Saturday, May 06, 2006

Beyond the Shadow of Doubt

This is a bit of background to my "Why am I Here?" story. More aptly titled "Am I Where I Should Be? Part II" perhaps? Whatever.

I've been here going on 2 years. Although it was a painful decision to pick up and leave my home, I knew that God had better plans than I could imagine, so I was excited to begin this new chapter in my life. My children didn't share my enthusiasm. They did not want to leave their friends, and they didn't want to change schools. I didn't want to leave them behind, but their dad didn't want to let them go. We agreed that it was better to work out an arrangement ourselves than to fight in court.

I offered to allow the kids to stay with him for the summer and to come live with me for the school year. They would have every holiday and every school break with him, and I would bring them to visit him at least one weekend a month. He was welcome to come any time to visit them as well, or I would meet him halfway. They would have daily contact by phone, email, and instant messaging. His counteroffer was not as generous - to let them come for part of the summer, half the holidays and school breaks, only one weekend a month, and since I created the distance it would be up to me to provide all the transportation.

I don't know what the outcome might have been had we gone to court, but I knew that he was prepared to lie and deny the truth. He was more interested in exacting revenge than in determining the best interest of the children. I know the kids would have been allowed to state their preference, but how much weight it would carry in influencing the judge's decision was anybody's guess. The judge is a pastor. He's also a distant relative (married to my 2nd cousin). There may have been a pretty good chance of a ruling in my favor, but I still would have had to fight dirty - I certainly had enough ammunition. It would have been ugly, and the potential damage to the kids was not worth having my day in court.

We finally came to the decision that they would come with me for the whole summer and go back for the school year, and he reluctantly agreed to allow me the same visitation that I had offered him. I would provide all the transportation because he adamantly refused to cooperate and make "my sordid life any easier after what I had put him through." However, I did get him to agree to meet halfway if necessary.

What he didn't know was that I was not cowering down to him. His threats to destroy me in court didn't scare me off. I had told him about my dream, but the significance of it eluded him. As far as he was concerned, he had won. He had power, and he would wield it recklessly.

That first summer went by quickly. My husband insisted that I stay home with the girls so that I could have as much time with them as possible. We visited churches in the area to find one with a youth group they could get involved in. It was a chore to get them to go at all. They weren't interested in making friends here because they were only here for the summer and they missed their friends back home. We didn't force the issue. It seemed hopeless. They didn't like it here, didn't want to be here, and they didn't want to try. Just before it was time for them to go back to school, we found a church they were comfortable with. They enjoyed the youth group and made a few new friends. Then it was time to let them go.

The next several months would be trying. God knew this and saw that I needed Him to bolster my faith. I was without a job, and I needed one fast. Two opportunities opened up. One paid more than the other and offered more benefits. That's the one I wanted. The other was next door to where my husband worked. I interviewed for both positions and waited. My husband and I calculated our expenses and determined the minimum salary I would need to keep us going. The second position was offered to me at exactly the salary we had decided we needed, then I had a 2nd interview for the better position. I wasn't sure whether to wait and see about it or take the one that was offered. Shoulda known - I mean, the salary was EXACTLY WHAT WE NEEDED! - but I hesitated. I prayed that I would make the right choice. Finally, I decided to accept the job.

I discovered that the owner of the company is a Christian, as is the mananger, and the office manager, and the clerk. I was thrilled! When I got home after my first day on the job, there was a message on the answering machine from the other employer saying they had closed the position. Not filled it, but removed it from their roster. Another confirmation, just to remind me that I never had any reason to doubt.

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