Thriving After Divorce
I’m really not sure where to begin. Where do I start? Do I start at the point at which I fell in love or the point at which I fell into reality? Do I go into all the details of why I do the things I do because of how it links to my childhood, or do I own the reality of adulthood? I’m honestly not sure where to begin but here goes…
I’m a thirty something with two divorces under my belt. And I have felt enough shame sometimes to fill every seat in church on Sundays. I’ve been lost in love and I’ve loved the lost. So it’s fair to say that, I’ve loved and lost over the years. I have a beautiful teenage daughter from my first marriage, a college sweetheart that didn’t end so sweet. He left me for a mistress, married her within a year of our divorce, had two more daughters, and now lives somewhere in Arizona. My twin boys are from my second marriage, of almost ten years – 13 if you count the courtship, who filed for a divorce without every discussing it with me first. He filed this last year, and began actively seeing a very good friend of mine (now ex-friend) within a month. They’re “in love,” and very recently moved in together – ten short months after our divorce was final. If you only knew the irony of circumstance your chin would hit the floor – but there is no need to even broach the subject.
If I told you that I got pregnant with my daughter out of wedlock, had a shot gun Catholic wedding in the same church that I was baptized in as a little girl, and truly thought it would last a lifetime – Does that change your perspective? If I told you that I was madly in love with my second husband, but chose to have an emotional affair with a neighbor down the street, during what I thought was just a “season” of our marriage – Does that change your perspective? I could make a list of all the things, tit for tat, that strained each marriage; those things may even fall in my favor in the end -But why? Why take the time to make a list of all the realities of adulthood, to compare them, so that I can feel better about where life has brought me? Will it make me happy? Probably not.
See, I have every reason to be angry. I have every reason to want to harbor bitterness, resentment, and anger; until I am forced to look at myself in the mirror or look into the eyes of each of my three children. Whether or not you look into the mirror at the person staring back at you or the reflection of yourself while your children stare back at you – it is a powerfully spiritual moment. If you haven’t ever experienced this then grab a mirror because it’s time.
Ten months ago, while on a beach trip with my parents, sisters, brother-in-laws, and cousins; following the finality of my second divorce, I walked into a tattoo parlor – for the second time in my life (The first was for a butterfly to signify my independence the day I turned 18). I wasn’t there for a memorable moment tattoo, but rather to make a statement. I chose Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I had it strategically placed on the inside of my left foot to symbolize my walk with Christ. However, at the time I had no idea how He would truly get me through the next year.
When my second ex-husband left I had been a stay at home mom for almost six years. We made the decision together when we got pregnant with our sons. I did what I could to make a little extra cash here and there to contribute to our household. I nannyed local neighborhood kids, worked in the Children’s Ministry at our church, ran the childcare for two local MOPs groups (Mothers of Preschoolers), and helped with nursery and childcare for other local Christian churches; however, I had never been the bread winner or handled our finances. When he left I was forced to start making financial decisions that I had never had to make before – I didn’t even know how to set up a home budget!
It seems cliché to talk about perseverance, focus, direction, and all the other things that keep us moving forward when all we want to do it crawl under the covers to a safe place and escape the reality of our lives. It’s easier to be angry, bitter, and resentful than it is to accept the things we cannot change and make the conscious decision to practice Christ-like love and forgiveness; while choosing both joy and happiness over contempt.
It took minutes to make a statement on my body but it took six months for me to make the same statement with my life. I will never forget the day. Following a very moving sermon over podcast I called my pastor. I told him I was a liar and a hypocrite. That I had been lying to myself, my family, my friends; that I had judged and condemned others for the very things I was doing in my life – I was a fake. Then he did what I’m sure most pastors do and that was to reassure me that God knew my heart and that whatever burdens I carried I could relinquish. What happened when I hung up the phone was the most life changing. I dropped to my knees.
I dropped to my knees and cried out to God. I had the first real heart wrenching conversation with my creator and I told him I couldn’t do it anymore. I told him that I had planned my whole life and nothing had ever gone according to plan; that I was tired of trying to be the perfect “everything” for “everyone;” and from that moment forward that I trusted Him to decide how I needed to serve and glorify Him because up to this point I had missed the boat. He laid a blanket of peace over me that I can’t describe – but I can tell you, that the first person I forgave, was myself. I forgave myself.
That was only the beginning. I forgave my daughter’s father for the first time in almost 15 years – a burden I had carried for so long that I hardly saw it as a burden, because it had become a part of who I was. I forgave my parent’s, I forgave my sisters, I forgave any and all of those who had caused me pain and grief over the years – including my recent ex-husband.
