I was exhausted. My life had become one colossal battle after another. If I was not fighting my ex-husband in the courtroom, or worse yet, on the battlefield of my mind, I was struggling to just get through each day. I had a small stipend of welfare money, food stamps, SSI income, and money coming in for being my daughter’s caretaker. Still, it was not enough to sufficiently support three children.
The kids and I had been living with my parents for six months. It had been time to leave the safety of their locked gates, a protective fortress in my mind. My parents had taken us in, unexpectedly, and provided us with a home and much-needed emotional support for me. It had been a place of refuge and healing. It had also taken this much time to set in place enough public assistant programs to gain our independence. I was grateful to God for His provision. My parents were able to front the money I needed for the first month of rent and security deposit to get us into a tiny duplex. I would be responsible from that point forward. I had a small buffer in my finances, and knew I would need additional income in the near future to pay our way.
As we began our new life living at the duplex, I knew it was time. It was up to me to figure out how we were going to get by in life. I was now the sole parent, responsible for raising three exceptional children. I prayed and consulted with my Heavenly Father, asking for direction and provision. I figured I should just start putting myself out there, applying for jobs wherever possible, and see what happened. I really felt I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. There was no pride when it came to this reality. I had to do something for the sake of my kids.
I put on the only dress I had, other than my black funeral dress, and applied for a secretary position at church. The dress had been an unexpected blessing from my mom for a subpoenaed court appearance I had to make, weeks prior. Although I felt awkward and uncomfortable in the dress and nylons, I was ever so grateful I had something appropriate to wear during the interview process. I had been attending this same church since leaving my ex-husband. I knew the pastor from years back, way back, even before my marriage. He knew the truth of what transpired with my ex-husband. Apparently, I was told, the pastor sat, listened, and counseled with him for a few weeks before the reality of the situation reared its enormous vulgar head. And when my ex-husband’s beliefs and intentions were revealed about his new-found belief, the fruit of his spirit was also exposed. The rage and the ugliness of his sin came out, as it always did. When this happened, he was told to leave and advised not to return. He was no longer welcome on the church grounds. This was a key factor in my decision to stay with this church. I knew we would be safe there. It was forbidden ground for him.
I had mixed feelings about the pastors knowing so much about me. It was a relief because they were compassionate, prayerful, and supportive. And for that same reason, it was humbling as I sat across the desk being interviewed. I decided I could not afford to care about them judging me. I am who I am. What transpired had indeed happened. I could not change that, and I could not dwell on the past. I had to push forward. I had to go for it, trusting in the Lord. And, as it turned out, the interview actually went well. I was told by the associate pastor that I was one of the top three candidates he was considering for the job. I was also informed that the position was not yet available, and they were not sure when they would be hiring. I would have to wait. It was in God’s hands, I told myself.
At this same time, I also applied for a secretary position at the local high school my oldest son would be attending come fall, that same year. He was excited at the prospect of having his mom work in the office. This, I knew, was a long shot. It was a full-time position with a good salary and benefits. There would be serious competition in this job market to even get an interview. I was desperate to find someone who could put in a good word for me. Then, I supposed, maybe I would stand a better chance of being selected for an interview. I called the principle at the elementary school my two boys were attending at the time. Surely, she had connections within the school district. I was told she was unavailable, so I left a detailed message explaining my situation and asking if she could write a letter of recommendation for me, a necessary prerequisite as part of the resume package. I had hoped that she could make the difference. That she would be supportive of me. She was privy to my past, as she had a very detailed restraining order on file. My two boys were fully engaged on her campus in their newfound life. To my dismay, she never acknowledged my call.
It was not long after submitting the resume package to the high school that I received my official letter, thanking me for applying. It went on to further state that I was not being chosen for an interview, at that time, but they would keep my resume on file for future possible positions. The application process, itself, had been quite a challenge and a lesson in computer technology for me. I felt accomplished in my efforts and consoled myself. I had put forth my best attempt. I was at peace, seeing that I really did not know how I would have put in the required hours during the day and been able to raise my three children. But, on the other hand, God was in control and I knew that if He had given me that job, He would have provided for my kids too.
A few weeks passed, and I was again sucked into the drama of the courtroom. My ex-husband had a full-on jury trial he was orchestrating. The district attorney had subpoenaed my family, including my oldest son who was 13 years old, at the time. It was a strenuous time for everyone involved. In the midst of the criminal court conflict, I continued the fight for state funding for my daughter. I had interviewed months before with a social worker. I had applied for something called, protective services. This is a special form of care provided for a child who needs constant supervision. If I could show the social worker that my daughter needed this, I would earn more hours, while caring for my daughter on a daily basis, which was what I was already committed to doing. She was a full-time job, demanding my constant attention. The social worker had told me straight up, at our first meeting, that this program was set to be cut from the California state budget and would be gone in a matter of time. She continued to explain how the board of social services had made it increasingly difficult to qualify for the program, due to the funding already being cut back. She further explained how unless my daughter was literally banging her head on the walls and injuring herself in that sort of extreme way, she really did not stand a chance of getting approved. There was already an extensive list of families who had all been denied this service. Basically, she presented my case as hopeless to me. She was, however, compassionate at the time. Her parting words to me were, “pray a lot.” And that I did, on a continual basis.
