His love and mercy are the ultimate authority.
Six years ago I joined a divorce support group at a local Catholic church where I was tremendously blessed to meet a young mother who quickly became a close friend. She and I were going through very similar circumstances and our paths continued to run parallel. Together we saw each other through the long, drawn out termination of dysfunctional marriages and years of subsequent persecution inside and outside of the courthouse.
Our friendship was of priceless value to me. My friend and I shared many happy memories together with our children as we reclaimed our freedom and tried to live as normal lives as possible under the circumstances. We supported each other, vacationed together, had many celebrations at each others’ homes, attended school functions and worshiped together, and prayed for each other. We watched each others’ children and collaborated as our lives evolved. We supported each other through many unnecessary court battles and were able to offer each other compassion and understanding.
One morning my friend and I saw our children off to school and then traveled to the courthouse where she was once again forced to defend herself against more persecution. Like so many families who find themselves in family court, my friend and I thought at first that we would get justice and the protection that our families desperately needed there. Instead, many innocent families are further harmed by the family court system that abusers manipulate to batter their families, sometimes until the children reach the age of 18. That is what happened to our families. Unfortunately, the judges and referees involved in our cases were not interested in hearing the truth. More often than not, their decisions helped our abusers batter us.
When a person who is being battered by someone is forced to fight in court, the experience is physically and emotionally exhausting, very, very expensive, and very damaging to the children. Your parental rights can be taken from you at any time and decisions that should be yours to make are made by complete strangers who may or may not have your child’s best interest in mind. Often power and money decide what is “best” for the children. Usually there is little respect for the dignity of people and cases are decided abruptly, often with little investigation, and little or no concern for the truth. The rules of engagement are not made clear. For decent families whose abusers use the court system as a weapon, family court is the worst place to be and your God-given right to parent your children is returned to you when their childhood is over.
My friend and I entered the court room and took a seat in the back to await her turn. Often we did not know where to go or when we could expect to be seen. Concerns about childcare while you were at court were of no concern to anyone. You had to show up if the children happened to be sick and you had better not bring them with you. Sometimes you go before a judge, sometimes you see someone else. You may have been scheduled to see a judge but could end up before a referee or a mediator or your case may not be heard that day at all.
If you fail to hire an attorney to preserve your family’s much needed resources and instead defend yourself, you could be at a severe disadvantage. If you have a lawyer, it costs you plenty and you give up the right to speak for yourself, but in our cases no one wanted to hear what we had to say anyway. There were so many others waiting and we got the sense that the judges and referees were sick of listening to everyone, no matter what their circumstances.
Eventually my friend was called to go before the judge. She walked up to the table before the judge’s bench and sat down while her ex-husband and his lawyer also approached the judge’s bench and took seats by the plaintiff’s table on the right. My friend was in the bad position of having to defend herself and her children against people who were willing to pay a lot of money and lie to win at all costs. That strategy gets results in the courthouse. Good luck to you if you are persecuted and your defense is the truth.
The judge sat behind her large desk which was elevated above the people she was there to serve. Man’s laws elevated to a high degree so often are not laboring for God’s truths to help people. Greed and the quest for control and revenge were the law of the land in our experiences. My friend looked so small before the judge sitting above her. As we often did for each other, I prayed to God to protect my friend and her children. God had always provided for our families. However, the persecution against my kind friend and her beautiful children continued, year after year, with no end in sight. This ongoing battering using the court as a weapon was tremendously draining for her mentally, physically, and financially and was extremely damaging to her children. She longed to be free from the torment so she and the children could be free to live normal lives. What would happen this time?
Often times we had left court not sure exactly what had happened and what the fallout would be. The complexity of the legal system harms good people. One thing we both could be certain of after every appearance in court was that more persecution would follow. Realizing that anything could happen, we always entered our court battering unsure of what the ruling would be. One thing that was certain was that we could not expect compassion. Fortunately we had each other to talk things out with before and after our court appearances. We also had God!
The judge asked some questions as my friend and I powerlessly followed along with the proceedings. The other party vehemently presented and defended his case, desperate to win the right to control other people. Things were not going well for my friend. Then, an image appeared behind the judge.
I stared, looked away, and then looked again to see if the image was still there. Yes it was! Behind the judge, who had looked so large and prominent elevated above the people she was there to serve, was the image of Jesus in profile. His image was huge and dwarfed the judge! After all was said and done my friend and I stepped outside to figure out what the ruling was and what it meant for her and her children. I joyfully informed her that Jesus had made His presence known in the courtroom on her behalf. He was with her!
God in His mercy revealed Himself to assure her that Jesus loves families and was looking out for them. He made it clear that day that He is truth and justice and the One whom we should go to as we make our decisions. What great mercy to reveal Himself to His beloved and offer comfort and hope while providing us with His Strength. When we do what is right we can be assured that God remains with us and will provide everything He sees fit in His most perfect plan. My friend continues to be forced to fight for justice as she hopes for peace and prays for the souls of those who have lost their way. 1
1. Written and Compiled by Michele Elena Bondi, God Moments (Rochester, MI: Joseph Karl Publishing, 2010), in print.
Guest Post Submitted by – Michele Bondi Bottesi – God is at Work in You!