Rita’s Story – There Is Always Hope!
When I was a high school senior, I started dating a college student. I was intrigued by his ability to “do his own thing.” It wasn’t long before I gave in to my own rebelliousness. As our relationship grew, there were things we did that were not right, but the thrill of the moment seemed worth the risk. I liked my new-found freedom. I believed I was doing all the things I really wanted to do.
Our wedding appeared to be one of joy. Yes, I loved this man, but, at the same time, I was filled with doubts. I knew I was getting married because it was the “right” thing to do. I had committed myself to this man in the most intimate sense, and now there was only one choice – to marry the man I had given myself to. There was no going back.
If only I’d known then what I know now. God is a God of love. There is no sin too big for Him to forgive. But, I couldn’t see the truth. And so I found myself continuing to detour from my childhood dreams. My husband and I moved away from family and friends to strange, new places. I was lonely, yet it was very painful to correspond or interact with people from home because I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be.
When my daughter was born, I wanted to stay home and raise her. I wanted to be the kind of mom my mother had been. But I wasn’t encouraged to do so. For a number of reasons, my husband and I thought we couldn’t make it financially if I didn’t work. In retrospect, I suppose I should have just said “no” to working outside the home. I suppose I was a little intimidated – both by my husband and by the world around me.
I felt inadequate as a mother. I didn’t have the faintest idea of how to be a mother, and I believed that other women could do a better job. Again, looking back, I realize that Satan was very busy in my life. Today, I know that if God gives you a baby, He will give you what you need to care for that child. All He wants us to do is trust Him, and He will provide.
During the difficult years of my first marriage, I was without peace. I didn’t want to be the head of our house, but because my husband wasn’t all that he should have been, I thought I had to take charge. Those things that had been important to me during my growing up years were not important to him. My husband and I did not share the same faith. To this day, I don’t believe that he ever wanted to hurt me or our daughter; he simply didn’t know how to be a godly man because he didn’t know God. During the trials of our marriage, he became more frustrated in his role as a husband and father.
So many of the choices I made placed me in harm’s way. As a woman in need of relationships, I was vulnerable. In my vulnerability, I rebelled. And rebellion, as we all learn, can separate us from God. I grew more and more lonely, more and more anxious about motherhood, and more and more angry with my situation.
At the time of my divorce, I was carrying a heavy burden. There were so many things that my family and friends didn’t know. So many of the choices I had made were contrary to God’s will. Probably most painful was the battle I was waging with myself. I was quick to use situation ethics; still, I had a sense of right and wrong. My rebellious nature conflicted with that “still small voice” within me.
It was uncomfortable to be around some people, especially certain friends I had grown up with. So I put up barriers around the things that were too tender inside me. In self-defense, I cut myself off from those people whose lives seemed orderly and perfect. I told myself that I had to live differently because, after all, I was living in the real world which they could not understand. I cut myself off from people who cared and, instead, sought friendships with people who were also angry and hurting.
Denial is a powerful tool of Satan. It saps our strength and leaves us groaning under a heavy burden. But nothing can be hidden from God. He has been very good to me. As He helped me acknowledge my sins, He also showed me His faithfulness, forgiveness, and mercy.
Today, I am thankful for the family that remained loyal and always welcomed me home. I am thankful for the childhood friends who didn’t give up on me. Time for healing gave me opportunity to accept that, yes, I had made some bad choices, but they are in the past. I am reminded of the words from Isaiah:
“I alone am the One who is going to wipe away your rebellious actions for My own sake. I will not remember your sins anymore” (Isaiah 43:25 GWN).
Lessons learned on the detours of life have brought me to where I am today. And that seems a good place to end my story. The lessons learned in my lifetime can be translated into words of wisdom for my daughter and other women.
- First, it’s never too late to turn around and start over. Nothing is ever hopeless – there is always hope.
- Second, if doubts exist about a particular choice, don’t make it! It’s true that we have many choices in life, but they’re not all good for us.
- Third, patience is truly a desirable virtue that serves us all well.
- Fourth, don’t put yourself in situations that are tempting. Think about the consequences of your actions. Be careful to surround yourself with friends you can trust and to whom you are accountable.
- Fifth, set priorities for yourself. Don’t include those things that you think would make others like you. Instead, prioritize those goals that you know will lead to a healthy future and please God.
- Sixth, be true to yourself. If you are true to yourself, then you will also be true to others.
Jesus reminds us to love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31). I can love others because God first loved me!
Thank You, Lord, for Your patience, compassion, and eternal love. You are truly the God of love and life! Amen.
A true story by Rita Davis as told to her friend, Linda Bartlett. Permission to use this story on the Word of Hope website has been given by Linda Bartlett and Lutherans For Life.