A few months had now passed since I originally applied for the protective services for my daughter. I was growing increasingly frustrated. I had supplied what I believed to have been more than adequate proof of my daughter’s recklessness. I had also included a testimony of what an endangerment she can be to herself on a continuous basis, but we still didn’t have approval. It was one more struggle, one more battle, one more stress in my turbulent life. I gave her a follow-up call, restating our case, and she agreed to come to the duplex for one last observation. We set the date for an afternoon appointment.
The day of our appointment with the social worker, I picked up the boys from school and stopped at the gas station on the way home. We still had an hour until her arrival. As I pumped gas, my cell phone rang. It was a restricted number, so I picked up promptly knowing from past experience it was probably law enforcement. This time, it was the district attorney. I had quickly asked if he could call me back in 15 minutes. That would give me adequate time to get back to the duplex, so I could step outside and take the call. I found it incredibly uncomfortable speaking to the district attorney about my ex-husband’s charges with my kids being within earshot, so I would sit outside to shelter them from overhearing.
The district attorney called back promptly, just as we had agreed. While I was on the phone, my daughter, who was still toilet training, had a potty accident. My oldest son, knowing I was outside on the phone dealing with something important, and taking the situation into his own hands, as not to bother me, put her in the bathtub. Then while she was in the bathtub, she bumped her lip and began bleeding. When I came in the house I found her in the tub and my son at her side with lots of bloody tissues surrounding them both. She was still holding a bloodied wash cloth to her lip. Just then, there was a knock at the door. “No way,” I thought to myself, “this is just great.” It was the social worker, and she was early. I began rushing and cleaning up as fast and as best I could.
I scrambled to get my daughter out of the bathtub and dressed her hastily. Then, as frazzled as we were, we presented ourselves to the social worker. My boys had already been making small talk with her, which afforded us some extra time to get pulled together. I then spent time talking with the worker while she observed some of her negative behaviors. It is funny how kids tend to behave better with strangers around. She never seemed to be quite her troublesome self when this gal came around. Part of this interview process was a look through the house. I had not prepared for that, as the first visit had been while living at my parent’s house. And, since arriving home that afternoon, things had been rather chaotic. As she toured our home, she saw the unmade beds, dirty laundry, and whatever else my children had left lying about on the floor in their rooms. I was mentally exhausted after dealing with the district attorney, then my daughter’s mishap, then being judged and feeling intruded upon in my own home. In my mind, this was it, the end. I had run out of stamina. I was so utterly drained.
In the following days, I confided in my aunt, venting my frustration with the social service system and what had transpired the day the worker had come. Her response to me was, “did you tell her all that had happened leading up to her arrival?” It was then that I realized I had tried to pull myself and my daughter together, when in fact, I should have revealed what had happened, in its entirety. I decided I would write a letter and submit it to social services, explaining in part what was happening in my life and the lives of my children and all we were going through. I would also describe in detail the events leading up to her visit that day. I decided to muster up the strength within me for this one last push. Then, I left it with the Lord. I felt I had done all I possibly could now.
A few weeks had gone by when I received a phone call from the social worker. She called to let me know she presented our case to the board, again. This time, they approved it! She said, “I hope this helps you. You were awarded the protective service time.” And then she hung up. That was it. This battle had ended. After five months, a victory! Finally, I felt a victory in my life. We had a win! This was a huge triumph. I was completely overcome with emotion.
I had been through so much tribulation. The man I had married grew up on the mission field and had earned his degree in biblical studies. He had wanted to serve the Lord. Instead he succumbed to the sin in his life. He grew harder, darker, and angrier. He could not let go of his addiction. He used God’s Word to justify his obsession. His own misconstrued beliefs completely devoured him. He became like an out-of-control wild-fire, consuming and destroying all in his path. He had gone off the deep end and lashed out at me. He shook me to my innermost core. That is when I fled with the kids. We could not go back. We had to remain far away from his madness and his blasphemous lies.
And so I sat, sobbing. Never have I cried tears of joys like that, ever. I felt the Lord had taken this huge burden off of me, the weight of being the provider. These added hours of protective service would be enough for us to live off of. God had provided a stable income and was affording me the privilege to continue to stay at home and raise my children. The Lord had provided a way for us. As I cried I began worshipping, praising, and thanking the Lord. I was humbled and amazed at the blessing He had given us to start our new life. I could hardly believe this was reality. God is Great and ever so Faithful. In my mind’s eye it is the Great win! God, my Husband, my Provider in Him will I put my trust!
This article, “It’s a Win” is protected by copyright. You are free to share the link via social media, but this article may not be copy and pasted in its entirety to be republished and redistributed elsewhere without permission (this includes pasting entire story to Facebook, Pinterest, email, etc.).
Copyright 2014 Goldie