Love Through the Eyes of God
by: Anise Marshall
The drowning sound of a beating drum grows faster, now louder. You clench the neck of your pajama shirt to discover the unrelenting pounding was the sound of your heart. The struggle to saturate your waterless mouth prompts you to reach for the night stand, only to find a phone that won’t stop ringing. Sit up, close your eyes once more, and use the cusp of your wrist, to clear the gooey mascara and lashes from your eye lids. You stretch your hands through the air, place them on the ball of your frigid, yet saturated cheeks and slide them to the back of your neck. Breath in. Then out. My mornings won’t always be like this, you think. It is 4:30am. Time to go to war.
Sheila Duhon has fought so many battles in her life and discovered, not too long ago, that a prayer room has been her gift from God. We’ve all had those morning where it has been difficult to wake up because of an overwhelming anxiety about something hard, something exciting, a bad feeling, a desire to change your relationship with Christ or even divorce. She has had to dabble in a bit of all these emotions for the past few years and it has truly transformed her relationship with God.
Sheila, as you are aware of, decided to trust God and “Get Married at First Sight.” Married at First Sight’s intent, was to create compatible couples based on scientific matchmaking with a team of specialists. The team, that they describe as experts, consists of a sociologist, relationship and communication expert and a marriage counselor, who happens to be a pastor. Not only do the couples meet for the first time at the altar, the struggle for their marriage is recorded to document their own unique journeys. They have several weeks, that are constantly being documented, to decide if the marriage will work or if they will separate. This seems to capture a unique struggle and success along the way as each couple goes through their own personal journey. Trusting God, for most of us, does not always imply that things will go the way you thought. Isaiah 55:8-9 in New International Version (NIV) says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Her hope was that this would be the beginning of something great. She truly thought this would be “it,” because marriage was always what she desired and she prayed for. Sheila described it as a covenant that weighed heavily on her heart.
In a world that loves, lives and thrives on negativity, it can be very challenging and intimidating to be the lighthouse God intends for us to be. Sheila took on that duty when she said, “I DO.” From the very beginning of the show, she made it known that her faith in God was what she wanted to be the base of her marriage. She uses her platform to share the gospel of the Lord. Sheila’s marriage did not take the turn she hoped for, but we will get to that later in her story.
Sheila’s worst fears, throughout her life, was not living to her full potential and prior to the ending of her marriage it was not being the wife that God wants her to be. Do you know that God will test your fears even when they are the desires of your heart? According to the Bible, James 1:2-4, says: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
“Marriage exposes you. It is a journey where you have to decide to roll up your sleeves, even when you’re not excited about it. Every day is not happy. You have to enter a marriage with a wholeness from the beginning so that you are not expecting someone else to feel a void. Getting married, the way we did, presents so many struggles already, so being added in the public eye makes it even more difficult. We had to face something most couples don’t have to experience in the beginning, and that’s being in the public eye. We both, I think, underestimated the spiritual attack against our marriage. We would, most times, default to prayer. Some weeks ago, I created a war room (This is a room dedicated to awakening your inner prayer warrior). I created it because I wanted to have intentional prayer with God and sacrifice my time to show God how serious I was. I needed this to fight for my marriage and for me. It was about figuring things out—because we were in different places in our lives, we were dealing with different issues. We brought in expectations, previous hurt and different insecurities. I knew that if I wanted to be who God called me to be, I needed to address my relationship with God.“
Sheila woke up, much like what we described at the beginning of the article. This was a new and exciting part of her journey. She was getting married to someone she had never met. Sheila was raised in the church and describes the beginning of her life as being a “pew baby.” Her thoughts of marriage were a covenant that she held close to her heart. She prayed for her husband before the show and even had experiences in the church that led her to believe that being married would be a good thing. She recalls a time before her wedding where she had been prophesied over. “God says your relationship will be the real thing. He will bless you,” she recalls the prophet saying to her. She stood in her wedding gown, ready to marry a stranger and felt at ease and at peace with it because she knew that it was what God had gifted her. She was not sure of the way her marriage would unfold but constantly told herself, “Lord I trust you!” This is the very “anthem” that has gotten Sheila through the good, the bad and the ugly. “I was beyond hopeful. My whole thing was that I felt at ease. I was nervous when I got married because I knew that with prophesy, it also comes to warn. I decided, though, it is well with my soul.” She described her wedding as the most beautiful, authentic and sincere thing that she had ever been a part of.
A Bad Feeling
4:30am. This was the time Sheila set aside for her prayer. She was committed to this. Her marriage had become so difficult to handle. Yes, she relied heavily on prayer, but she could not sleep. While Sheila was taping for the show, she had a scene where she called her husband out of his name. She called him, in less disparaging terms, a female Dog. It was a moment of weakness and, as Sheila would describe, “walking in my flesh.” She hated that she had publicly disrespected him and says she will forever regret that moment. “You can’t undo but you can choose to not repeat.” (This was something that she would have to revisit and decide on days later.) “The bad and ugly are me. The good, that’s GOD! Even with the show, it showed that God is who He says regardless of our shortcomings. When you truly surrender, God can do things we can’t.” She still recalled the prophecy that she was truly starting to think was a warning. “I think God paired our souls. It was bigger than us. It helped us to be the people God called us to be. We will persevere no matter what. I have to keep going and praying because I meant forever on that altar.”
