I have been a prodigal. Saved at the age of 19, but without further mentoring or Bible studies, I tried to be a follower of Christ on my own.
I continued recklessly living my life, making poor choices as I had before. On a rebound from a hurtful breakup, I became pregnant at 22. The responsibility of a baby, straightened my life, but I had a ways to go.
I did not want my daughter to grow up like me, never knowing what her father looked like, so I worked at keeping a relationship with her father. Apparently, I worked too hard, I became pregnant again when she was eight months old.
We got married, but deep in my heart I knew it was a mistake. I had the naïve notion everything would work out once he saw what a good wife I could be. Immediately after our marriage, my gut feelings were confirmed. I made a horrible mistake.
My childhood left me believing I had no value. Whenever my mother’s wrath was ignited, she beat me and blamed me for my father deserting her before my birth. He demanded she abort me. All I ever wanted was to belong, to be wanted. I believed taking care of my babies was my new identity.
My then-husband’s main interest was satisfying himself. My second daughter was born, then a week before her second birthday I had a son, making it 3 kids in 3 ½ years. Seeing what I married into, infidelity, alcoholism, drugs, lying, deceit, verbal and emotional abuse, gambling and unpaid bills, I got my tubes tied.
I felt trapped with 3 tiny children and no one to turn to or place to go. We attended church 3 times a week. Supposedly, he got saved. Some “works” gave the impression his heart changed, but at home, he was calloused and controlling towards me.
With the years he “mellowed,” but the lies, deceit and terrible money management continued, then he embezzled from friends. I had enough when he began check kiting and forging my signature on a checking account I opened because of his persistent check bouncing. It had been 15 ½ years of misery.
When he knew I had had it, he feigned kidney cancer with tears in his eyes. I consulted his doctor who thought I was joking. Fed up, I kicked him out. I held him responsible for ruining the marriage and demanded he file for divorce.
He retaliated after the divorce by refusing to pay child support, and left nearly $100,000 of grossly neglected debt I was not aware of, including old IRS and State taxes. I got the house, but had to sell it to pay off this debt. The years that followed were heinous.
A former stay-a-home, homeschooling mom, I scrambled to pay bills and raise the kids, working multiple jobs. The loving mom became an overstressed, exhausted, overworked, angry person overnight. My relationship with my kids began to sputter and continued downhill.
I then placed a kind and generous man who helped me get through the chaos , I will call Nate, on a pedestal above my own wellbeing, my kids and my God. Believing I finally found the man of my dreams and that I was finally going to be truly loved, I constantly shooed away the voice of the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
It started out slowly, just partially ignoring the Voice, till I willed it to stop. Eventually it did. But in the middle of the night I wrestled with decisions and choices I was making.
The on-off relationship with Nate was tumultuous. He routinely lied and cheated. He talked about marriage, then would disappear for days at time. After 5 1/2 years, I broke it off for good. I ran into him about 4 months later. He pleaded me to call him, but I didn’t want the craziness. He killed himself about ten days later, just a couple of miles from my home, on the date that would have been our 6 year anniversary.
Two weeks after his death, I got laid off from work. My youngest had just moved out leaving an empty nest. With all that hanging over me, I went off track completely, not really caring anymore.
After a while of making desperately stupid choices, I rededicated my life to the Lord, but struggled to stay on path. I met my second husband and rushed into another marriage without really considering the consequences.
I have recklessly forgotten Your glory, O Father;
And among sinners I have scattered the riches which You gave to me.
And now I cry to You as the Prodigal:
I have sinned before You, O merciful Father;
Receive me as a penitent and make me as one of Your hired servants *
The marriage environment I envisioned turned into culture shock. Immediately, his teenage kids tried to destroy our marriage. They say stress wreaks havoc on our health. The constant friction caused an old back injury to act up to the point I had to quit my job. Within a few months, I couldn’t pick up a gallon of milk without pain. After a two more auto whiplashes, my prior headaches and neck aches worsened.
