'I felt so much shame that there was no wedding ring on my hand'

Kathy’s story | Seeking refuge in God through marriage breakdown

“I would have said that I had a deep relationship with God before 2015. But I’ve learned that there are levels of surrender. Early in 2015, I was sitting at my desk and my husband walked in. He said that he was done with the marriage. It was over. He was leaving. I remember telling God that I couldn’t do it on my own. It was an intense time of grief. I sobbed for about three years.”

“At the time, I was working on a farm business, shoveling manure, and cleaning chicken pens. It was a gift to me. It meant that I could just cry, snot pouring out my nose, and the chickens didn’t care. In the evenings, I could go on runs through the country and cry all the way … and it didn’t matter. I never had to put a face on. Prior to that, I’d been working for a university, raising donor money, and in that environment, you have to act like nothing’s wrong. You have to put on a facade. But on the farm, I didn’t need to. I was able to be broken and to grieve. It was really beneficial.

“I was also determined that I was going to be super honest with God. I didn’t want to cover up the part that I’d contributed to my marriage break-up. I wanted to be honest with God and with myself. I learned that we can either run to God or we can run from him … and I ran to him. He took care of me so well. I’m crying now just thinking of it. There were so many times, when I would be studying the Scriptures on my own and then a friend would call me, to check up on me, and she would share the same verse with me. It happened over and over again. It was like God was saying, ‘Kathy, I see you. I’m watching you. I’m not going to leave you. I’m going to help you heal.’

“But it was still hard. I felt a lot of shame, as a Christian. I knew it wasn’t how it was supposed to be. I remember the first time I took my wedding ring off. I walked into a petrol station. Nobody even knew me … but I felt so much shame that there was nothing on my hand.

“But even through the shame, I felt the Lord was with me. He was my protector. I was reading the Psalms. They’re so emotive. Psalm 25 says, ‘Guard my life and rescue me; do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.’ (verse 20)

“That’s what I wanted. I wanted to find my refuge in God. And I remember God saying to me that he was going to turn it into something beautiful. I didn’t know how he would do that. I just knew how much it hurt!

“But in the years since then, I know I’ve changed. God has made my heart tender in ways I could never have anticipated. At the moment, I’m involved in setting up a transitional home for women in recovery from drug and/or alcohol addiction.

“In our county, there’s no housing like that available. It’s happened slowly over time. My church runs a thrift store, and I took on a job there, as the manager. A lot of women coming in had community service hours they needed to do and I started to develop relationships with them. I fell in love with them. It opened my eyes in all kinds of ways. I realised they didn’t have a safe place to go after drug rehab.

“We’ve been working on the housing project for over a year now. We hope to open in Autumn. We’ll have five women and I’ll be the house manager. I know it will be hard. The women have been through so much trauma … so I’ll need to be tender and soft, in healthy ways. That’s my prayer. And I think that’s what Jesus keeps offering us – true, deep healing, as we continue to invite him into our lives.”

Kathy’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Bible verse Psalm 25 20

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