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Friday, October 30, 2015

Before & After

On the day of my divorce, I burned personal
letters and cards that no longer had value because I deemed
the words insincere and irrelevant to my future.  
I was driving through the mountains on a road I hadn't traveled on in about three years.  Prior to that, I was there often.  It was a short ten minutes from my previous home, and yet now there is a more direct route to the mountains that I take.  Being back on this road, once so familiar and routine, now felt uncertain and I lost my bearings.  I missed a turn.  I couldn't remember the way to a landmark.  I was disoriented.  I felt unsure of myself in a place where once I was the expert.

That is often how I feel about the circumstances in my life.  Once, I felt so sure, so certain that each next step was the right one.  I professed faith, and yet every decision was made with my own calculation and prediction.  I could not have imagined how completely life has shifted from that time "before" the divorce that was final five years ago this week.  I remember how completely disoriented and unsure I felt about my future.  Filing for divorce was the greatest act of faith I had taken up to that point in my life.  I well-remember the sense that God was asking me to choose Him and let go of trying to gain security in a man who struggled with his own issues.

Even years later, I still grieve that ideal family that I spent my early life imagining.  I never considered that it might not remain intact.  My younger-woman-self could not believe that the man I chose might not always choose me.  I didn't realize how significantly that choice would affect the children, even under the best of circumstances.

 
Naively, I thought that the removal of my ex-husband from our home would remove his influence from my life.  I had been told that I was trading one kind of problems for another kind of problems, but now I understand what that means as it plays out in daily life:

  • I don't wonder about who my husband is with, I worry about who is sharing time with my children.
  • I don't stress about impressing my family at holidays, I stress about holidays without some of my favorite people.
  • I don't argue over how to spend our income, I worry over whether child support will always be paid.

Anger doesn't end after divorce.  Hurt doesn't disappear.  My experience as a parent is radically transformed, as is the experience of childhood by the little ones exposed to two homes.  Divorce is the doorway that ends one kind of family, but opens into another kind.  The new life provides much more control over my personal life, and much less control over the lives of my children.  That was explained to me, but I didn't understand it until I lived it firsthand.  It is a humbling and difficult challenge.

And yet, the life during and after divorce has been my most rich living thus far.  I looked around and discovered a whole different tribe of people who were there for me.  I saw with my own eyes how the Lord provides and comforts.  I experience the peace of living in truth at home and elsewhere.  I am more confident in Him than I could have been without the painful journey of divorce.

Mr. Wonderful and I snuck up to the mountains last weekend.
We are headed back tomorrow.
Sometimes I feel disconnected from the person I was before.  I miss the sense of history to share with my spouse.  At the same time, I feel so much more free to be my true self that I can hardly remember the sense of uncertainty, fear and bondage in which I lived for so many years.  I am loved more wholly and more sacrificially by a man who demonstrates with his life, not just his words, that he is committed to me.

The exact season which I feared may destroy me, is the very moment when I witnessed the greatest of miracles.  Surely, five years ago I could not predict where life has brought me.  How I wonder what the next five years might hold?  As I was then, I am confident that God goes before me and my children,.  He will work His way for good and I rest in His security.

I am not the person I was before.  I am not only this life that is after.

 I am before and after. 

Have you experienced any before & after events in life?

Other times I written about my divorce experience:

It's Good, But It's Not The Same (and that's okay)
One Year Later
Is Divorce Wrong?
The "Christian Divorce Advocate"