Something one of my bishops said to me has always bothered me. I don’t remember which bishop or when, but I do remember the circumstances. I was talking to my bishop about the emotional neglect and verbal abuse I was suffering from at the hands of my, then, husband. I was telling him how hard I was trying to stay, how therapy wasn’t working because he had a habit of lying and manipulating the situation so he was the victim, and how I couldn’t keep allowing him to treat me like he was.
After bishop calmed me down and talked to me about marriage problems, statistics, and the covenants I made in the temple, the very last thing he told me was “remember, your children in Heaven are rooting for you.”
Those words have always stuck with me.
Instead of filling me with peace, hope, and comfort, they filled me with guilt, and an unhealthy sense of duty and obligation. Enough so that I started to convince myself that if I just had kids, I could stay in my marriage for them, I could live for them and I would get the love I so craved from my husband from them.
It took me a long time to reason through the wrongness of what bishop said. Now, I am in absolutely no way suggesting he himself was wrong or was a bad man, I have nothing but love and respect for hard-working bishops who try so hard to help their ward come to God and remain close to him. It’s no easy job, made even harder by the fact that they have to take upon them the trials and troubles of their ward. So, exempting my bishop of any fault, I just think he could have chosen his words with slightly more care when talking to an impressionable youth desperately trying to do what was right and so willing to listen to the counsel of her priesthood leader.
If I just had children I could do God’s will and stay married. I could live for my kids. But we could barely afford food some months, and we couldn’t even afford food others. There was no way we could afford the monetary needs of a precious child. So then, it became if I could only work hard enough to make us financially stable, I could have kids and then stay married.
But financial security was an unattainable goal since I was going to school full-time while working and he wasn’t working at all and had inappropriate spending habits he liked to keep hidden from me.
I soon realized I was never going to be able to work hard enough, and even if I could, I would never be home to see my children and get their love because I would be too busy providing for them.
After I realized this, I slowly started to have other realizations as well. Why would my loving children want me to stay in this kind of marriage/situation? If they loved me as much as I was proving I loved them, wouldn’t they want better for me? They who had yet to cross the veil and knew everything I was going through and knew exactly how hard I was working to stay.
More than even that thought, I realized my kids deserved a mom who thinks she’s worth more than an abusive relationship. My kids deserved a mom who wouldn’t settle, a mom who was emotionally, physically, and financially able to meet their needs in life, who would be there to raise them, love them, and give them comfort and security in this life; something I wouldn’t have been able to do for them since I couldn’t even do that for myself at the time.
Just as important, my kids deserved the happiness and joy of having a righteous dad. A dad who would love and respect his wife. A dad who would teach his sons how to treat women, and who would teach his daughters how they should expect to be treated. A dad that would put the Lord first and his family second. A dad that would uphold and honor his priesthood and helps the home to be a protected sanctuary because of the divine power he held. A dad who would truly be a knight for his family. They deserved a dad who would teach them the ways of the Lord, not in word only, but also in deed. A dad worthy to bless them, to baptize them, to take them to the temple. My kids deserved a man of God.
I have a chance to give them that now, when I couldn’t before. They aren’t going to fault me for leaving, especially since I painstakingly waited until I KNEW it was the right thing and that I had done absolutely everything I could to make it work. I left for a better chance of life and happiness for myself as well as for them. I don’t believe God faults me for this or requires me to repent. I’ve stayed temple worthy and I’ve stayed close to God throughout all of this experience. If Heavenly Father hadn’t given me the confirmation that it was okay to leave I would have stayed and made it work somehow because I truly believe He wants the best for me and wants me to be happy. If I do His will, He’s going to lead me down the path that will allow me the most happiness in life. I would have been happy eventually if it was the will of the Lord for me to stay. But it wasn’t, and I’m convinced it wasn’t His will because my husband was so set in his ways, so determined not to realize his problems, and so unconvinced of his need to change. He would have continued to abuse me, and my kids would have grown up in a broken home.
I am so grateful for the mercy of a loving Heavenly Father. I am so grateful for the confirming witness He gave me that day that let me have the confidence to leave my situation. I am so grateful for the love He gave me as I was healing from that great wound. I am so grateful for the atonement of the Savior, that it is all encompassing and extends not only to our sins, but to our sorrows as well. I am so grateful that He is giving me a chance for a better future, with a man willing to do the will of God more than the will of himself, I am so grateful for the opportunity to raise children in a righteous and loving home, and I am so grateful for the chance to be treated like a daughter of God should be treated in this life. I am so grateful for His mercy, I am so grateful for His love, I am so grateful for the knowledge I have and for the temple, I am so grateful for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.