thought if I went in the complete opposite direction and changed everything maybe I would find what I was desperately searching for. The months of May-August were so hard, so sad, so depressing. I broke. I couldn’t cope. I was tired of the looks, I was tired of the comments, I was tired of trying to explain why I was standing by Chris. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, broken, bruised….the list could go on for a while.
I ran. I shut it all out, turned it all off and pretended it was the right choice. It worked for a while.
Sort of.
I still talked to Chris twice a week. I wrote occasionally. I sent books, sermons, photos, etc. in the mail to him but far less frequently. He took the news that I didn’t want to be married much, much better than I thought he would. He wasn’t angry. He was hurt, but not angry. He wrote me letters of bible verses and devotionals when he knew I didn’t want to get a letter from him about just life. He prayed for me, not for our marriage, but for me. He told me over and over that what he wanted most was for me to get back to Jesus and even if our marriage didn’t work out he still prayed for me to reconcile with Jesus. He called twice a week. We talked but hardly ever about us. He didn’t push me. I didn’t say ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’ at the end of calls. From Aug-Jan every single time we hung up he said “I love you, have a good day tomorrow.” Every time…even though I never said it back. That is a difficult thing to do, tell someone something even though you know their silence is going to break your heart every single time. He refused to give up on me, on us or on God. I don’t know what the conversations were like that he had with God during those times, but I don’t think they were angry. Somehow, and I don’t understand how, he stayed strong, he stayed faithful, and most importantly the old Chris never showed up.
I know the old Chris very well, I am just learning about the new one.
The old Chris would not have handled things the way the new Chris has in the last 5-6 months. I fully expected the old Chris to show up and validate my reasons for walking away & giving up. I just knew he was going to prove my point that he really hadn’t changed and it was all just talk…like it had always been in the past. Promises that would be broken & words that didn’t mean anything.
The old Chris never showed up. The new Chris was strong and steadfast. This was different. This was unexpected.
Sometime close to the end of December/first of January my heart started softening. I noticed that I looked forward to calls again. I missed him. God started pulling me back towards him. He kept whispering to me. He didn’t just let me go silently. I went to church a couple of times. I read the bible a little. I started praying again. I started bible journaling. God kept whispering, ‘Trust me, I know what I am doing, I can make beautiful things out of ashes, I am with you, I won’t leave you, I will carry through this, trust me.’ Now, I’ve always been one who never really understood what people meant when they said “God told them” but I understand that now. I have never been able to say that I have clearly heard God tell me something, until now.
I told Chris I wanted to come visit, he had been wanting me to since November but didn’t push me. His birthday was January 23 and I decided that was the weekend I was going to visit. I knew that once I saw him face to face my thoughts of walking away would be gone. That is probably why I didn’t go from August – December…. knew I couldn’t really walk away but I also knew as long as I stayed away I could continue thinking that I could.
I love him with all my heart, even the pieces that are broken. He made mistakes, I made mistakes. It’s not going to be an easy journey and I don’t know what the future holds for us. I do know that all the hard things haven’t gone away. I do know that just because the last 4-5 months happened it doesn’t suddenly make this easy and make all the doubts & fears go away. They are all still there. I know that choosing this path again will be just as hard as it has been and there will be things harder than I can imagine in the future.
I only know a few things at this point:
• I love Chris despite these current circumstances
• God CAN make beautiful things from ashes & I am trusting him to do that
• I am not giving up
• Somehow over the last few terrible months I have found forgiveness for Chris and that is a huge step
• God is on our side and will not fail us
• This, for whatever reason, is His plan for us

I know my choice is one most will not understand. I know my choice is one that others in my position may not be able to make. I’ve heard people say that sometimes what convicts one person doesn’t even have an effect on another person. An example is I have a very good friend who is heavily convicted about getting a tattoo. She would like one very much, but God has put a conviction in her heart about it. Me on the other hand, I have 3 and at least 2 more planned. I don’t have the same conviction or feelings about that she does. I’m learning that is how God and the Bible work, God works in everyone differently. God has put conviction in my heart regarding my marriage. I didn’t realize what it was in the beginning but after the last few months of this never going away, always being there, always nagging at me…I understand it for what it is.

This is my conviction: If I walk away from this marriage & give up, I am saying that I do not trust God to make something beautiful from this. I am saying I don’t trust him to deliver us through this struggle. I am saying that my plan is better and I know what is best.

As I said, not everyone that has been through a situation like mine has had or will have this same type of conviction. Others may choose different paths & God may work differently in their storms. I do know that God is telling me this, it’s not just something I have come up with to validate my choice…because let’s be honest, if I was going to come up with something to validate a choice I would have validated my choice to leave and divorce Chris. God has put this in my heart, He has put this in mind, He has even put in my dreams a few times since I am REALLY stubborn and tried to ignore it. I have no idea if that makes sense to anyone and I know there will be people, a lot of them, that say I am just one of those crazy evangelical Christian types that are just too blind or naive to see what the situation really is. Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think there is a lot to be recognized from the fact that I tried to distance myself from church, prayer, God and everything related; yet still even during those times God never let this conviction leave my heart no matter how much I wanted to and tried to ignore it.

So that is your update on how A Prisoner’s Wife is doing 8 and half months into a journey harder than I could have ever imagined. I’m not sure if I am better or worse than I was from the last post I made in August 2015. I do know I’ve learned a lot since then.

I also know I smile more and cry a lot less.

I’ve (we’ve) chosen not to make big news of the fact that I have decided to fight & not give up. The cheers from friends and family when they found out I was giving up were loud, even the ones who supposedly supported me staying were cheering when I said I wasn’t.

It’s funny how that works. There was only one person that pulled me aside and told me I needed to spend much time in prayer and probably even fast before I made a final decision. Everyone told me how strong I was and how proud they were of me for getting out. Everyone told me how they never really liked Chris anyway and always thought he was a mistake for me…needless to say my circle has become quite small, very small.

We decided it was best for me to just continue on without making a big deal about it. The scrutiny was part of why I ran and shut down. I felt like everyone expected something from me, the responsibility I felt was enormous. In an effort to avoid that, there won’t be any major announcements telling everyone the status of our marriage. No one I know will read this blog post, they only read what I wrote in the past because I linked it on Facebook, which I won’t be doing now. We also decided that I am not going to start wearing my wedding ring again, at least not the one that matches his. Our rings are unique and if I put it back on there will be scrutiny and judging that is immediate. I will wear a ring on that finger, just not my wedding band….at least for a while.

I know that sounds like I am hiding things or not being truthful, and I suppose that may be true. However, I go back to what I’ve said since this journey began…if you haven’t walked this path, you really have no idea. Even if you think you have an idea, you do not. If there is one thing I can be certain about, it is the last two sentences I just wrote. Truthfully, the only people that really need to know our marriage status is Jesus, Chris and I…no one else matters.

And because for a time I did let others matter, I almost walked away and gave up.

These verses are very popular verses, coffee cup verses if you will. I usually don’t like the coffee cup verses too much and try to refrain from posting or quoting them because they are taken out of context a lot and misused/overused in today’s society.

But, these two verses give me hope and I cling to them often because they are, after all, God’s promises.

Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

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