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God Was Grieving As Much As I Was—Jeff

 

      I was born in Los Angeles. My family moved to Mission Viejo when I was 10 years old. I have wonderful loving parents who are still married to each other and four brothers and sisters. All my life the one thing I wanted most was to have a strong loving family like the one I grew up in. Even as a child I always prayed that God would bless me with a good wife and a lasting marriage.

     At the age of 21, I met the woman of my dreams. When I was 23 and she was 19 we eloped. To my complete surprise just 2 weeks after we were married we separated and we were divorced within one year. I was hurt and confused by what happened. Be it amazing or crazy but I year later we remarried each other again.

     Our marriage of the next 13 years produced 2 beautiful sons, Joshua 18 and Justin 12. My wife and I had a very difficult relationship. We had racial differences, cultural differences, big communication problems, different likes and dislikes, and totally different parenting styles. Even though we had difficulties I always prayed for a miracle of healing and harmony in my marriage. In October of 1995, we separated for the last time.

     My depression and loneliness was totally unbearable. I couldn't sleep, didn't want to eat and I couldn't focus on my job or anything else. I just sat around all day and felt sorry for myself. I couldn't believe that God had not answered my prayer to save my marriage. In spite of all my prayers, my wife would not consider reconciling with me. This situation seemed to steal my faith. My prayers became more like a pathetic ritual that would take me to uncontrollable tears. I began to doubt Gods love for me and my faith was destroyed. It never occurred to me that God was grieving as much as I was.

      When I turned away from Gods will in my life, I foolishly became involved with other women in an attempt to fill the void. That only made matters worse. Taking matters into my own hands compounded the problem. In the months that followed I fell deeper and deeper into my depression and even flirted with the idea of ending it all.

      It was at that point that I decided the only way to pull my life together was to make a commitment to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and not the religion that I had known in the past. I made that commitment.

      As a part of growing in Christ, on February 7th 1997, I took pastor Rick's advice and joined a small group. The group I choose was the separated men's support group. Becoming a part of this group has changed my life more than anything I have done in past 20 years. It has provided me with the spiritual support and accountability I needed for God's purpose for my life instead of my own plans. It also gave me a chance to help other men while I was being helped and growing in the Lord. My group meetings became the highlight of my week.

      During the months of my separation from my wife, I kept praying for a miracle and trying to do the right things to save my marriage. I made the choice to respect my wife and my marriage as long as God gave me the strength to. I fired my divorce attorney and I placed the entire matter in God's hands. I focused on being the father that God wanted me to be to my boys.

     On May 20th of 1997 I received my court papers notifying me that the divorce was final. It was a painful blow, but now I knew that I could handle anything with God's help. I wasn't the same person that I was the year before. I would have liked to be able to tell you that my marriage was restored and we lived happily ever after, but that is not the case.

     What I can say is that this most painful time in my life has also been the best thing that has ever happened to me. It has drawn me close to Christ and caused me to grow spiritually. I have watched my boring life be transformed into an adventure of trusting God, and letting him lead me wherever he wants me to go. The Lord has blessed me with a wonderful relationship with my ex-wife, and I have a perfect custody arrangement. We cooperate with each other and are comfortable sharing are children.

     Financially, God has consistently taken care of all my needs. God has taken my frown and turned it upside down. I have the joy of knowing that no matter what I face, I don't face it alone. I have all the new brothers of my support group, and I have my God in heaven.

     In closing I would like to leave you with the scripture that helped me get through my hardest times. Proverbs 3:5-6 verse, "Trust in the Lord with all you heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.

   
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