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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Rosiesandz Guest Post: Truth Speaks... by Marla P.

On the one hand, I am Mommy to my 3 #Littles, diligent and hard working woman who managed to find her voice as the baby of the Prater 14 clan. On the other, I am simultaneously standing strong while being reconstructed from the ground up. It's a strange phenomenon but it's the only way I can describe this constant state of being & becoming. Somewhere in the middle lies a heart that pumps hard to supply life to both sides.

Oh, and my name is Marla ☺️


“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it”
~2 Corinthians 3:3The Message (MSG)

“The number one job of the mind is to protect the ego.”
That's what my Godfather always preached. I've been saying for such a long time that I will write my story…I have written so many things but none of them felt authentic & complete reflection of my hearts sentiment.

One of the things that irritates me the absolute most about people who use social media as a platform to publish their lives is that they only share what people want to see and hear. Not many people are 100% authentically true to self on social media, in my opinion. Myself included…hence why so many people were devastated by the news of my divorce.
So many people would comment to me privately, “… but you two looked so happy!”
And with each person that commented to that effect, I realized just how deceiving looks can be without even intending to be. I also realize just how much of an effort I put toward looking like I was okay. Not that the 50 pound weight loss was any real indicator of what was happening in my heart. My marriage and everything that I built for nearly a decade was falling apart and there was nothing I could do about it.

For the past few months since my divorce was made final, I wordlessly vowed to myself never to speak my ex-husband name again on social media. I made that vow as I felt he no longer deserve airtime in my life and that, somehow, would be a living example of how to move forward with dignity and grace. But somethings got lost in the shuffle…
Now, in retrospect, it is so abundantly clear why I felt like my story was not ready to be told.
How could I tell a story about how I know God has kept me and covered me without ever mentioning my ex-husband?
What kind of justice would I ever do to my story without mentioning one of the key players? None!

So I apologize in advance to anyone who may take offense to this narrative. But, writing is cathartic 🌹

There are not many things to say about my marriage as a whole. We didn’t have a perfect marriage. Not even close. But I was not discouraged because I loved him and was convinced that hard work was the only thing that could change that. So I worked. I prayed and fasted. I stayed when there were not many reasons to stay… I stayed because that’s the job as I understood it.
Though I lost my mother at a nine, I have vivid memories of my parents shouting life out (arguing) early Saturday mornings and mixed emotions about what that meant for their future but, they stayed until my mother drew her last breath. And more importantly, I watch my parents pray. I saw my Godparents make love and marriage look appealing. They made falling in love and staying there seem effortless. I use to love watching my Poppa grab my Momma’s hand while he drove, kiss it and sing ‘Stay with Me’.
I didn’t romanticize the idea that THAT kind of love would materialize simply by finding the right one. I knew how to work…and that’s what I did.

Someone told me that we have become so accustomed to hearing the traditional wedding vows recited like a poem that we don’t really listen to what we are agreeing to. Living life brings these certainties:
Better and worse days.
Health and sickness (both expected and unexpected)
Rich and poor seasons
Until death stops the cycle…

So on our worst days; navigating the discomfort of step-parenting a child I felt like I could never relate to…
The seemingly endless cycle of living paycheck to paycheck…
The isolation, rejection and embarrassment of being in a sexless marriage, and I wasn’t withholding…(not a potshot…just the truth)
The burden of carrying a household financially…
The depression and bombardment of thoughts to end my life…

I fought.

I fought until I started to perceive I was the only person fighting. I knew our relationship was fading. I watched and wondered if I had done everything I could to make it work. Wondered if I stood before God in judgement, if I could say I gave my marriage my all…so much so that I withdrew the petition from the first time I filed. Yes, this was not the first time… Our marriage technically ended February 25, 2014. When he finally did stray, I decided that it was one thing to fight through the worse and poor seasons alone, but to fight another person was out of the question. And THAT was when it was time to “protect the ego”.

This is the part of my “story” that gets a little hairy. This is the part where I have to take a deep breath because I don’t want to bash my ex-husband as in my mind, we were over. And the divorce process (which I sincerely hoped would be amicable) was what took us from being two people who decided they could no longer build together….to (for a season) being mortal enemies. And that was heartbreaking… To tell your heart to stop loving someone you’ve loved for nearly ten years was challenging. To stop myself from kicking him in the back of the head with a steel toe boot on… (true story) took all my strength.

