My friend, Carmen, has an amazing story and said I could share it. She grew up in a dysfunctional home and was exposed to a lot. She was never exposed to church and was unsure about her faith. At age 18 she told her mom that she was leaving the next day - she was in survival mode. Her mom asked her to wait two days and she would go with her. Two days later they left and never returned.
Eventually, Carmen found herself in an abusive marriage thinking she could “fix” things. She was carrying on the cycle but, to her, abuse was normal. After her husband’s first assault arrest she tried to bail him out. He lost multiple jobs while she supported him. When she found out she was pregnant with their first child she knew this would fix everything! It did change her. She decided to go to church and was baptized with her daughter.
Things were so bad at home that she would encourage her husband to drink so he would pass out. A DWI left her husband with the ultimatum to go to rehab or go to jail. The 28 days that he was in rehab were the best! After 28 days instead of a halfway house he went back home and back to his old habits.
While visiting church, Carmen saw a sign about a 12 step program. Because she could take her daughter, she decided to go “so she could fix her husband”. Carmen lived two different lives. No one at church or work knew about her living situation. Although Carmen was there to fix her husband, after five months, she realized she, herself, had a hurt, habit and a hangup. At this point she surrendered.
Carmen’s mother started going to church with her and also joined. One week after joining, Carmen’s mother died. She went to tell her husband, who was supposedly not drinking, and he was drinking. She was devastated because other than her children, she was alone. While he was not there for her, the church was! This is when she realized she had a church family!
After her son was born, Carmen stayed home for six months while looking for a job. She knew she had to get out of this marriage - she was realizing how messed up her life was. She started sharing with others, who she could trust, and they encouraged her to get help. She went to the domestic violence shelter and was told if she went back they would get social services involved because the kids were being exposed to abuse. She felt so isolated. Now she says thank God that they made her make that decision or she may still be there!
Her church helped her find somewhere for her to stay temporarily and helped her pack her house. After a week she got a restraining order on her husband and received sole custody of her children. After a head on collision her husband was arrested with his second DWI causing him to go to jail. Even through all of this she could never picture life without him.
A former boss got Carmen in touch with an attorney who never charged her a penny for his services! While this was out of Carmen’s comfort zone, she even joined a women's group at church! After her husband was served papers she broke down and told her women's group that she needed prayer. They took care of her and her kids. Her ex-husband started dating and got married as soon as their divorce was final. Carmen started going to counseling. This counseling would also help with her eating disorder. She was now half the size she used to be.
In September of this year Carmen’s house was flooded with six feet of water! Because of her work her kids went and stayed with a friend out of town. The first night she slept in her car because she felt she had no where to go. No where was open. No where, except church! Volunteers were feeding the linemen every day! She came to church every day and served! She was told by the pastor not to worry that we would take care of her. Immediately a church member offered her an apartment on their property that she and her kids could use as long as necessary.
She had 16 people show up to clean out her house. After insurance paid she had a church friend help her find a house that had not gone on the market yet. She closed on that house on a Friday and that Sunday her circle had a housewarming shower for her! She showed me pictures of her beautiful new home fully decorated! Her daughter’s room was better than anything she could imagine!
Carmen will tell you she always wanted out of her house because it was dark and had so many bad memories! She wanted to be in a bright and happy home. Without the flood she probably would not have gotten out of that house. And remember, she is half her size so she needed all new clothes and now she could get them!
Through a major renovation in Carmen’s life she got rid of all the old and dark stuff and has replaced it with new and bright things. What she thought was going to be the worse thing that could happen to her became the best thing that could happen to her. Why should we be surprised? When we get out of the dark and into the Light amazing things can happen. Romans 8: 28, tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Six months prior to the closing of her new house, she was sleeping in her car. Before we left Carmen said, “I gained a family when I went to church. I went there to fix someone else and God fixed me. I feel like life cannot get any better!”
It is never easy to share your story - especially the first time. But what an example of how God gives us just what we need and so much more. You know I love that sentence! He was multitasking all over her! And now she is sharing her story. 1 Chronicles 16:8, "Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done."
Have you shared what God has done in your life?