by Jill Baker
This is a story I've been holding in from the general public for a while now. So here I am in my lunch break on a Wednesday, because I realized that people need transparency and I just couldn't shake the feeling that the Lord has used my story before, and could use it again.
My backstory is a fairly unpoetic one. I'm the oldest of four kids (with a crazy age gap and even crazier love for each other) and the daughter of two Godly, admirable parents – one of whom is my minister father. They are high school sweethearts and always made (and still make) marriage look absolutely amazing. Growing up in the south, there was an unspoken "rule" that being married was the crowning achievement of young adulthood.
The tiny Christian college I attended was no exception to the rule, and I was married to a worship music playing, quirky, really interesting guy by age 20. We were told it would be hard, and man, were they right. It all looked really good to anyone looking in. We sang together, posted out affections on pretty much any social media platform, and had everyone, selves included, convinced that none of the pitfalls of marriage were ever going to touch us. Things got hard – really, really hard. I was manipulated, hurt, and unappreciated in so many ways I won't describe – I'm already way too long winded here.
Fast forward. It's spring of 2015, and he tells me he wants out. I'm just a month or so away from graduating with my master’s in teaching, applying for any and every public school job I can find to apply for, terrified that I've just done what I fully believed God was drawing me to do and it was going to leave me jobless. And then he drops THAT bomb – divorce.
That word was never ever supposed to be part of my life.
After counseling, seeking out friends, and trying the best I knew how, a couple of months pass before the truth finally came out. He's had an affair. A long and intense affair with a friend of ours. I remember feeling like all of the air had been sucked out of my lungs, and that the insecurities I had as a wife became a reality.
For the first time, I realized that all humans are capable of letting me down. In that moment, the one I relived so many times, I fell into the arms of Jesus because, frankly, any other place just didn't make sense.
I applied for my job at my dream district and prayed that my application would reach the right hands. And I knew He would provide. And, just at the most perfect time, got the call that I'd gotten the best job I could imagine – and just 20 minutes from my hometown and family.
After months of holding up a marriage by myself, I found peace with God in leaving. He showed me that the issues there were ones that He would have to heal, and that I was still in His arms. I stepped out and faced the scariest moments of my life, building a new one from scratch. Answering hard questions about what happened with strength and dignity because I was determined to be better not bitter.
I'd always been told that faithfulness would be blessed. And I don't use that term loosely. A new church family led to uplifting friendships and sweet times of worship. I was able to invest in first graders and feel like I was using my gifts to His glory. And then – when I wasn't looking – an old friendship turned into a loving, caring, respectful relationship and soon-to-be-marriage. And never again will I doubt that He provides when we are faithful!
Jill is a 26 year old teacher from Searcy, Arkansas. There, she serves in children's ministry at New Life Church and enjoys family, food, fitness, her fiancé, fur babies, and her first graders.