There are some very anointed Christian women who are preaching the gospel to throngs of people around the world. There is no doubt that these women are gifted, and are being used by God in a mighty way. I recently attended a conference where I was blessed and equipped through the teaching of a few of these women. But as I sat and listened to them speak, I became acutely aware that each and every one of their testimonies included something that mine did not: A loving, successful marriage to a man of God. Some of them even talked about how difficult their marriages were initially, but that through obedience to God and through prayer, they and their partners were transformed. They were now experiencing amazing love and connection with their husbands, and each of their children were walking in relationship with the Lord and succeeding in life because they were raised in an intact home. I sank a little lower in my chair as I thought about the time that my young children saw my ex husband grab the burners off of our stove and heave them across the room during one of his many fits of rage. They heard me scream and tell him to get out of the house. They saw him press his body into mine and scream back. “Oh you want me leave!?!” They saw me point my finger towards the front door. “Yes! Get out of this house now!” Then my children ran to their dad, and each one clung to a leg. They begged my abuser not to go. My children walked hand in hand with the man who had been battering me behind closed doors, and they snuggled on my bed while their dad promised that he wasn’t going anywhere. What they didn’t see is what happened after that. They didn’t see their mom sitting in a car in the driveway sobbing bitterly. They didn’t see tears of shame rolling down her face while she berated herself for being such an idiot. “What kind of an idiot brings kids into a home like this?”
Not one of these women ever said, or implied, that I was somehow less in the eyes of God because my husband refused to repent of the sin of abuse, leaving me with the choice to get a divorce or allow him to follow through with his threat to kill me; but that is exactly what the enemy started whispering into my ear. As I sat in a conference that was meant to encourage me in my walk of faith, I found myself fighting guilt, shame, and condemnation. The more they spoke of the victory that God had given them in their marriage and family, the more I felt like a loser.
I have had many conversations with God about the way my life turned out. I guess conversation isn’t really an accurate description of these interactions, because that implies a two way sort of thing. Interrogation is a better description. “Why did you allow me to marry an abuser? Why didn’t you protect me? Why didn’t you force him to repent? Why didn’t you answer my prayers? Why didn’t you give me a good testimony?”
Thankfully, my accusations in the form of interrogation enter a throne room of grace where a loving God reigns. He doesn’t get defensive, because he is perfect and he knows that he has done absolutely nothing wrong. Because His heart is tender for me, my accusations don’t hurt his feelings or make him angry. He is not shocked by my accusations and he is not disappointed with me. He is just really torn up that I am in so much pain, so he sends the presence of Jesus to bind up my broken heart. He sends his Spirit of Truth to bring comfort and healing even though he doesn’t answer all of my questions. But he did answer one of them. He told me that I have the most important testimony of all: The Testimony of Tears.
I have not met very many people who have the kind of testimony that the powerful speakers at the conference have. There are the fortunate few, but the majority of people that I meet are just like me. They are wounded and broken. Despite the fact that they prayed in faith and did everything in their power to change an abusive man into a loving husband, they did not get the happily ever after that they were looking for. At some point in their lives, they have experienced the despair that comes from finally accepting the reality of their situation, while gripping unanswered prayer in one hand, and disillusionment in the other. They are bound with all sorts of invisible chains like I was – unworthiness, rejection, shame, fear.
I may not be preaching a powerful sermon to a packed house, but you are reading this blog so my Testimony of Tears is for you. Are you ready? Here it goes: I have lived through hell but I made it to the other side. Things did not turn out the way that I hoped they would, but my God has restored everything that the enemy took from me, and has given me a double portion for my shame. My life is better than it has ever been. God has used everything that Satan intended for my harm, to free me from the chains that bound me. I no longer feel unworthy or rejected. I am no longer burdened by shame or fear. I am walking in healing, freedom, and wholeness because Jesus is real, and he does what he said he came to do. He binds up the broken-hearted, releases prisoners who are bound in darkness, and sets the captives free. He did it for me, and he will do it for you. He gave me the Testimony of Tears so that I can preach his healing to those of you who are staring at the carnage of your life gone wrong, and wondering what the heck you did to deserve your not so happy ending. Hear me now: This is not the end.
It is only going to get better.
God is for you, he is not against you.
God is bigger than divorce.
Not only are your children going to be fine, God is actually going to use the evil that you have faced to strengthen them and bring them closer to himself.
God is bigger than any mistake you think that you have made.
You are going to make it.
You are not alone.
God will restore everything that the enemy has taken.
You will have joy again.
You will have peace again.
You will not always be in pain.
You will dance again.
You will sing again.
The rest of your life will be the best of your life.
God has good plans for you.
I no longer accuse God of failing me. I am not mad at him for giving me the Testimony of Tears. I embrace my testimony because it is through the tears and the pain that I have come to truly know the God who loves me like no other. I lay my Testimony of Tears at the feet of Jesus, and I ask him to use it to preach the good news that God can and will bring a happily ever after even when things don’t turn out the way we had hoped they would.