What Divorce has Taught me About Life and the Hard Stuff

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I thought I knew a few things about God, life, myself and relationships pre-divorce… ha!! Needless to say, I knew so very little.  It is interesting how going through the wilderness seasons can be so full of difficulties and yet it is during those times that we learn and grow the most.

Just a warning, this is a long post. I am breaking the “blogger’s 101 rules for success”…but I am okay with that!  Believe me, there is more I could write on this subject so there may be a part 2 at a later time.

Please understand that journaling is heart therapy for me and because I am choosing to live #fearless in 2018, I am sharing!  Everyone’s journey through divorce is different so not everyone will be able to relate to everything that I mention.  However, just maybe there is at least one nugget that may help you in your own life if you find yourself in this place.  If divorce is not a part of your story, maybe this will help you in understanding some of the thoughts and struggles that divorce brings to the heart and mind of someone you may love and care about.

The following is the result of things said to me, things I had to learn the hard way, things that God showed me, things that helped me, things that I struggled with and things that I felt needed to be said. New things will be added later as I am still on this journey.  Please don’t judge me or anyone else who is walking down this road.  Nobody approaches their wedding day thinking or wanting this to be a part of their story! It is so messy, so hard, and so crazy difficult!

First of all, you CAN be divorced AND love Jesus!  You CAN have God’s favor and blessing over your life unlike what some may have told you!  You are NOT a heathen.  You have not been ousted from God’s grace and love. Yes, I had to say it! Now we can move on…ha!

Divorce is life-changing not life-ending!  Your marriage may have died but you are still here! Believe Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11.  The Word of God STILL applies to you!  God’s promises for you have not changed!

Letting go of your toxic marriage is NOT giving up on God NOR your faith.  There are times when it takes MORE faith and courage to let go than to hang on.  KNOW the difference.  I believed that lie for way longer than I care to admit to.  Our Father God is so gracious toward His broken daughters!

There are many losses that divorce demands.  The loss of  your dreams, your family unit, some friends, your extended family,  your “wife” and “Mrs.” status, your plans of growing old together, celebrating 50 years together, sharing grand-babies together and on and on. It is good heart therapy to make a list of your losses and take time to grieve over each one.  It is a process.  Embrace this season and the pain you are feeling.  Don’t deny it or try to hide it so that you can get THROUGH it!

Need some joy?  Let God use you in the midst of your own brokenness! Yep, it is possible!  Sister, you have NOT been put on a shelf! You are not deemed unusable for the Kingdom of God.  That is a lie from the enemy!  I understand that you may need to take a break from some ministry commitments for a season, and understandably so.  However, being overly self-absorbed for a lengthy period of time is not at all beneficial.   Take some time to reach out or simply make yourself  available to encourage a hurting sister.   Not only will it bring you joy to do so, but it might just help with your own healing!

You will be judged.  That’s okay!  Not everyone will understand because not everyone knows the details of your story…AND not everyone needs to know.  The Lord will reveal truth in His timing to those who need to know, the rest… let go!

Guard your heart! You are vulnerable!  Give yourself time to heal.  Give your kids time to heal.  Do NOT rush into another relationship! Make peace with who you are and embrace your singleness. Wait until you can confidently say and know that you are going to be okay with or without being in another relationship.  Ask your Godly mentors and friends if they think you are ready to date.  USE wisdom! Don’t be needy thinking you HAVE to have another man in your life…sister, you don’t!  Under these circumstances, desperation invites devastation! Seek God’s will for YOU!! HE knows what you need! Deal with your stuff…your mess, as much as possible so that you are not a target for another toxic person to come along and bring MORE messiness to your life.  Remember, your choices effect all those in your sphere of influence, especially your children….choose wisely!

The big “D” label it feels you are wearing on your forehead does not exist.  You are not an outcast as though you have the plague. Hold your head up! You are the beloved daughter of God Almighty! Walk like it, talk like it, and act like it!

Find your tribe! You will need prayer warriors who will go to battle for you and your kids on a consistent basis.  You will need those surrounding you who will speak God’s truths to you to combat the lies that the enemy wants you to believe.  You will need mentors, counselors and/or pastors who will come along side of you giving you encouragement and much needed support, wisdom and even rebuke. This is so very important!  Seek them out! Pray about who God wants to use in your life that will have your best interest at heart along with Godly wisdom.  There will be days when you will be in a brain fog, numb, and unable to even pray, but these precious God-sent people will fill in the gaps and lock shields in prayer on your behalf.  DO not for one second underestimate the power of your inner circle and those who you are allowing to speak into your life!

The enemy is your accuser, not God!  You are a child of God.  Your marital status does NOT define you, only God does!

