My son was 2 months old. I was living in a spare bedroom at a friends’s house. There was no furniture so we slept on blankets on the floor. I was separated from my husband and my family lived 800 miles away. I was very hopeful we would reunite so I didn’t want to make the long trip out to my family just yet.
I appreciated the room my friends offered but I knew it would be a very temporary solution. I did not have much support from our friends and community over the separation. My husband was heavily involved in pornography and it was ripping us apart. This was the third time I had moved out of the home in 2 years. He always refused to move out so I would go. The first time I just couldn’t stand being away from him so I returned after 3 days. The second time I moved out in a hurry because he was turning violent and I was pregnant. I travelled 800 miles and moved in with my family and he followed shortly after. We thought the change would do us good and after a few months we returned to our home, together, for the birth of our son. Things were tough but I was still hopeful.
Now here I was with a newborn baby, a few belongings packed in bags, sleeping on someone’s floor. I was separated for the third time from my husband. It is scary having a newborn child and your world is falling apart. The couple I was staying with were our best friends. Eric and my husband had been close friends for years. Marie and I became fast friends when we met and married our husbands. Marie had also been my doula during the labor and delivery of my son. They understood what we were going through and were trying so hard to help us through this. Finally, one night I found myself being interrogated in their living room. I had just returned from a bible study with my best friend (she had been the maid of honor at my wedding) and a new group of women I had met. I was telling them about it but as we chatted Eric went crazy. I stared in disbelief as he was ranting and stomping around the living room. I knew things were tense with me there, I did my best to keep quiet and out of their way, but I didn’t realize how tense it really was. Finally he stopped, looked at me and said, “What if your husband never changes? What if he never gets out of pornography?”. I paused and then responded that I could not stay married to him if he continued down this path.
Twenty years ago the church never talked about pornography. It was a topic that was completely ignored. We had been to counseling, marriage retreats, our church elders were involved and friends had been trying to help; but ultimately they all told me the same thing: He is not going to change. Go home and be a good “christian” wife and live with it. I didn’t know much about sexual addictions, but I knew the hell that was happening inside the walls of my home and I wasn’t going to just “let it go”. When my friend’s husband realized that I would divorce my husband over this, he kicked me out of their house.
I buckled my 2 month old son in the car along with anything I could fit inside my 1990 Toyota Corolla and drove to a phone booth to find a place to stay. I called an older couple from our church who had been counseling us. In the beginning they had told me I might need to separate for a time and that I could stay with them, but when I became pregnant they had changed their mind. Now that I had a baby and no where to live I called them and they refused to take me in. Baffled, I called my best friend, who I had just seen the night before. I knew she had an extra room. She also refused to allow me to stay with her. She said my place was at my husband’s side. [Keep in mind this was a very small town and we all knew each other, all went to church together, and most of us worked together. And we all knew everybody’s business.] No matter who I called, I was refused a place to stay. I drove around town not knowing what to do. My son slept peacefully in his car seat, completely surrounded by bags of clothes and diapers. Oh so nice to be unaware of the turmoil around you! I sobbed for awhile and then realized I had only one option: Desperate and with no money, I returned to my own home.
Like a dog with his tail tucked between its legs I walked back in my house after being gone nearly 2 weeks. As I entered, my husband didn’t say how good it was to see me, instead he seemed somehow satisfied. He mocked me in my predicament and told me that no one believed or supported me. His words were, “I guess people finally see you for who you really are.” Hands down, it was the worst day of my life. Experiencing abandonment by those who had been closer to me than my own family for nearly 10 years combined with my husband laughing at my pain, culminated into the tipping point for me. The pain and humiliation was unbearable. Understanding that there was probably little chance of our marriage surviving at this point, I called my parents. They immediately left their mountain home and drove the 16 hours to rescue me. Within a couple of days I had packed up what I could and quietly left town without a word to anyone. I returned a few months later for a family wedding and was looking forward to rebuilding relationships, however, upon my return it was made very clear that I was not welcome in that community any longer. The wedding was awkward and my attempts to visit past friends and co-workers was a disaster.
The sting of rejection is like a knife in a stomach. The knife is never pulled out, it just keeps turning and turning. You want the pain to go away but it doesn’t. I don’t hate any of those people. It’s been many years since (my son is now in high school) and I still miss them terribly. I wish they could have known my son. I loved our community and grieved that I wouldn’t be able to raise my child there. I miss the people and the town more than I could ever express. I wonder how people can throw away relationships so easily?
A Touch Of Compassion
Ironically, there were two people who showed me the most compassion and they were individuals who I had treated with disdain in the past. They, too, had experienced rejection at the hands of the same community of “believers” and they reached out to me with compassion. This was the start of a big awakening in my life. I was on the receiving end of the cruelty that can be handed out at the hands of “christians”. What grieved me most is that I became keenly aware I had dished it out plenty of times, thinking I was righteous in my actions. I had gossiped about these two people, judged, and looked down on them. Instead of returning to me what I deserved, they responded in the opposite spirit. As I pondered this I heard the phrase, “Judge not lest you also be judged”. A very humbling lesson.
Rejection Comes From Pride
As painful as this experience was, God was setting me on a new path to freedom. I was learning that rejection by others is not about me. Rejection grows from self-righteousness and pride. If I am ever tempted to reject someone then it is not because they are unworthy of my hand of fellowship, but it is because I have a pride problem. So remember, if you are being rejected – do not respond in like manner. Instead, always be willing to extend your hand of friendship to them and if they do not want it – then it is their sin to work through. Just always be aware of any hint of rejection in you towards another. Be sensitive to the needs of others, and be willing to love those that hate you.