I've been asked before if I knew then what I know now if I would go through it again, make the same choice. My answer, without hesitation, is "In a heartbeat." The time span from the day I left my ex-husband to the day we signed final paperwork was over two years. Two of the most hellacious, joyful, life changing years of my life. I became a mother. I met the man of my dreams. I cried a lot. I worried a lot. I learned a lot. And best of all, I rebuilt my broken heart and broken life around Jesus.
One of the things I learned was to throw my expectations about people out the window. People you trust will let you down. People you expect negativity from will surprise you. Coming from a Christian family, I expected a lot of criticism when word got out. I don't know if it's because my family knew what I had gone through in my marriage or if it's just because they love me, but I received a ridiculous amount of love and support. I remember being so nervous seeing my Papa for the first time when I moved back to Washington. I was preparing myself for a lecture. Instead, I just got a hug. He held me while I sobbed and just said, "You did the right thing, baby. " It was exactly what I needed to hear. When I miss him the most, I remember that moment.
While my family and friends were supportive, I have run into my fair share of scrutiny. There were a lot of rumors. From the ridiculous (No, I did NOT poop on the floor of my house before moving out to spite my ex- seriously, I heard that one more than once), to the expected (No, I did not have an affair). While I was certainly not blameless in the situation, I don't think I heard one rumor that was even a shadow of the truth. I think the most surprising thing is the comments from the beloved "peanut gallery". Those comments that are said near you, but never to you- that judgemental sweep of the eye to make sure you heard what was said from someone who knows very little about you and nothing about your situation (except of course, the fact that you are indeed divorced). Several months ago, I encountered just that. The comment (which was almost more of a full on speech) was something to the effect of that the person was proud of the people in their family for not getting divorced and feeling sorry for people (like me) who felt that path was ever an option. Wow. I am still thanking God for giving me the grace to stay silent in that moment. You should've heard the internal dialogue happening in my brain; although I'm sure it was burning red hot on my face at the time.
The reason I bring all this up is blessings. If you've been reading, you know I'm actively counting my blessings with the goal of counting up to 1,000. I count my divorce as a blessing. And so it seems less odd when it pops up on my list, I'm going to explain. God delivered me. Changed me. Saved me by His mercy and grace. Someone once explained to me the difference between mercy and grace in a way I've never forgotten. Mercy is God holding back from us the things we deserve as sinners. Grace is God giving us that which we don't deserve. I have received a lot of both in my life. One of the reasons I will forever be thankful for the experience of divorce is the overwhelming appreciation it's given me for the life I have now. It's not hard to count my blessings because I see them everywhere. I know what I want. More importantly, I know what my worth is in Christ Jesus. I know that I never, ever want to experience going through a divorce with Joshua.
I will admit, I am still recovering. I am still healing. I am still praying every day to be flooded with forgiveness and brotherly love for the people surrounding those circumstances that made a difficult situation almost unbearable. But most of all, I'll say it again, I am thankful for the experience. Thankful for the ways it changed me.
And now, the PSA portion. Marriage is hard. No matter how much you love someone, sometimes it is hard. If anyone thinks divorce is an "easy way out," I'm sorry, but that person has not experienced it. At least not in the way I did. In my opinion, staying in a bad relationship, no matter how toxic, would be easier. It is hard to imagine the level of torment you go through during a divorce if you haven't been through it. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. It took me YEARS to make it for myself. Before you even utter the words out loud, go to counseling. Talk to someone you trust. Be honest with yourself. And above all, pray. Pray without ceasing. And understand that even after it's over, it will still be difficult. Make absolutely sure you have exhausted every other option first and be prepared for the consequences. They will be many.
I am by no means an expert on divorce. This is just a piece of my story. And although I feel exposed (and relieved that very few people actually read my blog), it feels good to tell it.
Lastly, I'm going to share a scripture that I repeated over and over and over when things were the hardest. It is etched on my heart and I still say it to myself pretty frequently. As comfort goes, it's better than a pint of Ben and Jerry's.
Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. -I Thessalonians 5:16-18