Sunday, May 16, 2010

It’s Tough Being a Woman

By the grace of God, since January I’ve been in Beth Moore’s study of Esther, “It’s Tough Being a Woman.” I truly don’t know where I’d be now, if it weren’t for Esther’s story. It felt as if God was speaking through this study directly to me. It couldn’t have come at a better time, too. I have grown so much closer to God. I’ve learned to listen for Him. The story of Esther touches the heart of women where they are, and especially in trials, I think. I learned an array of different things. Beth Moore couldn’t have explained Esther’s story better!

Esther taught me that if respect is demanded in a marriage, it is not Biblical…it’s called FEAR. Husbands must love wives and earn respect. My X wanted me to respect him when he wasn’t being respectable. Little did I know JUST how disrespectful he was being at the time. And yet, I tried to better our marriage all by myself. Through this study, I realized that I had NO FAULT in my divorce.

Esther showed me that “You can’t amputate your history from your destiny. God will use your history for His glory. Learn from it.” This allowed me to understand that God has put me through each and every trial in my life for a reason. One day, I know I will be able to use my testimony to help someone else, who may be in the trenches of that very same moment. I will be able to reach my hand down and lift them from the pit before it’s too late as Esther has done for me, in a way. How could I accomplish that without truly understanding what that person is going through, having gone through it myself? There is a destiny hidden in me!

Esther told me not to make decisions out of anger. After everything that I discovered such a short time ago, it was hard not to ask for a divorce immediately. But I needed to give God the chance to make a change in my husband. Sadly, he chose not to change. But I can always say that I tried everything to save my marriage and gave God every opportunity to work. God will not forget my obedience. I have been patient and have waited upon the Lord to lead me. Believe me, it wasn’t easy!

In Ephesians 5:25-27 it says that a husband is to make his wife holy and be self sacrificing. A wife is not to please the husband, no matter how she’s treated. A husband is to make his wife a better person. I think my X thought I lived to serve him, and if his “needs” were not met to his standards, it was OK for him to get them met elsewhere. That is not of God. I still wonder if I’ll ever have faith in men again after this. Only time will tell. That is one deep scar!!!

In Judges 6:3 it says there is no one meaner than a coward. Cowards tend to victimize defenseless people. This helped me to understand why my X may have done what he did. The Amalekites in the Bible were against everything that was Godly. Maybe my faith intimidated my X. Who knows? Many times I’ve become angry and maybe even wanted to just be MEAN. But I learned to leave my wrath with God. Let God seek justice. Don’t seek revenge. Kill him with kindness. I also learned that I can never depend on another man for security. Only God can provide that….and He has!

I learned the importance of my “mind-set”. Even the weak grow strong if they set their minds to it. It’s best to respond out of your mind-set rather than your mood. Keep your mind on God’s promises even in the bad times. Anger, itself, is OK. Just don’t sin when angry. Let go of anger quickly. God has a perfect plan. He never takes His eyes off of us or off the clock ticking over us. No evil can destroy even one of us who belongs to God through Christ Jesus. Obey God, and you WILL prevail! Satan can’t win, and you can’t lose. Sometimes God uses the winds of a new threat to blow the dust off a past miracle that has moved from our active file into the archives. God will deliver ME!!!

In my marriage, I was acquainted with trying to deal with the wrongdoing of my X while he went on with life, oblivious to my pain. I could shout it out from the tops of the mountains, but he wouldn’t have heard me. I often wanted to corner him in a public place and scream, “Don’t you get it?” If he won’t judge himself, my flesh would gladly enlist a group to help me judge him. It would be an easy sentencing.

The situation becomes even more complicated when you sense that the very person who helped your life to fall apart wonders why you can’t get it together. There’s nothing quite like someone who hurt you judging you for being hurt. As I read these pages, I was working toward reconciliation with this man, against all odds. Even the Christian counselors told me to leave him. But my X expected me to be able to move forward without looking back, not considering my pain. Easy for him to say!!! I still don’t think he really gets the extent of the damage he’s caused. I think he still denies much wrong-doing. He actually tried to blame ME, the one who read all the marriage books, the one who was submissive beyond myself, the one who was faithful till the end!

