Somewhere in the latter part of 2010, I found myself content most days. Not in the valley, but not on a mountain top. Life in the middle ain’t such a bad thing. However, I had to be careful not to let something make me cry. Once the tears started, I couldn’t seem to make them stop. As long as I didn’t think about the past too much, about lost hopes and dreams, I could function.
Take for example the night Lindsey thought it would be a good idea to watch Disney’s “Up”. You know, the movie about the couple growing old together and chasing their dreams? As it turns out, not such a good idea. I wept in the fetal position on the couch for an extended period of time. Not quite a hissy fit, but heavy waterworks, nonetheless.
When things like that happened, I was painfully aware I still had deep wounds in places only God could fix. I accepted my healing would take more time, and I was content to live a quiet accountant’s life in rural Virginia, providing an education for my kids.
At Liberty University, there is convocation three times a week — affectionately known as “Convo.” On Wednesday’s, everyone goes. Every student, every faculty member, every employee. The entire campus shuts down. I loved it! I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to hear the best preachers and motivational speakers in the country. I soaked it up every week.
At this particular convo, a man spoke about his ministry of rescuing people from human trafficking, both in America and all over the world. He showed pictures of children being set free from sweatshops and women walking out of brothels, prisoners of the sex trade. Yep, this guy was doing a lot of good things. Very informational! Worthy of support! I didn’t feel it had any real relevance or connection in my life, but I was glad to know someone was called to do it.
He quoted Exodus, and talked of God’s faithfulness in freeing His children from slavery in Egypt. This guy was a modern day Moses, confronting evil captors like they were Pharaoh!
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go . . .
Then he said — and I can still hear his words so clearly . . .
“Prison isn’t always a jail cell or forced slavery. You can be in prison in your own heart, in your own mind, in your own home.
“Somewhere in this audience there is a single mom who feels unworthy, guilty. You feel ‘less than,’ not part of the Body of Christ, useless and disqualified, afraid of what people think. God knows your heart. He knows what your family has been through.
“Do you think He loves the Israelites more than He loves you? Are you less worthy of rescue than they were?
“Let me tell you something. God is STILL in the redemption business. He’s still setting captives free, still breaking heavy chains of bondage. Let Him make you whole again.“
Instantly, I went from a position of, “This is a great ministry. Such a blessing for those people who need rescue!” to a position of, “Wait . . . what? Is he talking to me?!”
Ever have one of those moments? When you feel like you’re the only person in a room (in this case, a room of 10,000 people), and the speaker is talking just to you? When you sit straight up and look around to see if anyone else is having this out of body experience as well?
Could it be? Did God love me as much as He loved the Israelites?
I sort of believed I DESERVED to live with guilt and shame. Shouldn’t I be ashamed of being divorced? God had already spoken to my friend Karen that He was healing me. I believed that. But could I forgive myself of a failed marriage? Could I not only be healed, but made WHOLE again?
In that moment, I felt a heavy weight lift off my body, off my heart, off my mind. No, I couldn’t go back and fix my broken family. But I COULD start over. I set my mind in that Convo, that very day, that I was going to walk in that freedom — to drop the chains that had me bound. Sitting there, I realized forgiving myself was an essential part of my healing, to not just exist, but MADE WHOLE AGAIN.
Before anyone gets their panties in a wad, slow your roll. In no way am I advocating divorce, and neither was the speaker that day, whoever he was. On the contrary, I wouldn’t wish divorce on my worst enemy. I believe in marriage. I believe in keeping your vows and making it work when the road is hard. As happy as Todd and I are, as much as we love each other, we both wish we could have had intact, healthy, happy families for our children. We wish we weren’t divorced. But we’re making the most of the cards we’ve been dealt instead of being held captive by the past.
If you’re looking at divorce in your rear view mirror (or you know someone who is!), let me share a few tidbits of encouragement that I learned from my journey.
- Although God hates divorce, He loves divorced people.
- Jesus didn’t die for marriage. He died for the individual. God sees you as His child, His beloved. You aren’t less important to Him now that you’re single again!
- Don’t soothe your pain with another human being. Jumping into a relationship slows the healing process. No human being can fix your broken heart — only God can. I’m thankful for my years of being single. It freed me from distraction!
- Forgive the pain! Let it go! Give up trying to improve your past!
- If you have children, PAY ATTENTION TO THEM. They’ve never needed you more. They need to know you’ll never leave them. Provide as much stability as you possibly can. Prioritize their health and healing.
And most importantly,
- You aren’t disqualified from use in God’s kingdom. If you’ve survived the trauma of divorce, you can relate. Comfort them that God still has a plan for their good, for their success! Be positive and encouraging. No one wants to be around negativity!
Lest you think this post doesn’t pertain to you because you’re not divorced, hold up! Your prison cell might be one of addiction, fear, unforgiveness, anger, bitterness, anxiety or defeat. Go back and insert your presenting problem into each one of those bullet statements, and find encouragement to start where you are, right where you sit, to walk in FREEDOM and FORGIVENESS. Look around you and say, “This looks like a good place to start.” God loves you as much as He loves the Israelites. You, too, can be made whole again.