The second time I was in the shelter, I was divorced and alone. I literally had run for my life and had no choice but to leave the kids behind.
Three weeks prior, my parents had asked me to leave their home with my children, knowing fully well I had no resources or place to take them. During this period, I had also been waiting on the Lord to manifest some promises that He had shown me to come to pass, so I was not too afraid about leaving. Often, when God wants us out, He will allow our very family and friends to be the pressure that drives us out to the place where only He can sustain us. I knew this was a such a time and so to many who could not see the rationale, I saw it as totally normal and God ordained.
What the enemy means for evil, God will use for good if we allow Him to.
My ex-husband was the obvious and only choice for me at the time. None of my friends were in a position to take us all in and there is only so many times you can hear get out and ignore it before the message sinks in. I was not going to ask my parents to let us stay again. We moved in with him and my intention was to simply set the kids up and move on. I knew there was no way we could live together under that roof and I not fall under his spell, his manipulation. The verbal abuse and threats started almost immediately.
The second night there, we were awaken at two in the morning and he is ranting and raving about all he has done for me and the kids. He threatens the kids with injury if they show any resemblance or attitudes of members of my family. Someone said to me later, that she couldn’t disagree with him, as what my family had done was reprehensible but there is never an excuse for threatening a child, much less your own with bodily harm or decapitation.
Why then would I even consider leaving them there? It was what the Lord showed me I had to do. Months before any of this began I begged and pleaded with God to give me another way out. Not without my children I said but His way is always perfect.
The night I left was my son’s fifth birthday. We had a wonderful day together although he did not get the bike he wanted and we were preparing to leave for church. Their father came home and an argument ensued. I stood there on shaky legs and stared him down. Knowing there was nothing to say. Listening to him confirm the question I asked of God hours earlier. What does it mean when Jesus gave up His Spirit? I was about to find out because the four beings that carry my essence and grew in my womb, I would now have to walk away from.
I had never unpacked. It took me about five minutes to get out the door. He helped considerably by pitching my suitcases down the steps and promised to do the same to me, if I didn’t leave. I spent a moment with each child promising them I would be back and to remember to pray. My youngest was the bravest for she didn’t quite understand why her siblings were crying. My son was in tears because his father thought he needed a slap for even crying in the first place.
My friend had shown up to take us to church but instead I packed my meager belongings in her SUV. He filled her ears with his version of all of my issues and I could tell it was not the first time he had done this. I drove off with her and we went to church as planned but by the time I fell asleep at her place that night, I knew I no longer had a friend.
The next morning, I got up prepared to hustle and find a way to fix things, like Nerissa always does. But all I got was a simple instruction to wait where I was. I sat down and had breakfast, organized my things and sidestepped his calls and my friend’s demands that I give up the children’s documents. I was their legal custodian and I was not about to relinquish my rights in any way. It had taken me years to rebuild our paperwork after losing so many in transit from location to location. We moved an average of once a year, sometimes two from island to island, country to country.
When I felt it was time to leave, I promised her I would be back later for my things. I walked down the road, heading to town and took a detour into a business complex where a friend and business associate had his office. For the next two hours, I just sat and talked, and cried. When it was over, I left my prized possession with him; my laptop with all of my manuscripts and important documents. I knew it would be safe with him until I figured things out. Over the next year, he and his wife offered me moral support and prayers which was what I needed most some days. Just the feeling of knowing I had someone in my corner made all the difference in the silence.
Before I left his office, he told me that if I had shown up five minutes earlier, he would not have been there. Destiny might have been different if I had not listened to the Spirit.
One more stop and the miracles begin. By nightfall, I am in the shelter. Only two weeks, I said I needed to clear my head. All I need is two weeks to hear from God and to know what to do. My two weeks turned into three but at the end I was certain. Don’t look back…No regrets…Trust me and I will take care of you. I wish I got that in the three weeks from the Spirit. All I got was deathly silence. It was hard. He was not speaking. I couldn’t even write. There weren’t much words. Everything that came out felt broken and stilted, raw but yet emotionless. But when the day came to leave, I awoke with a knowing and just watched God provide the funds and the transportation to take me to an apartment of my own.
Back up a bit, to the second week at the shelter. I wake up one morning to learn that the island’s leading newspaper, which is also read in the neighboring islands has me in full color with a three-column story that I abandoned my kids. The same friend and my ex had offered tears and pleas that I come back and he of course assured them that he had not done anything to me to warrant my leaving. The story was ably corroborated by members of my family, so of course it sounded legit. What hurt the most, was being a former journalist who regularly submitted news releases, and had been interviewed by that press house and all of the others on island, not one ever contacted me to verify the story. It hurt even more knowing that a friend I once trusted had left out the fact that she purposely did not return home to her house until late in the night, so I could not get my clothes, refused to answer my calls until she could not avoid them any longer but had by 10am that morning, contacted my family to tell them about what I had done.
A lot of my hurt was more in retrospect because I had been insulated from much of this drama. They didn’t know I had already told God my reputation and name was not as important to me as doing what He called me to do. I had come home from the UK and built a career, doing what I wanted to do but I was not completing the assignment I had been given which was to write what He told me to. Their decision did affect the way people viewed me. My public reputation seemed to be in shambles. I could not get a job and wished only for people who were once friends or associates to look me in the eye.
More silence, more tears, more waiting, few words. So many stops and starts, me always with another idea to try and God with a big WAIT blocking every path.
I ate every day. I slept every night. God took care of me better than when I was working and doing what I pleased. I slept at peace even without my children, because I had God’s promise that He was doing no less for them. How could I rest knowing where they were? Because God said to. How could I trust that they were alright? Because God said they were.
Calls were limited. I know my kids enough to know that to disturb their routine just to please myself was not a good idea. I knew I needed the distance, so I could be ready when the time came to get them. It didn’t come until three months later and even then it was a scary choice. I was no more financially stable to care for them than I was three months before, but yet God said it was time.
More stops and starts. More angels coming to watch over us and protect us. Never a night we didn’t eat or without shelter. Never a day without God showing He had planned this all along.
Although my faith wavered at times because I was unsure if I was doing the right thing or heard from God correctly. God never did. He knew the appointed time would come when everything would be clear to me. When I would be stronger to face my giant. When I would be able to speak to my mountain and watch it crumble. He knew the time, I had only to trust that He did.