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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Leon

From the Hands of Our Lady

Months have passed as words have brewed and stirred in my heart but haven't seemed to make their way to my fingers or the page. Many reasons: babies, weddings, children, ministry, health, depression ... but, I am working on a mid-life rebalance that makes more space for writing. This post is actually an edit of a previous post, but a miraculous and meaningful story worthy of a re-telling. I pray it blesses you.


It was my youngest daughter’s 3rd birthday when I first learned that my husband was committing adultery. Despite the pain and horror that surrounded my family in the coming months, I was determined to fight for my marriage.  I knew that dealing with and healing from these problems would be a marathon, and while there was no mountain I would not climb to save my marriage, it would be a battle to forgive him. Forgiveness of betrayals parallels what Jesus did on the cross for all of usI believed that if I was faithful, the Lord would work a miracle.


He did, in fact, work a miracle, but not the one I prayed for. My marriage was not saved.  My husband did not repent and did not stay.  The only battle left for me to fight was in my own heart. How could I emerge from this tragedy without bitterness and resentment?  How would I accept my new reality with custody and visitation? 

 

There was only one way:  Forgiveness.

 

I am abundantly grateful I was given the grace to beg for forgiveness -- for myself and my failings, but mostly total forgiveness of my former husband.  This was the only path to healing and freedom. I am convinced it was the prayers of my friends and family that helped me commit my heart to this process.  

 

Early on, I remembered a friend who shared that after her mother died, she prayed for a specific sign to know when her mother was no longer in purgatory, a sign that was granted to her after a few months. I was fascinated.  I’d never had the boldness to approach God this way, but in this season of suffering, I gave it a try. 

 

In September of 2011, I threw myself at the feet of Jesus and begged for the supernatural gift of totally forgiving my former husband. I asked for the sign of a single yellow rose to be handed to me to reveal when this forgiveness was complete. 

 

I smile now at those words. I was so hopeful. I really thought I would have that yellow rose by the end of the month.  Maybe two months at the latest.  I didn’t yet understand the depths of the wreckage within me and the power of the aftershocks that would continue to shake me and my children for years. What in the world made me think that forgiving my first husband would be quick or easy?  It has been one of the bloodiest and ugliest processes I have ever gone through. 

 

In order to forgive him completely, I had to first experience the misery of MY sin and the depths of God’s mercy. Forgiveness is not first about forgiving someone else.  It is first a love story about God forgiving us. While months and years passed without a yellow rose, God cracked me open and showed me the magnitude of the healing I needed in my own heart. He gently re-opened wounds that hadn’t healed well and filled me with His love and grace.  Over and over I made acts of forgiveness purely out of obedience, not because I wasn’t still hurting.  

 

Then, after five years of prayer and waiting for my yellow rose, I journeyed to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City on a healing pilgrimage. My time there included many healing graces related to betrayal and divorce. On our last day, I visited a side garden at the Basilica with an enormous statue of Christ the King.  Soaking in the beauty of the garden, I took many pictures, praising God for all His gifts.  As I stood at the foot of the statue, with Christ the King looming 40 feet over my head, I photographed the words etched into the circular base, “Vivo Christo Rey!”  I made my way around the statue to take a picture of the next set of words, “Y La Virgen de Guadalupe.” As I framed the shot, my breath caught in my throat.  Surrounding the words at the base of the statue were the green leaves of many rose bushes, but only one flower:  a single, yellow rose. 


Tears sprang to my eyes and my heart pounded.  There it was. God had not forgotten my long-ago prayer.  I had waited for years for someone, anyone, to hand me my flower.  I hadn’t given up hope, but I also feared that I may have been too bold. But here it was, my sign.  I was filled with awe and gratitude at God’s presence and His plan. 

 

Who better than Our Lady to bring me the peace and consolation that my forgiveness was complete? It was an unfathomable grace that still brings tears to my eyes, almost eight years later. I whispered “thank you” over and over. Resisting the urge to pick the whole flower, I carefully pulled one delicate yellow petal from the rose to save forever.  And then, like the women at the tomb on Easter Sunday, I ran to tell anyone who would listen about my miracle. 

 

Wherever you are in your journey, whatever you have been asked to endure or to forgive, hold on to hope.  The Lord is on the move in your suffering. He is not indifferent to your cries.  When we are faithful, an abundance of grace and mercy is the promise, in His time and in His way. “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phillipians 1:6)


May you let him love you right where you are.


 

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