There are thousands of “my ex did me wrong” stories out there, but this one is different. This one ends with God’s grace and direction. Please join me in my first attempt at telling this story in text.
I’ll skip over our relationship and why it didn’t work out. I’ll even spare you the details of the aftermath, disagreements and court battles. This story begins in July of 2014, when our daughter was halfway through her 4th year of life. Her precious and fragile 4th year. She was on an overnight visit with her dad and his girlfriend over the summer and everything seemed to be going fine. I am a mother and always have anxieties while my children are out of my care, but things seemed to be going OK.
I woke up early one morning to NINE missed calls from the local POLICE! Thoughts immediately started racing through my head. I was wondering if my sister and her husband were OK. Was it my mom or dad? Please tell me no one got in a car accident! For some reason, I just trusted that my daughter was OK with her dad because if she wasn’t, her dad would have called me!
I can’t even tell you what the voicemail from the Police said except, “we have made sure your daughter is taken care of and you can call us back to come pick her up.” WHAT?!?!? OMG omg omg. It took several phone calls, a bunch of panic and some adrenaline driven actions to figure out where she was and how to get to her.
Of course, at the Cops attempt to keep me calm, they gave me a pretty watered down version of the story and assured me everything was OK. They told me that her dad had attempted to hang himself (before being cut down by his girlfriend that just happened to show up at the right time) and that he was recovering at the local hospital.They assured me that my daughter was asleep for the whole thing. She was in the care of his girlfriend at their house.
You guys, I can’t even explain the following weeks very well because it all turned into a blur of sleepless nights, nightmares (for both her and I), tons of phone calls, counseling sessions, lots of investigating on my part and a large number of prayers. As time went on, I learned through my poor little girl’s counseling sessions that she had seen the whole thing. I also learned that there was domestic violence involved, lots of alcohol and physical force from the cops that was needed to resolve this case. All the while, I was being told that she was asleep and didn’t see a thing.
For a mother to learn that her precious 4 year old daughter not only witnessed such a horrific event, but potentially could have been left alone out in the middle of the country with no one to care for her and no idea how to get a hold of anyone (had her dad succeeded in his attempt) just totally dropped me to my knees. I think you can imagine the feelings I was having about myself as a mother. Guilt and helplessness being among the top contenders!
Fast forward through short supervised visitations with her dad, his time away recovering in a hospital and plenty of court sessions and phone calls……we came down to the day that would change everything. After a 9 month battle in court, I pulled up to the courthouse parking lot preparing myself to walk in and have a judge tell me what would be happening moving forward. I had no control over the situation. I was at a place of no feeling. No tears, no anger, no arguments, no nothing. I felt like I was floating in space, no connection to anyone or anything. Just there…..floating. I was terrified when the judge gave us his ruling. Her dad had earned back every other weekend visitation including overnights!!!!
Needless to say, the next year or so was a very rough road. It was full of potty accidents, emotional roller coasters, night terrors and a very unknown dark time for me. I continued to pray, because I knew God was the ONLY ONE who could pull us out of this. Can I also tell you that her grandpa (her dad’s dad) passed away just 5 short months after the suicide attempt, throwing her dad into an even deeper spiral and adding to my daughter’s sadness and confusion.
Where is the grace and direction in this story? It appeared out of nowhere, just like God loves to do. It was May, 2 years later……things had been going fairly decent with her visits and we had finally made some progress on her emotional healing. However, this harsh and relentless world wasn’t done with us yet. My husband was laid off at his 10 year career and we were about to lose everything. GOD didn’t stop there either! He gave us a phone call that would change everything! Family in North Carolina wanted us to move near them so they could help us out! They had a job, house, everything. (I need to write a post about that blessing of a move too!) We would be moving from Colorado all the way to North Carolina.
Problem is: how will my daughter see her dad? How will he react? Will he approve of the move? Will we be able to get through court before we have to move? Everything was back to the place of the unknown! Me floating in space again. I made the very hard call to her father and to my surprise he approved of the move. WOW. Of course, we didn’t agree on visitation or any of the details and if we wanted the judge to decide it could be anywhere from 6 months to a year before we reached a decision, meaning my daughter and I would have to stay back while the rest of our family moved on.
God spoke to me and instructed me to show grace as he has shown us and to have a sit down lunch with her dad with a plan to work things out. This was a long shot. We hadn’t agreed on anything other than the fact that we both loved our daughter up until that point. Do you want to know how that lunch ended? We came up with a full agreement, signed papers and he even bought my lunch! Now if that isn’t God, I don’t know what is. In that moment I learned that when we are in our times of most uncertainty, we need only turn to God and react how He would. God is a God of forgiveness, grace, second chances, love, kindness, selfless acts and transparency. He is a God who heals broken hearts and reacts out of love, NO MATTER the situation!!
As of today, her dad has plans to travel across the country in January and attend a father-daughter dance for her girl scouts. When I tell this story to people or they were there in the thick of it, they don’t understand my actions. They don’t understand my trust or forgiveness or how much I “allow” him to see our daughter. Truth of the matter is: she is not my daughter, she is God’s child. I have been given the honor of caring for her on this Earth and I will try with everything I have to care for her like God would.