My Ex-Husband has Changed but Now It’s Too Late

I know a woman whose ex-husband has begun dating. This is yet just one more painful step in the grieving and healing and letting go process that we know as divorce.

And she is having a hard time.  You see, she prayed for her husband to change. For twenty years. And then she initiated a divorce. And they have been apart for some time now.

And, as sometimes happens after going through the fire, this man has apparently become a new man. And she is seeing it happen. Except she’s seeing it happen from the sidelines as he moves on with another woman.

I have not had this experience so I cannot claim to fully know what she feels, but as a woman who is wired up with empathy oozing out of me and as an ex-wife who prayed for her husband and her marriage for almost two decades and as a divorcee who has been through hell and back again, I have a pretty good idea what she might be experiencing right now if I were in her shoes.

In fact, she said, “He is the man I was praying for,” and she went on to say that this other woman is reaping the benefits of her prayers.

And yet, her ex-husband has closed the door.  He went through the pain of being rejected. He went through the trauma of combing through his failures. He did the hard work of grieving and healing and letting go. And he has moved on.

This is all just so hard.  There are no easy answers. I swear that if you look up divorce in the dictionary, it only needs a one-word definition: heartbreak.

In this world, post-fall, we are living in a constant state of things-just-should-not-be-like-this.

I am praying for this woman’s healing and her ability to let go and move on. And I am praying for the ex-husband to handle all of this with grace and respect and firm boundaries. And I am praying for the new woman’s heart to be protected.  Someone’s going to be hurt in this. It’s a shame that it has to be like this, but life is just plain hard.

So, sweet divorced one, if this is you…if you are seeing your now ex-husband doing well and moving on with someone else who gets to reap the rewards of your years of prayer, I am so very sorry.  If this happened to me, it would cut deep, I know.  But I want to encourage you to beg God to help you move forward, to help you trust that he is bigger, to help you have a longer view, to help you believe what Scripture says in Psalm 27:13:

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

God is not cruel. It may feel that way at times, and I understand. But ask God to remind you that he is a mystery, that the mystery is part of his beauty. And that someday you will reap different benefits, even if they look nothing like what you hoped or expected.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.-Psalm 147:3


If this post encouraged you, a good next resource for you would be Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage or Living Through Divorce as a Christian Woman.

I am a Wife in a Hard Marriage and that is the Most Important Thing about Me

When I was married, I worked on my marriage and obsessed about my marriage and prayed about my marriage more than I worked on or obsessed about or prayed about my job or my writing or my speaking or my children or my friends or my health or myself or my faith walk, probably combined.  My difficult marriage was at the forefront of my mind almost all of the time.

I’m not proud of that and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong; I’m just saying that was my reality.

In other words, when I was married, WIFE was my most important role, my most defining role. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it wasn’t just a role for me.

Beth =’d wife.

I wasn’t first a human being. I wasn’t first a child of God. I was wife.  (To be more specific, I was bad wife.) And in that encompassing, encapsulating, in that swallowing-whole-of-my-personhood, I lost so very much.

I lost me. I lost who God had created me to be.

And I melted into my partner in super unhealthy ways. It’s called codependency, in fact. And I’ve been doing the codependent dance for as long as I can remember.

Now, you can be codependent even if your marriage partner does not have a standard addiction. If your partner is abusive or you two argue all the time, without even realizing it, you may in actuality thrive on conflict or on drama or on being treated poorly.  (Perhaps it’s what you grew up with, it’s all you’ve ever known, it’s what feels like normal to you.)  You may, deep down, secretly love being obsessed with your difficult relationship.  You may fear having nothing else to think about if your marriage were to up and disappear or up and heal.  You may crave trying to untangle your marriage knots.  I get it.  This was me.

(And if you’re not sure if it’s you, try taking this little quiz…it’s okay, really! I took it myself.)

So, if this is you…if you are in a perpetually hurting marriage and you are – let’s call it what it is – obsessed with your husband and his behaviors and your marriage, there is hope.