A Desire to Strengthen in the Lord
Psalm 9:9-10 says “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm 34:10 “Even the strong young lion sometimes goes hungry, but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.” Psalm 34:17 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and rescues them from all their troubles.” These are a few scriptures I could see being along the corners of Sheila’s prayer room. “God, I want to live the life You have for me.” Sheila uses every platform she has had access to to share the Love of God. “Anything I post, is not only meant to encourage others, it first encourages me. This is why I share my struggles and my joy with everyone, so they know that it is authentically me.” Sheila expressed her desire to be close to God no matter what path that has for her life. She has adopted the mantra, “It is well with my soul.” She says it is this saying that helps her draw closer to the presence of the Lord.
“Sometimes the fouls in life, all of the wrongs that have been done to you in your relationships, if you just trust, the vision will come back and lead you directly in your purpose.” Sheila looked back over her marriage with her husband and decided that bitterness was not a characteristic she wanted to radiate. “Hurt people, hurt people.” She decided that she no longer wanted to make the same mistakes she made in the past. She admits, though, when she found out about her husband’s infidelity and unwillingness to salvage the marriage she wanted to discredit him. She knew that belittling him, from past experiences, wasn’t the answer. She would never diminish him again. Instead, she decided that she would just publicly end their marriage. When looking back on who she became in the marriage, she described a woman who sounded broken but healed. “I must say, I was extremely guarded and I would retreat and throw up walls with anger. I made a decision that I would not love him based on how he made me feel. I would love him through his flaws regardless of the situation. The events happened. I loved him and still do. I refuse to say bad things even if he no longer wants the marriage. My great grandmother told me that ‘love is an action word, even through divorce.’ I legit got married for forever. I have been fighting since the alter and honeymoon. I have made mistakes of saying things in the past, but it was my husband that broke those vows. I love me and I am excited about my future. I am who God says I am and I am ready to walk into the calling on my life. It’s time for me to move on to the next chapter of my life.”
When asked what advice she would give to women battling with infidelity in their marriage, Sheila had this to say: “ I think it is important to fight for marriages. Divorce is not the remedy for everyone in every situation. If you have two people who are willing, you can come back from infidelity, but it takes two to bring it together. I don’t doubt that God will allow you to come back from situations. Everyone’s story is different. I don’t look at my failed marriage as failing God. We are supposed to experience things. Free will sometimes voids out our desires. Marriage is still worth fighting for. I think my husband is a good person and has great potential, but we were in vastly different places. My husband was younger than me. People make mistakes. My husband just should have made better choices. One mistake does not paint the portrait of a person’s whole picture. Our marriage…our story, was raw from the very beginning. Although it is not ideal, it is still a story that people can learn from. Even if you are hurting, build your husband up and take it to him. Don’t be guarded. I am not in a place of bitterness I am holding on to my hope. I am not living in the ‘what if’s’ and owning my moment…hoping tomorrow will be better than yesterday.”
When asked about continuing her relationship with her husband’s brother, Tyrique, Sheila only said that she would respect the boundaries set by him and that he would always be a brother to her. Sheila feels that learning about the infidelities in the marriage made her stronger for the next chapter in her life. “This marriage exposed my weaknesses and fears, previous hurt and forced me to deal with it and dig deep. I am in counseling and I think it’s helping me to be the best person I can be. I’ve done this through my brokenness. You don’t know how strong you are until it’s your only option. I know that I am worth it. I won’t let anyone dictate my value. I am still the daughter of a king adjusting my crown. The Bible says that people without a vision will perish. We depend on things to help fulfill our vision. Sometimes God will strip you of the thing you thought your vision was intertwined in. God showed me that this is well with my soul. My vision is not what I said, but is on God. I am yielding to the will of God. I am finding comfort in GOD. “ When asked if any of the “experts” reached out to her when she publicly ended her marriage, Sheila informed me that Rachel, the relationship and communication expert, was the only one who did.
Hopes for the Future
“I am excited for my future. Although there is a new sadness there and it will be an adjustment, there are still so many things that I have to look forward to. I’m excited for my book, career and looking forward to meeting the love of my life. God does not make mistakes. I want to travel and have children. I still will NEVER denounce the name of God. just like Job who had been through so much, I still choose to believe that God has a purpose for my life. I have started a blog and it’s amazing! I am also writing a book that I started when I was 18. I am really excited to finish writing and publish within a year. It’s about a girl who grew up in the church and grows into a woman who is finding her place in this world. It is not an autobiography.”
Nouveau Exposure magazine is for women who are bold believers and bold achievers. When Sheila was asked about the things that make her a bold believer and achiever, she simply said: “I am bold in my faith because I realize all good things come from the Father and I can only achieve that with Him. It is easier to be bold in your faith when you haven’t been through anything. The standing of the test comes from trials. Regardless if people like me, and follow me on social media, my only request is to first follow God!” Sheila Duhon sends out so many encouraging posts via social media. Her most popular following is on Instagram at handle @happyfromwithin. She engages with most of her followers and is an inspiration to all that she meets! 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I encourage you all to love despite circumstance and know that your steps are ordained by the most High!