My dear friend Katie Ganshert is celebrating the release of her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, with a blog hop. But this isn’t just any blog hop. Rather than talking about her book, she’s invited bloggers to share stories about a time in their lives when the Lord brought beauty from pain. Because I’m eager to support Katie, I agreed to bare my soul and revisit one of the darkest chapters of my life. Just as the characters in her moving story experience hope after heartache, I, too, reaped wildflowers after my winter.
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July 17, 1984 began much like any other day, but as is the case most days, things happened that made it memorable. On this particular Tuesday, the Prime Minister of France, Pierre Mauroy, resigned; the Soviets launched their seventh manned flight, Soyuz T-12, to the space station Salyut 7; and I turned twenty-five.
I’m one of those people who looks forward to birthdays, so when my husband of four years didn’t give me a card or gift at breakfast, I was disappointed. When he didn’t even wish me happy birthday, I told myself that was because he had a special surprise and was waiting until we got home from work that night to give it to me.
He had a surprise all right, one that rocked my world.
We returned home and ate the dinner I prepared, and yet he still said nothing to acknowledge my birthday. Another hour or so went by before I decided to ask him if he remembered what day it was. I expected him to be shocked and offer a heartfelt apology. Instead, I was the one who was shocked.
He told me he remembered what day it was but that he didn’t have a gift for me. He went on to say that he didn’t love me anymore and wanted a divorce.
The next months were tough. I learned about his infidelity. My church excommunicated me. Fellow believers who didn’t know all the facts said hurtful things, passing judgment on me, even though I’d been a faithful wife. And if all this wasn’t enough, I found out that he remarried his first wife just ten days after our divorce was final.
I’ve never felt as alone as I did during those dark days. I doubted myself as a wife, as a woman, as a witness for Christ. I was young and took to heart the admonishment of mature believers who treated me as though I’d committed an unforgivable sin. I felt certain no man would ever want me again, certainly not a godly one.
Not once did I believe the Lord abandoned me, though. In fact, there were days I felt like He was the only one who understood, who cared, and who loved me unconditionally.
In one of my lowest lows, when the world seemed a very harsh place, I imagined the Lord standing at the other end of the long hallway in my apartment building. I could almost see Him. And what I saw brought tears to my eyes.
The Lord didn’t turn His back on me or shake a finger at me. He smiled and opened His arms wide. In my mind’s eye, I ran as fast as I could into His embrace. He hadn’t forsaken me. He’d forgiven me. His love for me wasn’t something that could be tossed aside the way I’d been. It was a constant then, just as it is today.
Two and a half years passed. During that time I found a new church home, one with an active singles group that welcomed divorced members. I made some wonderful friends there, including a tall teacher who was a longtime bachelor. He asked me out, and I accepted, although I was sure this pure, godly man would want nothing more to do with me once he learned about my past. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
Gwynly and I were married in that church on December 19, 1987. We’ll celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Ours isn’t a perfect marriage, but it’s a happy one. From my winter came a bumper crop of wildflowers.