  1. Pray. Ask Jesus to bring you healing, to open your eyes to your reality, and to start making you uncomfortable when you obsess and acquiesce.
  2. Get into counseling. If you’ve been living codependently for any length of time, it may take professional skill to undo. A third party can help you with this.
  3. Set some boundaries. If you are being treated on a regular basis, it’s okay to let your husband know that it’s no longer acceptable behavior. For instance, if he insists on yelling at you, you have the right to leave the room. You really, really do.
  4. Rediscover who you are in Christ. Ask God who you are to him. Look up Scripture that reminds you that you are his daughter, that you are his beloved, that you are gifted.
  5. Find yourself as a person. Ask God how he created you and what makes you unique. Start a list of what you love and what you can’t stand. Reflect on your childhood and adolescence…what used to bring you joy? Do you have a hobby that you’ve given up because you just don’t have the emotional energy these days to put towards it? It’s okay to pick it up again, or even – gasp! – try something new, something you’ve always wanted to try.

This will take time. You cannot expect a lifetime of thoughts and actions to be overturned overnight. But you can be free. You can become our own person. Even within the confines of a dysfunctional marriage. Jesus wants to set you free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. –Galatians 5:1

 

Dating Too Soon

I was sitting in on a session about finances for divorced women led by a Christian divorce attorney and he said something that really struck me. He was talking about making big decisions and the importance of having wise counsel because in his experience, and he apologized ahead of time for what he was about to say, people going through a divorce suffer from slight temporary insanity (some more than others).

We all laughed a bit, but then I thought back to my separation and I absolutely have to agree. Yes, in some respects, I was rocking it, doing pretty darn well for a woman whose entire life was coming apart at the seams.  But then, there were plenty of other moments that were just…well, horrible.  Where I was a complete mess and I was completely messing up.  I just was not myself physically, emotionally, mentally, relationally or spiritually.

Which is why I am so freaking adamant about not dating too soon.

I’m not even going to touch on here how I feel about dating while merely separated, because I’ve made myself pretty clear on that one.  (Umm, here are the Cliff Notes: DO NOT DATE WHILE YOU ARE STILL MARRIED {i.e. WHILE SEPARATED}. Oh my lands.)

But I do want to touch on waiting to date post-divorce. Yes, this is just one girl’s opinion.  But it’s one girl who, a) waited almost two years post-divorce before dating, and b) who hears story after story after story about people jumping in too soon, thinking they’re ready.

One story in particular sums up my reasoning pretty well. I know of a woman who started up friendships with two men, one right after the other, before her divorce was final and into the first year post-divorce.

And here’s what happened when the second male relationship ended. It got very quiet. (Because she had filled up the original, normal, divorce-related silence with men.) Too quiet. And she was left with all that she hadn’t worked through yet. And she crashed and burned. And it triggered divorce trauma. And it left her feeling lonelier than before.  And she was confused and talked about regrets and she made some poor choices and her work even suffered.

And I believe this happened for one reason: because when she started seeing someone before she was ready, it was as if she pressed pause on her grieving process and she hi-jacked her own healing. And when the second relationship ended, it was as if she had just gotten divorced emotionally – like her heart was just now experiencing it for the first time – even though her divorce had been final for a year already.  In other words, she was basically starting over with her healing because she had filled her gaps and assuaged her pain with men.

Which brings me back to what that lawyer said. When you are separated or newly divorced, sweet one, you are just a tad temporarily insane – or at the very least: not quite yourself just yet – EVEN IF YOU THINK YOU ARE FINE.

And you may think that you’re all healed up on divorce day, but you’re not. I’m sorry if I sound harsh, but you’re just not.  I even had someone mention to me that she was feeling some things a few months post-divorce that she hadn’t expected to feel because her separation had lasted so long.

Yes.

Because something happens on divorce day. I don’t know what it is. I can’t fully explain it. But something changes and shifts and you could have been separated for years and gone through DivorceCare three times and done every kind of grieving and healing exercise you could get your hands on, but then you’re divorced and it’s like an emotional clock resets itself and in some aspects, you’re just starting your healing. I’m sorry to say this to you, but it’s true.

So if you begin dating just after getting divorced, no matter how long your separation lasted, you’re potentially putting a stop to your healing. Your healing – which should be paramount to you at this time – will simply freeze in its tracks while you begin to intertwine yourself with another man, while you take your not-yet-fully-healed heart and hand it over.

Listen, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, you’re going to do what you’re going to do. I’m just sharing from my experience, and you know, about a thousand other women’s experiences.  You may FEEL ready. But I care about you and I don’t want you to bring more pain onto yourself.

If you want to go into your next relationship ready – for yourself and for the man – give yourself plenty of time to heal beyond the divorce day. Too soon and odds are you will kick yourself later.  And I say all of this with love.

