1 Year Divorced: 5 Lessons Learned
Today, I took a personal day from work to just breathe in and out. To be still. To cry if I need to, or not. It's been exactly one year since my divorce was finalized. In today's age it seems divorce is as common as a stubbed toe, and holds about as much importance. As a Christian woman who loves Jesus, who grew up wading the shrapnel of divorce, a broken marriage was my greatest fear.
I used to think it would by easily my fault if my marriage fell apart. I was too broken, too used up, too traumatized, too... me for any man - even one who married me - to love me long-term. I became obsessive about fixing myself to be worthy of love.
Determined to love my husband at his best and his worst, I ignored the signs of addiction and his abusive behavior. I lied to protect him from the views of people I loved. I became determined to simply fix myself - then maybe the abuse would stop.
Hindsight is always 20/20, and it helps nothing to blame ourselves for decisions we made in the past before we had the information we have in the present. For the woman who is considering divorce, the woman who is in the beginnings of all the legalese, or who is about to sign on the thin black line for the last time to make it official, there are some things you ought to know.
No experience is exactly the same, but I'd shout these things from the rooftop before you follow through. If you already have, and you're in those first few weeks or months wondering what you're going to do, this is still applicable.
1. The love you feel has left the marriage has nothing to do with your spouse, and everything to do with your relationship with God. Your husband doesn't determine how loved you are, or how valued you are as a wife, or your ability to love him. Your husband cannot fulfill you, no matter how great he is. God is love, and God is complete, which means His love is complete. Your husband was lacking when you married him. God has already given you His Son, and His Spirit, so you are already completely loved - you are love. Your husband can't take love away from you, nor can he hinder your ability to love, because the love that makes you complete was never his. If you're getting a divorce because the love is gone, you're drawing from the wrong well.
2. No one talks about the spiritual tear. When you stand before God and make the vow to love and cherish forever, you make a covenant before God. What God has brought together, let no man separate. Divorce doesn't just divide assets and children, savings accounts and bills. Divorce breaks a covenant. In my divorce, this has been the thing to cause me the most grief. Beneath the loss of a marriage, the dreams and goals and life I had planned with my husband, beneath the betrayal, his choosing his addiction over me, the abandonment and even beneath the abuse within our marriage... the tearing of our covenant is, by far, the most painful. I share it to help you count the cost - because I believe it would have weighed heavily in my decision. If you feel that tear - you're not alone, and you're not too broken to be healed.
3. Biblical reason for divorce does not make the divorce easier, nor does it void your responsibility to love your enemy. One of the most healing pieces of advice I was ever given was to pray for my ex-husband. Pray blessings on him. Bless those who curse you, pray for those who persecute you. It was like spitting nails at first, but over time and with persistent practice I can pray for the heart and soul of my ex-husband with sincerity that cleanses my own heart of the pain. Our God is a God of LOVE, and divorce, even with biblical support, doesn't void our responsibility to love. Period.
4. The only choice you have, is the one you make. You are not responsible for your husband's choices. You are responsible for yours. If you lay down boundaries with the goal of repentance and restoration, and your spouse refuses to repent and files for divorce, that's his choice and responsibility. Most things are out of your control - but what you choose to do, and how you choose to respond, is not.
5. It's not the end of the world. I faced my worst fear when I learned my husband had lied to me about who he was, had tricked me into marrying him, and had an addiction to sex that was abusive within our marriage and extended beyond our bedroom. He was unrepentant. He had no remorse. I didn't have a job. I had no money. I didn't have a place to live. I didn't realize just how shattered I was during those first few months until recently. I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to make it through most days, or how. But then tomorrow came. One day at a time, one sunrise, one cup of coffee, one conversation, one provision, one breath at a time, God proved He was faithful. "I've got you," I'd hear Him say. And He does. He always did.
God has you, too. My friend, don't make your marriage about your husband. I know that's so counter intuitive in today's society, but your husband does not make it possible for you to love and forgive. Only your relationship with God can do that. however your husband chooses to respond is up to him. Yes, it's difficult; yes, it's excruciating sometimes, but it doesn't have to take away from the peace you have in Christ because your husband cannot take what he did not give you. Peace, wholeness, completeness, love... if you have a relationship with Christ then you have the Holy Spirit and only HE can give these things.
You are loved. You are precious. You are going to be okay - no matter what the outcome. Divorce or no divorce, not even this breaking of a covenant can change how the God of all Creation, your amazing Father in Heaven, feels about you. What you do, and what happens to you, cannot touch His view of you.
Sometimes I wonder if God allowed the last four years of my life, meeting, dating, marrying and divorcing, for the sole purpose of drawing me into the wilderness to woo me back to Himself. He certainly didn't orchestrate the divorce, but He works out all things for the good of those who love Him. He makes all things new. I can say that in facing my greatest fear, walking through the darkest valley, a year later I'm more in love with Jesus that I thought possible.