Nidia: For most people, 2020 has been full of heartache, loss and sadness. And, although it’s been a very hard year for us also, 2020 represents transformation, hope, strength and renewal. On September 19, 2020, we not only celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary but we also decided to renew our vows and recommit our love for each other after many years of marital challenges. Most importantly, we chose that day to also give our lives to the Lord and commit our lives to Him in baptism. It was a very special day because we were able to share it with our two boys, close family members and church friends that have been praying for us.
Edward and I met 18 years ago when we were 17. We started a long distance relationship since I lived in Illinois and he lived in Michigan. Edward had just lost his father to cancer and, as an only child, assumed the responsibility of taking care of his mother. Edward turned to alcohol as an escape from the hurt and pain he was experiencing at home.
I was 25 when I finally moved to Michigan, right before we got married. I was so excited to finally not have a long distance relationship. One thing bothered me, though. He always wanted to be at the bar with his friends and sometimes wouldn’t return home after a long night out. I figured once we got married and had a family things would change because he promised they would.
A few years later we had our first son. Things had definitely not changed, and now I resented him for choosing his friends and alcohol over family. I felt like a single mother raising our child while he lived a life of no responsibilities. I felt alone, hurt, frustrated and angry, but I knew I had to be strong for my son.
It was during this time that my relationship with God grew closer. He was all I had and the only thing that gave me the strength to keep going. Although I prayed hard every day for Edward to change, I also wanted to be in control of everything. I would go out to look for him in the middle of the night in frustration and anger. I would pray for him to stop drinking and throw away any alcohol or drugs that I found, only to have him leave the house and do the things I didn’t want him to do.
After having our second son, things were the same, if not worse. Everything Edward worked for went straight to drugs and alcohol, instead of family. Financially things were not good, our relationship and marriage were just labels and we felt more like roommates. This was definitely not the example I wanted for our boys. What hurt me most was not having him be part of the boys’ lives and missing out on special school events, sporting events, and anything family related.
I finally reached the breaking point one day when my son asked me, “Mommy, where does Daddy live?” I realized then that, for them, it had almost become normal not having him around. They assumed he lived somewhere else because he would come home so late that they would be asleep and then he would sleep all day because he had been out all night. I decided I was prepared to be a single mother. I knew I didn’t want this example for our children.
I decided to let God lead me as I focused on bettering myself emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t know what path God wanted me to go on, but I also knew that the life I had been living for the past 10 years was not what He wanted in a marriage and for my children. I started taking Bible studies to prepare for baptism. I went to focus groups that helped families dealing with loved ones with drug and alcohol problems.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was putting people in my path to help and guide me, and it wasn’t until I completely gave up and put everything in God’s hands that I started to see God working. I stopped trying to control Edward and only prayed about everything, even when people thought I didn’t care because I wouldn’t argue with him about his actions. I knew that God was in control and I told Him that I would accept anything He led me to, whether it meant separating or staying together. It was all in His hands because I was surrendering it to Him. I still prayed for Edward, even on the days I didn’t feel he deserved it. When my pastor asked me if I thought Edward would accept joining us in Bible studies, I knew he would never agree. Surprisingly he accepted, and that was the beginning of God working in his heart.
Edward: Watching my father fight with cancer for years took a big toll on my mother and I. As a teenager, I always struggled with being around people and socializing with others. When I was 19, I was diagnosed with social phobia and put on medication to deal with my anxiety and depression. By then, I had already turned to alcohol to easy my nerves and deal with my fathers’ passing.
Since my anxiety kept me from doing normal things everyone does on a day by day basis, I relied on alcohol to calm my nerves and enable me to function around others. Eventually, alcohol led me to experiment with other drugs to get the same relief from my anxiety and to numb my depression.
I knew I was missing out on a lot of special moments and memories during my marriage and children’s lives. Knowing that made me even more depressed and guilt-ridden, which led me to not want to face my family or hear about all the hurt I was putting them through. I would apologize and promise to change; I would pray to God so that He could help me change, but deep inside I wanted it to be on my terms. I wanted to control my drinking, but not stop it completely. The enemy knew my weakness and every time I would have just one drink, I would spiral out of control again.
Two years ago, my doctor stopped prescribing my medication, so I tried to self-medicate. I went through two severe panic attacks and withdrawals, where I literally thought I would either lose my mind or not survive. Last year while Nidia was doing Bible studies with Pastor Darrel, I agreed to join in because I was tired of my lifestyle.
A few months later, when we dedicated our boys, our family and friends that were there all put their hands upon us and prayed over us and I felt something different in my heart in that moment. For the first time in a long time I felt joy and happiness in my heart, and I stopped all my bad habits for two months. Just when I felt comfortable, thinking I could try just one sip of alcohol, I went back to my same old habits. I stopped doing Bible studies because I felt guilty and worthless.
Towards the end of January 2020, I finally hit rock bottom. After a weekend of being with friends, I came home and had a very emotional and intense spiritual battle that lasted several hours. During those moments, I was not able to physically call out to God or pray. The only thing I could do was write “Jesus, please help me!” on a notebook I found. I read a painting that was hanging in our living room: “ I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I went through a lot in those hours, but at the end God proved that if I cry out to Him for help, and surrender all to Him, He will answer and rescue me from the enemy’s grip!
That night God spoke to my heart, filled me with His presence and now He is the one to fight all of my battles. Since that night, I have not touched drugs or alcohol, and my anxiety is nearly gone. Most importantly, I am not controlled by medication—only by God. I am so grateful for His mercy. He never gave up, even when I turned away from Him. He had a better plan than I could have ever imagined for my family and I.
Since that night, Nidia and I have continued our weekly Bible studies virtually with Pastor Darrel, and our marriage and love for each other has been restored. Studying the word of God together brought us closer to each other. When we talked about our baptism date, we felt that doing it on our wedding anniversary would be the perfect date—giving our lives to the Lord in baptism at the same lake where we married 11 years ago.
That day was beautiful and perfect. I truly felt that I was reborn and got a new chance at life with my family by my side and God leading the way. I’m a new person. By the grace of God, He has transformed me into the husband, father, friend, and son He created me to be.