 

 

Do I Have to Have Sex with My Husband?

When all is well in a marriage and both husband and wife are healthy physically and emotionally and life’s stressors aren’t bearing down, sex is wonderful and reciprocal and hopefully desired by both partners.

But this question is not being asked by a woman in this kind of scenario; it is being asked by a woman in a difficult marriage whose husband does not treat her well on a regular basis.

(Let me press pause to say that though 97% of my audience is comprised of women, I do realize that I do have a few men readers and that the man can just as easily be a victim in these scenarios.)

I’ve had wives tell me that their husbands have quoted Scripture to induce guilt; lovely things like, “The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband.” (1 Corinthians 7:4) (There’s a name for this, by the way – for using Scripture to attempt to control or manipulate someone – it’s called spiritual abuse.)

I know of a situation where the husband asked the couples’ counselor, in front of the wife, mid-separation, if they should be having sex. The counselor said that, yes, the Bible talked about withholding sex only for times of prayer and that ideally a married couple should he having sex. So the wife went home that night, in an effort to do everything she was told by her counselors, and offered herself to her husband, only for him to make her feel small and disrespected and whore-ish in his icy response.

Yes, as a married couple, we are to give ourselves over to our spouses. Yes, our bodies are no longer our own.  And yet…

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. –Ephesians 5:25

…there are situations and seasons and entire marriages when the husband is being abusive towards his wife, doing the opposite of what Paul commanded here, and yet still expects sex from his wife.

This is one of those times when life just isn’t as it’s supposed to be. And yet the wife in this marriage wants to follow God, wants to be obedient, and perhaps even wants to have sex for sex’s sake, and yet, feels this inner struggle because odds are she may not love her husband, she may have no respect for him, she may feel no desire for him, she abhors – rightly so – feeling used or like a prostitute (without the money left on the nightstand).

And so she’s torn. If this is you…and this has been me…here is what I would do:

  1. Pray. Tell God exactly what you’re feeling. Admit your lack of desire. Admit your anger or resentment. Admit you don’t know what to do and ask for wisdom.
  2. Sift through your circumstances with brutal self-honesty. I ask this with all the gentleness I can muster up: are you truly being abused and mistreated, or are you being stubborn and selfish? I believe that if you ask God to reveal your true motives, he will.
  3. Seek out counsel from someone you trust. Find either a woman who has been in a difficult Christian marriage or a Christian counselor who understands abusive marriages, and share your situation.
  4. Try talking to your husband. Try explaining to him that sex, for you as a woman, is an emotional act, and it is tied into all the other parts of your marriage (from what I understand, that is not the case for the man, so he may not fully understand where you’re coming from). Explain to him that when he is unkind to you, it makes it very difficult for you to want to be intimate with him.
  5. Have sex, but only IF you can do so without it adding resentment onto the pile of issues already stacking up and IF you can do so with a pure motive to serve the man who is your husband.
  6.  OR Don’t have sex, but only IF you cannot do so without being in fear or feeling violated or even more broken.
  7.  Be aware that in the cycle of abuse, sex can be the act that ends the honeymoon phase. I am not saying this so that you may use it to manipulate him to keep him on his best behavior; I am saying this so that you are not thrown off guard if things do go back to being bad after you acquiesce.

This is so very hard, sweet ones. There are no easy answers.  Yes, the Bible says have sex if married, but the Bible also talks about treating each other the way we wish to be treated and laying our lives down for each other.

My personal belief is that, either way, if your heart is in the right place and if you are prayerful, you will not be considered disobedient. And remember that regardless of what you choose to do, you are still loved and there is still grace.

 

 

If this post resonated with you, then you’d benefit from Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage, found here.

A Little Relationship Update

I thought I’d share how my relationship is going for two reasons: 1) because you all apparently care (which I’m basing on the crazy responses to any Tall-Shadow references on my writer page), which is totally sweet, and 2) not that I’m a dating role model by any means but simply so you can see the choices we’re making along the way.

Tall-Shadow and I live ninety minutes apart, so this means he and I are having to put in some serious effort (and mileage) to make this relationship happen. And though he and I are having our fair share of fun (mini-golf, go-karting, golfing, bowling, Starved Rock, Navy Pier, the movies, a boat ride, family dinners, double dates, and lots and lots of lunches and dinners both in and out, with and without kids), dating – for us – is not all fun and games. Fotor0100112140 I am at the age where I am not dating just to be dating.  I am not just hanging out with Tall-Shadow for the heck of it. He and I are both in it to see if we’d be suitable lifelong companions for one another.

