I'm getting a divorce
This isn’t about who’s fault it was – who is in the right or the wrong – justifying the title of this post. This is about giving you, the reader, an open door into my soul on this topic.
Let me start by painting who I am. I am the biggest cheerleader for marriage you will find. I am a wedding planner – enthralled by the celebration of love and commitment between two people for a lifetime. To me, it was one of the greatest things about our world – marriage…strong, good marriage. This also translated to me being extremely judgemental anytime I’d hear of an ex-spouse, whether in passing or in direct conversation. I would always, instantly think, ‘That’s so sad that you just couldn’t try harder – you just couldn’t make it work – you gave up.’
Well, let me tell you something. Now, instead of eavesdropping on other conversations where I hear the nasty word, it’s into a mirror. All of the times my heart broke hearing ‘divorce’ in conversations, every time I assumed they didn’t work hard enough, each bitter person I came into contact with that I snuffed at – now has a spotlight shining directly onto it. I am now that person causing someone to have those assumptions, those judgements. If I’m honest, it breaks me.
To think someone assumes I don’t value marriage – to think my heart’s state might be questioned – to think someone might be thinking, ‘she gave up…’ I can’t even go there…
I want to be careful not to turn this post around, because, frankly, that would be very easy. Bitterness is constantly knocking at my door. I’ve let it in a few times, but refuse to let it stay once I catch how quickly it could root itself. But what hurts me the most, is to think someone might think I didn't try hard enough.
If you had let me choose the course my life would go, I would have stayed in my comfy little life hiding behind my purpose as a wife. Unfortunately, that was all a facade. My world was broken and messy. I lost myself in an identity that went completely south. I’ll admit it, I married for the wrong reasons. Listen, I am not excusing what happened – again – this post isn’t about that. However, in hindsight, as many of us know, you see 20/20, and let me tell you, I made mistakes. I thought that if I could just get married, move out, have my own house, etc., my life could get started. I could be my own person instead of just living in shadows. I thought I would have purpose in that…which isn’t necessarily untruth, but I couldn’t see any further than that. This is a dangerous place to be, my friends.
This, led to my realization that the ‘stuff’ – the house, husband, security, dog – didn’t actually fulfill me. What I chalked it up to – feeling unloved. However, I also had placed expectations on this life, and everyone involved, to make me feel as though I had a purpose, as though my life mattered – filling that void. Those are big shoes to fill for anyone – and ones that actually can’t ever be filled by another human. Things in my marriage started to unravel. It was agony for this fairytale-believing, marriage-loving wedding planner.
It wasn’t until I started going to a women’s bible study where my eyes were opened to see how wrong I was, even though I was also being wronged, and how deep, heavy and yucky my sin was. I saw my pile of crap for what it actually was. It was in normal every day stuff – namely ATTITUDE. Towards my God and towards my husband. It stemmed from not feeling like I had a purpose – not feeling like I mattered alone. I had impossible expectations of being fulfilled and found myself constantly disappointed. This would push any person further away from you. Again, I am making no excuses – Men, love your wives to the best of your ability. Even when you don’t feel you’re measuring up. That’s something God will teach her in time, but your job is simply to love.
But women, hear me. Your job is first to trust, love and find yourself in Christ, and second, to respect your husbands. Husbands – give her a reason to respect you (here’s a tip: priorities…ah – see? The bitterness…can just sneak in unexpectedly)!
Once I saw my sin, I started allowing the Lord to work on me, in me and through me. I started learning hard lesson after hard lesson and, let me tell you, they hurt. The stretching, scraping, breaking and bending that the Spirit took me through…actually, let’s change that – IS taking me through…is one of the worst, but most fascinating and rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. Through that, I came to the realization of surrender. The knowledge that this life wasn’t about me having the perfect marriage, the perfect prosperous, western Christian life. This life is about Him, His Kingdom and His glory. Let me just clarify, this isn’t a magic realization potion that takes the hurt and pain away. If anything, it makes it worse - just being honest. However, the sweet sweet release once surrender is reached, is unparalleled. The best way I can describe it is the biggest exhale/sigh ever. And once you’ve done that, you feel a thousand pounds lighter with the realization that you can’t control it anyways, God is good, He’s got you, and you can trust Him.
