I prayed and vowed to wait for my husband since I was 14 yrs. old while vehemently running after God and His Plan for my life. My high school and college years were filled with starting Bible clubs on my campuses and trying to love and honor God in every area of my life.
I graduated from college and began teaching school when I decided to get married at the age of 24. I was peaceful and excited to marry someone involved in ministry because that too was my heart! It wasn’t long before that excitement turned into the most intense pain of my life. I found myself writing scriptures as punishment for different things that I did, along with having my clothes picked out for me everyday so that I wouldn’t be so “unattractive”. I was told that I was Leah in the Bible and that Jacob really didn’t love Leah, but she made it to the end and so can you. I was obsurdly encouraged, “You actually are blessed because Leah was in the direct lineage of Jesus.” I can’t even believe that I was in the middle of this, but there was one thing that I wasn’t going to do and that was get divorced. I was determined that I was going to pray, get counselling, and “patiently, put-up” with it until God broke through. There were years of waking up crying and going to bed crying, pleading to God to change things. Then, one day while on my lunch break from teaching, I was pouring out my heart to God and he clearly told me, “Joy, choose this day who you are going to serve? Me… or trying to save this marriage yourself? I have a plan for you and I am going to restore back 10 times everything that you think you lost.” What??? This didn’t make sense to me. I knew what God said about divorce and I wasn’t going to do it! I also knew how God felt about abuse. I had to make some decisions that were, as I percieved, shameful and embarrassing. I kept wondering where I went wrong. How did I miss it? I eventually had to accept the fact that people have a free-will.
My heart was shattered and broken, my dreams for my life seemed unrepairable. I didn’t see or feel how God could ever use my life again with the big” D” stamped on my head. Ministering to others has always been the greatest joy of my heart. God began to renew, rebuild and heal my heart. God gave me courage again to believe in myself and His dreams for me no matter what I thought others thought of me. I slowly began to get back involved in ministering to others again…this time out of my brokenness! My brokenness kept me humble, delicate, and gentle with people. It made me relatable to others’ pain, whatever it was. It also made me grateful that God had been so good to me!
You see, God redeemed my life and gave me Jon. Jon waited his entire life to give himself away fully and God gave him to me! God preserved him so that he could use him to love and redeem me! Redeem, by definition, means to buy back or to take over ownership. Jon is not perfect, but he has been nothing but love to me no matter what I look like or how crazy I act and I can surely act crazy! Just as God has redeemed me before, he will continue to redeem my pain. He will redeem Joseph’s life and story! He will redeem me again and again if I let him! My redeemer lives, not just when I get to heaven, but here and now on this broken earth with EVERYTHING that I go through! He loves to bring beauty out of ashes and put a redemptive song in my mouth! I don’t sing well, but I will sing it loud…the song of the redeemed! He is working everything, and I mean everything, out for our good! God never wastes our pain! He is an expert redeemer!