This was it. This was how I was going to die. I was 21 years old and 3 months away from graduating college. My day to day thoughts included recitals, graduation preparations, sorority chapter meetings… simple, normal, college senior thoughts. But in this moment, all I was thinking was “This is it. This is how I’m going to die. 21 years old, with my throat sliced open, in my own home, by my own husband. How did I get here?”
I met a boy when I was 13 years old. I met him through a schoolmate of mine, who was a family member of his. WE had the typical teenage romance. We dated throughout high school, were “in love”, and then went our separate ways, thanks to college. Through the magic of the very new social media world, we rekindled our high school love and halfway through my college matriculation, he left his university and moved to my city while I continued school. We shacked up, he put a ring on it, and with $45 in hand we walked into city hall and got hitched. Childhood sweethearts turned husband and wife. It should have been a simple, “happily ever after” story, right? Well then why was I looking up at him as he pinned me down on our couch holding a giant knife to my neck?
Whenever I was asked why I got married so young (at the ripe age of 20), I always said “It was the right thing to do”. We were in love, living together, sleeping together. Call me old fashioned, but if we were living like man and wife, it was my belief we needed to BE man and wife. Besides, we’d been together since I was thirteen. Marriage was the only option left in our relationship. Now I can see I got married more out of a sense obligation than love, but it was the “right thing to do”… This was the first time “the right thing to do” had turned out to be drastically wrong for me.
Obligation was now threatening to kill me. So I had an obligation to save my life. You see, my husband had been unstable with a volatile temper for years. I, however, accepted him. I was never truly afraid of him. I had been holding my own fighting back. This knife situation, though, had actually scared me. I could see that eventually, he would in fact kill me. He stated constantly that he loved me and was sorry for his actions, and now I could see that he “loved me to death”, and if I stuck around long enough, he would surely introduce me to death. When my husband finally let me go and stormed out of our apartment, I called the police, had him arrested upon his return, and packed my things. I threw my belongings in trash bags and stuffed as much in my little Ford Focus as I could. I vacated my apartment and my marriage. I was now 21 years old, headed for divorce, and homeless.
Now let’s get to the moral of the story. There are a lot of things I learned from that one night.
- When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM. My husband had shown me years in advance that he wasn’t mentally or emotionally stable. I chose to ignore it until it was almost too late. Not my smartest moment.
- When the going gets tough, it is amazing how the power of true friendship can step in. I had some amazing women assist me during one of the darkest moments of my life, and for that I will be eternally appreciative.
- Gut feelings are whispers from God. Learn how to hear Him and follow Him.
- Never let a loved one hurt you. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Corinthians 13: 4-5,7
I pass along all this information, not as relationship advice to a young girl in love, and not as some rough draft to a chapter in my future autobiography. This is a testimony. I survived that night; not only that night, but the years of abuse that came before it. I then survived the scary, stressful, heart wrenching months that followed. I survived and moved forward both stronger and wiser.
With no job, no home, no family near, and a final semester of university, not only did I survive – I excelled! All thanks belong to GOD! He kept food in my mouth, though I had no money. He sent sisters and friends to keep a roof over my head when I had no home of my own. He kept me focused enough to graduate with a 3.5 GPA. He kept me alive and moving when my life was crumbling all around me and I couldn’t see myself through the next hour (let alone the next day, week, or month). When there looked like there was no hope for my life, God stepped in.
That’s how I know God is real.