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Our journey took another major turn through grief and relief on the first day of 2023. 

This is Part 3 of Jennifer Pahl’s story of domestic abuse. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The Knock at the Door

We had a quiet New Year’s celebration as we were so fortunate to be sick with COVID.  Around 11:00 p.m. on January 1st, we heard a knock on the door. We were all on high alert as we were dreading who might be on the other side.

My girls answered the door and came to tell me the police were there and wanted to talk to me. I grabbed my boots, coat and mask and went outside. I was absolutely shocked when this officer informed me that my ex-husband had passed away suddenly that evening.

They believed he had a massive heart attack and was declared dead on the scene.

Oh, the mixture of emotions we all felt! The grief of mourning never being able to say good-bye, knowing he was their dad even though he wasn’t a good dad to them, the grief of not having a dad who played games, the feeling of loss that now there just isn’t a dad at all.

The grief that we all hoped one day he would get better, one day he would realize how much he had hurt us and would apologize, one day relationships could be restored.

Relief and Grief

Then came the realization that our fear was being lifted.

We don’t need to worry who’s at the door anymore.

We don’t have to change our routines so he doesn’t know when we visit the library or when we go grocery shopping.

The weight of always looking around the parking lot, always being aware of large men in coveralls, always scanning the street when we came home; this weight was instantly lighter.

The consciousness that grief and relief are mixed together and both are present as we navigate and mourn his death. We allowed ourselves to ask the tough questions associated with death and we are content to not know all the answers.

A Promised Land

God brought the Israelites into the land of milk and honey. We left the chaos of the land of milk (milking cows) and honey (bee hives) when we left our dysfunctional farm. This is the beginning of our new promised land. My children and I truly feel a sense of newness, of really allowing ourselves to dream again. We are making plans for our futures and willing to try new things.

We found out there are government benefits for the kids which feels like such a miracle since we never received any child support from their dad. It’s a new provision for us! There is an air of excitement and hope in our eyes now.

Where we came from such a hard and horrible place of abuse, we have watched Jesus love, care for us, provide and protect us. We lived in Egypt with Jesus right there beside us. I felt his strength. I felt his tender heart. We escaped with Jesus showing me each step of the way, a day at a time.

Our Constant Companion

Jesus has been my constant companion all through the wilderness and now he is delighted to walk with us into this new season of life, our very own promised land. I couldn’t do this journey without him and I love that I’ve been able to see him right beside us this entire time.

He loves us with an everlasting love and there is nothing better in the whole wide world. Even marriage. I finally learned that staying in an abusive marriage was not my cross to bear; it was not my lot in life.

The heart of God cares so much more for the people in the marriage, including my children, than he does for the institution of marriage.

God hates abuse and what it does to his precious children. He never wanted me to stay in an environment that was destroying every part of me. He wants life, love and freedom for me, my family and for your life, too.

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of Jennifer’s story. Please share this post and join the conversation by posting a comment for Jennifer below.

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  • Anonymous says:

    A sad yet beautiful story of how God looks after His children. We know there are so many others living in abusive
    situations but don’t feel there is a way out for them, God can and will provide a way.
    Thanks for sharing.

  • Jordan Majeau says:

    Thank you for graciously and generously sharing your story Jennifer. May you and your family continue in Gods story of new discovery.

  • Lilllian says:

    What an amazing journey you and your children have been through, and thank you for this well written piece on mental illness, abuse, and freedom. May the Lord bless you and your family.

  • Terry Berard says:

    Dearest Jen,
    I know you shall be the one to help, lead and guide and rescue those families trapped in abusive homes.
    You are my Hero. And I pray for Full healing for you and your children.
    You are a brave and much loved by your Heavenly Father and those who attended Bible College with you.
    Love Terry McBride Berard

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