Allow me to introduce myself...I am ME. My name is Kathy. If you ask my daughter she will tell you my whole list of names that I have been given both at birth, adoption, and marriage times three. It’s frightening really. I was raised in a good Christian home. I got enough food to eat and I was encouraged to do a lot of things the normal child did. Somehow along the way though, I got lost. I remember as a teenager doing the usual rebellion (not too much outwardly however). Inside my mind I was going to the typical teenage parties, listening to loud music and sowing my wild oats. Outside to those around me I was a good girl. Most of the adults in my church would point me out to their daughters and say, “Why can’t you be more like Kathy?” The girls were not realizing that I wanted to have the pretty straight hair instead of my naturally curly frizzy hair and big front teeth and pigeon-toed walk or that I longed for the multitudes of young men that rang their telephones off the hook or practically knocked down their doors. We had a fairly small youth group in my church. There were mostly girls: Me, Diane, Bev, Becky, Joyce, Kathy (she was so pretty), Twilla (she became my best friend and we raised our children together for the most part), Cathy and Judy, and Monica. I longed to fit into their cliques. Monica moved away after her ninth grade year and I wouldn’t see her again for many years. On rare occasions boys would join our youth group—let’s see, there was Ken (I think he left after 10th grade), Steve (rarely came to youth group), Brad, Phil and Lowell. Phil and Lowell were the constants. Brothers to Twilla and every girl in the youth group wanted to date them. Me, I wasn’t allowed to date and besides, these guys were more like my brothers. I knew these people so well and yet, I really didn’t. Somehow I moved on and put those memories away until recently.
I remember doing a Christmas play one year. I don’t really remember too much about it except for my part. I played the part of a young mother about to be divorced and I was far from God. At the end of the play everything gets tied up into a nice tidy little bow. The woman and her husband work things out and her twin children are remarkably wonderful after that. Little did I know that that part would actually become so close to reality in my life and things would not be wrapped up without a lot of pain, sweat,tears and prayers.
I went to Bible College after high school. I was blessed. My father was on staff at this small school and one of his perks was that I could live on campus and enjoy free tuition as long as he was on staff. He didn’t make a lot of money, but they did feed our family well. We were allowed to eat on campus every evening for supper. After my freshman year I moved into the dormitory and got to know many truly wonderful young women. Some of them I wonder about today. My self-esteem was nonexistent. Here again I felt awkward and ugly. Don’t get me wrong; I dated occasionally. I dated exactly one young man in my freshman year. Two in my sophomore year and by the junior year, forget it, I hit full rebellion. I dropped out of college, fed up with being the good girl. I met a young man at the local canning company that I worked at and I made a ton of mistakes. My parents bailed me out and I grudgingly moved to Red Wing with them. I had met a young man through one of my college friends and we had corresponded off and on for a couple of years. He was as desperate as I was to get married and so we did.
Looking back, I knew on my wedding day that I was making a horrible mistake but my invitations had been mailed, the church was full and I didn’t want to embarrass my parents, not realizing that I would embarrass them more by marrying him. My marriage was a failure from day one. It was full of misunderstanding and abuse. I got pregnant on the honeymoon and I was miserable living 500 miles from any family or friends. My baby son was cranky, colicky, sickly and unhappy and so was I. After two years of misery, we moved back to Minnesota. My husband wasn’t any happier about being in Minnesota than I was about being in Illinois. We attempted to work things out but there was no longer any trust. He finally moved out to Colorado with his brother but not before of course, child number two came along. This time it was a cute, cuddly, well-adjusted baby boy. He rarely cried, seemed to always laugh and just seemed to attract positive attention.
I was restless. My husband was now living in Colorado and I was in Minnesota. Attempts to reconcile (see I was a good girl and I didn’t want to fail) had not worked. He had moved on and so had I. I joined a group for divorcees, widowers, and people who had had great loss. I met eligible men and I thought they were an answer to my problem. However, they weren’t. These relationships only brought pain and emptiness. Soon I had three small children (one of the men had gotten me pregnant) and I was feeling desperate once again. I would make so many mistakes during this period. I would marry husband number two—he said he loved me and he too was desperate not to be alone. I had broken it off with him and tried to move on, but he was persuasive and lonely and I envisioned a solid marriage with a present father for my children. My children were 8, 6 and my daughter was 2 ½. There was never a time when there wasn’t abuse or berating and I was miserable. The children were even more miserable. My daughter told me of times when she was hit and mistreated. I believed her but I felt hopeless.
The people in our church knew that we had a volatile marriage but they chalked it up to that I just wasn’t doing my job as a wife. I was active in my church. First I was Women’s secretary, and then I became their president. Inside I was miserable. I once again left a husband. We remained apart for over a year during which time he dated many women and moved on.
Had I left things there and actually moved on, perhaps the pain wouldn’t have been so bad, but it was. I moved back. I had lost my job in a clinic, I had lost my apartment and I couldn’t make it financially. Then I was in an auto accident. I couldn’t do the basic things I needed to survive. I had made up my mind to move out as soon as I had collected enough money. But after the accident, things changed. I would lose my job, my body, and my confidence. My husband wasn’t very understanding or tolerant of my recovery time. I spent over a year going through just about every kind of physical therapy you could go through: Pain Programs, hypnosis,counseling. Medical appointment after appointment with no possible end in sight. Eventually I decided it was time to get my life back.
I started working temporary jobs at first and then I found permanent work in a clinic. Financially we were a mess until of course my settlement from my auto accident came back. After over a year and a half of living on one income we would see a sizeable check but of course it would be gone in no time.
My boys were teenagers by this time and my daughter in middle school. I was going through tremendous loss emotionally. Several significant people in my life had passed away and it would take its toll on my already all but dead marriage. I felt convinced that my sons no longer needed me. I took my daughter and moved into my mother’s mobile home just 15 miles from where I worked and decided that I needed to get my life together.
My former husband moved on, this time for good, as did I. I felt that I lost all my friends at this point in my life. But you see I didn’t. When I moved on to my new chapter, I had to humble myself and start over with my way of thinking. Slowly I would learn that I needed to forgive myself, forgive others and I needed to stop excusing myself for my failures. I had thought of all kinds of ways to try to move on, but I couldn’t. I was stuck. I would go to church and try to move on Spiritually but I seemed like I was in quicksand. There were people there that helped me. There were kind, loving women that would let me vent, that would pray with me, that would cry with me. They would be there for me forever. They helped me work through the junk that I needed to go through before I could be a whole person again. I would be blessed by Christian women who would talk straight with me, minister to me and love me. I'm so thankful for them. They did the right thing.
So here I am. I mentioned that my husband loves me as I am. Yes, GASP I am married again. This time to the right man God intended me to be with. He’s not perfect, but then neither am I. The fellowship we share is so special, I can't describe it. He lovingly points me to God. He sees me as God sees me. He has his own story. and neither one of us is perfect, just God's child. Maybe your story is like mine. Maybe you've had trials and struggles. There is no sin that God won't forgive if we ask Him. The point is, we must ask Him.
I thank you that you're in the forgiving business. You love us more than we can ever know and you want us to have a full life in You. I pray that you will work in my life to be the woman you want me to be.
In your Holy Name,