Do NOT use your kids to hurt or get back at your ex.  Do NOT try to get them on your “side” by slandering and speaking negatively about your ex!  Do NOT post degrading and ugly things on social media about your ex!  Your children don’t miss a thing! They are watching! They are listening! Let God be your defender. Let God reveal truth. Do NOT bring more messiness to their broken hearts by taking part in this type of yuck!  Love your kids MORE than yourself and your need for revenge! (Leave the revenge part in God’s hands! Take the high road  always! Read and study Psalm 37) Look out for their best interests! Keeping your mouth shut is the best policy.  If they ask questions, speak truth as God leads but stick with the facts. Don’t bring your emotions into it.  This is not easy but the most beneficial and God honoring, heart-protecting thing you can do.

Some relationship dynamics will change.  Don’t be upset with the friends who do not send you invites any longer.  Show grace.  After all, it’s awkward.  Things ARE different.  Just maybe they do not know what to do with you so they just don’t invite you.  They don’t want to hurt your feelings when all the couples show up and then there is you.  Maybe they think they are protecting you.  Again, show grace, live in grace, and do NOT let offense take root in your heart.  You have enough messiness to deal with, don’t add to it!  God knows the close circle of friends that you need surrounding you.  Be thankful for them and don’t get bogged down with those who are choosing to love you at a distance, it’s okay!

Live. One. Day. At. A. Time. Seriously, I HAD to live this way on my darkest days.  I could not fathom my tomorrows and how things were going to turn out with all the craziness that never seemed to end.  Friend, God will give you grace for THIS day.  AND when tomorrow comes He will give you sufficient grace for THAT day.  He tells us to NOT worry about tomorrow.  Be obedient to His word. Trust Him with ALL of your heart. AND at the end of the day do it all again the next day! HE is faithful!

There are times when you will want to hide from the world and go into seclusion. This is okay in small amounts but if you find yourself in a pity party in which you can’t seem to find the exit door, force yourself to reach out to a friend or mentor.  You were not created to live life without community.   Recognize that caving into seclusion is a tactic by the enemy to destroy you.  Don’t let him.  YOU have a choice to make….choose wisely and don’t ignore that text from a friend or that phone call.  It just may be God’s life line and blessing towards you…receive it!

If your ex is toxic (and maybe even if he is not), cut off all ties except for what is absolutely necessary (due to children).  Looking at his posts on social media will keep you bound and hold you back from moving forward.  I did this. I looked. I watched. I checked it often. AND guess what?  It was NOT at all beneficial to me or my healing, it was just the opposite.  I ugly cried, I battled with the “that’s not fair” scenarios, I got angry, I had to forgive over and over again, I lived in fear.  I wanted to defend myself (thankfully, I didn’t! Always choose the high road!!!)….it broke me time and time again.  Everyone kept telling me to stop but I found it so difficult to do.  Thankfully, God’s mercy saw to it that it was stopped by His intervention and I am SO thankful! Guess what it did for me? FREEDOM! That’s right! Wow! I did not even realize how very much it was affecting me until it was stopped.  I walked a little more upright  without that heavy burden of accusations and negativity that I was allowing to keep me bound.  I moved forward in ways that I hadn’t before.  It may be hard to do but once you break that need to “see” and “know” you will find freedom that is so lovely, I promise! LET it go!!!  Just do it already!

It’s okay to not be okay!  You will experience some of the same emotions as if someone you loved had died.  You may be sad, angry, depressed, lonely, and downright heartbroken… you are normal! You are grieving the death of your marriage. It’s a process.  You are not crazy! AND just when you think you have got your footing, it starts all over again.  That just means you loved deeply and there is no fault in that!  Jesus’ promise to you is that He is with you…He is close to you in your brokenness!  You are NOT alone!  Psalm 27:18 declares it!

This could very well be the time that you have to be braver than you have ever been! You may have to stand up for what you believe is right! Let God empower your backbone! Fight for righteousness, fight for what’s in the best interest of your kids, speak the truth and don’t cower in the face of opposition.  You will be surprised at the inner strength and courage Gods give you….it’s a beautiful thing, really! “Jesus makes me brave” became the words I spoke over myself SO many times! AND He DID it!  I did things I felt so incapable of doing because of Jesus in me! He is the difference maker AND game changer in any and all things that we will face in this life! We are blessed! If God is for you, who can be against you? Romans 8:31

Just to re-emphasize…..You may have lost your partner in life but recognize that you are not alone, not ever.  God is your partner, He will help you and fill in the gaps. He will help you as a single mom, as well! It’s you and Jesus and He will not fail you!

