What My Custody Battle Taught Me About Relying on God - Finds.Life.Church

What My Custody Battle Taught Me About Relying on God

by Terri Gordineer

My custody battle was by far one of the most difficult things I’ve ever walked through. Lasting for almost 18 months with more than 10 court dates, it seemed like it would never end, but I learned so much about relying on God through it all. 

One of the most important things I had to do during this season was trust in God and who He says He is. In fact, here are two of my favorite verses that carried me through my custody battle: 

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7 NIV

Trials remind us that God is more concerned with our heart condition than our comfort zone. So even when we experience hard times, we can grow our faith and gain wisdom. Here are a few things I learned about relying on God in the middle of my custody battle. 

1. Trust the people God puts in your life.

When you’ve been hurt or betrayed in the past, it’s so easy to assume someone else will hurt you, too. When I met the attorney for my custody battle, he was completely trustworthy, yet I couldn’t help but be skeptical of him because of past experiences. 

But slowly, I learned that God put people in my life for a reason. I had to travel about four hours one way for every court date with my attorney, but during each drive, I experienced God’s goodness and His faithfulness. Today, I am so blessed to call my attorney my friend. God used this godly man not only to represent me in my custody battle but also to redeem and restore my trust.  

God also taught me that my close community of believers were crucial for encouragement and avoiding isolation. These friends prayed fervently and listened without judgment or an agenda to “fix” the situation. They supported me while letting me experience God in the waiting

So, trust the people God puts in your life. We need people. And we’re not designed to carry our burdens alone (see Galatians 6:2). 

2. Rely on God’s strength in the battle—not your own. 

Throughout my experience, I became so grateful that God doesn’t need my strength to move in my life. His job is to fight, and my job is to trust—not to question, or direct, or try to control. In my custody battle, I learned to rely on God’s strength in the battle and not my own. Every day, I asked for a courageous heart—like David talked about in the Psalms:

Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lᴏʀᴅ. Psalm 31:24 NKJV

If we are full of fear, we will have no courage. But the courageous heart is filled with hope. If you’re anything like me, perhaps your heart has struggled with hidden fears, worries, and great sadness. But the Lord is here with us to encourage us and to strengthen our hearts. 

In fact, I see this throughout David’s story. As a boy, his response to Goliath challenges me to live with more confidence in who God is. (Cheat sheet on David’s story here.) David did what he knew to do while trusting God to keep His Word. He didn’t react to his circumstances. He responded with courage and faith in the promises of God. 

Remember, David claimed victory long before the battle began. Just look at what he said in 1 Samuel: 

“The Lᴏʀᴅ who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” … 1 Samuel 17:37 NIV

David knew that what mattered the most wasn’t which side he was on, but who was on his side. David knew he could trust God, because he had seen His faithfulness in the past. One of the weapons God gives us in our current situation is the memory of His faithfulness in our past battles. 

David brought down Goliath with a single stone of courage. If David trusted in God, so can we.  So I chose to praise the Lord in the struggle and claim victory over my custody battle. 

3. Surrender your will and seek God’s will. 

Throughout my custody battle, God taught me to surrender my will and seek His will. Each time I faced a trial, a crisis, broken dreams, or heartbreak, I chose to cry out to the Lord—putting my faith into action. 

What is faith? God’s Word tells us this: 

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1 NIV

Do we truly believe God’s love for us never changes? Do we believe God knows all of our needs and will supply them? During my custody battle, there were so many times that I was unable to “see” God working, but I got a chance to live out my faith by trusting who He is—not what He can give me.  

Faith means moving forward when we can’t always see what is next, so I had to make a choice daily to walk in faith. Oswald Chambers said, “Faith is the deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.”

4. Trust God’s timing. 

Finally, my custody battle taught me to trust God’s timing. When it got tough, when I saw nothing but adversity, trials, and pain, I would long for that understanding. I had to trust God and His timing

He knew what was best for my daughter and me. He loves our children even more than we love them. This is a difficult concept to grasp, but it is so true. He wraps His arms around us and reveals Himself as the God who comforts and carries us when we have no strength left to go on.  

God is in absolute control, and He is sovereign, meaning that God makes His own plans and carries them out in His own time and in His own way. There is nothing accidental with God. I did not pretend to understand or know the answers. I just clung to the fact that God was with me when things were going right, and He was also there when everything seemed to be going wrong. 

We must be willing to put all our circumstances in His hands, because His presence remains with us whether we recognize it or not. In His perfect timing, the battle was won, with me being awarded full sole custody.  While my past may have been painful, I am so thankful that God can take my past and use it for His glory today—giving us a new beginning. 

If we trust God with our broken and wounded hearts, He will bring healing, restoration, and wholeness. He can change hearts. He is able to supply all our needs. And He works all things together for our good and His glory.  

The more we trust God, the more we will experience Him. And the more we experience Him, the more others will see Him. So even when God seems distant or silent, continue to walk by faith, trusting in His name and who He is.  

Refining moments can be different in each of our lives. You may face sickness, financial hardships, loss of loved ones, or you may even be misjudged or falsely accused. But trials don’t have to destroy you or define you. God never wastes a hurt, and with His help, those trials can refine you.