It was the summer of 1997 and I was dating a man that I thought I was going to marry. We had looked at rings and I had all the bridal magazines marked with what I wanted. The plan was to marry the summer of 1998.
I had just finished my sophomore year in college, and after marriage we were planning to stay in the little town where we attended college while we both finished school. As with most young girls, I wanted the picture-perfect wedding and the fairy tale life that came after it. (Which by the way are lies of this world.)
However, as I was dating this man, I began to have a few flashbacks and nightmares regarding some of the sexual abuse that I endured. This man was extremely supportive of me getting the help that I needed, but the one counselor that I sought out told me I needed to find someone back home over the summer to help me.
Of course, I didn’t do that because I was coming home and that complicated more than I can explain. So, I ignored all that was coming up and put it away in my brain. (So I thought. That never really works.) During the first month of that summer, I was a camp counselor at a Christian camp. During the week, I was confronted with a dilemma. I felt God wanted me to break off my relationship with my boyfriend.
I went back and forth and back and forth with God. I didn’t understand why I should do that. It made no sense and it would ruin all the plans that I personally had for my life. God is supposed to be a loving God who wants the best for us so why didn’t He want what I wanted?
I wrestled and wrestled with this but God continued to show me through His word and through the Holy Spirit nudging me that I needed to break up with my boyfriend. God wanted me to trust He would lead my path in the future whether I married or not.
I came home and when my boyfriend came into town to see me for a few days, I told him what I felt God wanted me to do about our relationship. He was devastated, just as I was, because we both cared deeply for each other. As much as I’d like to say I loved him I don’t think I did. I believe I was in love with the idea of getting married.
We both went our separate ways that summer and despite the fact that I’d told God I would be OK if I never got married, I still sought the “perfect” man. As my life continued, I had horrible blind dates, I tried dating websites, and nothing led me to the man I thought I was supposed to marry.
As I began having physical symptoms and seeking out answers, and then eventually remembering all of the abuse I endured, my life began to fall apart. I was in my early 30s when that happened, and had I married my college sweetheart, it’s very possible I would have had two to four kids under the age of 10.
At that time in my life, I was unable to hold a job, my behavior was erratic, I had high anxiety, extreme depression, and all of those things that come with having complex PTSD. It was hard for me to think of anyone other than myself because I was literally trying to stay alive, and at times trying not to be alive anymore.
Fast forward to Mother’s Day of 2021, the day I’m writing this, and I realized when God told me 24 years ago to trust Him with my life, He knew what was best. Had I gotten married and had kids I would have put them in situations I faced growing up without realizing what I was doing putting them in bad situations.
I would have not been able to be the mother that they needed me to be, or the wife my husband needed, and the cycle of a toxic family would have continued. So, even though today has been extremely hard not being able to feel celebrated for being a mom and knowing that I won’t ever have that joy, I do have joy.
The joy (also known as peace) of knowing that God will do what’s best for me even when He knows it’ll hurt at the moment. Because, ultimately when God says no it’s because He sees a picture so much bigger than we do.
I understand it’s hard to learn to trust (I’ve been there for years on end), but once we do trust Him even when we get the answer of no, we can trust and say, “OK God, I understand. I’ll stay the path and trust you to direct me because just as you say in your word, (Romans 8:28) ‘We know that you work all things together for the good of those who love you who been called according to your purpose.’ Thank you for loving me enough to say no. Thank you for being my Father.”
Because – The Father really does know best.
© 2021 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.