You Are Not Damaged Goods

I created this blog years ago as an outlet. I journal on a regular basis and writing has been something I’ve enjoyed since I was about 7-years-old. Empowering young girls and women has been something else I find joy in; so combining the two made sense. A page where you can feel known and understood, but also encouraged in your faith journey. Thus “Wonderfully Made” was born. So, here is the story of my short-lived marriage. I’m still in the very early stages of my divorce, so a lot of these wounds are very fresh, and I’m still healing. Obviously, there are many many details that I have decided not to speak on at this time; but I will be as transparent as I can. Most importantly, I want the primary focus of this page and my story, to be on how good our Father is…

After over two-and-a-half years of dating, as a deployment to the Middle East was inevitably approaching; my first husband asked me casually, what I thought about getting legally married before he left. We weighed the pros and cons, and we both agreed it was in our best interest to go ahead and get married. After a pleasant conversation with both of my parents, he stated to them that he planned on marrying me “anyways”, and that he wanted me to be “taken care of” while he was gone. Which I thought was a sweet sentiment. This meant I would be able to have health insurance and benefits; and he would be getting extra income for being married.

Sometime before going to the courthouse, he presented the idea to get an annulment when he got back home. At first, I didn’t think it was a bad idea, but then as I thought about it; it didn’t make any sense. To spend the money to get the marriage license and pay for a ceremony, only to then pay for a divorce six months later, and THEN I was supposed to wait for him to “surprise” me with a proposal and then spend the money all over again?

On the morning of February 8, 2018 we got up at the crack of dawn so we could be the first ones in line at the courthouse. I think we managed to be second or third. I had butterflies in my stomach, but also doubts and uneasiness. The day before we had gotten into a fight. We were driving in the car and out of nowhere he starts telling me how he doesn’t want kids and how I should be with someone who wants kids. He’s done this before. In fact it’s his signature move. To push people away on purpose, because he wants to see how devoted and loyal they are. I was upset he waited until the day before we got married to tell me this; but I also figured he was just feeling the nerves. I thought to myself, “He’ll come around.” He didn’t speak to me the whole night. I was honestly surprised he woke up the next morning like nothing had happened the day before.

I remember after our officiant married us she made a very profound statement:

“This is a serious decision you two have made, marriage is not to be taken lightly.”

I remember looking over at my new hubby as he was nodding his head at her. It made me feel secure in knowing he was serious about me. It made me feel good, and I felt that way for the rest of the day as we prepped for his deployment the following day.

There was no inclination that he was upset with me until a few days after he arrived in Kuwait. He was being short and kind of nasty with me so I asked him what the issue was. He started telling me how I ruined his plans, and that he can never get the moment to propose ever again. I know he had told his mom (who told his grandma) and his brother about our marriage. So I was extremely confused how I ruined anything. He was angry that my brother had face-timed us while at the airport and welcomed him into the family. He said he didn’t want anyone to know. Since November/December 2017, he had somewhat of an idea that he could be getting deployed voluntarily in January/February 2018. We didn’t have an exact date until about two weeks prior; but he had more than plenty of time to do things “the right way” as he stated. He just chose not to. And I was naive enough to trust and follow his lead.

The deployment opened my eyes to a lot of issues I did not realize were so prevalent in my husband. Very real issues that needed professional attention. I contacted a chaplain, and a few other resources to help us work through some of these issues when he got home. I ended up getting yelled at for contacting these people and I had to reluctantly turn down the pursuit of these professionals wanting to help us. He had zero interest in improving the relationship. A lot of promises were broken. A lot of plans never came to fruition. A lot of pain, hurt, confusion, deception, and betrayal has happened from then until now. He has made it extremely clear he did not marry me because he loved me. Everything was for “benefits” so he could pay off his “debt”. He says if it weren’t for him I wouldn’t have had medical insurance for a procedure I went through while he was deployed or gone to MA school. Actually, my family could’ve paid the procedure and I was already going to school regardless. The government paid a portion and we paid the rest. My husband didn’t pay a dime for me to go to school.

