Redemption in Divorce

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If I had remained married, today would have been my anniversary. This day has become like the New Year’s holiday to me, because I tend to reflect deeply about the time that has passed and the time that lies before me. I do not set goals like I may choose to do for a New Year, and I guess this is where my holiday analogy would move toward Thanksgiving. On this day, I find myself so very, very thankful and deeply humbled at the redemption the Lord has brought to my life, which leads to a story that I haven’t shared with many people until this moment.

When my marriage reached the pinnacle of insanity, I dug into my Bible looking for answers. At least, I thought I was looking for answers, but I was really looking for justifications. I was using what I was reading in the Bible to prop up my own insane thinking and to justify continued efforts to ignore all the very obvious evidence that my child and I were in very real danger. I would pray for protection, for 10,000 angels to form a protective perimeter around my house, but I would not leave. I would not leave, because “God hates divorce”, “the husband is the head of the wife”, and “wives obey your husbands” (that was my ex-husband’s favorite) and all those other scriptures, not to mention all the Christian judgments that have become so deeply ingrained in some sectors of Christian culture that they are mistaken as scriptures, were perpetuating the same cycle of shame as the abuse I was enduring. I was trapped by “my faith”. My ex-husband knew it and I knew, and he exploited it for all that he could.

It was not long until I reached a place of such deep mental and emotional anguish that I cried out to God from a place so deep in my soul that I never knew it existed. And you know what, He answered me. Clear as day, He answered me with, “If you will trust me to lead you out of this, I will give it all back to you. Family, friends, everything that you’ve lost will be restored to you”. In that moment, scenes from the last year of my life flashed across my mind, and I recognized them as opportunities God had put before me to escape that I hadn’t taken.

You might think that I packed us up and hit the road right then, but I did not. Trust was not something I was in possession of at that time. My head was all messed up, and I had a long history of poor judgment to prove it. Trusting God to lead me out of that deep hole was out of the question at that time, but like Gideon and so many others, I kept asking for confirmation. I bought a little notebook at the dollar store and carried it around in my bag everywhere I went. All day long for months and months, I would write my prayers and questions for God in my notebook, and when those answers came, I wrote them in my notebook too. In this way, I started building trust with God. He started giving me small successes that helped me begin to trust my judgment again.

That process played out for a year or so, and I finally did leave. And you know what? Only 2 people threw the whole “God hates divorce” thing up at me. One of them was my ex-husband and one of them was another man who had chosen to exit my life for the entire 8 months of my divorce process, and therefore knew next to nothing about what was going on but chose to levy his opinion against me the week that my divorce was final. It makes me wonder what those 2 men have in common that out of all the people who knew the scenario, from professional counselors to preachers to close friends and family, that only those 2 men expressed eerily similar opinions that had I followed them would have kept me in danger. It begs the question: what compels us to use the Bible the way we do, much like a shield to hide our secret sins? But this I know without a doubt: everyone’s secret sin will be exposed at one point or another. All houses built on sand eventually fall. I’ve spent years crawling out of my own collapsed house of sand, learning what true repentance means, trying to show my family and friends that I understand and take full responsibility for the ways that I went wrong, and that I intend to spend every day of the rest of my life following the path that God has laid out for me.

With that being said, let’s go back to the promise God gave me the day that I stood in the bedroom of my beach duplex, face to the ceiling, crying out for relief. The best part of today is looking back and counting the ways He has been faithful to that promise over the years. The first year, I won the right to move out of state from the Florida Court. The next year, I accepted a job that would allow me to support my little family. This year, May Lee and I moved into our very own home. And that is just the “big” stuff! I see His promise answered in some small way just about every week, whether its rekindling relationships that were lost to the chaos of my marriage and divorce, new relationships that have come into my life, advances at work, being able to enjoy experiences that I never thought I would be able to have again, and being able to dust off and reignite talents that have been dormant under the heavy frost of trauma for so long.

All of those things are so very awesome, and I will admit that I am amazed and deeply humbled every time I recognize a new layer of His promise coming to fruition. But I think the best part is yet to come. Some day, when someone else’s sandcastle collapses and all their secret sin is revealed to what feels like the entire world, I’ll be there to help them dig out the way only someone who has had the same experience can. One day, my story is going to help someone else see the light at the end of the tunnel, as well as the light of the One who wants to restore everything they have lost. That will be a great day, my friends. Who knows, maybe that will be one of the experiences I’ll be sharing with you a year from today. Either way, today I trust in His promise fully. I trust the instincts and ability to use good judgment that He has restored to health within me, and I know that goodness and adventure lie ahead.

AMEN.

10 thoughts on “Redemption in Divorce

  1. Shelley, thank you so much for this outpouring of your heart. I knew you a long time ago in Memphis, at White Station. I was in graduate school and helped with the youth group, I think you were in high school. You are a beautiful woman of courage and it is a honor to hear about your journey of faith. It is en-“courage”-ing to me, thank you! Though our stories are different, I am drawn to yours because it is a story of rediscovering and truly finding our real, deepest, self, which is not damaged by the storms of our life because it is hidden with Christ in God. I will pray for you and your daughter and your ministry!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your sancastle story. So many can find comfort and hope in your words. One of these days we need to get together and I would love to share my sandcastle story with you. That your strength comes from God is evident in your words. God bless your precious family!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I know it’s not easy to share such a story, Shelley, and that it takes great courage. Thank you for finding that courage. Though our circumstances were different, I too was surprised how few people (none, actually) threw the “God hates divorce” line at me, compared to how often I threw it at myself. Also, I love the imagery of “the heavy frost of trauma.” I am so glad you are reigniting your talents!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your kind words! And you are so right about throwing “God hates divorce” at myself- I’ve been thinking about that since I wrote this piece, but the thought hadn’t fully formed until you articulated it so well! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and I appreciate the encouragement!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this Shelley.. remember not long ago.. I found your blog and we found many similarities in our lives? God knew what He was doing… I am entering a season of ‘single mommy-ness’. My husband decided just last week to leave our marriage. Although the situations are different, your blog will be here to give me the hope and faith I need to know that we WILL be okay.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Dana, I am so sorry to hear this. But yes, girl, I got your back 🙂 And thanks for commenting, because since this post I’ve been arguing with God about being so vulnerable in what I write. Just this morning the argument was waging, so this comment was a little God wink at just the right moment. Funny how that works!

      Like

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