Our marriage was horribly rocky. Other factors played in to the point I wanted out, but felt trapped by my terrible backaches and inability to work. My husband continued to fight for our marriage. Finally, he rededicated his heart to the Lord. My heart was so numb I didn’t care if we made it or not. I just wanted to die. I finally gave God full control of my life.
The Lord began to work on my husband’s heart and on mine, and began a slow and painful process of healing our marriage.
Luke 15: 17-24 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him.
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’
So they began to celebrate.
Since then, I miraculously found my half-brother who didn’t know I existed, my son died, one of my daughters’ chooses to be estranged, which means I can’t see my grandkids. I still continue to suffer from back and neck pain, some migraines and headaches.
Yet, I have never had so much peace and joy in my life.
God showed me I didn’t need anyone to complete me or give me an identity. I had my own as a child of God, a princess in His kingdom. I claimed my new identity and have gotten deeper into the scriptures and discovered its treasure. I understand God’s true love. He welcomed this prodigal daughter to Himself, just like the father in Luke 15:11-32 welcomed his prodigal son.
Months after my son’s death, I heard of Daily Audio Bible, a Bible reading by Brian Hardin. I absolutely love it! Through DAB, I have gone through the Bible one year and I am halfway through another year. I am sharing a link here for anyone who is interested.
God never promised us a rose garden, just the strength and grace to help us through. He promised to walk the path with us, sometimes dragging us, sometimes carrying us along the way.
*One kontakion hymn, The Eastern Orthodox Church, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parable_of_the_Prodigal_Son
By ~ Elizabeth Yalian 2013 ©http://hiseyeisonthissparrow.com.
31 responses to “He Never Promised Us A Rose Garden”
Liz, I remember when this was going on. How many times did we talk on the phone? Lots…..I remember crying with you and praying for you during this time in your life. I too have been in the desert. In the wilderness. In the dry places. Our ABBA Father will do what he needs to do in order to bring us back to him. Remember the parable of the Sheppard…Love you my friend….Shalom!!!
I probably wore out your ear with all my “ailments.” Thanks for the times you have listened and offered very wise advice. Sometimes his ‘chastisement” is nearly unbearable, but it sure gets our full attention! I know you have had your share of it also! Love you always. 🙂
May the Lord continue to unfold the beauty of His love in your life. Petal by petal. Such an incredible testimony. We are blessed to read it and see the wonders of God at work through a child that was to become His own and now is. All the best with your memoir, it will be an anchor for many.
The Lord is mighty and awesome! Thank you for your encouraging words and for your visit and follow!
As always, I’m humbled by how much you’ve endured and yet ended up such a strong person. My prayers will be for a loving relationship with your daughter and grandchildren.
Oh Barb, your words brought tears to my eyes. I ache for my daughter and grandkids. After much anguishing, I have had to place them in the hands of God, as He loves them so much more than I could ever. Any strength I have has come from God’s grace and mercy.
Elizabeth, your testimony is a great reminder of how faithful and relentless our Father is in pursuing us. Nice to meet another sister.
Blessings ~ Wendy
Thank you, Wendy. Nice to meet you as well. God does indeed pursue us and is longsuffering with us!
Whooee, you’ve been through it, too. No wonder we get along so well; there’s so much in common.
God is good, isn’t He? 🙂
I think so too. His patience with his wayward sheep is amazing!
Thank you for your honesty in sharing your story. There is always hope in Jesus and I am so glad that you found it. Many Blessings, Hannah
Thank you, Hannah, that is what I wish to portray. That no matter how ugly things are, Jesus is waiting with open arms and will accept anyone who comes to Him.
My sister in Christ I know this pain all of it so well; Galatians 6:2; “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Abba, We give thanks, we praise and worship You for being the Love that always welcomes His prodigal Home. Your mercy calls to us and Your grace restores the very breath of life in us. Your Love binds our wounds and heals our brokenness. Your peace surrounds us and fills our days with the Joy of the Lord. As the least of Your humble servants we bow before You to surrender all of our will to You. We cry out to You we love You, for You have restored our souls and call us Your own. Through Yeshua the Messiah we are made one again in Yahweh forever and forever, Amen.
