My marriage was in shambles in 2000 as we prepared to move from Maryland to Florida where my husband was going to be an integral part of a new business. He promised me riches beyond our wildest dreams but I was angry and bitter and vicious. I didn’t want to move. I was comfortable. I was content. Not in our marriage but in all other aspects of my life. By moving, I was giving up family and friends, community, church, and my own business, all in exchange for maybe-success. I told myself, “Fine. I’ll go. He’ll succeed in this new endeavor and then I’ll divorce him. I’d rather be a rich divorced woman than a poor one.”
The business failed. And so did the next one. Our marriage disintegrated as my bitterness and anger mushroomed like a nuclear bomb. I was cold and stolid. I ranted and raged. I nagged and scolded and demeaned my husband. God was not pleased and He let me know. I remember begging God to change my husband and distinctly heard, “You’re the one who needs to change, Missy.” Oh! The injustice! “What do you mean I have to change?”, I asked Him. God not-so-gently pointed out my defects: bitterness and unforgiveness. Now I railed against God. I argued and debated and rebuffed His admonitions. But God is God and He had His way with me. Ever so slowly I got it. Unforgiveness is poison to our hearts. Bitterness sinks its roots into our souls and eats us alive. I needed to detox. I needed to be in rehab; a serious, cellular-level reformation needed to take place in my life. I surrendered. “Fine. I’d rather be all You meant for me to be than to live my life this way any longer.” Reformation took a long time and great effort with much backsliding. I forgave. I softened. I yielded. I changed.
In the end, our marriage failed anyway but not for lack of trying on my part. Looking back, I know my anger and relentless bitterness was a cover for fear. I feared being poor (been there, lived that), and I feared being alone (I’d never been alone). I was afraid I couldn’t live without a man in my life, without someone to take care of me. So here I am sixteen years after the move to Florida, thirty-one years after we said “I do”. Alone. Man-less. And I’m okay. I can do this now because the One who called me to change is with me always – I’ll never be alone – and I am rich beyond all measure. I am rich with love and friendship, gratitude and joy. I have forgiven myself and others, as God has forgiven me, and freedom is mine. Now look at me! I am couch-surfing across the country, for crying out loud. Fancy that!