“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:37-39 NLT
On this Good Friday, I’m honored to share with you Carly’s Freedom Story about the one thing that remains even when everything else in life is uncertain or has the potential to be removed from our lives.
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When I’d first discovered that my ex-husband was having an affair I actually thought it was going to be the thing that would catapult our hard marriage into the healing it had needed for a long time. That does happen. And it makes for a really beautiful story. A story I was hoping would be mine. But that isn’t what happened and that isn’t the story I got. When things crashed, they crashed hard and ended swiftly. I woke up one morning and the life I’d been living for the past ten years was gone. The life I’d been planning, dreaming of, and working towards crumbled in my hands, and I watched the pieces slip right through my fingers.
It was over and I wasn’t sure who I was anymore or what exactly the point of being alive was. I’d devoted my life, as I’d always wanted to, to caring for my three young children. I’d poured everything into them, and was even homeschooling them at the time. Now I was supposed to throw them into school and find some sort of a job when I’d spent those career building years building kids. I was back at square one with three mouths to feed and special needs to consider. As a mom who hadn’t spent a lot of time away from my children, I was also looking at a significant amount of time without them because of shared custody. Not only was this devastating and unfathomable to me, I knew it would be for them. And that part tore me to shreds. I was deep into an adoption ministry that I carried loads of passion for. It was my mission, my calling, the assignment God had given me. I had big plans and big dreams, ones I was sure were from him. In a blink I no longer had the capacity to manage any of it and it was gone too. I was no longer wife, no longer the good mom, and no longer living my passion for adoption.
A few months before my divorce I remember sitting in church. The pastor was talking about our identity. Who we are. And he asked a question. He said that the way we could tell where we found our identity was by asking ourselves what things, if they went away today, would make us feel like we weren’t ourselves anymore. I immediately tagged my marriage, my adoption ministry, and being a good mom. If those things went away I really wouldn’t know who I was, what my purpose was. And none of those were bad things. In fact they were all really good things to want to be successful at. I tagged those things and pondered them for a long time. It was like I’d written a quick little list in my brain and it was tacked up in the corner somewhere that I could see it, all the time. So when with one single blow each of those things vanished right before me, I knew. I knew that the God of the universe had spoken straight to me in that moment. He had been preparing me for what was to come. And when all the things that I thought mattered most, mattered to God even, dropped straight out of my life I knew there was one thing that never could, that never would. Jesus.
And I discovered that all the things, even the good ones can go away. And I’m still me because Jesus is still Jesus. He is the one and only thing that will never go away. He will never leave. Never forsake. All the things I thought I could never live through. All the things I couldn’t see a way into or a way out of. All the things I clung to, even the good, God things. They can all be taken away from me. My life and everything in it can be gone in a blink, but nothing and no one can separate me from the love of Jesus. It is who he is and it is who I am and it is the only thing I can cling to. It is all I can count on. Just him. No one and no thing can change the fact that I am loved by him. Nothing can take that away.
I’m not saying I didn’t feel the searing ache of the loss I faced in that time. I questioned. I cried. I wailed. I kicked. I screamed. I swore. I begged. But I realized that I could stop clinging to all the things in my life. The weight of doing it all right. The measuring up. The striving. The fear and anxiety that goes with trying to be all things to all people all the time. The heaviness that comes with just trying to live a life. I saw how very little control I actually had over any of it. How I could do my absolute best to do all the things and be all the things and I could still lose them all in a heartbeat. And when the dust settled and all I had left was the love of Jesus, I knew it was all I actually needed. A freedom washed over me. I’ve never felt freer than I did in that moment. When I saw that I don’t actually have to be or do anything. My pathetic efforts to be a good wife, mom, and minister just kind of blew away with the storm. I didn’t need to give Jesus a reason to love me. In fact, all my flailing around trying to find one for him was as weak the fall leaves in the winter wind. My eyes were opened and I could see just how wide, and deep, and long the love of God actually is for me. The freedom of that knowledge is like nothing I’ve ever experienced.
Life has moved on from that moment, from the deep waves of grief to the constant drip of life with shared custody, caring for children with special needs, and all the other life things. I’ve remarried. I’ve learned to live with the needs of my children. I’ve learned to live with the ache that comes with periodic separation from them. I have been given so many beautiful gifts, like tiny cactus blossoms amidst the sharp spines. But the gift I hold tight to. The gift I know can’t ever be taken away. It’s the one God gave me when he met me at my emptiest. When he loved me at my most unloveable. It’s the knowledge that there is really just one thing. And his name is Jesus.
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Carly Webber is wife to Dustin and mom to four littles (by adoption and birth). Life has thrown her a few curve balls (including divorce and special needs children) and her heart is to encourage others who also feel sidelined by life’s tough blows. She believes there is life and joy right in the midst of all the hard and she wants you to believe it too. You can read her words at carlybethwebber.com and connect with her over on instagram too (@carlybethwebber).