Bless you and thank you for such a hope filled and life-giving prayer! You know, James, over and over I read and hear of people who struggle with the will of God, then find true peace and joy when they surrender to Him. I love your beautiful testimony and hope anyone who reads this will follow this link to read your amazing testimony. http://menofoneaccord.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/a-son-off-the-edge/
P.S. My husband was truly touched by your story and has been encouraged to pray deeper for his two sons, who prefer to live without God.
Elizabeth, Please tell your husband I am in One Accord in prayer for his two sons. My prayer for the prodigal will be the same as my earthly father prayed for me. This prayer is not a prayer that most would have the courage to pray but it is the prayer that gives God your freewill to Him to do as His perfect judgement knows best. Tell your husband that faith of two praying in unity is greater than a mustard seed and the faith of a mustard seed moves mountains. One more thing When God starts to fix his two sons ask him not come in and fix the fix God has put the two boys in. If your husband fixes the fix the boys are in God them will fix the fix of your husband so God can then fix the boys. Got it! 🙂
One more thing thank-you for the link, your loving kindness, And God Bless you and your husband, Amen.
Got it! 🙂 My husband is delighted to have this prayer in unity! Sometimes, he feels like he’s pounding his head against a wall when he talks to them. They are both very closed off to anything to do with God, especially Jesus. His sons are in their mid 20s and, well, you know how it is, they think they know everything. Thank you and Lord Bless you James!
Dear brother in Christ stop pounding your head against the wall! One thing I have learned is, First from my dad, then again lately is my roll in this battle. The gospel has already been planted in the boys. My next task is to pray to our Abba Father to send the Holy Spirit to the boys. The job of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of SIN. We are not called to convict anyone of sin. We are call to pray and proclaim the reason of the Hope in us. That is all the rest is all up to God. So Stop Pounding Your Head and praise God for Being God. Hope I am not becoming a pain. I have been in this battle many times myself for my own and for other brothers and sister in Christ. God has the perfect plan, Amen.
Not a pain at all, James. Actually, my husband could use more words of truth and encouragement like these. You know, it’s so different when the ones you worry about are your own kids. I have 2 daughters I worry about also. Thank you for taking the time to write what you did.
Amen!!! Praise YESHUA HAMASHIACH!!!!
I feel somewhat helpless in adding words to such an upbringing, life, and testimony. But there is One who has the right words, and you have every right to them.
Thank you for such a glimpse of unvarnished honesty. God bless
Thank you. There are many who have been hurt much more. I wonder, had my life been simple and free of most of the tragedies I lived, would I have felt the need for Him?
Yes Elizabeth, you would have sensed the need. But your appreciation is much greater now I would think.
Give me a captain who has sailed the seas enduring high winds and fierce storms over a novice seaman who has not been tested. Also, just think, you are a ‘small’ captain in a way, and can help others ‘steer clear’ of certain dangers.
God can make the finest of fabrics from the unworthiest of rags.
Thank you for such sweet words. I hope to leave behind a piece of fabric that shines with God’s glory when my time on earth is over.
That’s one of the reasons I began this blog and why I am working on a memoir. I hope my stories will help others not make the same grievous mistakes I have made. Most of them were made out of ignorance as there was never anyone in my life to help me work through the terrible decisions and choices I blindly made. I was also very hardheaded! I know there are others out there who have no one to guide them.
Wow, Bless you sister. Appreciate your strength and encouragement from accross the world. God makes all things beautiful in his time x
The Lord has finally given me peace after all the turmoil. I say finally, but truth be known, I stood in my own way of receiving this peace for years largely because I didn’t dwell in His word.
Bring on heaven hey!!! Eternal peace! x
I give thanks for the peace and joy you have found in the shelter of his arms.
Thank you. I wish I would have had the wisdom to deeply study His years ago. I lived as many Christ followers live, Biblically illiterate, ignorant of His life and peace giving power through His Word.