I was married at a young age – 17 to be exact and my senior year of high school. I grew up in a small town so the news of my marriage was a huge sounding point for gossip. I knew what many people thought, and while it hurt, it didn’t matter more than what God thought. I knew that I was in the right place in my life (with the Lord) to receive counsel and answers from Him and took the appropriate steps to seek those answers and counsel. Through it all there was never a “yes” or “no” it was always “it’s your choice.” I even resolved myself that I would walk away (even at the alter) if the Lord told me “no” to this decision. That didn’t happen – again, the counsel was “it’s your choice.” I based my choice on all the things that I knew, at the time, to look for in a companion. I based my choice on my intention to be with this one person forever, and no one else as well as other reasons. This wasn’t made lightly, it was the biggest decision of my life, I thought. A week into the marriage the abuse began and grew over five years of marriage. It started as emotional abuse, then added sexual abuse (accompanied by his addiction to pornography), and finally into physical abuse. All of this accompanied by the birth of two children and the neglect, and limited physical and emotional abuse to them as well. I struggled so much – One time in particular I had one child to take care of one on the way (sick as a dog), depression was drowning me, the abuse was paramount, and in school at the same time, it was overwhelming, for lack of a better word. I remember many times on my knees literally crying (almost screaming inside) to my God that He would just let me be done. I couldn’t kill myself – but He could just bring me home to Him – and that’s what I begged for. I did not feel I could survive another day. I knew that my Heavenly Father had to be helping me – but I could not feel it. I felt like He would stand there watching me without making a move to intervene or wrap His arms around me. It was torture. No matter how hard I tried to invite the spirit into my home and my life the devil was constantly being invited in by my husbands choice of sin and the spirit of confusion reigned supreme. The first time I tried to leave and get out of the marriage was incredible. The Lord had blessed me so much, and I literally felt Him standing by my side, supporting me, and encouraging me to stay strong in that decision. I remember when I broke down and chose to beg my husband to forgive me and come back – at that moment the Lord withdrew from my presence. I had to wait another two years before He would give me that assurety and support again. Divorce is not something I take lightly. I intended to be with this man forever. I wanted to prove to the naysayers of the small town I grew up in that I didn’t make a wrong choice. I have a few siblings that have been divorced and I always planned on “getting it right the first time.” So this was a big deal to me. And I learned that choosing to divorce was the hardest decision of my life. And I had to have the Lord’s support to do it. Let me clarify, while I’m here, that I am not an advocate of divorce. I know that Heavenly Father intends for families to be together forever and divorce is not an eternal law or intention of the Father’s. However, I do know that there are some things that are worse than divorce. I do advocate spouses and children getting out of a bad situation. I know that there are many things the Lord expects from me and I intend to do them, many of which I would never have been able to do still being married to that man. When I finally left it was like the gates of Heaven just opened up and poured blessings upon my children and me. There were still many struggles, but in so many ways things would fall into place just so to make the impossible, possible.
I was a single mom for two years. I was able to go back to school and every day God attended my children and me emotionally, spiritually, and physically. A year ago I graduated with my bachelor’s degree! Two years ago, I met someone. We dated for a very short time and were married (again miracle after miracle occurred for us where things just fell in to place). Each day I am blessed to realize what a great choice I made in marrying Jake. There is no comparison; he is my best friend, and eternal companion. He adopted the kids and is an amazing father! Now we are expecting a baby girl. There are still things I struggle with from my previous marriage. I was torn down and abused so much, that is not something that goes away over night. My husband is patient with me, and while he is angry that I was treated like that, he works with me, listens to me, and encourages me in everything I do in becoming “me” again. There are many things about myself I lost, that I have been able to slowly recognize and gain back. My children have grown immensely and become more confident in themselves. I am grateful I had the wisdom, courage, and support to get us out earlier rather than later, and my children now enjoy a father fully attentive and full of love for them.
I know that Jesus is the Christ and that He suffered for our sins. While I know I was not perfect in my first marriage, I made mistakes too, mine were not eternal in nature. I do not regret marrying that first time, I am firm in knowing that I made the best choice I could at the time and am comfortable with that. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? No way! My kids would still have come to me (I believe) in another way, but there was a reason for it. I know that what makes these things happen (divorce, separation of family) is sin. We can be forgiven of all of our sins if we but choose to use the Atonement for ourselves. The Atonement is also, not only for sinners, but also for those who need to forgive. It is for you and it is for me. We are so incredibly loved and cared for by our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. They watch over us, and are intent on our happiness. I know that there is so much more I could share and if anyone ever would like to talk I would be happy to be there!
Story written by: Kayla Briggs