For the next two weeks we will feature a different woman from #theFives as she shares her heart with us. In an attempt to break down walls and promote unity among women, we will uncover the real lives of those we haphazardly label and judge. Wanna grow in your own journey of loving without walls? Join #theFives HERE.
Here is the story of Shea Sweet, whose husband left her while she was pregnant:
Miscarriage. Divorce. Single motherhood.
All bring about a unique sense of isolation within the church, where — intentionally or unintentionally — stigmas still have power.
She and her husband grieved a miscarriage early in their first pregnancy, followed by the loss of twins at nearly 20 weeks.
But nothing could have prepared her to find their apartment empty and her husband gone early in their third pregnancy.
The weeks and months that followed separated casual friends from true friends as Shea went on bedrest, fighting for her daughter’s life while trying to process all that had taken place.
“The shock of everything began to wear off when I was 16 weeks pregnant or so,” She said. “In a big sense, I was alone. It could have gone horribly wrong, but instead I said, ‘I’m alone, but I’m not really feeling this whole alone thing.’”
She said God began revealing to her how much she relied on her husband instead of on her Heavenly Father, and she began to redirect her attention toward her savior.
Divorce, followed by the daunting task of raising a precious child alone, has given Shea a passion for reaching out to others in similar circumstances.
“I’m the only person in the home. I’m the breadwinner, and I have to play mom and dad,” said Shea, who said it has given her a new insight into her own mother’s dedication. “I didn’t know how much my mom did until I became a single mom. She did everything. There was so much more that went into it.”
Shea said it can be hard to share the depth of each struggle, but shedding light on her story prevents the enemy from using it to shame her.
“It’s not something I feel like the Lord has given me to stay quiet about,” she said.
She said it is friends willing to listen and understand who help her through.
“The biggest thing that’s helped me is I have my life group at church,’ she said. “It’s people who know exactly what I’m going through. We test each other, and I know when I’m having a hard day I can text them.”
But her heart still craves to offer even more outreach to others who walk challenging roads.
“Especially in the church, there’s no small group for 22-year-old divorced women who have children,” she said.
Instead, she is working to reach out to others, to be a friend, a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, because these are the things that meant the most at each stage of her own struggle.
“I just try to let people vent, because I just needed to talk,” she said, adding that it’s important to reach out in comfort, even if you don’t have the right words. “If you don’t know what to say, just don’t say it. I like to be that person who says, ‘No, it’s OK. You didn’t do anything wrong. There’s nothing you could have done and it’s OK to feel the way you feel.”
Have you found yourself in a similar situation? Share your story below.
We hope you can #findyourtribe here with us.
*All stories featured in the#FindYourTribe series were collected and written by Sarah Gooding. We love her so.