When I was a little girl I believed that I could do whatever I wanted when I grew up. I always thought I would become a school teacher. In sixth grade my best friend and I couldn't wait for the day when we would be college roommates. By the time I reached high school, however, college did not seem to be an option for me. I felt my calling was to be a pastor's wife. I wanted to do something significant for God, and helping my future husband bring people to Him was going to be it. It seemed that everything was falling into place when Scotty and I fell in love and got married. We believed that we were going to make a difference together.I am so grateful for Scotty and the life we share. I am amazed by God's grace and how He has brought us through some very dark times. This is the second of four (or so) parts. You can read the first part here.
In 2000 we made the heart-breaking decision to leave our church. This is the church I was raised in; the church where we were married. It was all I knew. We were leaving people we loved and cared for. We lost many friendships in the process.
Having no church home and few friends drew us closer as a couple. Each other was all we had. Scotty began going to Bible college. We had long discussions about where we were headed as a family and about God and about church. We were hurting and desperate for friendship, but it was one of the best seasons in terms of our marriage. By now we had been married for seven years and had said and done things to hurt one another - deeply. For now, those things faded into the background as we tried to regain our footing and move forward.
We began attending another church, and although we were gun-shy about becoming overly involved, we felt like we had found a place to regroup and heal. We were deeply affected and somewhat disillusioned after leaving our previous church, but we did our best to press onward. Scotty finished school with a double major in religion and electronics. We began marriage counseling to address some of the un-dealt with issues and hurts we had caused one another. I thought we were on our way to recovery and that we would be on our way back into ministry. And then ...
Scotty told me he was agnostic. He was not sure if he believed in God and was not interested in church. I was shocked. It's not like he became agnostic over night. I just thought he was still dealing with issues over the whole leaving-the-church situation and that he would pull through. I had been nagging him about why he wasn't praying more or why he wanted to skip church sometimes. He wasn't leading at home enough or he wasn't studying enough. He wasn't measuring up to my expectations. Ugh. I was like the proverbial annoying constant drip. Instead of hiding in the corner of a rooftop, he hid in a world of video games. He would start as soon as he got home from work and play until one or two in the morning. We drifted further and further apart. Soon, I had little to no respect for him.
Everything I thought I was sure of had been pulled out from under me. I worried about how we would raise our children. Would they grow up confused because of our differing beliefs? I was afraid Scotty would go crazy and run off on me. Amazing how far our imaginations will go when we are afraid. I felt gypped. This was not the life I had signed up for. Maybe he wasn't the one I was supposed to marry after all. The hurts from years before rose to the surface like scabs picked raw. I was an emotional wreck. I felt like I was going crazy. One moment I would want him to hold me, and literally the next moment - as soon as he touched me - I wanted him as far from me as possible. I couldn't even look at him.
I was in a full-on identity crisis and I blamed Scotty. For the first time, I mourned my teen years and that I would never experience prom or high school graduation or living on my own. I was angry at the church and the pastor who married us. I was angry at my dad for allowing it. I was mad at Scotty for stealing my childhood. Who was I really? What did I enjoy doing? What did I really believe about God? What could I have become? What kind of man would I choose to marry if I could choose as an adult? HOW DO I GET OUT OF THIS? Sadness and anger were constant companions. I went to sleep thinking about how I was cheated and woke up, head pounding, jaw aching from clenching my teeth in my sleep.
I continued to attend church with a lump in my throat every time. I dreaded getting the kids ready and going out the door alone. It was lonely sitting by myself while the couples around me held hands as they worshiped.
At that point my relationship with God could have been posted as 'it's complicated' on Facebook. Two things kept me from walking away from God, my marriage and my life: Taylor and Celine. In the midst of all of my questioning and confusion I wanted them to have stability. And leaving was the very opposite of that. So I just went through the motions. Church. Grace before meals. Bedtime prayers. But I was so lost. I just wanted to be me - whoever that was - and real - whatever that was. I was desperately trying to claw my way out of the pit I had fallen in to.