Finding Grace and Freedom in the Middle of my Messy Life

There were things I refused to think about. I struggled to keep my memories compartmentalized. If I focused on the good stuff and turned a blind eye to the barely tolerable, I figured I could keep the status quo. But once in awhile, the things I tried to keep secret, even from myself, would seep through the cracks in my resolve. Late at night, sleep would elude me as I whispered desperate prayers, begging God to help me. And rescue me.

“Please, God. Show me what to do.”

Relationships have ups and downs, I told myself. The cruelty that made me cringe and shrink back echoed the self-doubt and insecurities that often occupied my thoughts. There was an element of truth in every accusation.

I used to argue with him. I am NOT stupid. I am NOT worthless. But eventually I gave up. Resigned myself. I couldn’t change what he thought about me or how he treated me. He decided my worth. I damned myself to the emotional and verbal abuse I must have deserved. I asked for it. Didn’t I?

He shoved. I stumbled. He spit. He shouted.

Oh, the messy parts of our stories can be painful to talk about, write about, and even remember. Sometimes there is no way to wrap it all up in an easily digested, blessedly resolved grace-filled palatable package. My marriage was messy. My story is equally messy. In spite of my prayers, God did not ride in on a white horse bearing a sword to rescue, reconcile, and redeem me, my husband or our marriage. At least not in the way I hoped for, prayed for, and preferred. Because God hates divorce, after all, doesn’t he? And that must mean if I were to divorce and escape an abusive marriage God would hate me, I reasoned.

My marriage failed but God has not labeled me a failure. In my brokenness I did not find a condemning God but a loving savior who heals broken people. I found his grace in the middle of my mess. I found the freedom only he can give.

There’s a fine line between wallowing and remembering for me. The remembering is best done on my therapist’s couch. A glance back gives me plenty of fodder for my blogs usually without the wallow. It’s hard to look back and embarrassing to write about. But in reflecting I can see how far I’ve come, how far God has brought me. I get a glimpse of what God has done while I’ve been reluctantly traveling through the valley.

I found hope in God when there was no hope in my life. The important things, everything I worked to preserve to keep me secure and safe, were taken away. Layers have been peeled back; wounds and insecurities have been exposed.

Each step and challenge, each revelation has been preceded by dragging feet, embarrassing amounts of whining, floods of tears, and sleepless nights. And that was just yesterday. But I am learning to put my hope and trust in God and not my shifting circumstances.

 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55

The freedom I found in leaving my abusive marriage has not been the “and she lived happily ever after” part of my story but the “once upon a time” part. It has been a new beginning with a renewed faith and the assurance that nothing can separate me from God’s love. I am finding the freedom to let go of the labels put on me by others and accept the label God gives me: daughter of the King.

There is the literal freedom I have found.

“He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name.” 2 Samuel 22:48-50

The restoration, redemption, and reconciliation that God offers us in the middle of our messy lives may not be what we expect. But Jesus’ promise that we will be set free is for all of us, whatever our circumstances.

“You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32




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17 Responses to Finding Grace and Freedom in the Middle of my Messy Life

  1. Visiting here from (in)courage. I really appreciated what you said today here. for different reasons the things I counted on for perceived safety are not as safe as I thought and I am learning to trust God in a new way…still struggling, but pressing into my doubts.

  2. alicia493 says:

    I’ve SO been there!! There is so much freedom in the abusive marriage having ended!! I love how you stated that the ending of the marriage is the “Once upon a time”… I needed to hear that today!!!

  3. sholbrook1 says:

    Charlotte, it takes a strong woman to bare her soul as you have done here. Bless your heart, as we say in the South! We all have mess because that’s what life is…messy. I have to tread carefully around issues when I’m writing about my family because there is just stuff there that is better left there. Sometimes, however, I just have to let it out and write about it. It’s therapeutic. You’ve learned that Jesus loves you and that’s more important than what anybody else thinks. If you can find any of his writings, there was a pastor I used to listen to named Gerald Mann. His main theme was “You can begin again.” Every day, if that’s what it takes. Again, bless your heart and keep writing.

  4. Sara says:

    This is so amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. You are one amazing lady xx

  5. Annie Rim says:

    Such a brave post. Thank you for sharing and for giving others freedom in their own stories through yours. I find it so comforting that God uses the broken – that being whole is not a requirement for being free.

    • Charlotte Hammer says:

      Absolutely! God doesn’t wait for us to get it together…because are we ever going to have it together?

  6. stoopingformanna says:

    Charlotte, thank you for giving a voice to so many women who suffer in abusive marriages. I’m praying for complete healing for you…and your ex-husband. All things are possible with God. For now, I”m glad you are safe and “beginning again” …and that He is revealing Himself to you through your story.

  7. Jenny says:

    Jenny from WCCB here. Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. Arlene says:

    “I found his grace in the middle of my mess”
    I just loved this Charlotte. We all have messy lives in one way or another. Your courageous post gives us all hope that when we need His grace and goodness, He will be there. Thank you for sharing your story and keep looking for the blessings in the messy, mucky parts.
    love and blessings to you….

  9. sarahann1977 says:

    What a beautiful and honest post! Thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to bare your soul to encourage others. God DOES INDEED heal the brokenhearted and I am glad He has healed yours. Keep living as light for Him! Thankful to find you at the Holley Gerth link-up!

  10. Joining you from Holley’s today. I had to start our post a second time because I thought I was reading my own story. Thanks be to God that in His eyes we are loved unconditionally, our perceived failures are overlooked and forgiven, and He helps us find freedom from our abusers. So thankful you are able to share so honestly your story.

  11. Ronja says:

    I have been walking the same kind of journey lately and everything you wrote described it so beautifully. There is nothing like bringing our brokenness, fears and failures to God, and finding the amazing love and forgiveness that He has for us. How beautiful is this hope and knowing that even in our deepest despair, He is there with us! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Wow. I so appreciate your transparency.

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