I tried to be the best wife and mom I could be. Everything I did to win my husband’s attention and approval seemed futile, and I was frustrated much of the time. Outsiders saw our marriage as picture-perfect. Disney vacations created happy memories.
But in the marriage, I felt unseen, unworthy. I later learned that it was unfair of me to put my self-worth and joy on his (or anyone’s) shoulders and expect to be made whole.
The mortgage business, however, was booming in the early 2000s, and I enjoyed financial success and working with satisfied customers. Thankfully, my job provided for our home and lifestyle, and Jimi and Bobby were healthy and carefree. This was a source of happiness for me in my early thirties. Whether in the living room or the bedroom, there was plenty of activity. Yet, I felt alone.
For seventeen years, we tried to fill our own voids. My “happily ever after” ended, as did the marriage. I was just thirty-six. Yesterday’s castle was now unrecognizable, much like when a child’s sand fortress is washed away with the tide.
There was never going to be a good time to endure divorce, and for Jimi, fifteen, and Bobby, thirteen, it was brutal.
Years of heartache and the betrayal I felt left me empty.
I felt guilty about what we had done to the children, and it nearly tore me apart. I felt like God no longer would use me—a woman with a big “D” stamped on her forehead. I was broken. I was a failure. No one would ever want me.
Walking through that season of bitterness was miserable. I was the living picture of the saying “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies,” and I was gulping down the poison.
After many years, the biggest takeaway for me was this: a God-honoring marriage is built on love, respect, and the firm foundation that only a relationship with Jesus offers. In addition, wound-healing and soul-filling love comes only from the Savior. And I had one final choice to make: I either could hold onto the hurt, or I could forgive and move forward.
I chose forgiveness. “When everything in you wants to hold a grudge, point a finger and remember the pain, God wants you to lay it all aside,” says R. T. Kendall in his book Total Forgiveness. It also taught me that the change of heart and resulting peace I wanted wasn’t something I could make happen. It only would come from Him.
- Meredith Shave, “Waves of Grace”, pages 19-20
This article has been edited and excerpted from Waves of Grace (WestBow Press, 2018), an inspirational memoir written by Meredith Shave, in which she reflects upon challenging life moments. After her seventeen-year marriage to her high school sweetheart dissolves, she further endures the pain of losing her mother to cancer and then the sudden death of her second husband