Guilt and sorrow

I’ve been dealing with some very serious guilt issues these past few days. I’m trying to understand what the Lord is telling me. The best way for me to do that is to write out what I’m feeling and explain myself on “paper” – so to speak.

A long time ago, I was married to a young man. We had three children together. We also shared some very hard years together. He wrestled with many addictions. He battled depression. Ultimately I chose to leave that man. His addictions and self-destructive behavior lashed out at me and the children and I simply could not raise them in that environment. As a woman, I was crushed by his unfaithfulness and the abuse I suffered. As a Christian, I struggled to forgive and I’ve been tormented by guilt.

We recently discovered that the young man I married so long ago died from an overdose. Whether or not it was intentional is not yet known to me.

The guilt, anger, sadness and all the terrible feelings I’ve struggled to put away are now rising up again with a vengeance. There are questions that will never be answered in this life. There are feelings that can’t be put to rest peacefully. There is so much left unsaid. So many things I said in anger, I wish I could ask for forgiveness from that person.

Yes, I was wronged. I was betrayed and hurt terribly. But I believe that person that hurt me was suffering too. But I was too young and inexperienced to recognize that hurt and offer peace and comfort. I think I will always be sad when I think of those years lost.

I’ve been so blessed to be married to a wonderful man for the last five years. He’s been an amazing father to my children. He’s been such a wonderful husband to me. He’s taken care of us and healed so many hurts. I know God sent him just for me and I’m overwhelmed with love, both for my husband and for the Father who knew what I needed to be restored. God is unimaginably good to His children.

Even though I am completely loved, since I have learned of my ex-husband’s death I am wrestling with guilt and sadness.

I believe I may have come to an important realization this morning. Guilt can be a useful tool of the Holy Spirit to convict us when we are sinning. That guilt can cause us to repent and turn away from that sin. That kind of guilt is good.

But that useful tool can be twisted into a weapon. When the guilt overwhelms us and causes us to dwell on our past sins, it is no longer a tool used for good. I believe that kind of guilt is an attack. It is an evil whisper in our hearts that says, “You can’t be good enough. Look what you did. You can never be forgiven.”

That’s a lie. We are forgiven, completely. We only need to ask God and He is so quick to pour out His love and forgiveness. And as I pray for God to heal my hurts and ease my guilt, I’m praying for the young man I married a long time ago. I’m praying for his family.

God can work sorrow into joy. His Word tells us this is true.

 “… and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:3 (New International Version)

I praise God for the beauty He gives us in the midst of ashes.

My change of heart

Almost ten years ago, I was a struggling single mother with three very young children. I didn’t spend very much time with my children because I was focused on working as a journalist, graphic layout designer and copy editor for a newspaper. My children spent the majority of their time at the babysitter’s house. They would spend the night with her often. I missed out on so much. With my eyes on the wrong goal, I stumbled and fell. I fell frequently. It was a mess. Thankfully, God did not give up on me. He led me down a broken road to my husband, Scott. Settled into a comfortable marriage I felt that for once I was safe – I was loved – and I was special. During this time of healing I was able to change my focus.  About two years into our marriage, during worship service at church, I cried out to God to change me. I begged Him to use me, show me where to go, show me how to conduct my life. I wept as I cried out for His guidance.And I felt His peace wash over me. I should have known that peace was sent to help me through the changes ahead of me.

God set out that very moment to radically change me. A few weeks after I cried out for His guidance, I became very sick with pneumonia. So sick, in fact, that my husband was forced to take me to the hospital. I was admitted for almost a week. Initially, as the doctors were working on the correct diagnosis, they were concerned about a large mass in my lungs.

Apparently the infection was so condensed, the doctors initially thought it could be a tumor. My heart stopped when they told me this.

I immediately quit smoking.

I smoked a pack a day for six years. I’ve tried every different way to quit, without success. But the day I cried out for my Father to change me into the woman He wants me to be – He set the process in motion. He knew what it would take to free me from my costly addiction.