A few final thoughts…

Friend, you are going to be okay! Jesus came for broken girls just like you and me. His Word tells us that He came to bind up the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:3).  He is the God of new beginnings and fresh starts.  He forgives, heals, redeems and makes new!! I understand that this is not the life you had planned. It stinks. It hurts. It’s devastating. However, this is NOT the end of your story! There are chapters still to be written! The Lord’s GOOD plans for you are STILL good and have not changed just because your marital status changed.  What you are going through right now is only for a season.  It will not always be this hard or hurt this deeply! I promise! I understand that may be difficult to imagine right now.  However, I am confident that you will look back one day and be amazed at what you gleaned and the beauty that emerged from this time of broken holy dependence upon God…..from one broken sister to another, that is TRUTH, my friend! Our God is faithful, Believe it!

 

Helpless But Not Hopeless

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There are days when life throws unexpected drama, issues, troubles, pain, and you name it.  There are moments that rip a momma’s heart right out of her ever loving chest. Moments that cause anguish, worry, and can totally freak us out. Most moms, myself included, like to feel that they are in control and when a situation arises that can’t be fixed and made all tidy with a little gorilla glue or pretty designed duct tape, we get our ugly cry and this-can’t-be-happening-to-MY-family on real quick.  True Story! Just when you get through one difficult season a new one is on the horizon.  Different circumstances but the same helpless feeling that tries to attach itself to us and steal our peace and joy.  No one is exempt.  This. is. Life. We all have been there and will be there again.  How is that for encouragement, ha!

Sweet sister, may I remind you…as a beloved daughter of God, though your circumstances may cause you to feel helpless, you are not hopeless! Not. Ever. The enemy would like you to believe that the two are interchangeable but that is far from the truth. The fact is, you were never meant to be in control in the first place.  Our place of helplessness invites us to a powerful and beautiful place of undone abandon to the One who knows all and cares about the tiniest details.  In one act of surrender, God reminds us that HE is in control.  It is in this place of humble surrender that enables us to exchange our helplessness for God’s hope.FULL.ness!

Phillipians 4:6-8 has been a special scripture to me.  While attending a connect group at my church we were challenged to memorize it.  In doing so, these verses became a life line to me that has given me hope and peace for many situations that has left my heart feeling helpless.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

The Word of God tells to not be anxious about anything……that means there is nothing that we should allow ourselves to be anxious about.  Easier said than done, right?  So How do we do that? It pretty much spells it out for us.  We pray! We bring our anxious thoughts, our mound of worries, our list of fears, and our helplessness before God.  We thank Him because thanking Him takes our mind OFF of our burdens and on to our Burden-bearer.  Thankfulness helps us to align our focus back to our gracious, faithful and loving Father.  Thankfulness infuses the trust that we have in our Mighty God.  Thankfulness reminds us of ALL that He has done for us in the past.  When we are thankful, we find peace!  That peace…God’s peace,  will actually set a guard over our hearts and minds! However, in order to keep our peace we have to keep reading.  What does it say? After praying and releasing our worries to God we have to be proactive with what we allow ourselves to think about.  We are to think GOOD thoughts…not the what if’s, why me’s or how-can-this-be thoughts.  Stinkin’ thinking will take you right back to that pit of anxious thoughts, again!  I get it. It is not at all easy. When you feel as though your world is falling apart it takes determined faith, stubborn courage, and stark discipline….but isn’t peace so worth it? Your peace and hope is important to God and it should be important to you.

Our New Normal

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It has been just short of two years since my divorce.  For the first year and a half, thinking about entering into a new relationship has had no appeal.  Instead,  I lived with an intentional guarded heart as I  poured my time and energy into my children and in the quiet moments, gleaning over all that had previously transpired.  It was a precious season of healing and blessings in spite of the many court dates, the attorney fees, the forced bravery and the utter unbelievable craziness that had unfolded. However, within this defining journey, came the realization of how very distracted my mind had been throughout the longevity of my marriage, by the way, which never served me nor my children well.  I could easily say this became an idol in my life, an all consuming thief of my emotional energy and time. I was overly occupied with fighting for my marriage and for my husband.   This is not a bad thing…for a season.   However,  being on this side of that battle shows me that I was fighting a war I would never win without losing myself in the process. I am not talking about the lose-yourself-like-Jesus-sacrificial way but the lose-yourself-like-your-heart-doesn’t-matter kind of way. Yet, I was determined.  Many of my days consisted of feeling overwhelmed and anxious about doing all I could to keep my family together while dealing with my own personal brokenness and pain.   I had learned to wear the mask well and hide my messy self behind my stubborn faith and relentless hope that things would get better.  However, I know in my heart that my preoccupation with my, then husband, and his issues is what occupied a huge space in my thoughts and with my actions.

