(*This entry is written with an LDS perspective and my experiences as a member of the church. If you find yourself reading this, and are not a member… please know these words are meant just as much for you as anyone else.)
This exact week last year, I met with a lawyer. I sat broken and bawling in a cold, sterile office that overlooked the very temple I had been married in 8 years prior. I remember trying to be brave and proud. Proud of what I was doing for my children and myself, brave that I was doing what was best.
I also remember feeling broken. utterly alone. and tragically diminished.
I was brave, proud, broken….
and yet more whole than I had been in a very long time.
I had spent the majority of 2017 finding myself again. Remembering what pieces fit together to create a unique, special, and worthy daughter of God.
For the first time in a long time, I put myself first. I followed my passions, created a home, allowed vulnerability to encompass my very essence. I walked tall, laughed loud, went back to school, and believed in myself. A light came into my eyes that had been dimmed for far too long. I was blessed with a community of strength in life and online. And God allowed me to provide for my girls all from my kitchen sink.
I experienced the tender mercy of meeting friends and gaining strength from people and places I never would have expected.
The entire year felt surreal. Like I was living a life I never meant to create. But there I was… writing chapter after chapter of a book that wasn’t supposed to be mine.
I learned more last year than I probably have at any other time in my life. My idea and stigma of life in general has changed. My heart has been opened to recognize that God’s plan is so beautiful, even if the path is nothing we hoped to walk.
Mostly, God’s families don’t look a certain way.
(I grew up in a broken home, where chaos was our norm… but i STILL believed deep down that God had a certain shaped plan that was meant to fit every family, no matter their circumstances. Primary songs filled with good intentions and messages of truth, plagued my spirit to believe there was only one way. Subconscious thoughts grew in my soul from the time I was small. One path. One correct way. One size fits all.)
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this life.
There is simply including God, or dismissing Him.
Everyone’s answers are dictated and formatted distinctly for them.
For each of us. Individually.
What is right for you… may not be right for me.
The number one question I got asked last year… from strangers, friends, family, and this community was “how did you know when it was time to get divorced?”
It was heartbreaking to have so many women reaching out looking for a voice to validate their doubts and insecurities. Wanting so desperately a tangible answer saying, “yes! It is time to go! Clauses x, y, and z have been broken, and you now have support and encouragement to leave your husband and do what is right.” I know- because I too longed for this for years.
Again I say, what is right for me, may not be right for you.
But God knows.
And He will not fail you.
I spent three months tied up in legal drama. Custody, alimony, child support…. the stress and strain and toll is something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.
I spent 12 full months living without my girls 50% of the time.
Not one time, not ONE did their dad come pick them up, that I didn’t find myself crumpled on the floor in defeat and confusion. Losing them was a heartbreak I never imagined.
I emotionally broke down in public, around strangers, and times I least expected it.
But again, God carried me. And I felt joy. Those 12 months were spent with SO many good and powerful life altering moments. Things I never could have learned or gained without being single.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY CURRENT LIFE,
Literally hours before our divorce could have been finalized, miracles happened, hearts softened, and through divine intervention… a family was again made whole.
If I thought 2017 was surreal, believe me… this year has topped that.
My husband and I have found a new life. A different path to create- despite all odds stacked against us.
Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, forgiveness was possible, strength was given, and we were each granted new eyes to see.
I have been SO hesitant to post this. We are talking nine months hesitant. But as I think about filling out divorce papers exactly one year ago, I realize I want to share this with you… in hopes that it might help even one person.
Here is what I want you to know:
- I do NOT regret leaving my husband. Nor do I regret filing for divorce.
- Your happiness, wholeness, safety, and life should not be dictated by your spouse. A marriage is no place for abuse, disrespect, dishonesty, or betrayal. YOU are worth more.
- I am still to this day more proud of that bravery than most things in my life.
- I have 100% confidence (as does my husband) that a fullness of joy could have come EITHER way. Had our divorce been finalized, I would have continued to walk tall, strengthen myself, and fill my soul with good. And I believe I would be just as happy today as I currently am. (THIS MIGHT BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I LEARNED.) My joy might look different, but would be equal in measure. Because I know my worth and comprehend my divine identity. Because I was blessed with the time to become whole again, I no longer base these variables off of my spouse, his choices, and how I believe he feels about me.
- divorced, separated, reconciled, remarried, or single- these labels neither define me nor place any bearing on my worth
- I did not settle. So much hard work, honesty, and change has been introduced into our marriage (from both sides). Otherwise neither one of us would have mended what was once broken.
- We EACH worked on ourselves FOR OURSELVES. My husband made changes because he wanted to, not for me. This has proved vital to our second chance success.
- I believe we had to walk to the very edge in order to understand things the way we do now (and we are still far from perfect!) We both needed to believe and feel that our marriage was truly over in order for us to get where we are now. And I promise – neither of us saw it going this way! God had His hand in every decision of my life last year, and I don’t doubt that what was “right” for my family was a year apart. To heal, to cope, to grow…. and then to change- if we chose to.
My empathy towards families headed to divorce, going through separations, or finding their marriages to be far different than they dreamed is overwhelming.
I now see single moms (and dads) as warriors (well, maybe I always have… but it is with a new sense of love and understanding.)
I recognize second marriages as beautiful examples of God’s grace and goodness. I applaud and am in awe of those of you who have opened your hearts to trust again, find love again, and work on yourselves to become better.
I realize fully that “Families can be together forever” is a song of hope that we might take too literally, and that what fits for one person might be perfectly wrong for another.
I understand now that the Gospel is for everyone, in a fuller sense. Not just words. That those who follow a different path should never feel like “second class members”. And that God really does see us all the same.
Like most things in life, we can plague ourselves till we are sick with the “why me’s?” I will never know why I had to endure a year of being single- but I have asked myself “why me?” many more times this year than last.
My marriage was not healed due to my righteousness. Just as my marriage was not broken due to my unrighteousness. I don’t understand why things have “worked out” for me and my family, and don’t for so many others.
What I do know is that I have done my best to include God.
I know that my husband has done his best to include God.
And that now, together – we are working on doing our best to include God.
You cannot change your spouse. So stop trying. Control the things you can control. Get out if you need to. Work harder if you need to. Forgive faster if you need to. Or leave quicker if you need to.
But include God.
And then listen.
He will answer. I do not know many things. But this is one I do.
He cares. He loves you. He longs for you to be part of His forever family.
So, if you’re questioning divorce… please recognize there is no checklist of wrongdoings that one must posses in order to qualify or justify the need. There are simply millions of God’s children in millions of different situations all here to learn and grow. Get down on your knees, ask God what is right for you and your family.
I promise He will answer.
(*please feel free to share this if someone you know finds themselves in similar shoes. God keeps nudging me to share my story… and I pray it might help someone out there.)
And because I know you’re curious 🙂
We dated for six years before we sealed the deal. We had three kids by our second wedding anniversary. He is seven years older, and I am three inches taller. (I’m really good at hiding this in pictures.) And for the past 15 years, he has been my best friend.
*To my husband,
Thank you for not giving up. On yourself, or on me. For being a steadfast example of not just believing in God, but actually believing God.
Thank you for being a father to our kids that outshines all my wildest dreams.
Thank you for teaching me about forgiveness and letting go.
I love you unconditionally, and am so happy that I get to keep doing this life with you.
(and because I haven’t posted a picture of him in the ENTIRE 9 months we have been back together… here is enough to hold you over forever 🙂