My name is Mercy Igoki and I am 48 years
old. I am a teacher by choice, training and practice. Am currently the senior
assistant registrar at Pan Africa Christian University. Although my story for
the past 10 years started out as one of heartache, I can honestly say it has
been a lesson in the school that is life. In that school, I have not only seen
God’s mercies, but also experienced healing of my physical bones and learnt the
power of forgiveness. I have also learnt the true meaning of love and friendship
as evidenced by those who have supported me in the face of my struggles and
when my marriage disintegrated. As I recount the circumstances under which my
marriage split up, it is my wish that it will inspire someone to start their
own journey to forgiveness and restoration as opposed to bitterness, anger and
have two boys. My first-born is 23 years and a law graduate, while my
second-born is 20 years old and a medical student at the University of Nairobi.
In 2006 while working as a teacher and counsellor in a local high school, I met
an orphan – a girl – living in a children’s home and I took a liking to her. I
love my sons deeply but I had always wanted a girl to complete my brood. This
was my chance to make up for it and I sat down with my husband and children and
enquired from them whether we could take her in as one of our own. They said
From the first day, we seemed to bond perfectly. She was 16 years old –
three years older than my eldest child – and her name, just like those of my
boys, started with the letter ‘M’. Additionally, we bonded easily over studies
because being a teacher, I could not imagine any of my children faltering in
their education. Many times as we cooked in the kitchen, we would talk
emotionally over how I would give her away to her new family on her wedding day
just as her biological mother would. Our new family was thriving.
Shortly after taking her in, I resigned from my job as a teacher. The
previous year, I had suffered multiple fractures from a near-fatal accident and
I needed time to recuperate. I was still walking on crutches and found it
challenging to keep up with the pace of my previous life.
Instead of resting on my laurels, I enrolled for an undergraduate degree
in education at the Kenya Methodist University in Meru. I would be away from
home sometimes up to three weeks or longer at a time because of my studies.
It was while travelling back from one of these trips in 2008, just after
my daughter had finished high school, that I received a phone call from one of
my neighbours. We were not particularly close but when she asked me about the
girl I was living with, I casually replied to her that she was my daughter. She
prodded further and I told her she was my adopted daughter.
Her reaction was one of surprise because at that point she revealed,
and I quote: “Just know that girl you are living with is not your daughter but
I was shocked. I never would have suspected anything underhand between my
husband and my daughter. I decided to investigate and true to my neighbour’s
warning, I discovered clandestine correspondence between them.
In anger, I confronted them and to my shock, my husband blamed me for the
affair saying I had brought the girl to him. I demanded that the girl move out
of my house. Shoving me, he replied that I could kick her out of the house but
never out of his heart.
While the bitterness I had against them and the hurt I felt in my heart
has thawed, I would be lying if I said I was strong about it when it was
happening. Up to this day I have never understood the level of pain I felt. I
never imagined, as a Christian couple who had preached for 17 years, grown
together in salvation having met in the high school Christian Union where my
husband had been the chairman, this would be the hurdle we would have to cross,
moreover due to the actions of someone I considered not only a child, but my
child and student as well.
Months went on and as we tried to talk, things got worse. We were playing
the blame game, the girl would often call and abuse me and the confrontation
would often escalate to violence. The children were aware of what was happening
but were too stunned to speak. This went on until 2010.
In the midst of fighting for my marriage, a church hired me as the
training coordinator on matters church membership, dedication, baptism and
general training During the final interview, the senior pastor asked if there
was anything I wanted to share. As Christians, there is always pressure to look
perfect especially to fellow Christians. For a long time, I had been ‘too
Christian’ to have problems and had kept quiet about my tribulations. I shared
with the senior pastor that my marriage was on the verge of breaking down and
if God did not intervene, then I would surely lose it. Still, they hired me.
My pastor was not judgmental. He assured me that they had hired me and not my marriage. On October 15, 2010, I signed my contract. A month and a half later, my husband invited our children for dinner. When the children came back home, they informed me their father had said he was never coming back to me. I felt so disrespected. How do you send my children to tell me that our marriage is over?
Months went by and in April the
following year, he came back home saying he was willing to work things out. I
agreed but on condition that I was to be the one and only wife. He said that
was not an option. I was willing to fight for my husband with another woman,
but not with my daughter and at that point he left and in turn, I moved out of
When the finality of our marriage
dawned on me, I became angry and depressed. My world stood still for a moment.
I had remained quiet for a long time hoping things would change. How would I
present this to the public, family, my students and the church, especially my
fellow Christians? I was afraid of being judged. Here I was counselling married
couples, teaching teenagers how true love waits yet love was not waiting in my
The next three months were the most
painful months of my life. I was angry with God and I knew I had a decision to
make. To forgive them or die and if I died, I decided I was not going to die
alone. Without God, it is easy to take the latter route. Mercifully, I had a
lot of support. I belonged to a fellowship in my church called Sister Wednesday
and they stood with me through the physical and emotional pain and healing. My
long time friends and pastors in my church also stood with me. So I took the
easier route, forgiveness.
On June 5, 2011, I went to the
Arboretum gardens in Nairobi at 8am with the sole resolve that I would not
leave until I had made peace with my decision to forgive my husband and
daughter. I ended up crying the whole day but by the time I was leaving at 5pm,
I felt the burden lift and I even managed to sneak in a cat nap.
dom. I started looking at life differently, speaking positively and even
remembered the fun times in my marriage! By July 2012, I had made the decision
to pray for my husband not to come back to me, but because he was God’s
creation and my children’s father, a role he upheld by providing everything
they needed financially.
In 2013, he insisted that the
children stop living with me and get their own place. Without ill feelings, I
agreed. Thankfully, our first-born had already joined campus and the
second-born was in boarding school. However, whenever they were home, I visited
as often as I could.
On April 22, 2015, I was served with
divorce papers. I started following up on our shared properties but it was too
late as most of them were held under my husband’s name and had already been
sold. An attempt to reclaim the properties made me realise I was going to spend
so much money and emotional energy, which I needed as I am currently
undertaking my PhD studies in management and leadership. I let it go.
As I talk to people now, it is with
a lot of understanding. I tell couples while trust is good, do not put people
on pedestals. Share property ownership in full because as a couple, you support
each other regardless of who chipped in the most.
Spare your children the pain of your
drama. When my marriage was breaking, my children were traumatised to the point
of silence. As for my sisters, I would urge them to pursue education. I
honestly do not know where I would be today if I could not support myself.
After everything is said and done, I still honour and love marriage; it is a
good thing ordained by God.”