Divorce Series - Life Stories Jacqueline Whittaker
Forgiveness in divorce can be very hard. I know for me, it seemed like and felt like I would never have the ability to forgive the man I had sworn to God to love. I took this promise very seriously, but after twelve years of physical abuse to my daughter and I, I knew I needed to leave.
After work one day, I returned home to find my eleven years old daughter with bruising on her eye and neck. I asked her what happened, but she didn’t answer. My husband then spoke up and said that he did it and that if I didn’t like it, he would do the same to me. I really wanted to hurt him at that time and a lot of different thoughts of of how to punish him were racing through my head. I looked at him with a fighting stare and he left the room and went upstairs to bed. I thought about stabbing him in the chest while he slept or pouring a pot of boiling water over his face as he slept. Thankfully, I instead took my daughter to the police station and pressed charges against him. I couldn’t let him get away with this one and after this I knew that living with him was no longer safe. I was not afraid of him even though he had beat me up about once every three months for twelve years. I would leave him and he would beg me to come back and I would go back for the sake of everyone but myself.
The police came to our home and handcuffed him and took him to jail. He begged for me to come see him so I went and brought his mother with me. She had seen him beat our daughter up and told me herself that he beat her as though he were beating a man. When I got there to see what he wanted, he begged me to please have mercy on him and just drop the charges so he could get out and kill himself. I looked at him and quietly told him that I would not drop the charges. He received only six months of probation however and I left him and took the kids and moved in with my parents. He kept promising to change and take anger management classes. I reluctantly went back to him but he didn’t go to any classes. He was very depressed and was not working. He refused to do anything including fix the car and not long after he began beating me again.
One day I came home from work and walked in on him as he was getting ready to molest our daughter. I stopped him but, in the process, he beat me terrible. He finally let me go and I went down to the bathroom, closed and locked the door, and sank to the floor. I was so stricken with sorrow that it felt like something exploded inside my head. I sat there with my back to the door and pictures of what had just happened kept rushing through my mind. I wondered where my daughter had been while I was being beat and why she didn’t try to help. I felt so betrayed by everyone and I didn't know who I could turn to. He even told me that if I tried to leave again and go to my family’s home, he would do something terrible to them. I felt completely trapped.
One evening he was supposed to pick me up but did not show up. I waited around three hours and it was getting late in the evening. I continued to wait sitting on a bus stop bench when two men walked by. A little while later they came past again and one of them asked me if I was okay. I said yes as they walked on. A few minutes later the last bus for the evening was coming so I got on it. I wasn’t used to riding the metro so it felt strange and I noticed the two men were on the same bus sitting halfway back. I didn’t even sit down but simply held on to the bar, looking out the front window when the bus came to a stop. Suddenly, I felt something being pushed into my hand. I looked up and saw it was one of the two men. I looked at him and he told me that if I needed help to call him. I was very surprised and I just stared at him as he repeated what he said. The men then got off of the bus. I thought about how he could help me since he didn’t even know who I was. I looked in my hand and saw a note with a phone number and his name on it. Even though it was strange, I closed my hand and kept the note. I made it home and found that my husband passed out due to some drugs that he had taken.
One evening soon after, he asked me if I still wanted a divorce and I told him yes. That night as I was getting ready for bed, he calmly asked me to come to him. He started slapping me and back handing me. I was so use to it so I just stood there taking it knowing that if I fell to the floor, he would start kicking me. I waited for him to stop and he must have smacked me well over twenty times. He turned around and took his wide strapped belt off, folded it, and laid it across the night stand. He then reached into his pocket and took a drywall knife out, pushing the lever up until the blade was all the way out. He laid it on the night stand as well. Then he laid down, crossed his hands and arms, and went sound to sleep!
Still stunned, I climbed into bed but couldn’t sleep. I knew in some way he was telling me he was going to kill me. I got up and quietly got the note from the man on the bus and called him. I told him if he could, I did need help. I left and met him and He took me to an apartment that was not far from where he lived. He told me I could move there with my kids. Later I snuck back and got my daughter and we began to live there. I enrolled her in school and got a job. A month later my daughter went back to see her dad and when I went to get her, he came out and we had a terrible confrontation which I almost didn’t survive and that left me with even more deep emotional scars. But my daughter and I both survived and left.
Over the next fifteen years he would still ask me to come back to him and once I almost did. But, I couldn't forgive the things he had done or the betrayal. I was too damaged by it. I had a terrible several years after I left him. I was drinking, I fought drug addiction, and hatred pumped through my veins. I wanted to feel anything but the memories of my past. I went back to college and was doing well but then just dropped out. They begged me to come back but I wouldn’t let myself succeed. I hated myself as much as I hated what he had done to us. I wanted to move forward but I couldn’t. I got a regular job, but soon discovered that my spine was starting to splinter from all of the times he had kicked me and as a result, I had two spinal surgeries.
One day however, love overcame the anger I had. It was the love that God gave to me and I realized that I had to forgive him if I was going to live for God. I thought about it and I called him and told him that I forgave him. He might have believed me but I also needed him to know that it was not easy for me to do.
He denied many of things that I told him I knew about and he begged me to come back to him. I knew I couldn’t completely forgive him until God’s love took over my heart and I gave myself to Him to live as He wanted me to. I knew I needed to do that and to work to live my best for Him for the rest of my life. It was at this point that I stopped seeing the man I had been dating and I gave my heart to God. That was the only way that I could be able to forgive him. Today I can say that I pray for him and completely forgive him.
Later on, I got married again to my second husband. He had children to a prior marriage just as I did, but this relationship also did not last. I desired to live my life for the Lord and he did not. I knew I needed to be with someone that could love me, who I could love, and who I could worship the Lord together with. I prayed again and knew that my things were about to change. I prayed and told the Lord I wanted a job where I could make a difference in someone’s life and just earn enough to survive and tithe with. The next night my second husband called me and asked me with an urgent voice if I could babysit his grandson, Jeremiah. I had no desire to be around my ex-husband. He can be a difficult person due to alcohol and can be very narcissistic. All of my family and friends said I should not do it and I was about to call him to say no, but suddenly, I heard the voice of Jesus speaking to me. I turned and there He was, making himself visible to me for the first time. He told me that this was the chance I had been praying for. I called my second husband back and said yes.
I have forgiven my first husband of all that he did and I now have a working relationship with my second husband as well. We are not husband and wife but are on good terms. I care for Jeremiah who is a seventeen-year-old serious autism. It by God’s grace and by living in the spirit that God gives me that I can have the strength and joy every day to do my job diligently. It is because of His love that I can have the life I have now.