Triumph Over Tragedy

She lost her marriage, her house and almost her mind, but God turned tragedy into a testimony

 By Saundra Mabry

As I sit on my sofa, looking out of the window into the backyard of the home my husband and I purchased earlier this year, I sometimes wonder to myself, how did I make it this far?

 You see, I wasn’t supposed to be here, let the devil tell it.  No, I was supposed to be somewhere in a deep, dark place, collecting disability and losing my children, my home, my marriage—everything.

Well, a lot of that did occur. I did lose my marriage of twenty years. I lost my beautiful home, I almost lost my children, and I almost lost my mind.  So many times I have heard women speak of their stories of how they were brokenhearted, left to be a single mom, raising children on their own, struggling, just trying to make ends meet.  Yes, I know that story all too well, you see that was me some seven years ago.  My husband of twenty years and father of my four children decided that he no longer wanted our marriage.

I can remember when we were driving to the counselor on November 23, 2005. I kept saying to myself “This man is getting ready to divorce me.”  Well, true enough that was what he told me. After 20 years of marriage and four children, he was ready to turn in the marital towel.

Wow, talk about getting hit by a Mack truck.  I felt as if my whole world were crumbling, tumbling, turning inside out, outside in.  I felt as if the bottom had been pulled from underneath my feet.  I felt as if I couldn’t breathe anymore. I felt hopeless, dejected, rejected.

 And that was just the beginning of my odyssey of chaos, destruction and confusion. 

Where Are You, Lord?

I cried out to God saying “Why?”  Where are you Lord?  Where are you Lord? Please help me through this tsunami of confusion.  My ex-husband sued for full custody of our children. I lost my car. Eventually, we had to move from our house.

I was a stay-at-home-mother which is one of the most honorable things I feel a mother can do—just as honorable as a working mother who decides to manage both career and motherhood. Both I respect tremendously.  For ten years of my life, I was a soccer mom, basketball mom, baseball mom, cheerleading mom. You name it, I did it.  And then all of that came to a screeching halt when I realized, this mom had to get back into the workforce and start all over again from scratch.
Armed with my college degree, I went back out into the workforce thinking I could get gainful and lucrative employment because after all, I was college educated. Little did I realize that I had been out of the workforce loop for so long that when I went to apply for a job, I was told to fill out an application “online”.  I thought to myself online?  What is that?

Wow, I know in reading this, you might think to yourself, how naïve, how out of touch, how just plain dumb?  Well…no, not those things at all.  I totally devoted my life to my ex-husband and my children. They were my world.  I didn’t even care about myself.  Yes, I said it. I didn’t even care about myself.  I lost me, who I was as “Saundra” first.  I put myself so far on the back burner, I almost ceased to exist. I lived for my family.

Everything surrounded the kids and my ex-husband.  I always made sure there were snacks when they came home from school.  I could time dinner so that it was piping hot when my ex-husband came home from work.   I was exhausted from all of the chores, motherhood and being a wife, but I felt it was my “duty.”
You can imagine this “new” normal I had been thrust into was more than a notion.  My ex-husband convinced me that it would be best for me to move out of the house for the benefit of the children.  Well, I was doing anything to try to repair this marriage, because the divorce clock was ticking and my marriage would soon be coming to an end.  I had to do something, I was desperate, hurting, wanting my marriage and family back and intact. I lost 57 pounds in three months. I looked emaciated, like the walking dead. My mind was so confused; I was willing to do anything. So I moved out of the house. Still trying to keep my marriage, I would have sacrificed anything so I signed over my children to my ex-husband thinking this would repair everything.
Sitting in a room at a local courthouse one day, my ex-husband and I met with a mediator. I asked him, “Are you sure this is what you want to do? What about the children? We can repair this.” He looked at me with a smirk on his face and said, “I just don’t want you anymore.”
That was it. My epiphany. I decided right there to fight with everything I had in me. I am so thankful God was and is still in control. I didn’t have to give up my children. My God, my Lord, my Savior, Jesus Christ awakened my eyes to the truth.  He let me know I could survive, I could go on, and I could make it.

 There were better and greater days ahead. I just had to trust wholly and completely in him.

 A Living Testimony

If I could play this story back some seven years ago, I never would dream that the things which have happened to me have really happened.

 I met a really terrific guy, who loved me for me.  Lord knows I was not looking to get into another relationship better yet a marriage, but Gerald and I have been happily married for almost five years now.  I even went back to school and through all odds, and I do mean all odds, in May 2010 I received my MBA in marketing from Lewis University, graduating cum laude.  Earlier, I stated I lost my house. That was awful, but this past April, Gerald and I moved into our first home which was completely renovated from the inside out and it is gorgeous.  And because of the housing market, the house was appraised $10,000 less than the asking price.
I am doing much better.  I still go through. But through God’s grace, mercy, restoration, his rebuilding me from the inside out—just like my new house, I have learned to forgive. You know why?  I am a child of the most high God.
God truly restored and rebuilt me from the ground up.  He molded me with His own hands into the woman I have become today.  I have learned to love God even more and love myself first and even more.  There is no shame in that and I thank God every single day of my life for what he has blessed me with.  No other love abounds more than the love of God, for I have seen with my own eyes, felt with my own heart and heard his soft voice in my own ears.  To God be the glory.
When you think you can’t go on, when you feel you are at the end of your rope, please think again. Fall on your knees before God and give Him praise because He truly is a restorer and a lifesaver.
How do I know? Because I am truly a living testimony of being able to triumph over tragedy.

Saundra Mabry wants to impact women who have suffered through divorce and let them know it is not the end. She is a wife, mother and an assistant food service director for Aramark Corporation.





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