There Were No Flowers

There Were No Flowers by Sharla Condren

The following story is a fairy tale. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Any similarities between persons living or dead are purely coincidental, but it could happen to anyone.

ONCE UPON A TIME, NOT SO LONG AGO, lived two women, Mary and Jane. Mary and Jane were the best of friends, sharing a similar idealistic life-style. Both were fine Christians and were extremely active in their church. Each had been married for over 10 years, and each was blessed with two beautiful children.

Life appeared wonderful, but Mary and Jane shared a secret that, if made known, could shatter their dream worlds. Their husbands abused them physically and mentally, and both husbands also were involved in extramarital affairs. Mary and Jane instinctively concealed their torment and humiliation from everyone. Only when they were alone could they permit their suffering to show. Little did they know that within a week, these best friends would never again share their similarities.

Mary’s husband died suddenly of a heart attack. Jane’s husband announced that he wanted a divorce, and she and the children would have to leave “his” house.

Mary’s secret died with her husband. No one need ever know that his heart attack was brought on by one of his “little indiscretions.” As far as everyone was concerned, he was the same loving father and faithful husband that Mary pretended he was. The family portraits lining the mantle that once distressed Mary would now become “hallowed shrines.” The dusty wedding album with yellowing pages now held a permanent place on the coffee table near the Bible. Deceptive thoughts and stories replaced the agonizing memories of abuse and heartache.

Jane’s secret instantly became public gossip. Everyone now knew her husband was not the devoted husband she consistently alleged. The family portraits were now loathsome reminders of what never really existed; the dusty wedding album was now as blackened ashes. The years of abuse, heartache, and agonizing memories crashed together.

Contrast of Concern

The funeral of Mary’s husband was elaborate, and the church was filled with a parade of sorrowful friends and throngs of flowers. The pastor praised the loving and faithful husband and father.

The church family rallied to her side, laden with food and sympathy.  For several weeks following, hardly a day passed without someone from the church either calling or coming by to see if she and the children were all right. “If there is anything we can do, just let us know,” echoed throughout the weeks. Everyone said how good it would be for a fine Christian like Mary to marry again, find a good father for her children, and fill that void her husband left.

The concern for Jane was less exuberant or sincere. Although it was her husband who dishonored the marriage, some were sure it must have been her fault.

There was no elaborate service, only a desolate hour in a somber lawyer’s office. No one called or came by. People who had known Jane almost her entire life avoided her. No one said, “If there is anything we can do, just let us know.” There were no flowers.

Unlike Mary, Jane’s potential for remarriage was greatly marred by adverse opinions of some. “If she gets married again, it will be for money and someone to take care of those kids of hers.” Jane’s life, past, present, and future, was now on public display.

For a Christian woman under conviction that divorce is an unforgivable sin, dealing with its actuality can be traumatic. Fears of failure, hopelessness, and uncertainty become everyday occurrences. She cries until tears are exhausted. The need to lash out at someone is overwhelming, but instead she takes it out on herself. She feels she can never again be of value.

Family members can’t fully understand her feelings of despair. They sympathize with her, but they think she was foolish for having lived all those years in a terrible situation.

Without cause, people she had known all her life were seemingly passing judgment on her. She was the victim but had now become the accused. They don’t consider the circumstances of the divorce, only that now she is a “divorced woman.”  Those two words sound ugly to her, but right now she feels ugly.

God Begins to Heal

Only with God’s help can Jane feel worthy to return to being an active Christian. With time, she begins to feel like a woman again. With patience, she trusts again. God makes her stronger and counsels her not to judge others. God will heal her pain, if she will only wait on Him. It won’t be easy, and it may take a long time, but peace will come to her, but right now she still feels ugly.

Jane was able to pick up the pieces of her life and slowly began to like herself again. She still can’t forget the pain her husband inflicted on her, but she is attempting, through prayer, not to let it destroy the progress she has already made.

Three years after her divorce, God sent her a caring, loving man. She married him, not for money, but for love. He is a wonderful father to her children. As all fairy tales end, they all lived happily ever after.  I know they did, because, you see, I am Jane.