Now, some of you may think that at under three months, that is just too fast to be thinking that way.  You can think that all you’d like. But I am taking this journey very seriously, as is the sweet man. First of all, on almost every date, we ask good questions. I’ve even bought a bunch of dating-questions books and bring my Kindle along a good deal of the time.

Then, we worked through Freeway together, which was so great. I LOVE this small group material. In fact, in my twenty-five plus years of leading and being in small groups, this is hands down my favorite material yet.  I cannot recommend it highly enough to do on your own, in your small group or as a couple. It’ll get you to open up and really dive in to your past hurts and to see the freedom that Christ wants for you in your present and your future.

We then finished that and met with his pastor to talk through some issues.  I met with a sweet divorced woman who has recently remarried to barrage her with questions. And now we’ve started meeting with my counselor to begin talking through pre-pre-marital stuff (might as well figure all this out now, people). And we are going through Les & Leslie Parrott’s Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts book and workbooks.

Again, this may sound too soon to some of you, but my biological clock is ticking…and by that, I don’t mean as in to reproduce (for the love!); I mean that our combined age is 92 and we’re almost dead. We’ve been around the block. We’ve both been married. Life is short and we both know what we’re looking for, what we don’t want, the kind of people we want to be and the marriage we want to have this time around.

Now, one more thing I want to touch on.  I know what it’s like to read someone’s blog or follow a musician’s career and feel as if I know the person…to feel like, “Well, that person did such-and-such, so I can too…” If you feel even an ounce of that with me, just by reading my blog, I want to gently caution you. You can “follow” me to the extent that I am trying to follow Jesus in this (but I’m still messing up along the way…I am totally human after all).  But you cannot and should not follow me step-by-step in my process or in my timeline.

I told my daughter that I feel I have to do this all of this right because I have a thousand women watching me to see how I walk this all out, and my wise-beyond-her-years almost-eighteen-year-old said, “You’re putting too much pressure on yourself.”  (She’s right.)

I may end up getting married sooner than some of you would think is prudent. (I also may totally not.) But what I need you to know is that I love Jesus; Tall-Shadow loves Jesus (ANY man I would even consider marrying would have to love Jesus); we are being prayerful; we are being thorough (trust me, I am leaving no stone left unturned); and because we have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, we are the experts of our own lives, and have been given a spirit of wisdom and a sound mind to make our own decisions. Just like you.

So please, follow along with me, if you like…but please, do so more out of a healthy curiosity than as any kind of dating leader/guru/trailblazer.  Because Jesus should be your one and only true Guide, and he is the only one who can tell you what’s best for you, just like he will with me.


If this post encouraged you, you’d benefit from Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage or Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman.

How Can I Know If He’s “the One”?

Short answer: You can’t. And it kinda doesn’t matter. (Wait, what??)

Long answer to follow.

Now that I’m seeing someone, I am of course asking myself this very question. Too soon, some may say, but we’re no spring chickens.  We’re not just dating to date. We’re not just having fun.  We’re taking this thing seriously.

So, I’ve been asking myself a ton of questions.

Is he the one for me?

Am I the one for him?

Will this sweet season of affection and tender words last into marriage?

Sure, we get along now, but what if the other shoe drops? (The other shoe always seems to drop.)

Does God want us to be together?

Can we serve God better together than apart?

Can we help each other become closer to Christ?

Now, some of these questions are good and healthy. And some are admittedly a bit self-absorbed.

But I’m not quite sure any of them are really the right question.

I’ve heard it more than once that there isn’t just one person for every person, that there are probably hundreds of people that you could be paired up with to be married to and you’d get along just fine and you could have a good marriage. That what it comes down to is commitment, regardless of what comes.

Because if I am to gauge this decision on whether this man is the one for me based solely on these first few months, then of course I could marry him. In my humanness and selfishness, I could easily commit to being the wife of a man who loves me this well and thinks I’m adorable and buys me presents and prays for me.

However…

Suppose sweet man and I get married. And suppose we get back from our honeymoon. And suppose, his first day back at work, he is in some kind of accident (he said, “Gee, thanks” when I was giving him this example), and he is incapacitated from that day on.

