By: Mary Beth

Give it up! Give it up! That's what my son kept telling me. 'Mom, just give it up to....'

I have spent the better part of my life wishing for something more than I had.

I am the youngest of four children of an alcoholic father and a dominating mother. My dad was a very gentle man who turned to alcohol to run away from his problems. He got drunk every single night. My mom, on the other hand, was cold, dominating, and controlling. When she got mad at someone, she would explode with anger, call us kids the most horrible things a mom could say to her kids, and then not speak to anyone for days. There was arguing, screaming, and fighting in my home while I was growing up almost every night.

Being the youngest, I was the forgotten child and got lost in the shuffle of the dysfunction. I remember always wishing that I could be a part of someone else's family. A family who loved and laughed. A family who cared about one another and did things together and had fun.

During my high school years, I ran away from home a handful of times. I would stay with friends for days just to get away from what was going on at home. I would always call my mom to let her know where I was and was met with her silence and then the click of her hanging up on me. Then, I would cry and wonder why she didn't care about me.

When I was 18, I was raped. I was terrified to go home. When I finally did get home, my mom could see something was wrong. When I was able to tell her what happened, I was met with her silence. Instead of feeling comfort, I felt condemned for what had happened to me. After that, it seemed to me that any man I came into contact with was only interested in sex. I stayed as far away from them as I could. I never felt like I fit in with my friends. They all had boyfriends, and I didn't. I wasn't sure I even wanted one either. I started smoking and drinking to fit in.

I met my husband in a bar. All the warning signs that I should have seen were overshadowed by how he made me feel. He made me feel loved (or so I thought), and he made me laugh (something I never did while growing up). At the time, I was living in an apartment that I couldn't afford. I was on the verge of moving back home with my parents, and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I was very much enjoying my independence. So, I asked my future husband to move in with me. He had asked me to marry him several times, but he was drinking heavily at that time

and the warm fuzzy feelings were starting to fade. We had been living together for about two years when I became pregnant with our first son. The choice was made for me, and we got married when I was four months pregnant.

Shortly after our first son was born, I was feeling very strong about getting into church. We found a Baptist church that we both liked, and before too long we both gave our hearts to Jesus. We were also both baptized. My husband stopped drinking, and we lived a Christian life for almost two years, but then we walked away from God. I can't really say how or why, but we did. It wasn't very long before the drinking started again. Something changed in my husband after we walked away from God. We had two more sons during that time, and very slowly and subtly, he became mentally, emotionally, and verbally abusive to me and the kids. According to him, it was all fun, but when you are the on the receiving end, after awhile it isn't fun anymore.

The drinking continued. Several jobs were lost, and the finances were always in a desperate situation. He started to withdraw. I fell into a constant depression, thinking that if I did this or that, things would be better. I had three young boys and no support or help from my husband. We were never a team, never partners. There was no respect. He would put me down in front of the kids. He was the 'good parent,' and I was the 'bad parent.' He would always tell me that I was the problem, and after awhile he had me believing it. This went on for years. Those feelings from childhood surfaced again. 'Why can't I have a loving family?' I was a nobody and a nothing in my own home. It was them (the three boys and my husband) against me. The only thing I was good for was the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and sex on his terms. I withdrew mentally, emotionally, and physically from my husband. The anger and bitterness started building. I asked him repeatedly to go to counseling, but he refused, saying there was nothing wrong. I asked him to separate, so we both could reset our priorities. He told me if he walked out that door, he was never coming back. I was doing everything I could think of to repair our marriage.

During this time, our oldest son had given his heart to Jesus and was trying to get us to go to church with him. We went a few times, but I felt like a phony, putting on a show as the happy family, when in truth my marriage and family was in shambles. My husband had to have an angiogram on his heart due to blockage. He had this done two days after September 11th. Both events scared him, and things settled down between us for awhile. Then, my husband fell and broke his knee. He had surgery to put pins in his knee. He was off work for four months, unable to walk. I stayed home to care for him, and we were actually getting along! When he went back to work, things broke down between us again.

One morning, I received a call from my husband that he had been fired from his job of fourteen years. Several years earlier, he had told me of a scheme that a co-worker had to get money from the company. I told him that only a fool would jeopardize his job for a few extra bucks. Unknown to me, my husband had been doing it for all these years to the amount of $10,000 and had finally been caught. I was devastated and numb to everything. All I could think was, 'Who is this man I am married to?' We lived for ten months with no job, no money, nothing. The wall between us was so high, I couldn't see over it anymore. I had lost all respect for him, and I told him so. The anger, bitterness, and now resentment that he would jeopardize the welfare of his family took control of me.

