Forgive: Pearl’s Story

When I got married in 1995, I was getting married forever. I was a good Christian girl, I followed the rules and I definitely followed the Bible. Divorce was not an option or even a “What if?”. Even though the marriage was difficult from the start, I was going to make it work, no matter what! I had high hopes that having a baby would help create a better commitment.

If our first baby didn’t create that commitment, surely having a second baby would, right?

Imagine my surprise when this good Christian girl found herself stuck in a marriage of lies, deceit, dishonesty, and adultery. And there I was, divorced, a single mom and living in poverty. Then, by no choice or decision of mine, I found the message on my answering machine one night in September 2003. His voice was very familiar to me; I had been married to him for 5 years. “There’s nothing I can do. You are going to have to move,” were his unemotional words. The part that wasn’t included in the message—but I already knew—was the house, the place where only myself and two little ones lived, was in foreclosure and this message meant we were moving in 8 days.

The word anger doesn’t do justice to the heartbreak I felt. That night, I really felt nothing. I was so angry, I felt nothing at all. I laid on the couch and watched TV: what else could I do at 11:00 pm?

I prayed, and I prayed hard. Friends gathered around and surrounded me and my family. Looking back, it was a week of miracles; friends didn’t run away and hide but rather came and packed my house. I didn’t pack a single thing. Friends appeared to move everything into storage and friends came to help look for a safe affordable place to live. Food arrived and storage at no cost became available. It was truly a miraculous week but moving day arrived and we had no safe affordable place to call ours. We moved into a friend’s basement so we didn’t have to go to a shelter.

I remember filling out my application for Calgary Housing. I never thought so hard and long over how to fill out my address. What do you write when you are in between homes? I called Calgary Housing to ask. The sting was almost tangible when she said the words, “Just write ‘homeless’.”

That was the moment that sting launched me to reality, my young children and I were homeless. How do I even wrap my head around that?

Days moved on, and someone at our church allowed us to live in their little mother-in-law’s suite to give us time to find a safe, affordable place of our own. Then, Calgary Housing called and had a place for us! It was an old place; it was covered in the ugliest linoleum you could imagine, but it was beautiful and it was our home.

I had been in counselling for a while by this time. Someone from our church had thankfully gone back to school and because he was still a student, couldn’t charge for his counselling services – what an amazing God moment!

As we settled into our new routine and I continued my counselling, our life began to feel normal, at least what I could call our new normal. I was relearning confidence, self-esteem, trust and growing in my faith. I mean, how could I experience so many God moments and miracles and not grow in my faith?

I can distinctly remember hearing this little whisper saying a single word, “Forgive”. Now I grew up in a church and we learned that God speaks through his Word, through a nudge, through a message in church…but this idea of actually hearing God speak—that was pretty foreign to me. I ignored the voice even though it continued with great consistency, “Forgive…forgive…forgive”.

One night, I laid in bed and wrestled with this word and this voice I was hearing. I didn’t know exactly what I thought would happen as I tried to keep on ignoring it. It became such a nuisance that ignoring was impossible. I finally found the answer, I knew what would stop this voice from speaking.

Looking back, I guess I kinda thought that I was the exception to the “Forgive as the Lord forgave you” instruction in the Bible. Surely God didn’t expect me to forgive my ex-husband? I didn’t know what I really thought would happen. Was I expecting that God would rewrite the Bible on my behalf… that I knew what I needed better than God did?

In desperation, I finally cried out to God, “I had to give up my home for him!”.

God’s immediate and gentle reply was, “I gave up MY home for YOU!”.

I fell silent. I wept. I knew I needed to forgive. And I forgave. At that very moment, it all made sense. There was only one list of sinners; there was no such thing as a good sinner and a bad sinner list. When it came to sinners, I was on the same list as he was: I was a sinner desperately in need of a Saviour.

I forgave him and it was good. It didn’t change my situation or my financial situation in that moment, but it did change my heart. The weight I had been choosing to carry was lifted; I was free to become the person God had in store for me.

Forgiving changed MY heart. It changed my mindset. It didn’t magically change my circumstances but it definitely changed the way I saw my circumstances. I worked hard to do my best at everything I did following, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).

In 2010 I married Quinn, a godly man with so much love to share having met while doing ministry in DiscoveryLand at FAC. Even through the challenges of step-parenting and becoming parents together, we recently celebrated our 13th anniversary. Quinn summarizes our situation so well, “I am so sad that you had to go through everything that you did, but if you hadn’t, you wouldn’t be the person you are today, the person I met and fell in love with”.

We thank Pearl for sharing a glimpse of her story and how mighty God has been! Pearl and her family attend the Sunday morning services at the FAC Deerfoot campus. If you’d like to connect with Pearl, contact us!

God wants to use your story to inspire, encourage, and strengthen others. No matter what your story is, there’s someone else who needs to know they aren’t alone in their journey. If you’d like to share how God has been at work in your life, we’d love to hear from you! Please contact Angel Castillo.