“Five years ago, I walked away from a toxic marriage. Regardless of the goodness within each of us, our foundation was built on sand. We began a life on an uphill slippery slope. We continued that life hanging on by a thread. And it inevitably ended like a shattered mosaic of glass. We were left picking up pieces of something we once thought so beautiful. But in our young and carefree love, we never understood the value we must see within each other continually in order to sustain a marriage. We crumbled like an avalanche of roaring boulders. And we tumbled down the hill we were once scaling as a slippery slope. We had spent 14 years of our lives together. The absolute of everything we became was generated within being the others’ spouse. We lost ourselves in the oil and vinegar of our mismatched union. Our once thought blessed marriage was thread barren; left for all to bear witness to the rips and holes of a destroyed partnership. We both grieved although we knew it was the end. We held on until there was absolutely nothing to hold onto any longer. It was the death of a dream. It was the curtain call for all we hoped for since we were 18 years old; a dream we inevitably understood was never supposed to be with each other. Divorce is more than death. It’s the grim reaper slowly and painfully suffocating the life out of your chest. You see it’s impending doom. And It wrecks you. It swallows you whole. It’s a thief of victory. Its failure personified.
6 months later I involved myself in a forbidden relationship. It was the savory and alluring fruit hanging from the only tree I was prohibited to touch. Yet we gravitated to the other. We clung to each other’s brokenness with passionate desperation to heal our individual wounds. We were hidden in plain sight; cloaked in shame and dishonor. We bonded ourselves to the other like a forcefield of magnets. And although it was dangerous; we held on to the euphoria, like a lifeline. The deeper we dug our heels into the unholy and unhealthy union we shared, the tighter the bridle of deceit became. We threw our integrity into a blender. And compromised every ounce of our character. I’m not proud of it. Nor is he. Our vulnerability was exposed; disarming our defenses to the other. We opened Pandoras Box. And the haunting beauty of that Jezebel spirit whispered pretty lies to our hearts. Any remaining sanity I clutched post-divorce was stripped bone dry. It stole parts of me I never even knew I had. There were moments I was sure I wouldn’t survive. Secret relationships drown your soul. They aren’t life giving. They’re life stealing.
One year later my mom closeted gnawing stomach pains she was having. Because that’s all it was. It was only supposed to be stomach pains. A tiny knot lurked beneath the skin above her hip bone. But the doctor claimed it inflammation from Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She dropped weight rapidly. She started having trouble digesting food. It must be Colitis. The Doctor was sure it was only Colitis. She lost her energy and could barely eat pureed baby foods. But the Doctor assured us it was simply Diverticulitis. She had a Cat scan. The surgeon showed each lymph node lighting up her films like a Christmas tree. I lost count after fifteen. He raised concern about that. But not nearly as much as the thickening of her intestinal wall creating a blockage. Her medical team recommended a colonoscopy to rule out anything dangerous. I was sure she would be fine. She had been healthy my entire life. She had never smoked a cigarette. She didn’t drink alcohol. She served Jesus as her life’s mission.
But when the surgeon exited those double doors, removed her mask and looked at me. I could see it all over her face. Something was really wrong. She pulled the photo from her pocket and pointed to a swollen point of my mother’s colon. ‘We’ll have to send a sample off for biopsy. But I’m almost certain this is cancer.’ Wait, what? It’s cancer? Can this be treated? ‘It doesn’t look good. I’m sorry.’ Her words echoed through my head, but I dared not let them sink in. Instead I collapsed against the waiting room wall. The next 6 months was a blur. Her intestine ruptured and she went sepsis. The cancer was stage 4. She never recovered from that surgery therefore her body was too weak to receive chemotherapy. She’s groaning in pain all hours of the night. She can’t find relief. Somebody please give my mom relief. I’m listening to my mother beg for mercy. I’m watching the only solid source of hope I’ve ever known, waste away. I’m creating meal plans and counting calories just to keep her fed. I’m bathing her. I’m holding her. I’m praying over her. I’m dispersing medications. I’m swabbing her Pic line with too many alcohol swabs to keep count; terrified I would allow bacteria into the line that ran straight to her heart. She’s trying so hard to fight through this. And I’m determined not to let her give up. But cancer is like a weed in a garden. It suffocates the life from all its beauty. I’m silently crushed under a torrential downpour of agony. She’s gone. My mother didn’t make it through.
Her surviving husband and I never really got along throughout the 16 years they were married. But we took one for the team and banded together through shared grief of losing my mother; determined to walk out what our family had left-in victory. Weeks turned to months as the weight of losing a mother and wife intensified. Responsibilities surfaced. Blame shifted. Accusation took over. Rallying as a solid unit took a backseat to pettiness, trivial demands and ugly words. All the efforts I’d made to help my stepfather transition out of pure loyalty and respect for my mother, were thwarted. I was pushed out of the home I’d had since my divorce. And my son had not only lost his Grandma, now he’d lost his Papa. The consequences of cancer linger.
Sometimes I have to remind myself of all I’ve walked through in the past five years. It’s good to reflect so you can give yourself grace in hard moments. But I’ve never been one to stay stuck in those moments. I’ve learned it does no good. In fact, it creates the opposite; imprisoning you in bitterness and despair. I choose daily to cling to my anchor of hope instead of the sorrow and heartache involved in these trials. I won’t rehearse the opposition. But I will remember the fires I’ve weathered and courageously fought through. I’ve overcome. I have not given up. And my determination to persevere has reinforced my strength from the inside out.
This is my journey of progression. And that’s what this life is about. We’re all in a process. We’re all in our own lane of ‘becoming’. And what you do with the trepidation you face, both involuntary and self-served, makes all the difference in who you will unfold to be. I’m thankful for a Savior who’s taken every bit of the messes I’ve walked through and used it for leveraging help for other people, refining compassion in my character, and a reinvigorating steadfast resolve to bring hope and grace to all I cross paths with. I’ve been hard pressed and broken in the fire, but I’ve come out on the other side – stronger, reinforced, more levelheaded, sustained, humbled, more balanced, rooted, and free.
I am now a worship leader for one the most influential ministries on the planet. I’ve found hope through heartache. And I will stop at nothing to share this same hope with as many as I can. In the words of my Pastor, Michael Todd, ‘She decided not to make her tragedy an excuse for God using her life.’”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kim Parker. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more stories from Kim here:
‘I’ve failed. I can’t do this. I’m too old. No one will ever want me. I’ll never be good enough in anyone’s eyes.’ Mom recalls struggles as a single mom, urges ‘You are made for more’
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