Joy Comes in the Morning
© Copyright 2020 by Kay Harper
I was married to one who was (as far as the world knew) a wonderful husband. Behind closed doors, however, it was another story. The verbal and emotional abuse was so insidious—so gradual, I didn’t even know it was happening.
No one would believe me when I dared to tell of his cruelty. He was so charming, funny and perfect in public. The cycle of abuse was often confusing to me, because sometimes he treated me like a queen, but then, for no apparent reason, I was dirt under his feet. I stepped carefully, but felt the eggshells crackle day and night.
Once, his vicious words were stabbing at me with such force, I hid under a table to try to get away. Of course, he found me. His young son was witness to this, and he turned and asked him, “What do you think—should we keep her or not?” To his credit the 6 year-old child answered, “I can’t say, Dad.”
I prayed, “Dear God, please deliver us, him or me,” but I heard nothing. However, one night in our ninth year—after a barrage of accusations and sarcasm that had lasted for several days—we were getting ready for bed, and I asked, out of habit, “Have you forgiven me?”
He looked at me with black, piercing eyes and said, “No, I haven’t forgiven you, and I’m not going to forgive you until I’m damned good and ready. And besides, you don’t deserve to be forgiven.”
Survival finally took over. From the depths of my soul a thought surfaced. Who do you think you are?
Just then I heard God whisper softly into my spirit, “When you ask me I always forgive you, and I always will.” Illusion gave way to revelation and revelation to peace. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do, and with God’s help I became willing to do it.
I took a moment to slow my breathing, then said quietly, “You know, I don’t think we will ever resolve this. I’ll start packing in the morning. You want me gone, and finally, I need to go.”
Just then, I heard God’s voice once more. “You deserve the goodness I have planned for you. Here, come take my hand. I will show you the way.”
I went to stay with my brother and sister-in-law for a few months as I began my road to recovery. I worked with a Christian counselor who helped me see the magnitude of the abuse I had endured. I wasn’t going crazy. In fact, I was finally coming into my true identity. My counselor told me something I will never forget. “The intersection of your passion and what the world needs is the calling God has on your life.” At the time I had no idea what that meant, but when I finally moved back to Florida, I took a stream of recovery classes at my church—DivorceCare, Boundaries, Co-Dependent No More, Restarting—on and on.
I worked with another Christian counselor as I read and studied the Bible. No question about it, I had a task before me—the healing of a broken heart, mind, body, soul and spirit. I remembered somewhere in the Bible it said to “pray without ceasing.” I prayed. I PRAYED!
During the months that followed, God helped me climb out of that pit. I spent days and nights pouring over the Bible—Genesis to Psalms, Proverbs to Revelation—all the while praying, “Dear God, please let me live through this pain and come out the other side. Your Word says:
Joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5
I waited for the hint of light that would become my rising sun. God’s still small voice whispered this scripture into my heart again and again. And as I read Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”
He said, “No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve been through, I have good plans for you.” His promises were always there to catch me as I stumbled again and again. Until, there finally came a day when I realized that through it all I hadn’t given up, gone insane or committed suicide, although at one time or another each of those options had been considered.
With this realization my mind snapped to attention, and I knew hope had returned. The sun was blazing high in the sky when God cleared my mind of everything but a single thought: That was then, this is now.
Now, I consider the truth in the words of that counselor 11 years ago. “The intersection of your passion and what the world needs is the calling God has on your life.” My passion is building joy and surely the world needs that! I have gone on to forgive the abuser. I will never forget what happened, but forgiveness has opened the way for me to become a woman who puts her confidence in the Lord.
I have co-founded a ministry called The Joy Girls, and now minister to women in recovery homes who have had abusive relationships. God has transformed my heart, and as I serve others, I realize that He has taken the most difficult time in my life and used it for His glory.
The truth is, it was terrifying to pry myself out from under the cruel, suffocating grip of another. I sought help from counselors, trusted friends, family members and most of all, God. And just as He had said He would all those years before, He showed me the way to go. I took hold of Him and hung on for dear life as He guided me into the rich, full life He had prepared just for me.
Today, I am thankful for the journey that took me into and out of such devastating pain and grief. My life is not a fairy tale, but as I share what I’ve learned, my happily-ever-after is coming into full view. The truth is that it was worth every black and lonely day and night, because the joy of the Lord really does come in the morning.
Story list and biography for Kay