How To Survive My* Divorce

Step 1:  Trust God.

 

Immediately, I fell on my knees, sought Him, and went back to church.  My sense of failure sent me there -- love, forgiveness, and restoration kept me there.

 

Step 2:  Find community.

 

Family support was key, as was friend support.  Stepping into community with fierce protectors, of me and my marriage, kept me strong.  And fighting.

 

Step 3:  Remain hopeful.  

 

I remained hopeful, first for our reconciliation.  Then, for my own restoration.

 

Step 4:  Be honest.

 

There was a period of time early on where I couldn’t share what was going on at home.  But hiding that anguish never felt healthy.  I needed to discuss how I felt to get to a new level of honesty about me, about us.

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God In You

I was driving around last week, listening to the song “God In You” by the PawnShop kings when this lyric leapt out of the radio, grabbed hold of my heart and refused to let go:

Just ‘cause a voice in your head spoke to you

Doesn't mean God’s telling you what to do

That’s not God in you

 

I immediately felt a pit in my stomach because those words, sadly, hit a little too close to home.  How many times have I manipulated God’s word for my own selfish gain?  How many times have I formulated a plan for my life and then “used” God as a justification to continue forward?  

 

I know I’m not the only one, too.  How many divorces have found a husband and wife at odds - one fighting to leave, one fighting to stay, both convinced they were doing “what God told them to do”, even though they were conflicting actions?  How many people have been pulled into cults - Christian cults and otherwise - simply because they felt a burning in their bosom?

How much violence has been attributed to “following God’s voice”?  How many terrorist attacks?  How many abortion clinic bombings?  

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Love Is For Losers

Love is for losers.

 

Losers fail to recognize the needs of their significant other.

Losers avoid confrontation and bury the problem.

Losers have high expectations that do not match reality.

Losers cut themselves off and figure the relationship out alone.

 

Love is for losers.

 

Losers sacrifice their needs for their significant other, placing their needs above their own.

Losers willingly tackle confrontation, even if they may be wrong.

Losers are willing to let go of their expectations, settling instead for the beauty of reality.

Losers are humble enough to seek wise council from the community around them.

 

Everyone is a loser when it comes to love.  You are either losing the relationship or losing yourself in the relationship.  I don’t know about you, but I identify with both sets of losers.  The first set of losers explains how my marriage died.  The second set of losers paints a picture of what my next relationship will be.  Either I’m seeing my wife through my own personal needs, or I am setting those needs aside to humbly meet her needs authentically.  

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A Funny Thing Happened On Facebook

 

When I was in junior high school, a buddy of mine invited me to join the on campus Christian Club.  Realizing that students who participated in an on campus club got a “go to lunch 5 minutes early” pass, I jumped at the offer.  Our lunch lines were horrendous!  The student-led club was basically a Bible study that met once a week, with the occasional guest speaker thrown in.  I wasn’t raised in the church, but I was struck by the good company and became interested in what the big deal was about God and church and stuff.

 

This buddy of mine then invited me to attend church with him.  So, on Sunday mornings, he would bike to my house and then the two of us would pedal through the morning fog for Sunday services.  It was on one of these treks that my friend realized I did not own a Bible.  A few days later, my friend passed down his own well-worn Bible.  The dedication page was covered in white-out, and over the crusty paste he had written my name as the owner of the Bible and scrawled his name on the “From” line.

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No Longer A Believer

I am no longer a believer.  I haven’t been for quite a while, actually.  I think it started when I was going through my divorce.  So much I had understood about God prior to my divorce was completely turned upside down, and I didn’t know what to make of it. I lived a good life, I went to Church, I prayed, I did all the things young Christians are supposed to do - and yet, when I got married my life fell apart.  I believed that God would reward me for my good behavior.  I believed that because I trusted Him, everything would be all right.

 

What I believed was wrong.  But He wasn’t the problem - it was me.  I succumbed to the typical American brand of Christianity.  In the United States, our consumerist culture wired me to expect God to behave like a vending machine.  

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Sacrifice

This morning, I followed my normal pre-work routine.  My alarm rang at 6:45.  I climbed out of bed to turn it off.  I climbed back into bed until the snooze alarm sounded.  I turned that off too, and climbed into bed again.  Finally, after thirty minutes of this game, I was ready to truly get up and face the world.  (Why I can’t just set my alarm thirty minutes later and sleep I’ll never know.)

