freedom stories

When You Don’t Want to be Free- Amy’s Story

I am so grateful that Amy and I connected through our writing community, Hope*Writers. She and I both know the sorrow of divorce, and it is always an encouragement to me to see how others walked through it with the Lord. Amy’s is a beautiful story of freedom (I love her list at the end of the post), and a story of God’s hand on her life. Her healing journey is a testament to her faith in God and desire to keep pressing into Him, even in her pain. I pray that Amy’s story will meet you today, and remind you of God’s great faithfulness. 

This is Amy’s Freedom Story. 

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I’ve always been a slave to structure. Operating in a world of perfect plans and pride in my own clever ways I spent my life making all the “right” choices. I firmly believed by choosing God’s ways I would be blessed with all the things my heart desired. For thirty one years I barely suffered any setbacks, disasters, or deviance from my best-laid plans.

I married a Christian man whom I met at Bible college. He was even a Biblical Studies major and I was obviously well-equipped to be a pastor’s wife. I was obedient, prayerful, and a leader for Christ. What could go wrong?

So entrenched was I in my perfect little works-based world that when a majorly devastating moment occurred I hardly knew what to believe anymore. Was God on my side after all? Had I been wrong about everything?

My husband announced he was leaving our marriage on April 1. I thought it was a pretty nasty April Fools’ Day joke until I saw his hardened eyes not meeting mine, and his lips twisted into an unrecognizable expression.  

It felt out of the blue to me…which must say something about how much time and effort I had spent cultivating my seemingly perfect exterior life and the lack of time I engaged in any sort of authentic, meaningful relationship with either my God or perhaps my husband as well?

I grappled with my identity from the moment he walked out the door. The last time I had been without him I was and eighteen-year-old college Freshman. Now I was a thirty-one-year-old woman who lacked basic banking skills and had no idea how to pay my mortgage.

I truly believed that God would intervene and soften my husband’s heart if I prayed enough. If I showed him how much I loved him. If I continued to trust and obey I would get my happy ending.  

But in spite of my fervent prayers and last ditch efforts to make him see how we could fix this it was eight long and lonely months after he left when we sat in a courtroom in front of a judge. Tears streaming down my face, kleenex disintegrating into my hand, I had to testify that my marriage was “irretrievably broken” even though I didn’t believe it for a minute.

I desperately grasped the front of his fleece and cried up into his hardened face, “But I love you!”

He turned and walked away from me without so much as a glance.

It’s been seven years now since the day my heart exploded into little bits of grief. Seven years since I held his hand. Looked into his once soft brown eyes. Seven birthdays. Seven Christmases. Seven summer vacations without him.

The morning of my divorce I read Psalm 91. I felt confident that God was going to turn my husband’s heart. After all, God hates divorce.

Psalm 91:9-11- Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place- the Most High, who is my refuge- no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.

This all-consuming evil wasn’t supposed to happen to me. This was not my life. The life I had so carefully planned. My numb soul- broken and shattered- began to realize that I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Without him I wasn’t me anymore. For thirteen years I had been a part of him and he a part of me.

Did I like the Green Bay Packers anymore? Did I enjoy making steak fajitas or fish fry on a Friday night? Everything I used to know was suddenly thrown into chaos. My entire life felt like a lie. I wasn’t strong. I wasn’t confident. I wasn’t even recognizable to myself in the mirror.

I thought about the Israelites. God’s chosen people. And yet he had allowed them to wander for forty years in the wilderness. How could a loving God allow so much suffering? So much sin and pain? The Israelites wanted nothing more than to return to Egypt- the land of their suffering but also the land of familiarity. The place where everything felt “normal” and “right”. They may not have been free, but they could find comfort in the predictability of their life in Egypt.

I wanted more than anything to return to the land of my marriage. To exist in the “before” rather than this existence void of love and joy. Lacking peace and hope. Confusion and despair defined me and I couldn’t see past the torrent of grief that came in never-ending waves.

I went back to that Psalm that promised to save me from any evil. I must have misunderstood. I must have faulty beliefs about a God I used to trust.

Psalm 91:14-16- Because she holds fast to me in love, I will deliver her. I will protect her because she knows my name. When she calls to me, I will answer her; I will be with her in trouble; I will rescue her and honor her. With long life will I satisfy her and show her my salvation.

God was with me in my trouble. In that moment I realized to be free from this oppressive pain and begin to allow Him to repair my broken heart I would need to deliberately choose to avoid the entanglements of Satan’s lies. These freedoms would pave the way for healing and begin to allow me to see the light again.

  1. Freedom to Grieve- I had to mourn the loss of the life I imagined. I still mourn the losses. The children I never had. The husband I’ll never see again. God promises to be with me in this pain. He alone satisfies my desire to be loved and wanted.
  2. Freedom to Choose- I can choose to live in the darkness of my circumstances or to walk in the light of God’s purposes for my life. God was not surprised by my divorce. He didn’t cause it and He didn’t want it either. I can’t bitterly hold the choices of others against my loving God and expect to regain my joy. Rather I must choose every day to confirm my place as God’s beloved regardless of the rejection I have experienced.
  3. Freedom from the Weight of Guilt- No matter what role I played in the demise of my marriage, God washes my sins white as snow. He doesn’t want me to carry my sin and cling to the past to the detriment of living for him today.
  4. Freedom to be Me- God says I am His adopted. His beloved. His friend. My identity in Him is secure. No matter what I can rest safely in the way that He sees me. I am united in belonging to a God who loves me more than I can imagine. This brings freedom to know that creating me in His image was purposeful and I am valuable to God.

The truth is what sets us free. (John 8:32) God’s truth. His masterful plan for us extends through any circumstance and heartache. Through any unexpected and unwanted moments God has got us. He won’t leave. He won’t walk away. I trust His loving promises to eventually lead me to an eternal freedom in a place free from pain. And that’s a freedom I will gladly accept.

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Amy Boyd is a blogger, and communicator who loves to provide hope, heart revival, and assurance that our identity lies in Christ alone, and not in our circumstances. She is a chai latte addict who recently began adding a shot of espresso to her latte for an extra kick. She writes at revivemeagain.com. Today she shares how she finds freedom in the midst of an unwanted divorce.

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