Divorce - A Whimsical Blend of Faith, Hope and Hell On Earth
There are some things in life you have no control over. At some point you realize perfect is right now, a beautiful mess of faith, hope and hell on earth all at the same time. My hope is that as you embrace my story somewhere in these words you'll be inspired to find peace, joy, laughter and purpose in your own story, as you sometimes journey through darkness that is out of reach to change. Living for today is the best lesson I have learned because really, nobody knows if they have tomorrow. So smile. Be happy. Do a random act of kindness. Don’t miss an opportunity to try something new, dream a dream, or bask in a guilty pleasure. Live every free moment as if you are retired. If you can’t afford vacations take a day trip. Or travel to Europe on the net. For you may never reach retirement. And while looking forward to a brighter future is tempting it is also deceptive. Your future is today. Right here. Right now. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
For 10 years we both worked and fixed up houses storing up wealth in the equity of our home. Then we had kids. 5 in 10 years. And somewhere between loving each other, all we pursued the first 10 years, getting involved in a legalistic-fringe church and the blessing of having children, an unhealthy marriage caused my life to be coated with oppression like cataracts builds over your eyes without you fully realizing the accumulated impact it’s having on your life. Until one day you wake up and realize your entire life has changed, you haven't been allowed to be who you want to be and you don’t do the things you used to do because you’ve been molded into somebody you never wanted to be. You let yourself become hardened and emotionally shut down because it was easier that way. Your spirit broken, you're practically blind and have given up. And you wonder, how did it ever get this bad? And then you scramble trying to figure out what to do to fix it.
Driven by my faith in God, that meant spending the next 5 years going to myriads of counselors, pastors, board of elders, testing, prayer, crying, fighting, screaming, forgiving, trying…..basically kicking around a dead horse. It was damaging to everyone involved and from my perspective it was a disgrace to God.
I have a theory on life. Every past day, every past moment, every past experience has led me to this moment in space and time and shaped me into who I am. Without any of those moments, I’d be a different person. This is who I am. I am God’s creation. And He has allowed me to be alive at this moment in time, and has fashioned me into who I am. And He loves me. And I finally realized I have the extraordinary opportunity to write my history. Because every day I make choices and decisions which in turn become tomorrow. I change my future by the choices I make today. So every moment I choose today to laugh, to smile, to breathe deeply and take in the beauty around me, to be content, means that tomorrow when I look back on my history, I was happy.
While it’s true some places are painful to revisit I really avoid them because I feel they serve no purpose, except to steal away this current moment that could otherwise be spent enjoying something cool about life. Yet if there is any value for someone in telling this story, if it can cause some good or impart faith or hope, then I’ll gladly drudge it all up and spread it out on here as though I were a gifted artist with a heavy wet palette and fresh white canvas.
I’m not sure why on earth I endured a bad marriage as long as I did. Well, I know one reason. Because I thought if I left my marriage I would be sending Christ to the cross all over again, His sacrifice having not been sufficient to overcome my human sins in not getting along with my husband. But I know my life had become toxic beyond repair without me even realizing it. And getting out was the healthiest thing for me to do. It was the right thing for me to do. Sure there are a lot of unanswered questions as to why my children couldn't have the American "happy ever after" in a traditional sense. Why after 27 years of marriage I couldn't have "happy ever after". But the strangest thing occurred. After becoming divorced I found "happy ever after" after all. There is no more fighting. There is no more striving. No more disagreeing and I treasure every peaceful moment in my home. The children that are here, when they are here, are settled. Still tangled in the mess of two parents with a high conflict marriage, divorce and post divorce, but when they are with me I am happy and peaceful and growing into who I was meant to be. And the best part is the freedom of a new opportunity to live life without being controlled and oppressed, without arguments and criticism. I've developed passions and talents that for too long laid buried deep within me. Dormant. Waiting for the chance to come alive. I've nurtured myself with love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and self control and discovered how truly fun and wonderful life can be.
One thing I have learned is that nothing stays the same. There is always something not working, some dilemma you can’t figure out. I feel like I’m on the ‘work till you die’ program, having renewed my mortgage for another 30 years at the age of 51. Working a day job that doesn’t pay the bills. I’m also on the strict ‘no vacation’ program. Having 10 days of vacation off work, and 17 vacation days with my kids, there is never enough vacation time off to be with the kids. And while I get 6 personal or sick days, a good portion of those get used right up at the beginning of each year with trips to the court house representing myself over child support issues.
The truth is, it’s 8:01 am. Somewhere in my own small suburban town a wealthy CEO is perhaps sitting at her computer penning a novel, or packing a suit for yet another trip out of town. Is she any happier? We are all so programmed by life. But we do have the ability to change our programming. I watched the sun rise today. There is a clueless parakeet snapping on seeds near my desk. Really, who decides our happiness? I am so happy just to be alive and have another chance to participate in the world today. I’ll do my best and hope no airplane parts fall out of the sky and squash me like a bug. It’s really about shaking everything off and moving forward with joy and contentment and living in the moment. It’s so easy to smile when I count my blessings. So easy to forgive others and have grace for those who don’t want to be forgiven, but need to be.
Sometimes moments are spent with thoughts vacillating from regret to what may have been - to frustration of what could be that I have little or no control to bring into being – to gratefulness of what is – to joy and peace of knowing that God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all that I could ask or think. And He has! Therefore I’m more than okay with life. Its perfect. A beautiful mess if you will. The key is to keep returning to the gratefulness of what is. Like this moment ...Merry Christmas...listening to my beautiful teen girls singing along with Florence And The Machine while playing video games….watching my son skank past me with pet food (I swear he snarled) under conditions of “go to church Christmas service and in a pleasant mood or lose the cell phone”. They are perfect. Life is perfect - for me, from my perspective.
While there are many unresolved issues and obstacles I face I hope I'm teaching my children by example that sometimes things in life are worth fighting for, and sometimes your health and sanity are more important. Sometimes you have to evaluate and realize you're fighting a losing battle. And sometimes getting wounded in the battle means you have to flee the battlefield for a time of healing and restoration. And in those times, when you think you're giving up on the ideal, in reality you end up reshaping and recreating a better ideal.
I am finally who I was meant to be and I'm living today happily ever after.