Now – how do I do this without pointing fingers…let me just give it a shot:
I tried. I tried hard. I gave more of myself than I even knew I had to give. A lot of the time I’d shake my head trying to figure out how I managed to feel lonelier than ever. Nights spent sobbing, exhausted to a point that felt near death. I’m not trying to be dramatic. I can’t quite explain the darkness of the season. The questions, the anxiety, the fear. Grief was a daily experience but I didn’t quite understand that yet. I’m proud of my efforts, my prayers, my sacrifice – but I know none of it would have happened if Jesus hadn’t sustained me the whole way through. Still, despite all this, things fell apart bad. I still tried and I went to battle in prayer. A problem? Prayer came WAY too late. Probably about 10 years too late. *Sidenote: If you aren’t praying for your spouse – present or future – START.*
One day, the Lord took me on a specific journey. He showed me who I was, as Abby, alone. He showed me that He had a plan for me. A glorious future – and it didn’t matter what the past looked like. He asked me to be free to walk in that future. But I was holding on. Why? Because it was my comfort zone – my plan – my identity. Then, suddenly, I realized I didn’t have to go back to that fear, emptiness, loneliness, grief. That it didn’t have to be my identity. My plan wasn’t working, but He had one far better and just needed me to reach this whole new level of surrender.
Well – I did. I surrendered. That surrender came with incredible relief. My burden was lifted and I was freed. He released me to move forward into His plan, and yes, by this, I mean divorce. Some of you may get up in arms here, but frankly, this was my journey with the Lord and He spoke to me. Him and I spent the time together in the lowest of lows – the pit. Him and I grieved together and He knows me the best. I fully believe that God loves marriage. In this situation, He loves it enough to allow me to experience it to His fullest, and the fact that I hadn’t, wasn’t good enough for him. He had better. That may mean a marriage as He intended, it may mean I never marry again. Regardless, my life is purposed for His Kingdom and I’m pretty excited to walk every day with Him and see how the story unfolds.
The date is nearing when I will officially be divorced. No one, except those who have walked/are walking through it, can quite understand the emotions you go through. It’s heartbreaking, relieving, dreaded, anticipated, freeing, heavy, isolating, uniting, private, public, embarrassing, liberating, shaming, strengthening, sad, happy, wrecking and rebuilding all at the same time.
I heard someone once use the following analogy for marriage – where two flesh become one: use elmer’s glue on two pieces of tissue paper. Stick them together and let it dry. Now try pulling them apart. There is no way to separate the two without leaving behind and taking pieces of the other. Unfortunately, I am one of these pieces of tissue paper. However, because of God’s grace, I am whole. Although a little bruised, He has rescued and restored me. I’m more ‘Abby’ than I’ve ever been. I am more sure of who I am in Christ and the plans and purposes He has for me. I have no idea what they are, but frankly, I don’t care. I know they are good and I’m content to follow one step at a time until one day i look up and say, ‘oh I get it!’. I’ve already had a few of those moments and I am SO grateful.
I am still the biggest marriage cheerleader you will find. However, now when I overhear conversations or perhaps, I start them and that opens the door to someone else’s admission, my heart now breaks in a new way. There is no longer any judgement, just concern and open ears to hear of the pain and brokenness they must have endured to get to that point.
If anything, I’m more concerned for the complacent marriages that people just let sit idle. At the risk of tooting my own horn here – if the Lord could give me the strength to do what I did in my situation, you can work at least that hard to overcome complacency. Don’t be lazy, friends. It’s so not worth it.
I am not proud over the title of this article. I am, however, proud of my journey where I’ve been able to acknowledge my ignorance over divorce, see firsthand God’s strength in my weakness, and hear more clearly than ever His song over me filled with promises and hope. January 1, 2015, one of the most difficult days on this journey, He gave me Isaiah 43:19. He is making and has made all things new…He has brought beauty from ashes…and this is only the beginning.