When evil takes you over, it’s sometimes hard to recognize it. Evil can make your heart grow so hard that it no longer feels. It becomes callous. The same judge who sat on the bench the day the wrong was committed will be sitting on the bench the day of sentencing. Esther really helped me to let go, and let GOD! I have allowed God to be the judge for the pain my X caused me.

And yet, for these life-changing events, I can be thankful. Look where I am spiritually because I had nowhere to look but up. It’ll often be crises that change our direction. There is human dilemma in destiny. (Ephesians 1:11) One of the most important parts of fulfilling our destiny is transparency. “And you shall know, I am the Lord your God.” Who knows? YOU will know your destiny. Stay close to God, and you will know. (Psalm 100:3)

As painful as the process may be, that which shatters our superficiality also shatters the chains of our fragility and frees us to walk with dignity and might to our destinies. We are not the fragile flowers we’ve considered ourselves to be. We, like Esther, are the warrior princesses (if you’re a woman) of God. The thought of divorce, as I tried to make a decision, made me feel helpless, but I wasn’t helpless. I realized that I could find a way to support myself and my daughter, no matter what the outcome. Money is not something I should worry about, not with God as my provider. Sometimes we fear that fighting for what is right will kill us. To stand by and do nothing out of self-preservation is to be dead already. That’s how I felt staying in a dead marriage would be, if I stayed just for financial security. I accepted the fact that I might be in poverty, but I had to do what was right trusting that God was looking out for me. He truly is amazing!!! He does work everything for our good when we know Him. He did for me. He is the only one who will NEVER fail me.

Esther’s famous line had an enormous influence on me! She expressed that not only am I royalty but I also have been placed in this exact sphere of influence, regardless of the size you perceive it to be, “for such a time as this.” Ecclesiastes 3:2 tells us there is “a time to be born and a time to die.” God cut out those exact perimeters for you and me on the kingdom calendar so that we would be positioned on earth right now! “We were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works everything in conformity with the purpose of His will” (Eph. 1:11). All of what I am going though has significance in the Kingdom of God!!! I have to accept that I was not called to an easy life. I was called to a purposeful life. I must make Godward decisions to stay in God’s will for my life.

Without the Word of God as my daily bread, I would honestly be buried in a pit so deep that I wouldn’t recognize daylight! “Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.” (Psalm 119:37) So, I stayed in God’s word like my life depended on it. I read from my Bible daily, and I was taking part in six Bible Studies per week. Several had homework! I lived and breathed God’s word, in hopes of hearing God speak. And boy did I!!!

In Esther, soon after I had made the decision to divorce, Beth Moore included a song in her study. It was called “Miracle of the Moment” by Steven Curtis Chapman. You can hear it on YouTube: The words spoke volumes to me!!! I heard God speak through them loud and clear. He told me, “Get the divorce NOW. Don’t wait. I’ve picked your new husband, and he’s out there waiting for you.” A new husband??? That’s the last thing on my mind. He told me to let my X go. So, I started praying again. “OK, God. I’ll get the divorce quickly, but you need to give me the name of my lawyer.” I had already visited about 10. Sure enough, two days later in my sleep. I was awoken by the name of my lawyer, one I had visited. I couldn’t get his name out of my head. It was clear that God was speaking. So, I hired him, and was divorced less than a month later. Sometimes when we’re awakened for no other apparent lesson and we sense God is near, what could be more precious to Him than our saying, “Speak, for Your servant is listening”?

The most frequent command in the Bible is “Do not be afraid”. Esther said, as she went in to see the King, “If I perish, I perish.” That should be our attitude when being obedient to the Lord. We tend to preserve ourselves instead of taking our calling from God. We are called to be brave! God is faithful! As hard as trusting can be, living with constant fears is harder.

During the times of depression I learned that sometimes just surviving certain tasks without falling apart is my best and in those times God is not ashamed of my performance. He loves my willingness and obedience despite my insecurities. Christ calls us to die to or deny self and follow Him. Christ’s purpose in calling us to deny ourselves is that we’d deny our selfishness, ambition, pasts, or any damaged emotions the right to cheat us of His far higher plans for us.

