by Lorilyn Roberts
Each year when I put up our Christmas tree and hang the ornaments, memories return of Christmases gone by. My most fond ornaments are the homemade ones that I bought from a child who knocked on our front door the first year my husband was in medical school. For the past forty years, I’ve hung them and pondered what if I had been a better wife? What if I had tried harder? What if I had been perfect?
My husband divorced me two years into his medical residency and married the radiation therapy tech who carried his child. She gave birth two weeks following the signing of the divorce papers at the courthouse. October 15, 1985, until recently, was etched in my memory as the worst day of my life. It was the day that my dreams to motherhood ended and the day that doomed me to court reporting forever. Depression was my comforter back then.
At thirty, I put my life back together with the help of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Over the next thirty-two years, I worked on becoming the person God created me to be. No longer did I sacrifice my own hopes and dreams for my husband. God gave me many victories in my blossoming faith. Crushed goals from the pit of despair and spectacular desires became possible. I traveled the world – including the Middle East, Australia, and Europe. I finished that elusive college degree and studied in Jerusalem at the Institute of Holy Land Studies. I scuba dived in the Red Sea and off the Great Barrier Reef. I adopted two beautiful daughters from Asia and fulfilled my dream of becoming a mother. I reconnected with my father who abandoned me when I was a baby. I went back to school and earned my Master of Arts in Creative Writing. I began writing books – many of them. And then I was diagnosed with cancer.
I remembered my ex-husband told me Dr. Nancy Mendenhall was the best radiation oncologist for breast cancer on the planet. He would know. She trained him. My surgeon’s office contacted Dr. Mendenhall but she turned me down for treatment. She was too busy. The Dr. Spiguel called Dr. Mendenhall herself, and once Dr. Mendenhall realized who I was – the wife of one of her residents who impregnated a radiation tech in her department, she was more willing to treat me.
I underwent five weeks of proton therapy, and neither of us mentioned my ex-husband – until the final day. She asked me, “Have you kept up with Tim through the years?” I told her, “No, not really.” Unbeknownst to me, while receiving my proton treatment, she had gone to the annual meeting of radiation oncologists. Dr. Mendenhall said for the first time in decades, my ex had come up to her and said hello. He had a young woman beside him who Dr. Mendenhall thought was one of his daughters. It turned out she was his new wife. We talked for a while. Dr. Mendenhall told me how she had also felt betrayed by my ex-husband. Tim had led her and everyone else he had worked with to believe he was a good Christian husband. Dr. Mendenhall had no knowledge of what was going on – until the tech turned up pregnant and they needed to replace her.
I realized, in that moment, the day my ex-husband left me was not the worst day of my life, as I had thought for the past several decades. It was the best day of my life. All those years, I had blamed myself for the failed marriage. Now I knew Tim never would have been faithful to me. He had left the woman he’d had an affair with while married to me for another woman half his age. As Dr. Mendenhall said, “He has a hole in his heart.”
What had I gained? My relationship with Jesus Christ means more to me than anything. God has filled me not just with Himself, but with friends I treasure, a loving family, a job I enjoy (providing closed captions for television), and a passion for writing books. If my ex had not left me, I never would have become the woman God wanted me to be, had the opportunities to share my faith, or been a mother to the two wonderful daughters God brought to me from the ends of the earth. Above all, my ex-husband never would have been faithful to me. I would have lived a life of misery, destined to bitterness and loneliness.
I remember shortly before my ex-husband left reading this passage from Isaiah 55:8-11, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher that the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
I’ve now completed my breast cancer treatment and look forward to a new year. Not only do I trust God for physical healing, I see God’s spiritual healing. Sometimes it takes many years for the truth to be revealed, and perhaps many things we won’t know fully until we get to heaven. This Christmas, and hopefully for many more, I’m praising my Savior. He has written His story on my heart and lifted me from the miry depths. Once more, I’m in awe at His faithfulness, thankful for all His perfect ways, and know the best He has to give us is yet to come.
Lorilyn’s website is located at: http://www.lorilynroberts.com. Please visit and check out all of her books.
Bio: Lorilyn Roberts is an award-winning Christian author who writes for the young and the young at heart. When not writing books, Lorilyn provides closed captioning for television. Lorilyn is a single mother by choice. She adopted her two daughters from Nepal and Vietnam.