Dena Johnson MartinDena Johnson is a former single mom to three amazing kids: Blake, Cole, and Cassie and wife to her high school friend, Roy. She strives to follow Christ each day and to lead her children to do the same. She delights in taking the every day experiences of life and turning them into biblical lessons for her children. Dena's daily prayer is simple: Lord, my life is yours. Live through me. Love through me. Parent through me. Let me decrease that you might increase. Dena is the founder of Dena Johnson Ministries, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people find beauty through the brokenness of this life. Her heart's desire is to use her own pain to point others to the power of God who redeems every hurt, every pain. You can contact Dena at Dena@denajohnson.com. You can also find her blog at Dena Johnson Ministries.
- 2016 Apr 28
“We have heard that you had multiple affairs and destroyed multiple families,” the email from my employer read.
Stunned. Shocked. Mortified. Hurt. Angry.
The emotions rocked me to my very core. My hands shook as I attempted to respond. Where could such a venomous attack come from? Hadn’t I suffered enough already?
Yes, in the years since my divorce I have heard multiple versions of the events leading to my divorce.
In one, I simply woke up one morning and decided I didn’t love him any more and wanted to marry someone else. I guess it could be technically true, but it’s hard to leave out the three year affair and the online dating account that led me to that point.
Another version has me having multiple affairs, destroying multiple families. Of course, one must take into consideration that these “affairs” happened after divorces caused by cheating spouses.
Most recently, I have encountered stories about my treatment of my kids. I always wondered how the situation was being explained. But, I no longer have to wonder.
Can I just say that divorce is awful? People choose sides. Families are split. And ugly things are said and done.
I have truly done my best to walk in integrity, to do what was right even if it meant I lost the battle. I have always attempted to put my children first, to make sure I was looking out for their best interest. I will always sacrifice if it means my children suffer less. That’s what a mom does.
But I’ve also worked hard to make them fight their own battles. I refuse to step in and cover for them. If there’s something they want or need, I make them stand up for themselves. I just believe that’s the best way to raise my children—giving them the courage and confidence to make decisions, speak their minds, and follow through.
I wish we could all put the past behind us, be adults, put forgiveness and reconciliation above self. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.
Without going into details, let me just say that I had some very ugly—but not completely unexpected—accusations thrown at me at my ex-husband’s funeral a few weeks ago. I was mourning, my heart-broken for my kids. I was shocked, saddened by his sudden passing. I was devastated for his family. And I was hurt very deeply by unkind words, by absolute hatred.
I wanted so badly to lash out, to tell the world the truth. I wanted to defend myself, to tell my side of the story. I wanted to treat others just as ugly as I was being treated.
Instead, I chose to bite my tongue while fuming inside. I chose to hide in the back of a vehicle rather than face my accusers. I chose to do my best to be the bigger person.
And, after about 36 hours of utter devastation, I felt God melting my heart. I sensed Him calling me to put aside my bitterness and anger and look at my accusers with eyes of compassion and forgiveness. I sensed Him telling me to love as He would love, to let my actions prove my innocence.
Sometimes I would rather live life my way than His…
Yes, in my humanity, I want to lash out rather than listen to God’s plan. I want to take all of the written evidence I have and publish it, to show the world I am not guilty. I want to point to all of the times I’ve gone out of my way to go the extra mile even though I didn’t need to, even though many said I shouldn’t.
Even now, three weeks later, I still find myself fighting daily to choose forgiveness, to choose to put the anger and bitterness aside. I don’t really want to choose God’s way today.
And yet, I know that His perfect peace guards my heart and mind as I choose His way. I know that He is my Defender and He has a way of bringing truth to light. I know that He is much better at defending me than I ever will be. I know His way is best…always.
We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
It’s often difficult to sit back and let God work…in His way and in His time. Our human nature screams to step in and fight the battle.
Think about all the times the Israelites took matters into their own hands. Abraham and Sarah decided to manipulate circumstances to have a baby…which led to extreme bitterness and Abraham sending his oldest son away. David decided to cover his sins by having Uriah killed…rather than trusting God to have grace. King after king went to war…even when God said not to go.
But then we have Joshua who chose to fight Jericho God’s way…and succeeded in the most unusual way as the walls simply crumbled. Or Gideon who was called to fight the Midianites…and succeeded after God whittled his army down to only 300 men. Or Joseph who faithfully followed God day after miserable day while sitting in prison…until God raised him up to a position of prominence at the right time.
The point: When we fight God’s way, we find success. It may not happen in our time. It may not happen the way we expect it to happen. But we see God move on our behalf in powerful ways.
Over the last seven years, I have seen God move on my behalf so many times. I have seen Him bring the truth to light repeatedly, vindicating me for wrongful accusations. I have seen Him answer my prayers in ways I never could have dreamed possible.
For years now, I have found myself running back to Psalm 37:4-7: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.
Day after day, I beg God to let my righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of my cause like the noon day sun. He has never failed me. And so, here I am again. Begging God to be my Defender. Begging God to reveal truth. Begging God to work on my behalf.
I don’t know when. I don’t know how. But I do know that He is faithful, that He is working on my behalf. I simply pray that as I strive to follow hard after Him, my attempts to love my accusers—no matter how feeble those attempts may be—will be supernaturally multiplied.
Lord Jesus, you know every broken, bruised heart reading these words. You know how hard we have worked to live with integrity, to live above the level of reproach. You know the truth behind our actions, even when others may not. You know the accusations we face daily, the lies told about us. We pray that you, the Truth, will shine your light into our circumstances, allowing our righteousness to shine like the dawn and the justice of our cause like the noon day sun. We love you and trust you to act in your time and in your way.