We have no greater burden than our own egos. Only the smallest person needs others flat on their backs to feel tall. Unforgiveness can be a form of bondage. A person becomes a snare to us any time he or she consumes an excessive and unhealthy space in our thoughts, whether negative or positive. I find that I have new things to forgive my X for everyday. It’s a constant battle for me, and never easy. But it is important to forgive and move on, not for him, but for me. We need God’s healing in our minds even more than our relationships.

It felt like the following paragraph was written just for me. Sometimes you just can’t hold yourself together a second longer. You’ve stayed strong to be everybody’s rock through a difficult situation. You couldn’t afford to lose your head because too much was at stake. Amazingly, you held it together through the most threatening phase, wondering all along what alien person with composure had overtaken your body. Then just about the time the first ounce of pressure came off and you imagined feeling relief, you fall apart. Tears flow at any little reminder. Even when someone asked me how I’m doing, I would just start crying…right there! It was uncontrollable. Esther told me that this is normal. It’s easy for people to say, “Pull yourself together.” But it’s part of the process. The tears must flow in order to move forward.

I learned that my X was an emotional island. Disconnected people can never be whole. Vulnerable and painful though it may be, a community of people whose lives are tied together by the tender strings of the heart is life the way God meant it to be lived.

I now know that God has been making a warrior out of me for many years, maybe even my whole life. Some of us with little precious battle experience have no idea why God is allowing us to go though such difficult times in a place we thought was His will. He’s trying to make warriors out of us! Rise to the occasion! We don’t have to fight the unseen alone. With God and our friends in Christ we can defend ourselves with the sword of the Spirit and the shield of faith. When we do, we are GUARANTEED the victory.

Take it from the psalmist who said, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God, Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.” (Ps. 40:2-3) In Deut. 23:5 it states, “However, the Lord you God…turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.” I really needed to hear those verses.

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. (Psalm 16:5) Once you wrap your mind around the favor God has had on you and the richness of the portion He assigned to you even through disaster, you can’t help but share your portion with others. This taught me that I need to pursue my Master’s in Counseling, no matter how little I may be paid when I get out. Remember, it’s not about the money. God will provide what I need as long as I am serving Him. If I don’t help others through my own tragedy, then it was all for nothing. What a waste that would be.

During depression this was an excellent verse. I will exalt You, O Lord, for You lifted me out of the depths rescued me and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, You brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent O Lord my God, I will give you praise forever.” (Psalm 30:1-3 and 11-12) It is incredible how close I have gotten to being in the middle of the pit of depression. I could have never gone through all of this without Esther and Divorce Care. Depression itself is normal, but you must be careful how close you step toward that pit. Despair is not a part of God’s vocabulary. There is ALWAYS hope in Him!

God not only promises that He “works out everything” (Eph. 1:11) “according to His good purpose” (Phil. 2:13). He promises that “in all things God worlds for [OUR] good” (Romans 8:28). In other words, every time He shifts us here or moves us there on this earthbound chessboard, He’s not just fulfilling His own pleasure regardless of its impact on you. He’s also working every detail—even the dreadful ones—to your and my good. Trust in God, and He will direct your path! God knows. God sees. God acts.

What is Faith? “I believe in the sun even when it is not shining. I believe in love, even when I do not feel it. I believe in God even when He is silent.” Deliverance always comes for the people of God. He can cause mountains to quake or simply keep kings awake, as with King Xerxes. What we do for God’s kingdom is what really matters.

Now, that my Esther study is coming to a close, it feels bittersweet. I’ve grown so much, and so much has happened in my own life as I studied through these pages. I expect, I will never look at the book of Esther the same again. Esther has come to life for in my life. In a way, I feel like Esther in my own story. I have been placed here for “such a time as this”. I’m going to live out God’s will for my life, and “if I perish, I perish.” I have defeated the Hayman in my story. Have you? God will go to battle with you. Just call upon Him!

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