Crosswalk.com, Surviving Adultery and Divorce, Tornado, Uncategorized

Picking up the Pieces

In the month of May, Oklahoma was hit—HARD. Every single day, I drive by areas of tornado destruction. On every street, there are piles of trees by the road. Fences are blown down or propped up with pieces of wood. Roofs are covered with tarps. Signs are blown out or down. Trees lay across fences. In the hardest hit areas, cars are still piled, nothing more than twisted scraps of metal. Homes and business lay in mangled heaps. The path of the tornadoes is painfully obvious, the landscape permanently altered.

I’ve yet to travel into the hardest hit areas, in part because I don’t want to be guilty of just gawking at others’ loss and devastation. There’s also a part of me that doesn’t want to see it—the hurt and pain experienced by so many is more than my heart can bear. But, it is impossible for me to work without seeing bits and pieces of the destruction. The damage is so unbelievably widespread.

Today as I drove through my hometown, the stark contrast to the past was once again a painful reminder of what we have been through. The old bridge that has stood for my entire lifetime and is permanently emblazoned on the city seal is now nothing more than a memory. The exact path of the tornado is obvious by the trees that are stripped of leaves, split down the middle, pulled from the ground.  As I continued down highway 37, the once beautiful homes that stood just west of my brother’s dental office are a reminder of how close it was to the ones I love. As I drive by those heaps of wood and brick, I can’t help but imagine how overwhelming it must be trying to figure out how to begin the process of starting all over again.

And yet, there are signs that Oklahoma is beginning to move forward, to put the devastation behind us and rebuild. Last week, I took my oldest son to the movie. The theater took a direct hit from the EF-5 that devastated Moore, but it survived with only aesthetic damage. However, the hospital just north and the bank just east—both in the parking lot area of the theater—were completely destroyed. As the hospital still stood, a mangled mass of shattered glass and brick with huge chunks missing, I noticed that some of the businesses had been completely wiped clean. The piles were gone, and nothing was left but the slab of foundation.

At the credit union, employees and customers survived in the safe. It was the only thing that remained standing after the storm. The safe, however, is now gone—along with the rest of the building. It has been completely wiped clean, as if it had never existed. A fence now surrounds the area in preparation for the rebuilding process. It will be a long process, but it has begun.

How do I know the rebuilding will happen? Oklahoma is not a stranger to the destruction of tornadoes. Fourteen years ago, another huge tornado wiped out my hometown of Bridge Creek before traveling into Moore. Over 40 people lost their lives on May 3, 1999, in what was then the largest ever tornado to hit a heavily populated area. As I drive through my hometown today, there are areas I don’t even recognize. Everything has been rebuilt. It’s newer and better. But, it is so very different from the place I once knew as home.

As I contemplated the destruction from the tornadoes, I began to reflect on my own life. About four years ago, I was completely unprepared for the tornado that hit my life. My perfect life as pastor’s wife and mother was hit by an EF-5 known as adultery and divorce. I stood looking at my life, overwhelmed, trying to figure out where to begin. I looked at the heap of bricks and mortar, and I could do nothing. The tears flowed so freely. The pain was so unbearable; I couldn’t pray or open my Bible.

But, the Holy Spirit was interceding for me.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. Romans 8:26

I found myself angry with God, wondering how he could allow this type of devastation to my life. I had done everything right: I went to college, married the man God told me to, served Him obediently. And yet, here I stood looking at nothing but rubble. How could I ever go on? Where do you start rebuilding your life when you’ve lost everything? Why go on?

Because God promises that He will make something good out of devastation.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

In my anger, I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted to walk in obedience to God again. Sure, I could do the “right” thing and continue to go to church, but on the inside I just wanted to sulk. His way didn’t work out so well, so I might as well live life my way—and have some fun along the way.

He loves us even when we are faithless.

If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

As the days wore on, I felt this overwhelming sense that God was relentlessly pursuing me. He was calling me to run to Him for my security. The harder I ran from Him, the more He tried to get my attention. Eventually, I gave into His pursuit. I began to read the word and spend time in prayer again. My Savior’s love enveloped me and began to give me a vision for the future.

A future with Him is always full of hope!