It’s crazy. It’s crazy to me how my life and the lenses I see my life through have been altered by simply surrendering myself to the power of true forgiveness through Christ. I feel blessed beyond measure as I look back on a powerless woman who had no idea how to support a household on her own; and revel in all that I have to accomplished because of something as small as surrendering. Like a sail boat that surrenders itself to the wind I have given myself to Christ. I am no longer “faking it, til I make it,” but making it because I know I am on the right path.
I very recently had a hysterectomy – due to medical reasons. When I went into pre-op to pre-register the woman at in-take could see I was a bit nervous and asked if she could pray for me to which I replied, “Of, course.” She prayed for the hands of the surgeon, that the surgery go well, that the recovery be ideal, that I heal quickly, and for peace in my heart for the new season that I was about to embark on; while I wept into the tissue in my hands. However, it wasn’t the prayer that had the most impact on me that morning. It was what she said on the walk down to my pre-op nurse. She said to me, “Sweet heart, thank you for letting me pray for you. I see you don’t have a wedding ring on? Do you have children?” I said, “Yes, three.” She said “I can see in your eyes that you are a little nervous, but I can also see that you have probably been through a lot. While I was praying over you I felt the need to tell you that your story will change lives – so share it. Share your story. It’s part of who you are.” She went on to tell me that she had three children that she raised all on her own for sixteen years without a husband or father – she said the best husband to her was Christ himself. He was always there, never failed her, and was always a good provider. I had no words. This woman didn’t know my story and yet she had lived it.
I didn’t want a second divorce. I begged my husband not to do it. It wasn’t in my plan. However, I have come to a point at which I am thankful for this past year. I feel a happiness I haven’t felt in a very long time. I am closer to my faith than ever before. I’m focused on a career in teaching that God has lead me to. I am running my house, a budget, and my children are thriving in the midst of this recent divorce. I’m on track to get my teaching certificate and likely begin a graduate program geared toward a lifelong dream of mine, educational administration. My story is mine. It’s not perfect. It’s actually pretty messy. However, while I pick up the pieces of this preciously short life, I am humbled by the unimaginable ways that I have been provided for. Looking back over this past year, I see now how Christ has used every experience up this point to light my heart on fire. I wouldn’t change a thing.
So I ask:
Is your life messy? Are there things happening in your life that you have absolutely no control over? Have you taken time to work on cleaning up the mess? Have you taken the time to work on YOU?
Do you need to take a look in the mirror and have an honest conversation with yourself? Do you like what is looking back at you?
If your life is messy, and there are things happening to you that you don’t have any control over, or maybe you’re working your way through cleaning up the mess; take time to work on YOU. Take a long look in the mirror and have an honest conversation with yourself about where your life is, how you got to that place, and think about what steps you can take to move forward, because your place is – well, maybe not so great.
Some positive steps forward:
- Find someone to talk to like a close friend, a counselor, or a pastor. This will help you process your situation and find a healthy resolution to your struggles with the support you need.
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all live in a crazy world, make terrible decisions, horribly debilitating mistakes at times, and those who claim they don’t are liars – fact is, we all do! That’s life. You own it, chalk it up to a learning experience, then make amends to those who you hurt – sometimes this person is YOU; and then you move forward.
- Move forward gracefully – I mean by showing grace to others. We are all on our own journey and you may very well be ahead or behind the curve of someone else.
- Show both grace and mercy to others that maybe have not even begun their journey; but are stuck in a place they don’t want to be. These people could be those that are the closest to you – a spouse, or my case an ex-husband (that I still care deeply for). People will hurt you – intentionally or unintentionally; probably because they are hurting too. It is our Christ-like obligation to love them through this – and what better way than through grace and mercy.
- Most importantly, walk with a forgiving heart. For me, it took two to make my marriages and two to break them. I had a hand in both. (Maybe I was too young to marry the first time, but then that probably falls right into the bucket with all the other sins of my youth.) Bottom line is without a forgiving heart the only one that is held back is YOU. There is a freedom in forgiveness that will liberate you!!
Disclaimer: The above article is a “shared story” written and submitted by one of our readers and posted by Live lethal. The views expressed in this article are those of the “original author” and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Live Lethal or its staff. Live Lethal welcomes and encourages “shared story” submissions. If you have an inspiring story that aims to empower and embolden other woman, please share it here: Share Your Story.
About the Author
Kristyn Haster is a Lifestyle Blogger, Weight Loss Trainer and Self-Confidence Coach living in Boulder, Colorado. As Editor of LiveLethal.com (Crazy Confident You) Blog, she helps woman break out of their shells, gain total confidence and fall in love with life again.