I never thought I would ever find myself inside a courtroom, testifying under oath, being cross-examined, and waiting for a call from a lawyer to tell me how drastically my life was about to change. But that, my friends, is the ugly side of custody battles. It’s taking your everyday life and opening it up to be poked, prodded, interpreted, viewed, and judged by others. And not only can the final ruling change your life, but so can the bruises and open wounds caused by the emotional roller coaster. Don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this!
My husband’s custody battle started in the winter of 2015 with what we thought was an empty threat and ended the Monday after Mother’s Day of that same year with that threat becoming a reality. For our entire dating relationship and the first year of our marriage, we were far beyond wounded… it would be more accurate to say we were on and off of life support. We were hurt, angry, and betrayed… by one of the kids. And that was what made it all so much worse.
Michael and I decided from the start to keep the kids out of the whole ordeal the best that we knew how, and let me tell you “the struggle is real” doesn’t even describe the half of it. When the list of witnesses was provided to our lawyer, we saw two of the three children’s names on it. The oldest child was actually allowed to testify on behalf of his mother… against his father.
The day came for the trial. It was on our time with the kids. Because both natural parents were tied up in court, I picked the child up from school. I was terrified – I had no idea what he had been told about what was going on. I was completely disheartened to find out that he had absolutely no clue what he was about to do.
Upon receiving the ruling and reading what was said on record I was in complete shock. The great relationship I thought we were forming as a new blended family didn’t make the cut. It was all half-truths, the moments I had lost my temper, the times we had said no instead of yes. And that was the deciding factor for the three children to be moved primarily to their mother’s custody. A 14 year old child’s decision changed the lives of over a dozen people. After all of the hard work I’d done and the life changes I made to accommodate my new family, I felt betrayed.
So, where am I going with all of this? Three years have passed since this initial betrayal, and I think the resounding revelation is that ultimately, I felt betrayed by God and have spent the last three years taking out all of my negative emotions on the people around me all while stifling my relationship with Him. My biggest mistake during the battle was that I was trusting God for an outcome… not trusting God. I was filling myself with hope for a specific ruling, not hope in an everlasting father who has far more wisdom and control than I can comprehend. Ultimately, I wanted Him to hand over control of the situation so that I could move forward to a predictable future. I’d say my trust in God wasn’t actually trust at all. And the feelings of betrayal I was taking out on the kids, as well as my husband, were actually aimed towards the one I thought would come through for me but left me high and dry.
Since this revelation has come about, I have gone into most of our weekends with the kids having the best intentions to turn over a new leaf and get back to being the girl who moved heaven and earth to show them love and acceptance. But as they come through the door it’s like an automatic garage door is activated and I’m locked inside. I have been filled with thoughts of, “it’s too late now”, “they won’t accept you anyway”, “they would much rather an Xbox than your efforts”, “it’s four days a month, that’s not enough time to make up for how you’ve been”. Each a panel on that automatic garage door that I just can’t seem to control.
So, rather than going into each weekend predetermined that I’m either going to pass or fail (like trusting God for a specific outcome) I’m starting to slow myself down and take each moment at a time. Like really dumbing it down! I took some time to personalize their spaces in our house. I try to make sure I’m there to greet them when they arrive instead of conveniently cleaning the bathroom. When we’re at the dinner table together I intentionally make eye contact (something I didn’t even realize I had stopped doing!). And I’m noticing that it’s softening my heart- fear is becoming less and enjoying their company is starting to take root.
I’ve also tried to work towards adjusting my relationship with God as well. It’s not a pass or fail, come through or leave me hanging kind of relationship. There’s black and white, but there can also be so many colors in between. I’m still working towards believing He didn’t fail me that day, and that He truly does have a greater plan through the pain. A lot comes down to simply believing His Word and not interpreting it through the lenses of each situation. That’s where the roller coaster comes into play. Your relationship with him can be a crazy ride or steadfast and steady… like the old antique car ride (I had to include that analogy because it made me chuckle). You can turn from side to side but there’s a guiding line. You remain on even terrain. Despite the outcome of our battle or each weekend spent with the kids, His Word remains the same and His power and promises are available for the taking.
We Want To Hear From You:
Have you gone or are you currently going through a custody battle? How has this affected your relationship with your spouse, children, or God? What tools did you find helpful in this blog and how will you apply them going forward?
Be sure to read our devotional on YouVersion: 40&7: A Guide To Peace During A Custody Battle
For more resources to assist you or others you know going through a custody battle click here.
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