For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration—“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will by found by you.” Jeremiah 29:11-14

As difficult as it was to let go of the past—of what I had always planned for my life—I began to allow God to push away the pile of rubble. He began to reveal that the foundation of my life was still intact, and that foundation was Jesus Christ. Eventually, everything was wiped clean. It was time to begin the rebuilding process.

We must let go of the past.

But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14

God brought in new wood and bricks. The plans were different from what I had always imagined, but the master builder was in charge. As the years pass, I realize that my life was permanently altered. It will never look like it did four or five years ago, but that’s really OK. You see, what God is doing in my life is far greater than what I had planned. It’s an exciting time to see what God will do. It will be bigger and better than what had been before!

God is beginning a new work!

Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Isaiah 43:18-19

God is in the rebuilding business. No matter how much destruction and devastation has taken place in your life, He will not rest until He has repaid the years the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25). With every step toward my new future, I have the promise that God is with me, that He is in control, that He will never stop until His purposes are accomplished.

The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. 1 Peter 5:10

What destruction and devastation have you experienced? Are you allowing God to lead you in the process of rebuilding? If not, surrender and let Him take over. He is the master builder! He delights in making something beautiful out of the rubble!

Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us—to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20

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15 thoughts on “Picking up the Pieces”

  1. Hi Dena,

    This really hit home for me. My husband left 4 years ago. He has filed for divorce, has become an alcoholic, lost his job and we have to sell our family home of me and our 4 kids.

    As hard as this has been, I am so grateful to The Lord for giving me the strength and courage to walk through this.

    My husband knows that I am standing for our marriage which is a covenant with God that can not be broken by divorce, but only through death.

    I am so grateful to have the support of Rejoice Marriage Ministries and Covenant Keepers International. These ministries encourage and support the left behind spouse. There are people all over the world standing for their marriages regardless of divorce or remarriage by their spouse. Over and over marriages are being restored by God back to the covenantal spouse.

    You can find both of these ministries on line.

    May God bless you and your sweet family.

    1. My heart aches for you as I completely understand your pain! I am sorry that you are having to deal with the hurt and betrayal that comes when one spouse walks away from the covenant relationship of marriage.

      Although the hurt and pain are great, I have found that my relationship with Christ has never been sweeter! In Job 42, Job proclaims, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” I’ve spent my entire adult life teaching God’s word, but my faith had never been tested. Now that I’ve walked through the fires, I have tasted–and I have seen that the Lord is truly good! He has met my every need at exactly the moment I needed it. He has been my Great I AM.

      I encourage you to continue clinging to God and to the promise of God’s restoration. I did. Eventually, God gave me the freedom to put the past behind me, to see that He will make something new for me. Yes, His perfect will was that my husband would repent and return. However, God gave me the freedom to get my children and myself out of a situation that was causing tremendous harm to us all. My children and I have grown and changed so much! I simply rejoice in the work that God has chosen to do in us and is doing through us. He delights in taking broken lives and putting them back together again!

      Please know that you and your entire family are in my prayers! Blessings!

  2. Dena,
    Would you mind deleting my name on my post? I don’t want my husband or anyone we know to identify our family. Thanks

  3. What a encouraging post, just what I needed to hear. In the past 2-1/2 years I have lost a job, nearly died from a ruptured appendix, house burned down this past September and just when we where going to move back into our newly rebuilt house my wife took all the money out of our account and served me divorce papers. I am just now trying to find all the pieces.

    1. Oh, Wayne! The tears sting my eyes as I read your story! I am so very sorry! Those days of trying to find the pieces, of trying to figure out where to begin, are still so fresh in my mind. I used to compare it to a huge jigsaw puzzle that you were putting together, and suddenly the entire puzzle is pushed into the floor. As you begin to frantically try to find the pieces to begin putting it back together, you realize that the pieces are different. The puzzle will never look the same.

      The first Sunday I went to church after learning of my husband’s affair, the sermon was on, “You Can’t Handle it Yourself.” The pastor stated that we are mistaken when we think God won’t give us more than we can handle. The truth is, He doesn’t want us to handle it ourselves! He wants us to give it to Him to take care of. It definitely sounds like God has given you more than you can handle!