I have to be honest, this is NOT where I saw myself:

Thirty-two years old, legally married, and now in the dreadful process of getting divorced. No kids or family of my own, of which I dreamed to have by now since I was a little girl.

I will be the first to admit I am not perfect. I have made my own mistakes in my responses and allowing my emotions to get the best of me. I had many expectations, and should have never given my spouse so much power over me. But I will no longer diminish what I experienced. And I urge you to not diminish someone’s behavior as abusive, just because they aren’t laying a finger on you. I would have rather had my husband beat the living daylights out of me, than to get the verbal and emotional lashings I received. Each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions regardless of anyone else, and we CHOOSE whether we want to lead our lives with honor and integrity, or not. “You made me mad” is not an excuse for bad behavior.

I would NEVER want anyone to stay with me out of pity or feel obligated in any way to stay. He said he wanted to leave for the past two years. TWO YEARS?! Who does that?? I guess he stayed so he could continue living comfortably with his game room, his office, and his own closet just for his shoes, without having to pay rent, his phone or bills..

It’s understandable that leaving someone is not easy by any means, especially someone who does so much for you. But there are honorable ways to do so. You definitely don’t email and then talk to your ex via Instagram while you travel to their state and mock your wife to her. Then come back home and make promises of change and effort (which only lasted a month). You definitely don’t start hanging out and spending time with another female more than your own wife, KNOWING if she were to do the same, you would call her a cheater. You definitely don’t bring said female into your home to help you leave your wife, and together steal her cat, among a slew of other things she paid for. But yet, she never did any of what you did, nor would she have ever done so. Because she respected you, and she was ALL IN with you. For the rest of her life. She gave you the benefit of the doubt every SINGLE time. She trusted you. She put her faith in YOU. And you shattered her entire world with your dishonesty and lack of integrity.

Anytime I would claim him as my husband; he would yell at me, “I’m not your husband! Stop using that against me!” But when it was convenient for HIM, he’d refer to me as his wife. I would sarcastically reply, “Oh we ARE married then???”

The marriage was never “real” to him. He says it’s because he wasn’t “ready”. But the moment I said “I DO”, my intention was set on forever with him.

It was set on LOVE.

Not the Instagram-worthy photos of “hey look at us; we’re so happy!” kind of love. The kind of love that goes through the trials and the bumps in the road. The kind of love that wakes up every single morning and says “I’m here to stay. And if you try to leave, I’m coming with you.”

Although, I honestly believe, had he not done what he did; I would more than likely be holding on to the tiny, minuscule, glimmer of hope waiting for him to “change his mind.” I now realize and recognize the mental, emotional, and psychological abuse I experienced. I was warned about this by his ex from the very beginning; it’s a shame I didn’t listen to her, it would’ve saved me a ton of hardship and heartache.

This is how I was made by God. To love with no limits. To wear my heart on my sleeve. To forgive relentlessly. To give unending grace. To see what He sees in everyone around me. And I’m so thankful for the heart he’s given me. Although it’s been broken and put together so many times in my life; it’s something I’ll never take for granted, because I would rather live my life giving love, than being bitter because of those that have caused me pain.

So, now what?

This is NOT what I planned. This is NOT what I wanted for my life. This is NOT how it was “supposed” to go.

But friends, can I just share with you how good God truly is?

I had fallen away from attending church regularly because I wanted him to go with me but he didn’t want to. So, I conformed to watching online for the most part. I would attend different churches here and there and he went with me a total of about 5 times. February 12, 2019 – during an hour-long conversation about how do we address his resentment towards me, my spouse revealed to me that he didn’t marry me because he loves me. He said I KNEW we weren’t marrying for love. That he only spoke to my parents because he didn’t want to look like an idiot. I felt so deceived, confused, and frankly quite apathetic towards him after this conversation. I started counseling and going to church every Sunday after that. I signed up to serve in the Kids and Worship ministries; and I cannot begin to explain how God has put everything in it’s place and in order since I made those simple decisions. He has orchestrated things on my behalf, and I believe opened my eyes to many things I was trying to deny and be blind to. Because I wanted to believe the BEST about my husband.