It is interesting and yet, sad to me how we can learn to live with brokenness and weeping wounds, for YEARS for the sake of marriage, children, reputation, and what you think is the “biblical” way for those who claim to follow Jesus.  The pain is always there no matter how hard you try to pray it away.  However, God is so faithful! He is right there with you in the middle of your mess. He is so very gracious to His daughters whose only desire was to grow up, get married, have children and live their happily ever after.  Am I the only one?  I don’t think so!  Maybe you are reading this right now, and you can relate.  I can tell you, my God never left me.  His sweet presence enabled me to rise, if only my head at times, from the pit that had become so familiar in a twisted yet comfortable way and I am utterly thankful! He saw every gut wrenching tear and I am wholly confident that He even divinely protected my heart from things that I still to this day, do not know a thing about.  AND, I am okay with not knowing.  I know enough.  Exposing lies and secrets became my dreaded challenge time and time again.  However, the uncovering of hurtful things never got easier, never.

My prayers for my, then husband, and our marriage were not answered the way I, and so many others had prayed and hoped, and I am okay with that now, too.  He had his issues and I had mine.  We were both broken, just broken differently.  By God’s undeserved and extravagant grace, He rescued me.  The lie that I had held close for so long was gently and unashamedly exposed.  To let go of my marriage was not, by no means, giving up on God NOR my faith.  It was quite the opposite. Trusting that my God had brought me through only to lead me out took MORE bravery and MORE courage and challenged my faith way beyond what this girl could ever muster.  Instead of gaining a healthy marriage, I gained something so much more than I even have words to express.  I gained Christ. Yes, I know… I was His daughter throughout but I have undeniably experienced a deeper level of his amazing grace, his presence, his love, his strength, his faithfulness, and his blessings like I had never experienced before.   All this in the midst of my broken, unpredictable and unintended journey. That to me, is worth SO much more than answered prayers.  What I have experienced is something that no earthly relationship can ever compare to, at least that’s my broken girl story, for now. 

I am not shameful of who I was all those years, at least not now.  I have worked through the shame that tried to attach itself to me in my brokenness. You see, I know I tried. I tried REALLY hard to be the best wife I could be and the best mom I could be.  I endeavored to do everything I could to fix us, to fix him (this is NOT recommended, you can only fix yourself), to make it better, to hide the hurt and to survive.  I was not at all perfect nor was I a “holier than thou” kind of wife.  I had my sins, my struggles, and my shattered heart that wanted control so that I would not get hurt, again.  I have realized that is what fueled my selfish stubbornness, at times.  I own it.  AND I have released it, forgiven by my Father whose extravagant love for me overshadows the broken girl that I have been.  If not for the grace of God, where would I be?

Subsequently, the first year following my divorce I found freedom.  Freedom to be the mom I had always longed to be buried beneath the insecurities, the confirmed suspicions and a wounded heart.  My kids captured my complete attention.  They are who I built my life around.  Them and Jesus.  We needed each other.  They needed to know by my priorities that they had someone in their corner.   Someone that they could depend on. Someone who would love them, invest in them, and love them unconditionally.  And I needed to know that I could do this single mom thing with the Lord up girding me, day in and day out.  Life as we knew it had forever changed; new home, new school, new job, new friends, and only the three of us.  And yet, our faith was our constant companion.  Our God never changes even when we feel ripped to shreds in the confines of the crazy and the messy.  Even when our heads were bent low attempting to escape the new labels and scary statistics that the world threw at us. By the way, have you seen them lately? Well, don’t seek them out if you are a divorced parent….your kids don’t stand a chance from what I have read. BUT GOD is all I can say to that!!! HE IS BIGGER!!! Amen?

Since then, we have pushed through, we have stood together, strong though broken.  We have experienced God’s sweetest blessings through the relentless support of family, faithful friends, church family and Pastors. We have proven that life can go on after such brokenness and that we can even laugh, smile, and enjoy our space again. The beauty of God in our midst is the light that has invited confident hope in the darkest places of our hearts.  It has not been easy.  I will not candy coat any of it. There has been more hard stuff and more brokenness to walk through that caught me blind sided.  That. is. life.  My “word” for 2017 was surrender and that is exactly what I had to do time and time again.  Hitting the carpet in abandoned surrender was truly my survival arsenal.   AND yet, again, God has been so faithful.  HE has been our Anchor that has held us steady through the most horrific storms.  I am abundantly thankful!

A new season is within reach! I am looking forward to the future God has for me and for my children with expectancy and anticipation and maybe, just maybe I will find love again and if not, that’s okay, too! My God is faithful!  My God is enough! I am one blessed girl that has learned that trusting God does not always mean our marriages will be saved or our journey will look like what we had desired or even prayed for. 

What about you?  Has your life taken you on an unintended journey?  Have there been gut-wrenching prayers that seemed to go unnoticed and unanswered?  Sweet sister, God has heard every single one!  You and I can be fully confident that our loving and gracious Father is creating beauty from our ashes, purpose from our pain and preparing us for our eternal ever after!  So be it, Lord!