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.