Happiness has always been mine in some measure even in a difficult marriage. It’s a certain sense of contentment, a hopefulness that even when life falls apart, things don’t go my way, there is something to find joy and gratefulness in. For example, travel back with me to the time I was sitting at a Casting Crowns concert about 10 years ago in Dallas. I was there with my husband. Mark Hall shared his testimony about the wonderful blessings it was for him to sponsor a Compassion child. Tears rolling off my face, I looked over to my husband hoping to see the same tug on his heart. I begged him to let us take a child’s profile home….
“Compassion wasn’t focused enough on the gospel, didn’t give enough proceeds to the children. We aren’t in a good financial position to do it.” Each excuse felt like a shovel of dirt burring my dead dream. Heart broken I may have left empty handed,
Happiness was still mine…. as I watched the response of others rising to the need, and that gave me such joy.
I thought to myself, “Well God must not want us to do this, if He did, He would have placed a burden on my husband’s heart too.”
That is what every Christian woman was taught to think in my small evangelical circle. Even when things just didn’t click in my Spirit, this was the normal pattern of thought for 16 years of marriage. I often thought, “I am just going to have to be obedient to God and follow his lead.” Out of fear that God would not love me or worse He might punish me even for something as small as this.
Weaved with insecurity, cultivated in a marriage that thrived on patriarchy -I obeyed everything. I might have been sitting down on the outside but I was certainly standing up on the inside.
Let’s Try This Again
Fast forward 8 years, we were in a much more financially stable place in life, but in a much more rocky place in our marriage. By this time I began to push back on the concept of the subservient role of a the Christian wife. I was at another Casting Crowns concert, praising, hands reached out to my Father all the while knowing my marriage was falling apart. The lyrics reached so deep, “In my weakness, God you are my power, in my bondage – God you are my FREEDOM.” They stilled my soul.
An almost forgotten dream resurrected when I had another Compassion child sponsor opportunity. I texted my husband a picture of Christine asking once again for permission to sponsor her. I reminded him how we haven’t done anything since it was laid on my heart then. That we could afford this. His cold hearted response came back, “NO” with the explanation that I was not to make any decisions without him at that moment. I pleaded with him that I would personally give up some things just to make up the difference of $38 a month so we could support Christine. I wanted our children to experience the blessing of this, to see the fruit of sacrifice.
Mouth of God?
Normally when my husband said, “No.” I considered it as if God said, “No.” like he was the mouth piece and absolute authority for God. I know (face palm).
But this time I “disobeyed” and I brought Christine home
I perched her picture up in the middle of our dinning room table and told the boys we’d pray for her at meals and write to her. My husband seethed with anger. Refused to pray with us, and demanded I call Compassion to cancel the sponsorship. What could I do? It was HIS money after all. I wasn’t allowed to work.
I remember explaining away to the people at Compassion why I had to cancel our support, the words seemed almost unreal coming from my mouth. At the same time thinking this is NOT right, this is NOT the heart of my GOD, He would never ask me to do this. This is the selfish power trip of my husband and dammit…
Someday I WILL SPONSOR A CHILD!
It has been almost a year since my divorce. Many people don’t understand what happened, much of it was hidden to protect our family and church. They saw a happy family who loved the Lord and then suddenly divorced. They didn’t know the hours of counseling or the days I would sprawl myself out at the end of the empty sanctuary begging God to save our marriage.
Some have even out of shock said, they were “bamboozled, hoodwinked, fooled” into believing I was so happy. I will say this, while I was good at wearing a mask, I also have always found some genuine happiness in every circumstance. Even in the most difficult years of oppression I often chose happiness.
One More Try
Last night, I had yet another opportunity to sponsor a Compassion Child. I wrestled with my promise to God that someday I would do this. Began my own string of excuses. “But now I am a single mom of three boys. God you know I struggle to feed my own boys sometimes, and I want to give them a happy life. How can I do this?”
Then the peace came. I began to feel His assurance. In my blindness, He is my vision. He will provide, He always has. It would make me so happy to be able to do this.
I sifted through the profiles, peering into the eyes of God’s beautiful children.
One little girl caught my eye. Her name is Hapiness….
First thought, “Welp, she spells like me!” I chuckled to myself
Tonight, sweet child Happiness is officially mine- I’m taking you home and no one can stop me!
True love and religion reaches their hands beyond feeling and emotion but through to the other side to sacrifice. Isn’t that what Jesus did? isn’t that what we are called to? What kind of Savoir would we have if Jesus only really wanted to save us but didn’t?
Challenged by this myself, I felt my dream to sponsor a child is now complete. Happiness is mine on so many levels.