No matter how many times I disobeyed and didn’t listen to His voice. No matter how many times I ignored what He so clearly wanted for me. He STILL saved me. When I thought my life was going in one direction; He made it go in the complete opposite direction. He left the 99 and took care of me. He gave me strength to stand up for myself. He gave me wisdom and protection to not be fooled by manipulation or gas-lighting anymore. I prayed over my man NIGHTLY while he slept. For God to turn his heart of stone into a heart of flesh. I didn’t leave him because I had that much faith God was going to turn things around. I knew God heard me, I knew he was suffering with me. I knew when my husband gave me the divorce papers on September 9th (after being out until almost 2am with this other woman the night before), and when I asked for his reasons to divorce me he said, “because you don’t play video games or workout with me. You’re boring. I don’t like you. You’re annoying. You constantly blow your nose.” I knew that was my queue to just let it go. Actually, I laughed at how ridiculous that all sounded; which of course angered him. But I didn’t cry, I didn’t beg him to stay (which he texted me in November basically saying that’s what I was “supposed” to do). I accepted that release and peace in my heart as God saying, “it’s time, my love.”

I believe God will have his son back one day. I want to believe that for the sake of his life, his relationships and his mental health. He’s got a God-sized hole in his heart; and everything he tries to fill that hole with, fails to make him happy. He blamed me for his unhappiness. I didn’t meet his expectations and he said I wasn’t the same person he fell in love with; so he left. He was right, I was no longer the 27-year-old, naive, feeble, weak, insecure, emotional wreck anymore. I was now a 31-year-old, self-assured, strong, faithful, daughter of the ONE true King; trusting Him more than ever, doing things that made ME happy and no longer afraid to speak up.

Now he’s found someone else willing to please, appease and cater to him. She doesn’t want (anymore) kids, she doesn’t want to get married, she works out AND plays video games with him. (Which I did too, btw.) Wow, she’s perfect! And there will be a day when that ends. He claims they are just “friends”, but I believe what might have started off as an emotional affair (which I have much reason to believe started a little over a year ago…according to what his phone records indicate); turned into something more. A woman who has ZERO interest in a man who is MARRIED would not be so freaking willing to go to his house after his wife tells her she is not welcome there and HELPS him leave! Period! If I know my friend is having marriage troubles and starts asking me to “hang” constantly; #1 Boy bye, don’t drag ME into this. #2 If his wife ever told me to back off, I would freaking back off. It’s called respect. I believe he will continue leaving everyone and everything that doesn’t meet his “perfect” standards, because who he truly needs in his heart, is Jesus.

I wrote this on an Instagram post by Proverbs31 Ministries about the Lord giving us strength & restoration:

God did not restore my marriage, but not because He couldn’t or didn’t try. As soon as I started running after Him & stopped running after my husband, He grabbed a hold of me & saved me. He restored and strengthened me piece by piece until I had the strength to stand up & say “enough”. God hates divorce, but He also clearly states that if one of His daughters (or sons) is married to an unbelieving spouse, and that spouse leaves; she is free. Because he wants His children to live in peace. Be encouraged that He has your back & knows what’s best for YOU. ❤

There are moments I feel so broken and used, like I’m damaged goods. Or like I’m too “old” to be put in this position.

Who’s going to want me now?

I was supposed to marry Paul Walker and have 3 babies by now. But I guess that would’ve been an even more terrible loss. So now I understand why the Lord never gave me Paul Walker. 😦

But when I start to feel sorry for myself, I hear His still small voice say, “Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Your are NOT damaged goods. You are MINE. The man I have for you will love you for you. What has happened to you will not push him away, but draw him near.”

I think my word for this year is Patience. I’ve heard God whisper several times in this process to “wait” and to “trust”.

So Lord, give me the patience to wait and to trust in what You have planned for me. I know it will exceed anything I could ever dream up myself. 

This process, although painful, has taught me so much. It has strengthened me and grown me in so many different ways. Mentally, spiritually and psychologically. It’s funny that what my spouse (and the enemy) used to belittle and diminish me, is what God has used to strengthen me in each of those areas. Just like Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers. “What you intended to harm me, God has used for good.” – Genesis 50:20. None of what has happened has stolen my joy. Although I have been sad, God’s love and faithfulness is steadfast and comforting.

