This is the follow-up post to October 20th: a guest post. I want to thank Stephanie for being so honest and willing to share her heart through these posts. It is my hope that this will not just tell you what has been going on with us lately, but that it may offer a bit of encouragement to people who may be feeling lonely and distant from God and their brothers and sisters in Christ.
Dan left work and we dropped Danny and Lily off with my grandparents. We went home to wait. Pray and wait. A few hours later a woman from DHHS and a detective from the state police showed up to “interview” us. It was more of an interrogation. We were questioned separately and our interviews could not have gone more differently. I collapsed inside without Dan near me. I sobbed through the questions, repeatedly asking why this was happening, when I could see my daughter. Dan, on the other hand, was strong and defensive. He demanded answers and refused to be walked on. If I hadn’t been on the verge of a mental breakdown I would have been proud of him. They told us Gracie would be interviewed by professionals later in the week and in the mean time would remain with her father. Obviously, this didn’t sit well with us since we were sure he had been coaching her to say these things. I begged for them to take her away from him, but they had no authority to take her from him. They told us there was not enough evidence (there was zero evidence!) for her to be kept from us either and that our original custody agreement should be followed, but Gracie’s father refused to let us have her, and as the days past I slowly died inside.
A week past with no progress with Gracie’s dad. Her birthday came and went and the heartache our family felt was agonizing. My baby turned three and I wasn’t able to share her special day with her. It was a long day, filled with tears and pathetic prayers.
A month later, Gracie was home with us again. We are now in the middle of a custody battle that will be long and dragged out. We pray God will give us wisdom and peace, and that He will change our hearts so we can love the people who have hurt us.
Through this trial Dan and I leaned on each other for strength. Together we trusted God was faithful and that He would bring Gracie home. We prayed all day, every day. Then we would pray together at night. God gave us peace and we made it through the darkness. It was once Gracie was home that things became gray and unclear. I remember thinking that if I trusted God enough to bring her home, that once she was home God would reward me by drawing me so much closer to Him. I would feel His presence and I would feel whole again. These things didn’t happen, and I was left feeling alone and tired. I had no interest in praying. No interest in reading my bible. I was spiritually exhausted. It took all of my energy to completely trust my Lord and when He pulled us through the storm, I was too tired and confused to rejoice. I didn’t understand why I didn’t feel closer to Him. I didn’t understand the lonliness I felt. Hadn’t I trusted Him ( kind of.) ? Hadn’t I been faithful (not really.)? I grew resentful. I grew cold. I was angry and I couldn’t understand.
I eventually broke down and confided these feelings in my husband. I was shocked to hear that he had been struggling with the same feelings. We talked for a long time. He explained to me that we weren’t faithful to God. We doubted Him constantly. That it was easy to trust God when we were desperate for Him, but when things were easy it was another story.
After Dan told me this I realized how wicked and selfish I was. God has pulled me through every bad thing that has ever happened to me. And he has blessed me more than I ever dreamed He would. This entire heart wrenching trial, that sucked every ounce of energy and emotion out of me, has been an eye opener. I am wicked, and God is faithful. The closer I become to my Savior, the more evil I find I am. The more undeserving I find myself. Having a closer relationship to our God doesn’t mean that we will be filled with unending joy and that everything will be wonderful. It means there will be times when we will be overwhelmed with how much God loves us, and heartbroken over what vile, selfish creatures we are.
So this is what we have gone through. It doesn’t seem sufficient enough to write it down. I’m not articulate enough to convey the hurt that was suffered or the joy we experienced in the end. There will never be words to describe the peace God gave us or the way God brought me and my husband so much closer to each other. And I will never be able to truly show my gratitude to each of you who reached out to us and kept us in your prayers and thoughts. We are so grateful to you all. I will leave you with something I have sketched on most of my journal entries, a sentence that holds more power and more truth than any other I know:
God is faithful. Always.