A Place to Call Home

In the last year of my marriage, my then husband and I hand selected the fixtures and finishes of the semi-custom “forever” home we’d commissioned to be built. It was a farmhouse-style abode, nestled among towering box elder and redbud trees, with a trickling stream playfully lapping at the property line. It was the largest piece of property we’d ever owned, and after living in the sun-scorched Southwest, the lush Tennessee bluegrass seemed to beckon our three children, coaxing them from behind the walls of our home to explore its limitless potential for adventures. 

As for the house itself, the charcoal gray exterior gave it a sturdy, almost reverent presence in a neighborhood dappled with cheery, white-painted brick homes. But its solemn fortitude was softened by the inclusion of a Pinterest-worthy, robin’s egg blue front door. 

Months before I’d ever walk through that ever-so-inviting front door, I had pored over dozens of Sherwin-Williams paint swatches to choose that “just right” shade. I finally selected Moody Blue, a vibrant shade of light blue with just a hint of ash to complement the home’s gray facade. 

We moved cross-country in early spring, leaving the desert Southwest for the rolling hills of Tennessee. When I walked into the home for the first time, I was in awe. Every detail of this home had been carefully curated, just as every facet of our lives had been. As we unpacked, our professionally styled family photos (with expertly coordinated but never matching outfits) eventually lined the hallways. Our spacious closets were stocked with rows of on-trend clothes. We looked the part, but in truth, the ties that bound us had been unraveling for years. 

Just weeks after I first walked through my perfectly painted, dearly adored front door, our dream home became the setting of a full-scale nightmare. Within those walls I uncovered infidelity. Deceit. Betrayal. Shouts and sobs filled the rooms of this once pristine home. I wish I could tell you this was an anomaly in our relationship, but if I’m being honest, this wasn’t the first time a new “forever home” had borne witness to our stormy confrontations. In a moment of clarity, I realized there was nothing left. This marriage was over. 

I asked him to leave. There I stood, suddenly a thirty-five-year-old single mother of three with no friends or family for thousands of miles. The dreams I had—for our children, the marriage ministry I’d hoped we’d start—all vanished in an instant. As I stared into the bewildered faces of my brokenhearted children, 

I remember dejectedly saying to God, “So, what are You going to do with me now?” 

During those early days, He gently replied, I’m making all things new. 

I received the home in the divorce settlement and had fully intended to stay there. But after the first six months (and a little bit of healing), I felt a stirring in my soul to sell the home and move to a smaller property nearby. I knew just why I couldn’t stay. This house was the remnant of a dream that had died, an artifact of my broken heart. 

I began cleaning the house, preparing it for showing. Just before I listed the home, I sat in the dark one evening and had an honest conversation with God about the future. I told Him, “I know it’s good for me to leave this place behind, but I really do love my home.”

He whispered sweetly to my heart:

Where I am taking you, you won’t think about this place

The house sold quickly. The moving crew was a devoted band of friends and family God had assembled during my separation to bolster my children and me in this new season. And when the last box had been stowed and made ready for transport, I closed that beloved front door for the last time.

My emotions were tangled, but not in the way you’d expect. I didn’t cry. I didn’t get nostalgic. I didn’t even bring the can of Moody Blue I had left over to paint the front door on my new-to-me home. God had already promised something good was ahead, and I was willing to follow Him on the adventure. 

My children and I moved into a charming, ranch-style bungalow set in an older neighborhood on the other side of town. 

Within weeks we unpacked. Somehow this unfamiliar dwelling already possessed that unmistakable sense of “home.” One early spring morning, I asked God, “What is this I’m feeling, Lord? What is different about this place?” 

He whispered again to my heart:

Here you are safe. You’ve never been abused here before.

At those words, I wept. I rejoiced. Through this move, through this divorce, I had no way of perceiving what I truly needed to start over. But God did. He knew I needed a safe haven. 

In the time since I moved, the house has been a haven of healing for my children and me. We’ve enjoyed sticky s’mores over backyard bonfires and cuddled under cozy blankets for double feature movie nights. But more than that, we’ve poured our hearts out to God in the form of desperate, late-night prayers and have experienced His redeeming grace through heartfelt, reconciling embraces. Within the walls of this home we’ve blossomed, and God continues to fill its halls and our hearts with His new dreams. 

While God provided this place of shelter for my children and me, over time it became clear that my home was meant to be a physical representation of a spiritual reality—that God is our safe haven. He’s called me by name, rescued my heart from the oppression of abuse, and drawn me under His protective compassion. And as He has tended to my wounds so fastidiously, I’ve learned to trust Him in a way that has brought my spirit and soul the liberty I’ve always longed for. God has gently revealed to me what it is to be held—to be safe—with all that I am, and I know the same is possible for you too. 

When you’ve been abused, it often feels as if there’s no safe place—not your mind, your heart, or even your own body. Feeling unsafe in the depths of your own being is unnerving and horrifying, and the anguish and confusion that ensue can leave you feeling lost and alone. 

But in it all, God is not silent or absent. Psalm 12:5 says:

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs (ESV).”

God is squarely opposed to the abuse you’ve experienced, and He is rising up on your behalf to bring you both justice and freedom as He delivers you to the safe haven of His love.

As your parched soul drinks from the life-giving Scriptures contained in this devotional, my prayer is that you will experience deliverance—in every way possible—as your rescue story unfolds. God knows you long for a safe haven; in the weariness and brokenness, He promises to be the place you can finally call home. 

They cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.

PSALM 107:28–30

An excerpt from Safe Haven: A Devotional for the Abused & Abandoned.

 

Available for purchase here.
Michelle Donnelly

Michelle Donnelly is the President and CEO of PlusONE Parents, a ministry devoted to helping single parents overcome overwhelming situations to rebuild God-empowered lives and raise up a new generation. A mother of three, Michelle is also the host of The Christian Single Moms Podcast and author of Seen: Hope & Healing for Single Moms as well as Safe Haven: A Devotional for the Abused and Abandoned.

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