For Better for Worse is a memoir written by Elaine Norman about the struggles I overcame as I gained a greater faith in God while traveling down my path.
When I finally made up my mind to take on the task of writing this book, I knew I couldn’t sugarcoat any part of it. I make no excuses for myself or my actions throughout the story. I reveal my true feelings and emotions as I lived and remember the twists and turns my life took. For many years I carried overwhelming guilt and shame because of, not only my poor choices, but the poor choices of others in my life. In looking back, I realized the wasted years I spent hiding in my own self-imposed prison. I reveal my personal failures and the aftermath of each.
I understand what it is to be married and to be betrayed, to be lonely and isolated in a loveless marriage, to be rejected, and to be in love with someone who doesn’t love you back. I know the deep hurt of giving up someone I loved because I was unable to be second-best to someone else. I know paralyzing physical pain from a spinal cord injury that caused my “new normal” to walk with a slow spastic walk in need of a cane. I know joy beyond words as well as unwavering happiness. I know all too well the highs and lows of raising children alone. I know about strife in a marriage. I know the agony I went through when I was a college student and found I was pregnant before I married. I know the sacrifices it took to care for aging parents 3 hours away on most Saturdays for ten years. I know the stamina it took to work outside my home since I was 20 years old. I know I have a great work ethic. I learned to overcome the pitfalls I faced and to help myself when I had no one to turn to. Oddly enough, I found that one thing stood out—I always reached toward God and never ran from Him—even when I didn’t know much about Him. It took me a lifetime filled with heartache and suffering to finally get in agreement with God, so He could help me find a way to release what I had buried deep inside of me far too long.
The poem, “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson, traces my life and the direction I took and led my daughters to take. I learned to surrender my struggles to God. Without fail, He provided me with the courage and wisdom to face each encounter. Every morning I wrote and read affirmations based on God’s promises to give me strength to face the day. My faith in God grew, and my belief in those promises became stronger and stronger. God never failed me. I learned to be bold and ask for big things and big answers. It worked. God is awesome. He really did carry me and keep his gracious hand upon me my two beautiful daughters. When we strayed or got confused, He always managed to work in our hearts and bring us back to the place we belonged.
At 33 years of age, I found myself newly divorced with two beautiful daughters to raise alone. I was afraid of the unknowns ahead of me. I only survived by leaning on God and by receiving the support of my wonderful parents. I was betrayed not only by my husband but my church, as well, when I was asked to leave my Sunday school class. I found I was a leader when the pastor asked me to create a Singles Sunday school class for myself and other “outcasts”. It worked and grew into such a huge success that we required a bigger classroom almost every Sunday. I became a “miracle” to others who were hurting as they became my own “miracle”.
At 65 years of age, I found myself divorced for a second time and destitute. I retired with dignity after a 34 year teaching career. I took a leap of faith and walked away from my beautiful home, most of the belongings in it, and a man so abusive and toxic to me that I was merely a shell of a person. I seldom smiled, hardly had a personality, and was filled with more fear of the future than I had ever known before. My daughters took me into their homes to live with them.
However, in less than a year, God carried me into unchartered waters to a life and lifestyle that “real” retired people have. He brought me a man, Rudy, to cherish and love me for the first time in my life. I cherish him and love him with a love I have never known. Rudy has given me a spectacular house and, together, we have made it into a warm, loving home. This season of my life gets more surreal to me every day with blessings only God could provide. He held my hand and walked with me as I blew the ashes out of my life and found something truly exceptional. It’s true; He had things prepared for me far greater than anything I could ever imagine. Believe me, God is good. He keeps His promises.
Who knows what God has planned for your next chapter? I certainly got a surprise and discovered He really does have NEW pieces to add to my puzzle—no matter where I’d been or where I was. Keep the faith, keep believing, and make sure God gets the GLORY!