      In these early days, please know that the Holy Spirit and the Body of Christ (myself included) are lifting you to the throne of grace that you might receive mercy and find grace to help you in your time of need! I have clung to 1 Peter 5:10 knowing that one day He will have me put together and on my feet for good! And, He will do the same for you!

      As you walk through the fire, remember that He is refining you in amazing ways. He will prove Himself faithful and true. He will do an amazing work in you so that He can do an amazing work through you!

      Praying for you, my brother!

      1. Hi Denacyd:
        Thank you so much for your kind words and double thanks for your prayers. I have received this quote from various well meaning friends “God won’t give us more than we can handle” until I could throw up!! I agree God doesn’t give us difficult stuff to handle own our own. I recently have discovered your blog and your sensitivity & your compassion comes through your writing. I am definitely will bookmarking your future posts. Thanks again,

        Wayne

      2. Wayne, Our friends are well meaning, but unless they’ve walked through the fire they cannot fully understand. Remember, Job was hand-picked by God to endure all types of tragedy. His friends came along and only made things worse. God has chosen YOU for these trials. He wants to do something amazing in you and through you. All you need to do is surrender–and hang on for a journey you never would have chosen, but one that will be filled with a sweetness with your Savior you never dreamed possible! And remember, in Job 42, the second half ofJob’s life was even more blessed than the first!

        I am thankful that God can use me to encourage and minister to you. May He be glorified!

        Sent from my iPhone

      3. Denacyd:
        Thank you again for your encouragement. The thing that hurts the most is the alienation of my two daughters. Since this has occurred they have not talked to me. I was close to them both and this hurts the most. I have to believe that God will redeem this some how.

        Wayne

      4. Yes, He will! He says that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us and we will have what we ask for (1 John 5:14-15). It is definitely His will that your relationship with your daughters is restored. It may take time and a lot of hard work, but He will restore. “The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm” (Exodus 14:14).

  4. Hi dena
    Thank you for sharing your story. It has encourage me greatly . I deal a lot with my past. You see in my case I was the Tornado in Peoples life’s, 3 divorces and a life time of Alcholism and Addictions. Like you I have to let go of my Past, it doesn’t belong to Us anymore. I been clean and sober for nearly 7 years by God’s Grace. Thank you for your Boldness

    1. Yes, let go of the past! Remember, God looks at the heart. King David was an adulterer and a murderer, and yet he was a man after God’s own heart. When God looks at you, He sees perfection, one washed in the blood of the Lamb, a child of the one true King! Cling to those royal robes that He has clothed you in, and forgive yourself. We are all sinners saved by the same grace, all sinners who nailed our Savior to the cross. You are a bright testimony of the freedom and forgiveness that Christ came to give us all! Blessings!

  5. Dena,
    I found your site for the first time today, 10/10/14. I was married for 26 years. My ex-husband was bi-polar and I had to leave home for safety reasons. I left with just the clothes on my back. I never dreamed I would have to get divorced. The first 16 years of our marriage were happy ones.We attended church as a family and had family devotions, Then the disease surfaced, I felt like my whole world fell apart. Life as we new it ended. I had to deal with a lot of verbal abuse for the last ten years I lived with him. After the divorce I want back to college part-time for seven years and got my degree. After teaching for three and one-half years, I found out that I have Sarcoidosis. The disease affects my lungs and I was told that I would have to stop work.
    I have now been divorced for 14 years. I thought that I was dealing with all the things that I had gone through pretty well. Last July, my ex-husband was found dead. He had not had any contact with our children for over 12 years. The children and I had to plan and pay for his funeral. He had been homeless for years, he was found dead in a motel. Once the funeral was over, my daughter and I had to seek counseling. We were having flashbacks of the past, when he was so sick and abusive to us. We were told that we have PTSD. Some days I do okay , others not so good. I know that the Lord has been with me because I could not have made it though all this without Him. I gained so much encouragement from reading your story. Even at 60 years old, I still believe Jeremiah 29:11. I hope to one day be able to write about my experiences and help other women who are dealing with abuse and /or a spouse that in mentally ill.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. Mental illness is a huge component in so many divorces. I truly believe there’s an element of it in my story (though I diagnosed). I’m so sorry for your pain, but I love your attitude! It matters not what stage of life we are in. We can always know that as long as there is breath in our lungs, he has great plans for us! God bless!!

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