My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection. That is why I can never stop praising you; I declare your glory all day long. -Psalm 71:7-8
Ever hear of a Pyrrhic victory? It is one in which the battle was won but the casualties were so high, the victory was nearly meaningless.
“Christie, in order to finish this case all the way through to the final court date, our office needs another $7,000,” my North Carolina attorney said over the phone. Sitting in my car in a tiny town northeast of Atlanta in the Goodwill parking lot on a sunny late morning in August, I nearly stopped breathing. Seven… thousand dollars? And our Georgia attorney was asking for another $2,500 as well. Due NOW. How in the world were we going to even begin to pay for all this on a teacher’s salary and a grad student’s meager student loan refund used for living expenses? It was clear from both attorneys that we had two weeks to ante up or they would back out. Errrrr! “We never wanted this fight to begin with!!!” my insides screamed.
Somehow, our final court dates were set within one day of each other. The case in Georgia would be heard on September 26th, and the one in North Carolina would commence the following day at 9am.
My mind clicked away. Finances? In the hole by about 50 grand. It frosts me that we were debt free prior to these unwanted fights with our ex-spouses. Knowing we would be sleep-deprived, stressed out beyond measure, lied about in court and had very little support regarding folks to take care of our kiddos while we drove across state lines fighting for them, I leaned my head against the steering wheel. It was all I could do to not think about driving all the way up to North Carolina immediately after court in Atlanta, preparing for Round 2 of immeasurable stress and sharing air-space with three vengeful ex-spouses, one of whom had been abusive to me and my kids. I had not seen him in over five years, yet somehow the other two exes located him from across the country and reined him into this frenzy. He was all too willing to jump into the fray. Who goes through things like this??
If ever there was an Old Testament story being lived out in 2011, this was it. God, and only God could deliver us out of this one. Wow. We were awarded custody of our sons in the end, but the costs emotionally, mentally, financially, and spiritually were debilitating.
Aside from the financial magnitude, I think the lies were the worst part to endure. Our exes polluted our environment at nearly every turn, pulling school principals, church folks, a friend of the judge’s wife, private school teachers and parents, and even members of our own family into horrible lies about us. It was nightmarish to watch the lies swallowed whole by people I should have been able to depend upon to sift through the mud a whole lot better than that. The psychologist and counselors in the case were the only ones who seemed to be able to cut through the lies straight to what was actually true, to our relief and frustration. In court, it did not matter how many ways we could substantiate what we were saying (receipts, emails, video clips on our Bloggie), we were not believed. One of our exes fabricated an email from a school principal (we could prove it), yet wasn’t raked over the coals even a little. And guardian ad litems? Forget it. The name of that game is “who can put on the best show.” Bottom line, we were in a street fight. As a Christian, that situation doesn’t seem to fit well, especially when looking for emotional support. No, this is a private journey, and no one wants to hear it after a while. You go through this alone.
At times like this, there is no “why.” The only comfort to be found is “this too shall pass.” And “just hold on.” And God’s Word. I cannot describe the unbelievable solace I found in those verses. They come alive when they’re all you have to depend on. I would stake my life on these verses that all came true in our situation. For those in the midst of this torrential storm, I have this to say: Trust Him. Lean into what He has to say. Trust Him when it doesn’t make sense to do so. He is a strong refuge, and can thwart the strongest of human defenses. You won’t understand everything that happens, but He is absolutely reliable. You will come out of this storm. You cannot see all the moving pieces flying at you, but He can, and He will lead you through. And out. Hold on.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. I cried out to the LORD in my suffering, and he heard me. He set me free from all my fears. For the angel of the LORD guards all who fear him, and he rescues them. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in him! Let the LORD’s people show him reverence, for those who honor him will have all they need. –Psalm 34:5-9