And still He continued to work on me. Shortly after I recovered, an opportunity to serve in my church’s children’s ministry presented itself. As I considered working in this ministry a warm peace, much like the one I experienced during that special moment of worship – washed over me and I knew that this was a step in the right direction.

Over the next few weeks, He continued to work on me. He opened my eyes to healthy changes in my lifestyle, our budget, our household. My Father has redirected my interest in raising my children in a simple, loving and Godly manner.

And then my God laid it upon my heart to take a leap of pure faith and homeschool my children.

The idea at first was frightening! I was not this person. I was busy at my job, I had my own interests. Sure, I love my children, I attended church, I loved my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ – but I was nowhere near where He wanted me to be.

I was NOT the type of mom to get up early, make sure everyone had a nice breakfast. I didn’t pull myself out of bed to spend a little time in prayer. I rarely cracked open my Bible unless I was at church. I wasn’t a bad Christian – but I was inactive, lukewarm. I had not surrendered my life completely to His will.

As I look back today, I’m amazed at just how far God has brought me in such a very short time. He’s used circumstances to teach me. He’s led my heart to a new realization of just how wonderful my life could be when I decide to truly serve Him. I can see now that serving in the church children’s ministry will help me as I homeschool my children. The organizational skills I’ve used at work will benefit me as I struggle to keep us on task at home. The new things I’m learning everyday will help me to become the woman I need to be –  the woman He wants me to be.

I still have a long way to go. I’m not a saint, by any stretch of the imagination. And I’m still a little unsure of myself in this new role. I don’t know if I can be “that type” of a woman. Can I be a true help mate for my husband? Can I be the way God wants me to be?

Not on my own.

But I’m not alone. I’m being led every step of the way. And I’m so very thankful that God has invested such an interest in a wayward servant.

Along with changing my attitude towards raising my children, God has placed a new desire in my heart to have more children. When I gave birth to my third child, I made the terrible decision to have my tubes tied. I broke my body. My heart is broken. God, in His goodness and mercy, has led me to The Lord’s Heritage Ministry – a ministry that helps raise money to fund tubal ligation and vasectomy reversal surgeries.  I have hope now. This chance to be physically restored is precious to me. God has recently been working with me regarding my misconceptions about submission to my husband and my misconceptions about why God created women. I used to be so concerned with my career, so concerned with “being somebody,” and I didn’t want to be “just” a housewife. It has been a struggle for me to overcome the lies that I grew up with as a child of the feminist generation.
Today I am very, very happy to be a stay-at-home mother, I’m proud to be homeschooling my children and diligently serving my church. There are still times when I struggle with that prideful nature when I bump into an old friend and they ask me, “Where do you work?” Their faces change when I say, “I’m at home with my kids.” It’s like they think I’ve given up – when really I’ve chosen a fantastic calling!
God has revealed much to me about my character and the wrong ideas I’ve had in my heart. And it’s just in time, too! God’s timing is perfect. My daughters are getting older now and they’re talking about what they want to be when they grow up. I would have encouraged them down the wrong paths in the past. But today I’m able to tell them that God has created them as women for a very special purpose. Yes, a job – a career – for an unmarried woman is important. And it’s important for them to ask God to show them their paths. But the Bible tells us as women what our purpose is and why He made us. We are helpmeets, rubies for our husbands, gaurdians of our homes! This is so wonderful to me now. It blesses my heart to tell my daughters that God loves them and wants them to be happy.
God has helped me to see His perfect planning when He created women for that purpose. I was blessed about two months ago to receive a book from my mother-in-law, “Womanly Dominion,” by Mark Chanksi. This book really helped me to realize that I was pleasing God, my Father, when I chose to serve my family and my husband with my whole heart.
Thank God for working to reveal these things in my life! I have such amazing peace. I experience so much more joy in my life. It is my prayer that I can help other women realize that they can have this same joy and peace everyday!

UPDATE:

When we started this blog in 2010, we had three children.

Since that time we have had THREE MORE CHILDREN. We would love for you to visit us at www.coersfamily.com to see how we’ve grown.

2