And to be clear, I’m sad because the person I thought he was, is not who he truly is. I thought I had married this sweet, kind, funny, nurturing, selfless man with a heart to serve others and his country. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t ALL bad. It never really is. We’ve laughed & had some very sweet moments. I thought I was being loved unconditionally. I’ve never been so close to anyone; I mean this was my first, real, adult relationship! When I was doing what he wanted me to do; our relationship was bliss. But the moment I stepped “out of line” or tried to express my heart; that’s when things would turn sour and of course I would take the blame & seek reconciliation. I was wrong in looking at his potential, and feeling like I could help him heal and get past certain demons. Although we had good moments; the bad ones would smother all the life out of the good. With time, I felt like I was constantly begging for his love. Begging to be seen. Begging to be pursued. Begging to be truly known. He still knows NOTHING about me. Because he was too caught up in what he could get from me. That is not love.  I tried to show him what love is by being the example; he even told me he didn’t know what love was until he met me. But that’s the curse of the narcissist. They give you these sweet moments that you hold onto so dearly, so that when the bad times come, you think, “well they said I’m the best thing to ever happen to them, I just need to be better!” That’s where my mindset would go. Try harder. Do better. Do more. Until we were in this cycle of co-dependency. Me stuffing my feelings and playing a part to appease and please him to help him with his “stress” and not make him mad, meanwhile not feeling truly loved or a priority to him; who was my absolute everything.

You don’t really know a person until they decide to show you who they really are. And I pray if you’re in a situation where someone is using lies, manipulation, gas-lighting, or any other tactics to diminish your feelings or make you feel like everything is always your fault and they never take responsibility for any ways they hurt you; listen to your gut. If they are allowed to do whatever they please, but for you there are rules; that’s a red flag. If they are addicted to pornography; that’s a red flag. If they don’t make an effort; that’s a red flag. If everything is always someone else’s fault; RUN. If you feel like you are alone and putting the brunt of the effort in the relationship; that’s a red flag. If you tell them you feel disconnected and want to read a book together to reconnect, but they refuse to try anything to help your relationship succeed; that’s a HUGE red flag. Ya’ll, I ignored every red flag in the freaking book!

There is always some degree of fault on both sides, so apologize sincerely; but don’t allow yourself to get taken advantage of. Do they humble themselves & say sorry or admit fault; or do they just give you a blanket apology not fully understanding why you’re upset? And when you cry; take note of how they react. A man (or woman) should NEVER get mad at you, for having emotions. Don’t accept justifications for ANY type of disrespect. A person who does not respect you and does not respect your relationship; does not respect THEMSELVES. And it is NOT your job, to help them. They NEED to be willing to get the help they need, with your support ONLY. You are not to be used as a doormat or punching bag for their crappy upbringing or whatever excuse they have for why they behave the way they do. Sometimes sabbaticals in relationships are the best things to happen; it allows space for healing and transformation, but only for people who are open and willing to change.

Whatever you are going through, hold on tight to God’s promises. He will never leave or forsake you. He is with you every step of the way, without a doubt. You are unique, precious, and beloved sons and daughters of the creator of all things! That is so powerful, friends.

Sit in your power. Grab hold of that power. Listen to His voice. Follow Him, put Him first, trust Him, give Him everything; every dream, every plan, every hope, every prayer…allow Him to lead. And you will NOT fail. God asked me to let go quite a few times throughout my relationship. I thought that I could have him, and also surrender him to the Lord. I couldn’t do both. Now I realize God couldn’t elevate me to where He wants me in such a toxic environment; and my spoiling, excuses for his behavior, enabling and inability to allow my husband to face any consequences because I didn’t want him to suffer; was doing more of a disservice to him than helping him.

My marriage failed. The enemy might have won over my first husband and my first marriage, but he didn’t win ME. I am not a failure as a wife, and I will NOT be defeated by this in any way. I did everything under the sun to make this work and to keep the vows I made before God and my spouse. I put my needs aside to please him any way I could, and I know God honors my pure intentions in CHOOSING to love my husband “for better & for worse”.