P.S. Want to read more Freedom Stories of hope and encouragement? Check out 30 other stories about finding freedom through Christ and authentic community here. And special thanks to Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels for the plant image to accompany this post.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“I wanted my healing to be immediate; He wanted it to be complete.” ⠀
Goodness, I can relate to Jennie’s words in this week’s Freedom Story. She shares bravely of her heartbreak, walking through divorce, searching for answers from God, and the blessing that happens in the waiting for His healing. Praying her words would speak to you today if you’re in a season of heartache or waiting ❤️⠀
This is Jennie’s Freedom Story.
I know the exact moment my heart broke. It was a cold Friday night in February, and my children were sleeping upstairs. Cozy in their footed pajamas, they had no idea their lives were changing forever below them.
Their father — my husband — was leaving.
I could not have understood before that night how everything can change in one moment — that a stable and content life can be ripped from you, leaving indescribable destruction and heartache behind.
But one moment can change everything. It did for me.
That moment changed my physical realities — I needed a new place to live and a new job that would provide financially, and I had to learn how to parent my children as a single mother. The new physical realities were nothing compared to the new emotional realities, though.
In the moment my husband said he was leaving, something shifted in my beliefs about myself and my God, and I fell into a darkness that consumed me for years.
Satan began whispering to me in that moment of vulnerability that I was profoundly unlovable. He told me I was so deeply flawed I was destined to be alone, so unworthy of acceptance I would always be rejected, and too broken to ever be healed.
He told me God did not have great plans for my life and that He chose not to protect me from this hurt. The enemy deceived me as He did Eve, asking me, “Did God actually say…?” He led me to doubt the goodness of my God, and I fell for it all.
I believed him. Everything he spoke to me became the truth I internalized, and I knew I was unworthy, unlovable, and deserving of the rejection I faced.
I woke each morning with the heavy weight of his lies weighing me down, carrying a burden that was invisible to everyone even though they could see the sadness in my eyes.
My life moved forward, because it had to. I began a new job, parented my children, and went through the motions of moving on.
But I was stuck. It was as though my feet were mired in a quicksand that never quite pulled me under but simply kept me tethered where I was.
I knew Jesus. He had saved me years before, and I continued to try to live for Him. But in reality, I worshiped Him with resentment, served Him with hesitation, and read His Word with the silent questions, “Why would you allow this?” and “Are you really good?” plaguing my mind.
Daily, I fought the battle of believing God or believing the enemy. More often than not, the enemy won.
Now, years removed from this experience, I can look back and see truths I was unable to see then, and I can tell you what I’ve learned about how God heals.
When I was hurting so badly, struggling to understand why God had allowed this to happen, I wanted the hurt to go away. I wanted my circumstances to be fixed, and I simply wanted healing. But because God is good, He wanted more for me.
He wanted my heart. My trust. My decision to follow Him even when I didn’t understand. He wanted my surrender. My complete reliance on Him. My faith to be real.
God could have healed my brokenness and fixed my circumstances overnight. He didn’t.
In Mark 8, people take a blind man to Jesus for healing. Jesus spits on the man’s eyes, and the man begins to see, but with his still-blurry vision, he sees people who look like trees walking. Healing begins, but it is not complete until Jesus lays his hands on the man’s eyes again. Then, the man “saw everything clearly” (25).
I was the blind man.
People in my life carried me to Jesus when I couldn’t see Him myself. My family, small groups, acquaintances from high school… They all prayed I would find my way, sent notes of encouragement, and brought coffee to my house when they had nothing else to offer. They knew Jesus would be my healer, and my sorrow did not intimidate them. They were the body of Christ when I felt so alone.
Jesus could have immediately healed me, but He didn’t. My healing took place slowly, with Jesus coming to me multiple times, giving me what I needed so I could see clearly.
I wanted my healing to be immediate; He wanted it to be complete.
I believe that Jesus, in His infinite kindness, knew I needed time to wrestle with Him and my thoughts about Him. He knew it would take me time to finally come to a place of such desperate need that I was willing to surrender everything.
He allowed my healing to be gradual so it would be true. God is outside our calendars and schedules, and the terms we want to impose on Him are meaningless in His plan.
For years, Satan held me in bondage to my pain and emotions. But now, because of wrestling and time and continued whispers from Jesus, I am free.
Freedom always costs something. It cost Jesus His life, and it cost me the right to have ownership of mine. In the surrender, though, He brought freedom. I am no longer bound to the expectations I had for what my life would be, the pain that was debilitating, or an identity based on a relationship other than with Christ.
I am free to mourn what I lost but still believe the best is ahead. I am free to share my story with the knowledge that others need my hope.
I am free to enjoy the goodness of God even when life looks different than I imagined.
God is too good to rush what we’re not ready to accept, and He is too kind to force a healing we’re not in a position to receive. So He waits. And as He waits, we are made ready. Ready to receive a healing that is complete and a God who is good.
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About Jennie:Jennie Scott is a former high school English teacher who now writes, speaks, and serves on staff at a church she helped plant in the upstate of South Carolina. A mom of two, she is an avid runner who also constantly has multiple books to read on her nightstand.You can follow Jennie at www.jenniegscott.com.– – –P.S. Special thanks to John Mark Arnold with the Unsplash community for the photo that accompanies this post.