He can no longer work and therefore can no longer provide for himself or now for us.

He can no longer walk and therefore not only cannot go places with me, but he will need to be taken care of.

He can no longer reach for my hand or feed himself.

His tender words are replaced with a bitter attitude.

His faith is replaced with doubt and he therefore no longer prays for me or wants to read Scripture or go to church.

In other words, suppose life happens. And something happens to this sweet man that completely changes him from who I know now.

Which means the real question isn’t how do I know if he’s the one for me? but do I have it in me to be unselfish enough and committed enough to potentially take care of this particular human being for the rest of our lives no matter what happens to either one of us?

In other words, am I ready to die to myself every day?

No one really knows what they’re signing on for when they get married, even those of us who have been married before.

No one really knows what they’re capable of.

No one can predict the future.

No one can, in all honesty, say that they are vowing to die to self when they take their marriage vows. If you think about it, what most are vowing to do is keep loving the person in front of them with the hopes that nothing huge changes.

No one really believes they’re fully ready for something like this.

No one can enter into marriage with one hundred percent certainty that all will go well.

So, in my humble opinion, though, yes, you can take personality tests and work on communication skills, and yes, it’s way better to move forward into marriage with someone who treats you well and you get along with who doesn’t have an addiction or abuse you, of course; but really, what it all comes down to is not how great the man is but instead are you ready to sacrificially love another person for a very, very long time, no matter what?

That’s the better question.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:13

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you should check out Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage and Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman.

Pain is Pain, No Matter the Year

During my marriage, I kept journals. Lots and lots of journals.  Some would say it was a record of wrongs, something we as Christ-followers are called not to do as an act of love.  But I knew better. I knew what my journal meant to me.

It was my lifeline.

It was the place I could be the most honest.

It was holy ground where I wrestled with God, wrestled with the mysteries and sadnesses and fears of my marriage journey that was so continuously confounding to me.

I never once looked at them as evidence, as proof that things were as horrible as I thought. Instead, I was simply a girl who was desperately hurting, begging Jesus on the page to help me figure all of it out.

I never once thought anyone would be privy to those private thoughts.

So, imagine my surprise one day when I was window-shopping with Tall-Shadow at an antique store, and came across this:

photo (6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you might imagine, being a woman who is a journaler, being a woman who was in a difficult marriage, and being a woman whose current life’s work is to come alongside hurting women, I was drawn to this little book.

And in the pages, I read such sad, sad words. So much so that I began crying in the store (completely befuddling Tall-Shadow, I’m sure).

photo (7)

 

 

 

 

 

But I had to have that book. I knew that one of two things would happen with that diary if I didn’t buy it: it would either remain unpurchased, or someone who wouldn’t understand its profound meaning would buy it and perhaps poke fun or roll their eyes. And I felt that in my buying it, I was honoring this sweet woman who was now gone, but who lived in a very difficult marriage.

Her diary chronicles between 1929 and 1935, and she has entries that say things like:

…gave back his Xmas basket…did not get what he wanted…real ornery and mean…

…not a word…nice way to start a new year…

…can’t depend on him…his word doesn’t mean anything…

…found tin of ten eggs he had hid…so mean…

…asked him to dry dishes…refused…said nasty things…

…told me to go to hell…

…did not get up with me this morning to fix fire or put coal on this winter…sure has been fierce…

…is fierce again, almost unbearable…

…did not come home for supper until 8 o’clock…

…went to burlesque show…did not get home til 10:10…

…did not speak to me for two weeks…

…I was sick today…would not lift a finger…

…he sure is sore I enjoyed my vacation, but believe me, I needed it… (This one made me smile.)

…called me a G.D. liar…

…Sunday was terrible…smashed me into the door…made my arm, chest and shoulder black and blue…

…can’t stand it much longer… (This comment – about not being able to stand it much longer – she said at least a half dozen times spanning six years. I totally get it.)

Completely and utterly heartbreaking, right? I almost could not bear to read it. This precious woman was an abused wife, in every way if her chronicles are accurate.  If I could, I would go back in time and walk into her kitchen as she’s writing these words and whisper to her that she is not alone, that there is a better way. That there are options. That there is help. That God sees her pain and loves her.

But I can’t.

So this is what I can do.

I can say those words to you, sweet reader. If you are in a relationship that resembles this woman’s, you are not alone. There is a better way. There are options. There is help. God sees your pain and God loves you through and through.