Next, I journeyed to the bathroom for the morning ritual:  shower, shave, brush my hair (even though I buzz my hair), brush my teeth.  I got dressed, headed to the kitchen and poured myself a bowl of cereal.  I then embarked on a ritual I’ve had in some form or fashion since I was eight - I saw down and read the paper.  

When I was eight, I would literally spend 20 minutes combing through the local paper - skimming articles, checking out the day’s news, reading the funnies.  Nowadays, I migrate back to my computer and skim through the news stories on the website of the local paper.  If I have time, I’ll pop over to a few favorite sites or blogs that are on my newsfeed.  

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Prayer: Answered

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience volunteering at Royal Family Kids’ Camp.  You can read about the importance of the program here.  I recently returned from another week at camp and as expected, returned physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and hesitant to re-enter my “normal” life knowing these kids returned to a life of loneliness, heartache, and continual disappointment.  Soon, I will re-learn how to hold conversations with people older than 8 years old.  I will stop expecting a hearty, kid-friendly meal at exactly 8 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 5:30 p.m..  I’ll be able to sleep through the night without having to escort a child with a small bladder to the bathroom at 4:00 am.  And I’ll stop “seeing” the children from camp at the grocery store, or McDonald’s, or Disneyland, my heart skipping a beat each time.   

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Hallway Good

Marriages that fall apart seem to end in different ways. Witness the couple that argues constantly, always one upping each other with threats to leave, daring each other to end the marriage. Maybe you know a couple that deliberatly spends more time apart than together, slowly realizing that going through a divorce is an inevitable formality they will have to deal with. Or perhaps you've seen the marriage that never ends - they are honoring their vows, sure, but without a relationship or friendship they are missing the purpose behind marriage in the first place.

My marriage was more like a sucker punch to the gut. In hindsight I could see it coming but at the time of impact, it took me by surprise. It was at about the three year mark when our tension boiled over. We were the couple with the friendly facade to the world around us. Everything in our marriage was "hallway good". (You know what I mean - the typical "hallway" response when people ask how things are going). The truth is, I was assuming things were fine with our marriage, ignoring some distinct warning signs. I was doing what I do best - ignoring the problem. Things were happening that were triggering emotions in me - anger, fear, and jealousy to name a few. But my desire to maintain peace allowed me to ignore the red flags in our relationship. This denial allowed us to ignore the root of our problem. We were no longer connecting emotionally and authentically.
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Life Abandoned

Most of us have prized possessions and friendships from our childhood that we cherish well into our adult years.  Ask my older brother and sister and they’ll quickly share embarrassing stories about me clinging to three things - a stuffed polar bear (“Snowy”), flat blanket (not to be confused with Flat Stanley), and Grover.  Grover was identical to the Grover on Sesame Street, that is if Grover on Sesame Street was continually having to sew on his arms or legs, had to deal with fading plastic eyes, and made a habit of “showering” in the washing machine.  I outgrew those items (mostly) in elementary school and I bonded with my childhood best friends, John and Eric.  We spent our summers playing baseball in the front yard, saving our change to buy burritos at Taco Bell, and working out bartering agreements with our household supplies of chocolate milk.  

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Dads

There’s something about a father’s love that is pretty special.  I was reminded of it today as I spent Father’s Day Eve with my own dad hitting golf balls.  I was reminded again this evening at Church when my pastor preached on our Heavenly Father’s love for all of us.  And I was so very grateful of my earthly father’s and Heavenly Father’s love for me as I witnessed members of my church family seek out the blessings their Heavenly Father gives, that their earthly fathers were unable (or unwilling) to articulate.  

 

Our Pastor, Mike Erre (also a Conversant blogger, by the way), painted this picture from another pastor at our church:  imagine a father, sitting alongside his son or daughter, looking them in the eye and saying, “Out of all the little girls in the world, the blond ones, the brunette ones, the short ones, the tall ones, the ones that can run fast and jump high, or the ones that can’t, the ones that are serious, or silly, out of all those little girls, I would choose you.  If I had to do it over and over again, I would choose you again and again.”

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About
Grace makes beauty out of ugly things. I'm no relationship expert, but when my marriage fell apart, God's grace was extended through His community. This is the place to explore that community together.


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