We entered year 11 of violence in our home. Both God and the state of Florida called this a marriage, but it was a nightmare. The bottom was dropping and it was dropping fast. I’d tried everything but nothing stopped the hits, punches or his hurtful words. Those words hurt more than any punch as they penetrated an already wounded soul. I’d lived so much life in those 33 years; had endured so much pain, but also enjoyed tremendous redemption. I thought my marriage would be a nice little bow on top of the redemption of the bad stuff. The children’s home had done a good job of helping me deal with all of the childhood abuse and ultimate abandonment. I finished Clearwater Christian College with a degree in Biology on a full ride scholarship. So while there was plenty of bad to go around, I will always be grateful for the redemption, while temporary, of some of that pain. I thought getting married, gaining a family and building a business was a flip of the switch from one emotional hit or loss after another.
But it wasn’t. By 2005, I decided to go to the only place that never moved. The only place that never changed. I ran to the only place where unconditional – love resided. I decided to go to my Jesus.
God and I had been on a decade long hiatus. I didn’t go to church or even read my Bible. Most days I couldn’t even find a Bible, not that I looked for one. But I never lost my love for Christian music. I invented and often played a game of Jesus Music Roulette where I would put my 12- disc CD changer on shuffle and half whisper to God to give me a word through the randomness of the music. My commute back and forth to work was 2 hours, so there was plenty of time for Jesus Music Roulette.
One day, this song came on, and I found the repeat button.
“I will praise You in this storm, and I will lift my hands, You are Who You are, no matter where I am, and every tear I cry, you hold in Your hands, You never left my side, and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm”
It had been awhile since I raised my hands to Him in either praise or surrender. I started first in the shower, then in my closet and finally in my car, much to the dismay of the other drivers on the road.
“As the thunder rolls, I barely hear You whisper ‘I’m with you’, and as Your mercy falls, I raise my hands to the God Who gives, and takes away….”
I’d sit at stop- lights, park at the beach or hang out in parking lots singing this song at the top of my lungs. It continued to minister to me as my God found a way to my shattered heart.
“I lift my eyes unto the hills where does my help come from, my help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”
I tried, I really did, to lift my eyes to Him and when I finally could, the things on earth grew strangely dim. I began to focus on getting back in church. And when I got back into church, things got worse at home as he began to lose control and God took control of my desires of my heart. My husband took second place in a heart with very little room. I understood that God was and is the only constant; everyone else left or hurt me. He was my Help, my only Help. I began to understand that getting married and/or gaining a family was not going to fix the trauma of my youth, only God could do that. So, Mark Hall’s opening lyrics to this song resonated with me and was and is a true picture of my heart:
“I was sure by now, God you would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day, but once again, I say ‘amen’ but it ‘s still raining.”
I was being mentored and loved at church, and we were praying for a change in my husband’s heart. But every night that ended with a hidden bruise or a bloody nose eroded my fragile faith. I begged God to change my situation, I begged Him to change my husband.
I stood in church one day with my hands held high and screamed at God that I’d had enough. I begged Him to come down and wipe my tears away, I begged Him to step in and save the day. I was sure that I’d had my fair share of pain. I was sure that he didn’t have enough containers to hold all my tears. But I also understood on my deepest level that He is a God that gives and takes away. My heart was so torn, that the only stich that could mend the holes was praising Him, and so I did. Two years later I left and filed for divorce. God had not, seemingly, wiped the tears away or stepped in and saved the day.
It was still raining.