And I can also pray that if I am ever blessed with a new husband and a second chance at marriage, that my new journals will be filled with words of gratitude for a man who loves me well and tenderly and prayerfully. And that that chronicle will override the first half of my life, and will show others that there is light and redemption and hope.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” –Joel 2:25

 

 

If this post resonated with you, I’d recommend Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage.

Why Hearing Someone Say “My Marriage is Healed” Freaks Some People Out

fanpopI recently, in one day, had four women message me that their marriages were turning around, one even crazily giving me and her counselor credit. (That could silence some naysayers if only they’d let it. But anyway…)

Four women. Four marriages. Being restored. Being healed.

Even as a divorced woman, whose marriage did not turn around after fifteen months of a reconciliation attempt and much, much prayer, I can say hallelujah and I get chills.

Because that is gorgeous. Simply gorgeous.

And so, I had this idea to create a new private Facebook group for women whose marriages are either restoring or reconciled.  Because I realized that women in difficult marriages are typically working at their marriages on their own and need a certain kind of support; but then there are women whose marriages have both partners engaged and have a different kind of support need, and why not offer both? Totally innocent, right?

What I didn’t expect was some pushback.

As in, “So, are those of us in the difficult marriage group actually now the destined-to-be-divorced group?” And, “I think the real question is why doesn’t God heal all those other Christian marriages?”

These responses tell me something. Not something new, more of a reminder. And it’s this: there is just so much pain.  So much uncertainty. So much confusion.  So much disappointment.

To the first question of is your destiny divorce? No, sweet one, a thousand times no.  If you are in a hard marriage and your partner is not engaged now does not mean your partner will not engage at some point in the future. Today’s reality is your current reality but I think we all know by now that with God, anything is possible and there is no telling what God may do in you and in your husband and in your marriage. You are married until you are divorced.  And you are not destined to be divorced.

But with that said, yes, some in the difficult marriage group may end up at some point asking me to move them over to the divorced group. And if that happens, it is not a death sentence. If you get divorced, your life will not be over. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: divorce is life-changing, but it is not life-ending. Trust me on this.  Trust me. But let’s not cross that bridge just yet, shall we?

And to the second question of why doesn’t God heal all Christian marriages? Oh honey.  My best guess is this: God is a mystery. He can do whatever he wants. Can he heal every marriage, every person, e-ver-y-thing? Of course. He is sovereign and all-powerful and holy. And yet, he has given us the amazing and wild gift of free will. Which means that though it takes only one to forgive, it takes two to reconcile. You can want something with your whole heart, you can pray every moment of every day, you can do the hard work and read your Bible and attend church and serve your sweet little heart out and go to counseling, but if your husband does not want to reconcile, you can’t make him and God won’t make him, even if it hurts you.

So, I know that hearing of someone else’s good news that runs counter to your own life can sting. I totally get that. And when I say that, I mean it. When I was in my difficult marriage, and I would hear of a marital turnaround, I am embarrassed to admit, instead of rejoicing in God’s healing work, I would sometimes cynically and in my anger be bothered by it, in part because I think I didn’t want to be left all alone in the hard-marriage boat. Misery craves company and all.  So, when I say I get this, I truly get this.

And yet, we are commanded something simple yet profound:

Mourn with those who mourn; rejoice with those who rejoice. –Romans 12:15-

I think we, especially as women, are amazing at mourning with those who mourn, but we have a little work to do in dancing on the tables with others, especially if they are celebrating a victory in an area where we struggle. And yet, this is a part of maturity. This is a part of living like Christ. This is a part of life.

Plus, if and when your victory comes, you want those you love celebrating with you, right?  So, let those healing/healed marriages point you to the hope that it could happen to you  but better still, point you to the One who just might surprise you.

 

 

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.

I’m Divorced & Hate My Life

Someone actually typed in the following sentence into Google and wound up on my site:

searches
This makes me so very sad.  Now, I don’t consider myself to be an optimistic person (total realist) or a Pollyanna (I want to strangle people who try to feed me clichés when I’m in a hard stretch), but even when I have bad days or weeks or swirly panic months and I can’t seem to get excited about my life (or as I said to a friend a little ways back, “I have nothing to look forward to” {I KNOW I have heaven to look forward to; that’s not what I meant}), I don’t think I have ever really been able to say that I hate my life.  Even when I was in the thick of my hard marriage and crying every day. Even when I was wallowing in my new divorce-ness.