By this time, my oldest son now had the call of God on his life to become a minister. He would pray with me and kept telling me that it was time to 'give it up to God.' Two months after being fired, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. He said he didn't love me and that I was mentally cruel to him. The kids begged him to try and fix our problems. The pastor of my son's church offered to counsel us. He reluctantly agreed to go. He went twice and never again. Months went by, and he made no move to end the marriage. We were two people just sharing a house.

Then, on a Saturday night, my husband got very drunk, and we got into a big fight. He raised his hand to hit me that night. I believe he would have if our oldest son hadn't stopped him. I was hysterical. I was at a complete loss as what to do. I was brought to my knees with despair that night. I was truly a broken woman. I was never any lower emotionally and mentally as I was that night. The pain in my heart was unbearable. Again, my son told me to 'Give it up to God.' He told me that some things are just too heavy for us to carry alone.

That next morning, I had a sinking feeling in my heart that I had nowhere to go. I decided that Sunday morning that I was going to 'Give it up to God.' I asked my husband to please go to church with me. He refused. So, I went myself. I went into that church broken and came out renewed. Praise God! I went in, and I asked God to forgive me of my sins and to come back into my life. I went to the altar and poured it all out to God. I immediately started feeling God's peace flow through my heart. I have never felt such relief from a burden as I did that morning I came to God.

One of the first things God did was direct me to a six month class dealing with relationships called Family Life Skills. It was there I learned I do have value as a person. I learned to set boundaries, which I had never done before. I learned that what I was living with was mental and emotional abuse, and that they are just as hurtful as physical abuse. The most important thing I learned was that I was not crazy, and I was not responsible for my husband's behavior. I had carried with me for many years that if I had been a better this or a better that, my husband would act different.

The next thing God showed me was that He loved me for me. God also showed me that I don't have to validate myself to anyone but Him. All those years I tried to find my value through my husband. How wrong I was to do that. I am a child of God, and He loves me unconditionally! Praise God! God was also there for me when my marriage finally ended. About six months after I rededicated my life to God, I asked my husband to leave. A week after he left, he finally told me that he had been having an affair with a woman half his age for the last four years and that he loved her and wanted to marry her! He confessed that the money he embezzled from his job was to support her. He also told me that he was sorry for hurting me, but if I had been a better wife to him, none of this would have happened. I filed for a divorce five days later.

Needless to say, I was devastated again. However, this time I had God's love embracing me and holding me up. I'm not going to lie to you and say that just because I had God in my life that it didn't hurt. It did hurt, and it hurt bad! We were married for twenty years, and it was very hard to let go. I was also terrified of not being able to support my children and myself.

There were days that I was immobilized and unable to do anything but cry. But through it all, I had this overwhelming feeling of peace in my soul and heart. It was a peace that I had never felt before. It's the peace of God. It was also the peace of knowing that I was going to be okay. Through God's love and grace, I have been able to forgive my husband. God has shown me that my husband is also searching for something -- the same thing that I have been searching for all my life. That thing is love and acceptance. I pray every day for my ex-husband to find God again, so that he can stop hurting inside.

Hurting people hurt other people, and the only one who can stop that is Jesus. Jesus stops the hurt. Jesus fills the void that alcohol, material things, and other people never can. Parents, husbands, and loved ones often hurt us, but God never will.

This scripture held me up through the divorce. Isaiah 43:I-3,5 Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the water I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God. Do not be afraid, for I am with you.

What an awesome promise! Can anyone here on earth promise you that? God can make that promise, and He does. I'm living proof. I've gone through the river of mental and emotional abuse and came out a survivor, who is now in the healing process. I've going through the fire of betrayal and rejection and come out victorious in Jesus. I am stronger now than I've ever been, and all the praise and glory goes to Jesus.

There is a song we sing at church called 'Shout to the Lord.' The last line of that song is, 'Nothing compares to the promise I have in you.' Never has there been a truer statement than that! Nothing compares to the promises of God. They are what keep me going.

If you are going through anything like I have described, I will say to you what my son repeatedly said to me, 'GIVE IT UP TO GOD,' and watch the change begin.

Real Life Stories - Chapter 26:



Dear Reader - are you at peace with God?  If not, you can be.  Do you know what awaits you when you die?  You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain.  Either Jesus Christ died for yours sins, or He didn't (He did!).  Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God?  We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.

To get to know God; to be at peace with God; to have your sins forgiven; to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity; to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help understand the importance of being reconciled to God.  What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one.  Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life. 

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