In Mary Chisolm’s chapter of Surrendering to Hope: Guidance for the Broken, readers come face to face with a hurtful drama that unfolded throughout her life. And continues still.
“My father abandoned our family when I was eleven to marry a woman half his age. He was manipulative, narcissistic, and abusive. And he left destruction in his wake. It is no surprise that since my home was broken, I was broken too.”
Though Mary faced heartbreak early in life, she also found a relationship with God that gave her some reassurance from Psalm 27. Though that did not resolve the struggle within, it was a source of strength. In college, she met a young man who seemed to her to be “Mr. Right”. In every way she could imagine, he was the kind of man she wanted to marry to have the kind of family she never had as a child. However, problems developed early on.
“He was rarely where he said he would be when he said he would be. He never let me know when his plans changed, and he worked long hours. Whenever we argued about it, he twisted the facts so it seemed my fault. Even if it was his fault, it wasn’t his fault. … Then, with baby number three, a bomb exploded. Our third baby was full-term stillborn. I was completely devastated.”
The grief over this loss and the ongoing manipulative behavior of her husband sent Mary into a spiral of depression. She did the right thing by seeking out professional help. She found a Christian counselor that administered tests to both her and her husband.
“He expected her to figure out what was wrong with me. The testing diagnosed him with a narcissistic personality disorder. When she shared her findings with us, he stood over her, cursed at us both, and walked out.”
Even after a year of counseling things did not get any better but got worse. Mary was learning about codependency and ultimately as her husband’s narcissistic behavior intensified she felt unsafe. I imagine there are many people who are resonating with this story and would need to read Mary’s chapter in full to get the larger picture. Through the divorce and ongoing issues, her children grew up to refuse to have a relationship with her. The loss of her stillborn baby, her living children, and the marriage she longed to have did challenge her faith. But she kept waiting on the Lord.
Through the pain of her losses she now works in supporting women who experience stillbirth, miscarriage or early infant death. She prays that her children will one day seek a relationship with her. And she waits on the Lord.
“I believe I will see the Lord’s goodness through the redemption of my children, in my work with families, and in ways yet unknown.”
Mary Chisolm’s story of endurance and faith through the pain of loss is just one of many stories in Surrendering to Hope. This book is now available in Kindle format as well as paperback. Each chapter demonstrates that though we can face some struggles that break our hearts, there is hope to be found in God alone.
If you know someone who is hurting, this would be a good book to share with them. Even if they have not experienced the exact situation as described in the chapters, they will find encouragement and hope in the way that faith found its way into the hearts of the broken.
Thanks for reading. John.