For 27 years, I chased the perfect life I dreamed of. I did everything I could to actualize my dream of owning a big house with a fenced in yard where my dog could run freely, where friends could visit, where I could be an amazing husband and someday raise a family. I put all my trust and passion into making this life a reality no matter the cost. I believed there was a God, but I was doing everything on my own, so I saw no need for Him in my life or reason to be involved in the church community. I was proud, independent, and stubbornly focused on what I had gained and where I was going.
On a sunny summer day in July, the life I dreamed of that raised me up became the weight that brought me to my knees. With anxiety boiling up from deep in the pit of my stomach, I asked my wife one simple question. After a long, agonizing, silent pause, I hoped that the answer I feared would not leave her mouth -- but almost like ripping off a bandage, my wife confessed that she had been unfaithful. All my anxiety suddenly disappeared, but so did all my emotions and sense of reality. I know now that I was in a state of emotional shock. Soon after, I discovered that for the entirety of our marriage and relationship, she had been like a wolf in a sheep’s skin. Fidelity had never had a chance. No matter how much I tried and was willing to work for our marriage, she was done with being married to me and told me that she never even wanted to be married in the first place. To no success, I tried my best to fight my way out of my emotional shock, save our marriage, and maintain the life I had worked for. It felt like desperately grabbing a handful of earth, only to have it helplessly fall between the cracks of your fingers. It was all too much for me to handle. I was drowning in a pit of devastation and barely surviving each day. I felt hurt, betrayed, abandoned, lost, weak, emasculated, purposeless, useless, desperate, hopeless, and broken.
I knew I needed to find help but could not afford it between a mortgage and high insurance deductibles. I searched online for help and support groups and came across a program called DivorceCare through a church called East 91st Street Christian Church. I decided to try it even though it was through a church, which I thought could be a little weird or feel like I was being preached at. The people were welcoming and friendly. Everyone had felt the pain of divorce or separation, and after hearing everyone's stories, I felt like I could be understood and safely talk about what I was experiencing. The meetings did help me for at least one day out of each week. Still, I felt separated from the world and my community for a long time. Then my friend Wilson passed away in a sudden car accident, and this began to pull me from my emotional shock. I was experiencing deep grief and unable to process it with anyone. A leader in DivorceCare told me about a service offered through E91 called Crucible Counseling where the cost would be based on my financial situation. Counseling eventually became a place where I could peel away at the walls and begin to trust someone with my thoughts and emotions. It was a long process of taking two steps forwards and one step back, but eventually, I was able to express my suppressed emotions comfortably and make progress through the many stages of grief. With all the grief, every day and night
This dream was the most vividly that I have ever experienced the presence of God, and it came when I needed it most. Taking one day at a time was what allowed me to accept, move through, and then move past all the personal challenges I faced.
The next Sunday, I decided to give a church a chance. I nervously walked into East 91st Street Christian Church and sat in the back row while I waited for the service to start. A woman named Carmen introduced herself and asked me how I found the church. After realizing I was new and a bit shy, she introduced me to Zach, who took me under his wing, introduced me to so many people and got me plugged into a life group that met near me. The life group was a place where I would slowly open up and trust in people. It was a place where I learned about Christ and where no question was too silly because everyone genuinely cared and wanted to help me take next steps with Jesus. I learned a lot about the Bible, but also about community and its role in growing one’s faith. What once felt like the end of my cold and empty story was really just the cavity that God intended to fill with His grace and redemption. A little less than a year after I first came to the church, I stood before the congregation and Zach baptized me. A couple weeks later I found myself on a mission trip in Kenya. My heart grew so much bigger there, and my faith was inspired by seeing the Kenyan people’s faith lived out on a daily basis. I learned about my strengths and weaknesses and will continue to utilize those to glorify God. The dream that I was blinded by was not the same dream that God had planned for me. God has fulfilled a new dream for me by giving me hope, redemption, and love.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
( If you are walking the hard road of separation or divorce consider coming to a DivorceCare group meeting starting up again on Tuesday evenings August 23rd from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. - For more information contact Natalie Hubartt. )