By Robin Mullins Senger
Prepare for the inevitable practical needs.
If you have no money tucked away to survive with and no other private resources, then the temptation to return to your partner just for some relief is going to be HUGE, especially if you have children. I only had a couple of months to somehow slip some money aside in anticipation of leaving. I tucked away every dollar I could. After I left, I found out just how much that little bit of extra cash was useful to help us survive, along with the help that others could provide.
Later, I was grateful that I didn’t need to buy some of the items that I had already purchased for this time. I had thought ahead to what I might need the next few months and searched sales to get those items. I discreetly picked up a few things such as an extra pair of comfortable walking shoes for myself, things the growing children would need, and some practical medications to treat a cold, a cut - yes, even a yeast infection.
You ladies can imagine how grateful I felt when I did actually need that medicine and didn’t have twenty bucks to buy it. Forget luxury – focus on practical needs.
I couldn’t put much money aside, and I had no privacy. Brian controlled the money and everything was monitored. Questions were asked for anything I did or researched on the computer.
I still managed to come up with reasonable excuses for opening a personal bank account, researching my credit, and a few other things. These are things you have a right to do. If you ask Him to, God will give you creative ideas and wise answers when you need them and help you prepare for the unknown future. Thankfully nothing will surprise Him.
The future has to be left in God's care, for Him to figure out.
If you love and trust the Lord, then stubbornly refuse to allow fear of the future to paralyze you into not doing anything. Ask Him to show you specifically what you can do now to be ready should that time come to leave. If you try to do everything that others suggest, you will be overwhelmed and feel hopeless.
God alone knows what your journey ahead involves. He knows the resources you will and won’t have. If you keep putting your trust in Him every day, He will lead you. You will have a gut feeling you should do something, and other things you just won’t feel the need to do. You can’t always follow the reasoning in your mind. It is best to follow the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit within your heart, trusting that God is leading you.
If you make a mistake, God is more than able to compensate and get you through it. I made lots of mistakes, and God brought me through each one. When God is first place, you have nothing to fear, because He WILL care for you through it all. You will see that clearly, when you come through to the other side! So take people’s advice into prayerful consideration, do what you can, and don’t worry about the rest.
If the door cracks open, walk through!
If you start thinking ahead and ask God to open doors for you, you will find opportunities to accomplish what you need to do. Think about your practical needs, look for the door to crack open and sweetly walk through…
For example, Brian sold my car that I had brought with me into the marriage. He then bought another car, conveniently leaving my name off the registration and title. Once I knew that leaving him was likely, I tried to figure out how I could get the car into my name, since he had his own work truck. I was puzzled over how to do this without raising questions. I asked the Lord to make a way for me to get Brian to sign the title over to me. And then I waited.
Brian behaved very badly one day and during his remorseful stage asked what he could do to make it up to me. I asked him, "Would you do anything?" He promised "Yes," eager to have peace between us. I handed him the car title (I had it handy for such a time as this) and told him somewhat pitifully and truthfully that I felt sad since he had sold MY car, that the new car didn’t have my name on it, and just having my name on the title would make me soooooo happy!
He couldn’t believe his good fortune at making peace with just his signature on a piece of paper. He happily signed it over. I was grateful to own that car title down the road when I desperately needed it, not only to escape, but to transport my three small children. Had it stayed in his name he would have taken it back (and did try), happily leaving us stranded.
In another example, Brian had a propensity for skipping out on bills and debts. Unfortunately, things were often in my name also since that was the only way to get utilities turned on due to his enormous bad credit. Since I didn’t have income of my own to pay the bills when Brian decided not to pay them, my own name became "mud" before long. But just before I left, I managed with a few creditors to remove my name on joint accounts, thereby letting Brian ruin just his name when he skipped out on them again right after I left.
Dilemmas will abound after you have left.
Beware of new toxic men wanting to "help" or "protect" you.
Oh the dilemmas of new men entering your life! Another thing to keep in mind is that men knowledgeable of your financial vulnerability and possible naivety (definitely me) will compassionately offer to shelter and otherwise help you until you can get on your feet. Be extremely cautious and suspicious of that!
Unfortunately I found out the hard way that their motives are not usually noble. You WILL be expected to give something in return, probably your body, or your children will be endangered by some sicko who wants access to them. You don’t want to jump from the frying pan into the fire. God will have an appropriate solution through people of good character and integrity if you will be patient enough to wait.
There will be personal preference dilemmas.
Having three small children added to my stress. I desperately wanted to raise them myself, and be home for them until they could start school. The dilemma this caused me to find a way to make money while still being available to them was very hard. This was just a very strong value that I couldn’t give up on. It may be different for you, too.
The government offered to pay for child care while I worked, assuming I could either go back to school or find a job somewhere. But none of it added up to my satisfaction. I had just been through hell with my daughters – and had always been there for them. I just couldn’t bring myself to dump them off in a strange place now. God honored my desire to continue raising and nurturing the children full time. He provided a solution so I could stay with them.
And then, there are all the extra expenses you may not be able to avoid and the government won’t pay for. For me, things like getting a new drivers license, car title, emissions testing, insurance and fuel was a huge burden. There is no way to avoid having to pay cash for some things. Suppose you get on Medicaid. Sometimes there is a $3 co-pay. That can feel like $300 if your wallet is empty.