Anyone who was a mutual friend of ours knows the name “Maria”. That wasn’t a secret to those close to the situation. Having credit cards run up, being handcuffed and spending a night in jail facing “domestic violence” charges, having my bank account emptied, attempting to make a judge make me sell my home for $45K come-up and ultimately watching him act out on social media was quite a devastating aftereffect. I imagined he would take his ‘get-out-of-jail-free card” and tell his story walking. I wasn’t concerned with how he would tell his side. He just didn’t leave fair. And the social media carnage everyone witnessed the day our divorce was final was a positive proof that I made a good choice. Those were the cloudy days where I was unsure of HOW to make heads or tails and WHAT the lesson in all of this was. Cause I sure as hell wasn’t going to let this happen ever again! So beat that mugg, curl that hair, EAT and show these jokers how to LIVE! Right??? Nope.

In the following hours, days, weeks and months my inbox started to fill with request from other women for support, and prayer. Their marriages were in jeopardy and they were asking for help. If you could’ve seen how twisted my face was! (Now let me interject here something that my Poppa used to say quite frequently “People tend to experience life and God in ways and feel suddenly compelled to build a “ministry” around it, and it becomes so self-involved”. I was not interested in being the poster-child for divorce! So I would encourage, pray with and for these women and move along. But EVERY SINGLE TIME I’d turn around, I was being admonished to write!
Writing meant facing the emotionally gory details and reliving the pain. I mean, I’m an open book to anyone who’d ask the right questions. But turning back and facing this again was not an option.

But within those days of heartbreak and uncertainty, I literally watched God do some tremendous things in my life that I would be remiss if I didn’t share. I was unemployed when I filed, and found a 3rd shift job that was barely getting the job done during the first few months of the divorce. And I would wake up, pray, worship and spend time with God, go to church and be handed an envelope filled with cash from women who felt burdened by the Lord to give. Friends that had traveled down this road would deposit money into my bank account. I wrote a list of things I felt I needed to prepare for life as a single mom, one in particular, a better paying job making at least $15/hr. so I could “make it”. I applied for a job that, I understand to be extremely difficult to get a call back from. 6 hours after I submitted the application, I was interviewing.  Landed a job I had absolutely ZERO prior experience in, making more than I thought I needed and to do it all from my home. I never missed a mortgage, car or utility payment. I would think about how, when I got on my feet, I’d buy Bella pretty girlie outfits, and out of the blue, people would hand me BAGS of clothes, dresses, shoes etc. for my children. I LITERALLY did not buy diapers for Sebastian for the first year of his life. Thanks to the efforts of some extreme coupon and bargain hunters, my personal toiletries and household necessities were covered.  And most importantly, at night, I would open my mouth and sing ‘Already Here’ by Brian Courtney Wilson, and could FEEL the manifested presence of God cover me like a blanket. One night in particular, during our weekly family prayer, the Lord visited me in my car while I was driving to work, I was screaming to the top of my lungs “You’re HERE! YOU’RE HERE!!” I couldn’t see from the tears streaming so fast down my cheeks that they saturated my shirt by the time I made it to work. God saved me. He saved my life all over again.

Going forward I wasn’t trying to prove that I was better off, I was just…better.
The goal was not to say, “Hey! Look at me, being happy without you!” The goal was… to live. To do what I couldn’t see myself doing well post-divorce. To do it without finding myself bed hoping and drinking myself to death (cause TRUST, I had days where that seemed to be more appealing than actually feeling and processing what was happening. 💯).
For those that believe I did this graciously and with dignity, I’m flattered but I didn’t. I did the best I could with what I had. And the crazy thing is I don’t know what I would’ve done differently…
I learned somethings about myself I would’ve never known otherwise. I put years of hearing about God to use and came to know God in ways I KNOW I wouldn’t know Him if I didn’t go through this process. I gained wisdom, experience and 3 #Littles. I found that covetousness is a deadly state of mind that will keep you constantly searching for happiness someplace outside of what’s in your hands.
And I rediscovered that my life doesn’t belong to me. My whole life belongs to the Lord. And I can only hope that when I stand before Him, He is pleased.

I wrote a song during this process and one of the lines says, “…there is not a thing that you could ask that I’d refuse. And there is nothing in my hands that you just cannot use. [It’s] silly of me to believe that I have anything inside of me that isn’t yours. MY LIFE IS THE LORDS.”

If this serves to do nothing more than to punctuate this chapter in my life, so be it.

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