10 years. It has been 10 years since my life completely changed. 10 years since I packed up and moved me and my girls into a furnished house provided by a dear friend. It was a house where we could be safe, considering the very low rent I could afford to pay. Food would come from an EBT card and a food pantry. I thought purchasing a new shower curtain and bathroom rugs would be the greatest gift in the world for my girls. I showed it all to them in their new bathroom in the strange house and expected them to rejoice at the freshness of the style. Their weak smiles reminded me that something as superficial as a new bathroom curtain wasn’t going to change the fact that we were not at home anymore.
“God hates divorce.” I’ve heard that a million times. I never wanted to become a statistic. I never wanted for anyone to have been right when they said my marriage wouldn’t work out. But they were right. I had stayed as long as I did because I wanted to prove everyone wrong, and instead, I only ended up hurting myself, my husband, and my children. We never pray for divorce. We pray for success. We pray for love. We pray for the fairytale.
Our prayers aren’t always answered in the way we expect. After 15 years, I felt like the only way to possibly make things work would be to move out. Maybe we could make things work if we weren’t under the same roof. The hardest part was looking at the faces of friends and family, whose eyes full of pity reminded me that I was a failure. I dreaded family get-togethers, but they were infrequent; they were easy to get over. Church was another thing.
Church was weekly. It didn’t matter how I had started a Sunday. I could have been excited, cheerful, and positive, but the second I entered the church doors, everyone reminded me I was a failure. Their hand on my shoulder, their downcast eyes, their “How ARE you?“ with that sad, all-knowing “Your-life-must-be-awful-right-now“ look. No matter how excited I had started that Sunday, that fresh new week, their pitiful questions about my state of emotions would always remind me that I was a failure. It got to the point that I just could not go to church anymore. At least not where I was.
That’s when I came back to Bridgeway. My husband and I had left some years before at his request. Although I was sad and missed my Bridgeway friends very much, I followed my husband because I was just excited he wanted to go to church. Now, many years later, I came back to Bridgeway because it was a place where I could walk in and no one knew my tragic story. No one felt sorry for me. I could cry and no one knew my name. I introduced myself to Dr. Anderson after one of the services and I apologized for not volunteering yet. His response was, “Come here to heal. Stay as long as you need to. You are welcome to stay, but if you move on, take what you learn with you and bless the next church.” What freedom that gave me!
Every Sunday I came to Bridgeway, I prayed with Points of Light at the front of the stage. I prayed for my marriage. I prayed for my husband. I prayed for myself. I prayed for my girls. Through tears, heaving breaths, and shuddering shoulders, I prayed. I was a bit embarrassed to return each week and thought I would be judged because I still didn’t have my life together, but no one passed judgment. They prayed for me again and again, and again. Slowly I started broadening my involvement at Bridgeway beyond Points of Light and the Community Cupboard.
I joined a support group for people going through divorce. I saw I wasn’t alone. I learned God may hate divorce, but He LOVES me. He had not forsaken me. He was carrying me through the entire experience. I grew to depend on Him. My anxious thoughts were replaced with the scripture “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
I started taking Wednesday Night Alive classes and learned about this amazing, logical, all-knowing God. At WLDI, I met with other fun women who loved learning, music, and laughter. And my laugh wasn’t the loudest in the room! People had intelligent questions and I was being challenged and learning again. I was working out my faith and working out my life.
Bridgeway was a place of respite for me when I needed it, just like a hotel. Bridgeway was a place of healing when I was coming out of one of life’s most difficult seasons, just like a hospital. Bridgeway helped me grow strong in my faith and dive deep into God‘s Word, just like a health club.
Today Bridgeway is a place where I have roots planted, genuine relationships, and true purpose. I succeed and I am celebrated. I fail and I am covered. I move forward, and I am not alone, just like a home.
For me and my girls, Bridgeway has been our hotel, our hospital, our health club, and our home. Wherever you are in your spiritual walk, Bridgeway can meet you. No matter your season of life, you are not alone.
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