A breakdown at Goodwill.
While I was married to Brian, I had always enjoyed bargain hunting at yard sales and Goodwill. I didn’t have to; I did it because I enjoyed being frugal, and also enjoyed finding treasures for almost nothing. One of my lowest points after I had left was when I discovered that I really needed a winter coat.
I went to Goodwill with some change and hoped for the best. A suitable coat was $2 more than I had money for. I remember feeling so ashamed and hopeless at that point. I couldn’t even afford Goodwill now. I went to the car and just sat there sobbing from the weight of being a newly unemployed single mother. There will be moments when something like that will hit you hard and will trigger overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and despair.
One time, I basically stole a friend’s tube of toothpaste. Yeah, it’s embarrassing to admit it. My friend would have been happy to just give it to me had I asked. But I was too ashamed to ask. I was ashamed I didn’t have a dollar to go to the dollar store and pick up a tube of toothpaste, and I was ashamed to ask for the dollar. It’s comical now, and I eventually confessed my theft and was humorously forgiven.
You will encounter a lot of little crazy things like that. Sometimes it’s those little things that are going to be the hardest on you mentally and emotionally. When you are trying to establish yourself in independence, life can seem to get crazier as you struggle to create a new identity for yourself and cope with a completely different world than what you left. Odd dilemmas and crazy stupid things will happen and catch you off guard until you can do some healing and mental adjusting. It’s okay.
I was ready to leave… as soon as $1200 fell into my hands.
I planned on going home to another state where I would have the support of my family. I did some figuring and estimated it would take approximately $1200 for me to get the car ready, drive there, feed us, and "Motel 6" it on the way.
Where would I come up with that much cash? I couldn’t get it from Brian and no one in my family had that kind of money sitting around. Desperate now, I decided to give God a chance to figure out what to do with this new dilemma. While I let God ponder on it, I called to let my dad know I was going home… as soon as I could get $1200.
My dad said something completely unexpected.
My dad was relieved, and after questioning me and realizing that my decision for going home was genuine this time, choked up. After he regained composure he quietly told me. “Robin, God has already provided that $1200 for you. He did it a long time ago.”
I was confused.
He continued, “An envelope came in the mail a few months ago. There is no identifying information on it, and I can’t tell the place it was mailed from. But there were two anonymous money orders inside totaling $1200. There was also an unsigned note telling me that the giver felt the Lord led them to send it to me. It said that I was not to say anything to you until it was time, but ‘give it to Robin when she is ready to leave.’”
I was stunned and felt overwhelmed with the love of God.
The children and I were going home after all!!! Dad and I both cried together right then and there, overwhelmed with the goodness of God, and filled with peace that I was making the right choice. Dad had always stood by me, heartbroken over what we were going through, but he never judged me. He never criticized me. He just patiently and lovingly waited and prayed to God to watch over his little girl and his precious grand-daughters. God hears the prayers of Godly grand-parents!
The light of God’s love in this act shone in the coming dark days.
This moment has always stayed with me, providing comfort and hope in the darkest of times. God knew all along what was coming, and exactly what the amount was that I would need for our escape. He had already prepared the way for me. All He was waiting for was me to step out in faith and trust Him. The moment I did, He let me see the provision that had been there for months waiting on me.
Not only were we going home to our loving earthly grandfather, we were spiritually going home to our loving heavenly Father. My strained relationship with both my dad and heavenly Father was about to experience a wonderful healing and restoration.
I learned such a valuable lesson from that miracle of provision. I had wanted everything to be figured out and perfectly in place before I made the choice to leave. Figuratively speaking, making the decision to jump out of the sinking ship with no lifeboat, life vests, full survival gear strapped on, waterproof lights, and a guarantee of success was terrifying to me. So I stayed with the sinking ship. It was what I knew. It was familiar and seemed more desirable than the unknown.
But that’s not how a walk of faith is.
God allowed me to get desperate enough I finally realized it would be better for us to jump and at least have a chance of survival, than stay and go down with the ship. The moment I put my faith and trust in God and jumped (genuinely determining to leave in this case); God provided what was needed to survive. But I had to step out in faith first.
I have never stopped having to live by faith since, and I’m grateful for it.
That is how the rest of our journey went. I wasn’t self-sufficient as planned in 6 months, or even a year. My journey took much longer, and was a journey of faith every step of the way. I learned with much divine prodding to walk peacefully and trustingly with God, and thus come to know Him on a deeper intimate level.
I learned over time and much experience that my heavenly Father was never late or distracted by other things. He always had a solution for EVERYTHING. His love, gentleness and tenderness with the children and I never diminished, but only grew deeper.
God never failed us once.
He had to bail me out of some stupid, panicky choices I made. But the more I rested in Him, the fewer mistakes I made, and the more good things flowed from Him to us. My children and I learned to live without fear, relishing our new found peace. We enjoyed new friendships with people who genuinely cared about us and were a healthy, positive influence in our lives.
The things that really do matter, like a simple home filled with goodness and peace, inner tranquility, love, friendship, making good memories, laughing together - these are the things that are priceless and worth any hardship to have.