Whatever your circumstance; you WILL be redeemed and restored like new. You are loved fiercely; and pursued whole-heartedly. You are worthy.

You are NOT damaged goods.

“As-for-you-you-meant-evil-against-me-but-God-meant-it-for-good.”-Genesis-50-20

“God is Hilarious Like That”

As I sat with one of my girlfriends, sunbathing by the pool and having girl talk; her response to what I was saying was, “God is hilarious like that.

Have you ever thought you had everything figured out? Like you could see your future unfolding and thought that you KNEW exactly where God was taking you and WHY he was taking you there?

I was there. In fact I was just there a few months ago.

The first time I applied to jobs out of state was in November 2013 and it just so happened that exactly a year later I found myself again applying to jobs out of state in November 2014. I felt I needed to re-invent myself and experience life outside of Florida.

I had just started working at a University as an Admissions representative that August and although it wasn’t my dream job by any means; I met some amazing people. Before I felt complacent in the job, I threw some applications out here and there in states like Georgia, South Carolina & North Carolina. All bordering Florida so I wouldn’t be TOO far from home, but far enough to feel a difference.

I was doing well, had found a church that I loved with amazing pastors & people, joined the worship team, I had an awesome roommate who was like a sister to me, I wasn’t feeling lonely like I did when I lived by myself for two years, and everyone I worked with was a joy to be around. I looked forward to seeing my co-workers, and assisting students in reaching their goals or sometimes I was just an ear on the other end to listen to them. I felt I had purpose.

In December I received a phone call from ESPN telling me they wanted to set up a phone interview. It went pretty well I thought, they said they would be getting in touch after the holidays since it was really close to Christmas. Until then, I was playing the waiting game.

Later that week I received another phone call from ESPN informing me they wanted to fly me to Charlotte, NC for a personal tour and interview to work for ESPN-U and the new SEC Network. It’s so exciting when you feel like you’re going to be doing something not only related to what you have your degree in after so long, but to be living in a gorgeous state and thinking of all the cool people you’re going to meet.

After my flight & and picking up the rental car that was provided, I had lunch in a Sports Grill of all places. On all the tvs was every ESPN channel and I was so pumped to be part of something so huge.

Arriving at the studio, I was greeted by my supervisor and given a tour of the studio. Everything seemed so perfect. Even my interview didn’t feel like an interview. The question came up about re-location and adjusting and I said I would be fine. I’d have my dog with me and I was ready to get out of Florida. My flight was delayed back home so I was exhausted by the time I got back to my apartment after midnight.

I was told that I would know by the end of the week if I got the job and my supervisor called me himself that following Friday to ask me if I wanted the job. I couldn’t contain myself and silently celebrated with a few co-workers about my new position as an Associate Content Editor for ESPN.

The job I had at the University was full-time with benefits and the whole nine yards. At the new job I was getting paid five dollars more per hour, but it was part time with no benefits. Even though I was told they would schedule me as much as possible and I’d be able to pick up hours.

After being offered the job there were quite a few red flags that I saw but ignored because this was “the chance of a lifetime.” During my interview I was told I would be helped with relocation, but then learned they only assist with those who are full-time employees. When I found out, my supervisor asked if that would be a problem, and I said “no.” He told me that he would gladly help and round up some other males to help move my things into storage and then to my apartment. But on the days we needed him, he bailed and my mom and I had to do everything on our own with the help of my sweet aunt.

I was flown to CT for “rookie camp” orientation to learn about the company and go through all their policies. Got to see the home base of ESPN and all the big studios you see on TV.

My first day observing I thought was going to be so cool and exciting and I was gonna learn so much. We sat there most of the time doing nothing. And when there was something to do, it wasn’t anything exciting or challenging…at all. I thought to myself, “Well, things are bound to get better. The more experience I have I’m sure.

But they didn’t.

My first few weeks I spent in tears when I was “home”. It didn’t feel like home. And even as I unpacked the following weeks, I kept the boxes in a corner “just in case.”

The people I met were great, don’t get me wrong. A lot of older men, and the females were friendly but not willing to go out of their way to be your friend or invite you anywhere.

