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My Marriage Was Over, But My Life Wasn't

by Dixie Schlarman treasure

After 20 years of marriage, my husband left me for a much younger woman. I had been aware for 18 years of marriage that he had sometimes been unfaithful. In fact, if I didn’t find out. He'd tell me. I never considered leaving him. For me, marriage was forever and getting a divorce just wasn’t an option. But after he left and moved in with his girlfriend, I had no choice.

My feelings of hurt, despair, and humiliation were overwhelming. For many weeks I prayed fervently for just one thing the courage to take my life. I couldn’t sleep, I had no appetite, and I couldn’t stop crying. 

I couldn't bear to live one more day.

This wasn’t the first time he had left me. Ten years earlier, the same thing had happened. At that time he had forced me to take our children and leave by threatening my life. After hurriedly packing a few belongings, the children and I had traveled to my mother’s house in another state.

The difference between my life and that of my mother and sister was so dramatic I couldn’t help but notice. There was a marvelous sense of peace about them, so one day I asked Billie what made the difference. Her response was that she had accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. I couldn’t imagine my shy sister walking down an aisle or saying anything publicly in front of the whole church (as was the custom in my mother's church), so I asked her what she did. Billie replied that she had just simply knelt in the privacy of her own bedroom and asked Jesus to come into her heart.

I really didn’t understand too much about what had happened, but I sure did need the kind of peace my mother and sister had. That night I knelt by my bed and asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart.

Although I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I didn’t grow as a Christian. The only time I read my Bible was while preparing a Sunday school lesson. At the church I attended, God’s plan of salvation was never presented or explained. Bible reading was not encouraged. When my mother or sister tried to tell me more, I wouldn’t listen. My husband, a preacher’s son, had told me that Baptists were fanatics, and they were Baptists. I didn’t want to become a fanatic. I just wanted peace.

From the time we arrived at my mother’s house, my husband had been calling daily to ask me to come back to him, saying that he missed us and that things would be different now. I didn’t believe him, but as the months went by, and after receiving notes from teachers saying that my children were all suffering from emotional disturbances, I agreed to get together again.

Unfortunately, nothing changed.

Now, 10 years later, he was gone and there was no going back this time. I felt devastated, completely worthless.

After several weeks of not being able to sleep I went to the doctor and got a prescription for sleeping pills. Taking a full glass of water and the pills into my bedroom, I intended to take them all and end my misery.

However, after swallowing a couple pills, God prompted me to call my oldest sister, Edna. I told her that I was going to end my life, that I had just called to say goodbye and tell her I loved her.

Edna had stopped going to church many years earlier and her response was the last thing I would ever have expected. She scolded me soundly, saying, “You can’t do that. I’ve been reading books about the life of Jesus and I believe that what He said is true. You belong to God. You don’t have the right to take your own life.” She then quoted some Scriptures to me about God’s love. She called them her “precious gems.”

Before we hung up, she made me promise I wouldn’t end my life.

Although Edna prevented me from taking my life that night, for many months afterwards I still prayed every day that God would give me the courage to do just that. Each day as I drove home from work, all I thought about was stepping on the gas and driving into the nearest tree. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of being injured and not killed. I wanted to die.

Then God intervened again and, through an ad in our local newspaper, led me to a church where I heard a message I’d never heard before. I learned that God really does forgive our sins when we ask and that only He can give us peace “which transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

When the preacher asked for people who had been saved to totally commit their lives to God it was as though an unseen force propelled me to the front of the church. That evening I committed my life to God, asking Him to take control of my life and to be my guide in everything I did. I left the church filled with joy and peace, assured that God had forgiven my sins and that He loved me.

In an instant, God changed my perspective!

I started reading the Bible that very night and read each day until I had read from Genesis to Revelation. I joined that church and got involved in various ministries. I began serving the Lord there by teaching Sunday school, with a much different emphasis than I had ever had before. I have also served in the bus ministry, visited nursing homes, worked in the nursery, and sang in hospitals and at church. Whatever God led me to do, I did with my whole heart and was happier and more contented than I had ever thought possible. Being a very shy person, I never thought I could converse with a stranger, but when I was willing, God gave me the words to say!

When we have Jesus Christ as our Savior and are willing to be used by Him, there are so many ways God can use us. Amazingly, when we do things to help others in Jesus’ name, we find that we are the ones receiving the greatest blessing!

I wanted to share His love with everyone I knew. 

But sometimes, in my exuberance, I turned people away from Jesus, rather than to Him. When we take the time to build friendships, and are open to God’s leading, people are much more likely to listen to what we have to say about our relationship with the Lord.

Many years after I had shared the gospel message with her, my precious daughter-in-law, Sharon, accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. When I asked her what had happened to bring her to this point, she told me that my faith was so genuine she just couldn’t ignore it any longer.

I’m not perfect by any means. There are still many times when I have to go to God in prayer and ask His forgiveness for something I’ve said or done unintentionally, thoughtlessly. But God allowed Sharon to see through my imperfections to Christ, who is perfect, and He answered my prayers. My marriage was over, but my life was more abundant than ever!

Photo (Flickr CC) by Fredbouaine

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    Dear Jesus, I want you in the center of my life and commit through your power to serve and obey you. Anytime. Anywhere. At any cost. To do anything.

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