My life has been hard. I have seen some really tough stretches. But I have never hated my life.

Which is why this sentence – “47 divorced female hate my life” – breaks my heart.

I have a feeling, however, that this sweet 47-year-old divorced female is not the only person to feel that way.  So in case she comes back to my blog, I’m writing this for her, and for every woman who feels like life is just too hard or she is just too sad to want to keep going. And I’m writing it for the friend who tweeted that she wished her current story weren’t her story. I completely get this.

What I’m about to say kinda flies in the face of a little something I believe that all we really deserve in life is hell so anything above and beyond that is icing.  (That might sound like a really dark lens to view life through but I’m tellin’ ya, when you think that way, all of life’s gifts feel like extravagances, seriously. And it keeps that whole entitlement sin from creeping in too.)

Anyway, I ran across this verse today, that I’m sure I have read hundreds of times, and it sort of did a little something to my heart.

I am expecting the Lord to rescue me again, so that once again I will see his goodness to me here in the land of the living. –Psalm 27:13-

This sounds to me like I maybe should be expecting a tad more from God in my lifetime.  Now, to be clear, not that I will get and deserve every single thing that I want.  He’s not a vending machine or a my fairy godmother.  He’s God. But good things from God are not just relegated to heaven according to this verse…in the land of the living.  In other words, now-ish.  While, you know, we’re still alive.

Which reminds me of this verse that people have been telling me for years regarding my difficult marriage:

I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten… -Joel 2:25-

So all this to say, please hear me when I say this: I know how hard life can be. I have spent decades in hidden pain. I have sob-cried while lying on my bathroom floor more often than I remember. I have been in such sadness that I could feel an actual ache in my chest.  Life is hard. Life is filled with pain. Life doesn’t always go the way we hope or plan. People can hurt you and betray you. You can feel alone.

And yet, I know this to be true…even more true if that make sense:

God is good.
God loves you.
God is the giver of good gifts.
You are created by God.
He has a plan for your life that is good (even when it feels bad).
Jesus came to bring you abundant life.

I am so, so deeply sorry that you are in pain today. I am so sorry that life feels unendurable.  I am so sorry that you hate where you find yourself.  I know, sweet one, I’ve been there.

But please know this: Your life matters. Your life is of deep value. You are loved. You are seen. Your life is worth living. Your life will turn around. It may not turn around today or tomorrow. It  may not look the way you want it to look. But I believe that you can take heart, because you will see God’s goodness in the land of the living.

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Are You Wielding Your Parenting Power Carefully?

I made a stark realization recently that left me very humbled. It came to my attention through a combination of a dear friend and the Holy Spirit that what I write may affect my children at some point, if not now.

I hate to say it, but that was brand new information to me.  My justification all this time has been simple: my kids don’t read what I write.

But someday, they may.  And though I do not aim to hurt the people in my life who have hurt me, I had to admit that in my quest to reach out to hurting women and in my aim to be as authentic as I can be, I sometimes write things that – though true – could wound.

This led me to the decision to change my professional name, hopefully adding a protective barrier between me and my former spouse, and between me and my sweet children. And though it was a difficult decision, it feels right for me and for us.

But what does this have to do with you as you are slogging through your mommy days, sweet one?

It reoccurred to me how profound of an influence we have over our children with our words.  You have the ability to help shape the perception your children have of their father, whether happily married or devastatingly divorced.

You wield much power.  And my question to you today is this: are you wielding it carelessly or are you wielding it well?

Are you thoughtless – even if unintentionally – when in moments of frustration with your husband?  Do your children hear what you say under your breath about him?  Do your children witness arguments?  Do your children hear you venting on the phone with a friend?

Or, are you thoughtful about this?  Do you build up your husband to your kids?  Do you build up your husband in front of your kids?  Do you point out to them what a good dad he is?  Do you shield them from disagreements that are going off the tracks?

Even if you’re divorced, you still carry much weight and you still can take steps to minimize the negative your children see and hear, and – even if it feels like vinegar in your mouth – you can think of at least one or two kind things to say about their father to them that will help their relationship in the long run.

Our words matter.  Our influence is deep.  Our children are watching and listening and soaking every little thing in.

What are you saying?

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Moving on as a Christian Single Mom”, which can be found here.