I won tickets to a Chicago Bulls game which I ended up attending by myself. When I was working I sat in an edit room for hours at a time, sometimes doing nothing, and not enjoying what I was doing at all. My schedule is all over the place, not consistent so it’s virtually impossible to get another job. And after I was told they were going to get me as many hours as they could I found myself with 6 days in between shifts, having only two shifts in a week. I felt stuck. I felt alone. I felt sad and like I had made a HUGE mistake in thinking this was the right thing for me. I was so SURE God wanted me here. I was so SURE this is where I was supposed to work and retire from.

But God KNEW what He was doing the whole time. And He NEVER once, let me stray.

One of my best friends from my home town texted me one day in May asking how everything was going and how I was liking the job. She works for a physical therapy and home care company. Last summer, I had started school again to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist Assistant. I asked her about the job and she was telling me if she could that she would go back to school in a heartbeat. She was telling me the PTAs that work in her company all LOVE their jobs, get paid really well and still have time for their families.

After thinking about it for a few days, I decided I was going back to school indefinitely. I don’t want to waste another minute contemplating, I know that what I love to do is work with people, helping others and I honestly think this is a career I would love and do well in.

Since I live out of state and have only been in NC for a few months, I can’t claim residency so going to school there would be outrageously expensive. On top of having a job that can’t even cover all my bills and being away from everyone I love, I decided I was moving back home to Florida.

So here I am ready to move again after being in NC for five months which have felt like five years. I’m going back home, to start school; this time with fresh eyes and a new perspective.

In a way, I took for granted all that I had, thinking I had to be in search of something more. What more could I need? Great friends, amazing family, living in paradise, finally feeling like I found the right church for me…and I moved 500 miles away for a job that looks cool on Facebook, sounds cool when you tell people what you do; but that you dread each day you have to sit in a room by yourself staring at a computer screen for eight hours.

I prayed for God’s guidance to get here, and guide me He did. I think sometimes he allows opportunities in our lives, not because they are definitely meant for us. I think he likes for us to determine what’s right for us ourselves, instead of asking Him all the time what He thinks and what he wants like he’s some magical genie. I was meant to move to NC. To get the itch out of wanting to live in another state, so I could see how much I really did love living in FL. To see that, yes, I studied and have my bachelor’s degree in film production; but at the time I had no idea what else even interested me and maybe it’s NOT the career for me. And now that I’ve grown, although going back to school is something I said I would never do, I see it as a chance for growth and to have stability. Meanwhile, I can still do what I truly love on the side which is photography.

So indeed, “God is hilarious like that”. You think you know where you’re going, but you really have no idea.

He has everything in the palm of His hand, and He can send you down paths you think are paved in gold, but He just wants you to see what’s underneath the gold. Only then, can you choose. He also likes to throw people in your path when you least expect it too 😉

Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep praying. Never cease. God loves you too much to let you get away.

In the times you think He’s abandoned you, are the times He is most near.

“Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…” – James 4:8

If I Told You That You’re Beautiful…

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If I told you that you’re beautiful,
What would you say?
Would you tell me I’m crazy?
Or just laugh and turn away…

If I told you that you’re perfect,
Would you believe me?
Or do you believe the comparisons you make
With the women in magazines and T.V.

If I told you I’ve been where you are
Experienced the unkind words
And whispers of the kids in the halls…

Would you then trust me,
When I tell you you’re pretty?

I’ve been through the pain and tears of not feeling pretty,
Standing in front of the mirror,
Asking God, “Why me?”

If there was a way that I could make you see,
There’s hope for your future
And you can be whatever you want to be.

You are a princess,
You are a gem,
You can be a beauty queen,
And somebody’s very best friend.

Once you see yourself for who you really are,
The inner changes transforms the outside
And with that knowledge,
I know you’ll reach the stars.

When you focus on the truth,
And stop believing the lies.
You’ll start seeing the beautiful girl in the mirror,
The one seen through God’s eyes.

So stop comparing yourself,
And obsessing over what you need to fix.
You are perfect,
You are loved,
You’re a treasure,
You are His