I stormed through the house, took the crosses off every wall, and ran, yes, literally ran, to the back door where I hurled those crosses across the backyard! Where was God, anyway? How could He let this happen? Hadn’t I been through enough? Didn’t He care for my children? What good was believing in God if He wasn’t going to stand for us?

On Mother’s Day 2009, I was five months pregnant with our fifth little boy when my husband announced out of the blue that he’d reconnected with one of his high school girlfriends on Facebook and was leaving. I couldn’t believe it! We’d just renewed our vows that Valentine’s Day. Things we’d struggled with earlier finally seemed to be getting easier.

The house we’d built ourselves needed finishing touches but was live-in-able and promised to be beautiful. Even the basement would be a paradise for a family with five active boys! We had plans to put in pool and air hockey tables, an arcade style basketball game, a bar, and big screen TV.

We’d finally begun going out again, enjoying new restaurants and socializing. We planned to travel and see new places. Things we didn’t have time and money for earlier, we could finally do. Life was slowly looking up!

Life was looking up, until “she” showed up offering my husband instant access to trips, fancy homes, and even days off of work. Compared to her unencumbered, do-as-I-please lifestyle, life with four little boys, a wife that was ill from a surprise pregnancy, and a house that needed finishing must not have looked so appealing.

Yes, things looked up, until he succumbed to temptation. Then things looked down, way down…

I was angry. I was hurt. I was scared and confused and amazed. In some ways, I understood my husband’s fall. What I didn’t understand was how God could let this happen.

We prayed together before each dinner. We held hands as we fell asleep every night and attended Church together every Sunday. I was even the youth minister of our church!

What good were those crosses if God didn’t protect marriage and family?

The truth is, though, I had a lot to learn. I had chosen to remain faithful to my husband and to my vows when I was tempted to be otherwise, but I could have given more!

I could have begun years ago by choosing a partner grounded in faith. I could have begun years before that by grounding myself in faith.

Much of my faith was simply going through motions. I believed because it was expected. I’d built a relationship with the Trinity, but I’d been satisfied with making my relationship live-in-able without looking to see how beautiful it could be.

I’d treated the Trinity as my husband had treated me. I hadn’t dug deeply enough to see the worth the Trinity had, just as my husband hadn’t dug deeply enough to see the worth our children and I had. I’d been lazy in my love for the Trinity, just as my husband had been lazy in his love for us. I’d worshiped false idols, placing my faith and hope in my husband just as surely as he had worshiped false idols, placing his faith and hope in another woman and worldly goods dangled in front of him.

Just as my husband had fallen to temptation, I, too, had fallen to temptation. Just as he had chosen to reject his word given at the altar and the family he’d been blessed with, I too had chosen to reject my word given in Confirmation and the Love offered to me on the Cross.

That night, after hurling those crosses from the back door, I crawled, literally on my hands and knees, in the dark searching. Tears streamed from my eyes as I ran my hands through the grass hoping to encounter something solid to grasp onto.

What I found was the realization that my faith, like my marriage, had been built on dreams. What I had built and taken so much pride in had only been built on sand.

It was time to finally see that there was more to the Trinity than I’d been content to sit back and accept. God had been standing by my children and me the whole time. It was now time for me to stand. It was time for me to embrace the Holy Spirit. It was time for me to finally study free will and how it applies, not just to a deserter, but to one left behind.

It was time to understand that God gifts us with free will so that we can run away or run toward. It was time to use my free will to run toward the Lord, finally embracing the tip of what He offered and to actively seek more.

Our relationship with God is much like marriage. It requires a continuous reaching out to our Lord and a perpetual affirmation of our vows, not for God’s benefit, but for ours. With the true, complete offering of ourselves we find the grace for all things – even grace to forgive and move on, grace to find peace and joy in all circumstances, and grace to be thankful for the good God brings to all who use their free will to run toward Him. I wouldn’t trade what I have now for any part of the illusion of what I once thought I had.

Text Copyright 2016 Kerri Martin, all rights reserved.  Image Copyright 2013 “Hand” by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.

About the Author

In 2009, Kerri Martin was a stay at home mom, CYO basketball coach, and youth minister. She was also pregnant with her fifth little boy when her husband suddenly announced he had reconnected with a former girlfriend on Facebook and was leaving. After months of shaking and years of healing, Kerri discovered the faith she thought she had before was just a lukewarm faith, and an unwanted divorce and annulment was her wake up call.

Today, Kerri has found a self-worth she never knew possible, a joy that cannot be stolen, and a hunger to grow closer to the Trinity and to spread genuine happiness to others. Today, Kerri tells her story and leads others back to faith through her blog Single Mom Smiling under the name Strahlen (which means Smiling) and runs her own business The Right Path Life Coaching where her programs, Ashes to Beauty and Powerful Parenting, help women discover their calling especially in the areas of Marriage, parenting, and in some cases divorce.

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