Imagine this.

You do all the right things. You finish college. You stay in church and follow all the advice the church mothers teach you. One day, you find your Prince Charming. He may not be riding a white horse, but he is willing to follow the church rules with you – regularly attending church service (dancing like David every Sunday), showing you kindness and affection, and (the big one!) willing to remain celibate until your wedding day. After the “I Do’s,” you travel together, from cruises to amusement parks. He is tall, dark, and looks like a magazine pinup. The two of you settle down in an upscale neighborhood with the best schools. And, for the first five years of your son’s life, you’re a stay-at-home mom. It’s like a modern day fairytale — my fairytale anyway.

Sadly, after only a few years into the marriage, my fairytale was turning into a nightmare.

Is There Hope After Your Fairytale Turns into a Nightmare?

I found myself financially and emotionally abused, and for a long time I didn’t even recognize it. I agreed with him when he said I was unattractive after the baby came. I felt worthless when he put me down for not earning six figures after law school. I rationalized wearing Walmart clothes as a stay-at-home mom while my award-winning salesman husband wore $2,000 custom-made suits. And, when my Prince Charming kept me up night after night berating me for not living up to his selfish expectations, I felt trapped and defenseless.

When I stood before God and said “I Do,” it was until death do us part. Divorce was never an option. I had heard of too many unions falling apart in my family, and I thought by doing the “right things” I could avoid their failures. It took me 24 years of suffering in silence, constantly praying and fasting for change, and 10 different counselors before I decided to leave. The uncoupling was gut wrenching. Now, two short years later, I have hope that I can step into the life I’ve always longed for and pursue a brighter future. And, I want to encourage others that they can too. Whether you, like me, feel bound in an abusive relationship or feel trapped in any situation that minimizes you, I want you to know that there is hope.

It is Never Too Late to Hope in a Better Future

Believe me, I understand. Years of abuse and misuse is exhausting, and it takes a heavy toll on your spirit, soul, and body. Some days you reach a point when it feels like too much to bear. Don’t try to recover on you own. Connect with others who offer support and encouragement.

Ask yourself this question, “Who am I created to be?”  You are created to be beautiful. You are created to be brilliant. It may not feel like it now, but you are created to fulfill all of your dreams and desires. You owe it to yourself to be the person you were created to be. So, take time to rediscover the real you.

Each day, take a small step towards a brighter future. Look at the beautiful lady staring back at you in the mirror and say to her, “I am a winner.” It may not happen immediately, but overtime this simple affirmation will start to energize and invigorate you and put pep in your step. Soon you will be able to dream again and experience renewed energy, strength, and focus.

Yes, You Really Do Deserve a Better Life!

You may feel downright stupid for staying in a bad marriage for so long. I felt the shame and there are moments now that I still feel embarrassment. I questioned myself over and over after the divorce, “Why did I stay so long?” And you know what I had to finally admit? I didn’t feel worthy of more.

As a Christian, I thought it was always a sin to divorce. One church leader actually cornered me during a Bible study to tell me how wrong I was to divorce. When I explained how many times I attempted marriage counseling, he preceded to tell me that I should keep working toward reconciliation. When I explained to him the heavy toll the marriage had taken on my health and financial well-being, he only scoffed, letting me know how unimportant my welfare was to him. This scene played out several more times with different church members, making me question even God’s love.

Now I know how much God truly loves me. The rules of religion can make us feel closed off from that love or that we must sacrifice our peace and happiness to make ourselves worthy of it. The truth is… you and I are uniquely and wonderfully made to experience joy and laughter and to bring a little sparkle to the world. Our enemy seeks to snuff that out, not God.

John 10:10 reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

That tells me the Lord is for us. He wants us to have the best possible life, and He provided abundant blessings for us to enjoy. And so I say to you, no matter what difficulty you are experiencing in life today, God always sets a rainbow in the dark clouds. Look for it and believe you are worthy of God’s love and promises.

Trust the Future Is Filled with Amazing Possibilities

When my divorce was final, the first question I asked myself was… “Now what?” My life looked like a depressing pile of rubble. I did realize it then, but I was actually poised for great victories. I find hope in the Bible, encouraging myself with scriptures like Haggai 2:9, “your latter days will be greater than your former days” and Joel 2:25, “God will redeem the time that has been stolen from you.” I survived my emotionally neglectful marriage by remaining hopeful. At times through tear-filled eyes and heartache, I continued to believe that God would see me through and my change was around the corner.

With a hopeful mindset, I began to review the balance sheet of my life. I counted my assets, instead of focusing on my liabilities.

  • My health – check!
  • The loving relationship with my son – check!
  • Educated and qualified – check!
  • New job – check!
  • Family and friends that love me – check, check, check!

I discovered that I had many positive attributes on my side. I thanked God that a horrible marriage and messy divorce did not rob the core essence of who I was. When I took a closer look at myself through a loving and caring lens, I began to see the possibilities ahead of me. At 47 years old, I have discovered my true purpose, and I excitedly pursue it every day. You can too! Begin to count your assets and believe that greater days are within your reach.

When you begin assessing what you have to offer the world, you will begin seeing that there is hope in starting a new life. As you move towards a better future, be kind to yourself and remember that God loves you and simply put one foot in front of the other. I assure you that you will begin to experience an exciting new beginning.

Could you use some help rebuilding your life? I invite you to become part of One Degree Shift, a supportive community of women building their confidence to create a positive and meaningful future. Be My Guest or if you want even more learning and support, step up to Be An Influencer in our community.