A little more than two years ago, my husband and I separated. Correction, I woke up in the middle of the night and moved myself and our daughter, who was 2-years-old at the time, to my father’s house so that my husband woke up alone in a half-empty house. I’d found out he’d been drinking and using drugs again, and I was not about to let him put us through it all again. I didn't let him explain. I didn't let him apologize.
I agreed to counseling, but only to check it off the list of what I felt obligated to do before filing for divorce. Our counselor recommended he attend Basecamp and I go to the Changed Women's Retreat. While my husband agreed, I refused. No way was I going to some retreat that was going to convince me to stay with the man who didn't put his family above his bad habits.
In fact, while my husband went to Basecamp, I took advantage of an uninterrupted weekend to get to know another man. He had swooped in like a knight in shining armor, offering to save me and my daughter from our horrible life. It seemed like the beginning to a fairytale ending!
When my husband got back from Basecamp, he was different. He was smiling and sharing about all of the amazing talks he’d had with God and how he’d been broken free from so much in just a short weekend. I didn't believe him. I thought it was an elaborate trick to get me to come back home, so he would have his live-in maid and chef again.
So I quit counseling and I filed for divorce.
Then I found out I was pregnant with the other man’s child. I made plans to move in with the man and was careful to keep the news from my husband. But he found out anyway. He told me that he hated what I had done, but he loved me. He promised to forgive me and raise the baby as his own if I would break up with this man, go back to counseling, and stop the divorce. Again, I thought he was trying to trick me, so I blew it off.
As soon as I moved in with the other man, I knew it was a mistake. He didn't help me unpack anything, didn't try to help my daughter feel at home, and he hardly even spoke to me. It was awful.
Then, for the first time in the six months I’d been separated from my husband, I finally got alone and quiet with God. I told Him how lost and alone I felt, and I asked Him what I was supposed to do. God was quick to reply with: "My daughter, your husband, whom I gave to you, have offered you forgiveness without you even asking for it. He has begged for your forgiveness for months. He has done everything you've asked of him, and you won't give it a second thought. How can you claim to love Me and not follow such a simple command as to forgive him?"
So, crying my eyes out, I grabbed my phone to contact my husband before I could talk myself out of it. Over the next few weeks and months, I moved out of the other man’s house, stopped the divorce, underwent very intense marriage counseling with my husband, and moved my daughter and myself back home.
At seven months pregnant, it was my turn to finally go to the Changed Women's Retreat. While I was there, God showed me my validation doesn’t come from my body or from a man, but from Him alone. I learned that I have value, simply because I’m His child and He says I’m valuable. All I needed to do all along was trust Him and I would have found the love I'd been seeking. God healed me from all the pain, confusion, and questions surrounding my circumstances, and He helped me forgive myself.
I recently had the extreme pleasure of returning to retreat one year after my first experience. It was sweet to be reunited with so many women who cried with me the year before and know that now, I’m in a completely different place spiritually. I’m inexplicably grateful for everything Changed has to offer to women who are hurting. Thank you all for making such a monumental difference in the lives of so many women, myself included.