Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Divorce Valley

I wrote this almost two years ago, but never published it.  There were things that I needed to say, but I just wasn't ready to share it.  Divorce feels dirty, taboo and uncomfortable.  However, those who shared their stories helped me live through mine so I know that this needs to be shared. 

Seven months ago I married for the second time.  I never saw this coming.  He literally walked into my life, we became great friends and then we fell in love.  God created tremendous beauty from ashes in my life.

Written in 2014
I often wonder what it would feel like to hear your husband admit to an affair.  Would it be better or worse than discovering all the evidence and confronting him?  I'll never know.  Pieces of my life fell like dominoes around me for months.

Over a three month period I discovered that my husband was involved in a long-term affair.  I was forced to discover every bit of evidence myself.  Even when he knew that I knew bits and pieces, he did not admit to any more than what I knew. I'm sure there are still many pieces that are missing that will never be uncovered, but I'm okay with that.

The feelings are so hard to describe.  Initially, when I learned of my husband's adultery, it was numbness and physical pain.  I literally felt sharp pain in my chest for days. Next came feeling like I was walking around in someone else's life.  I could see myself, but couldn't believe what I was dealing with. Nothing felt real.  The world seemed fuzzy.  I also felt physically sick every time I had to see him to exchange our children.  It was so strange to me that this person that I shared over a decade of my life with suddenly became a person that literally nauseated me.  Then came immense anger.  I'm thankful for the anger, the anger forced me to fight to get my life back and to press on for my children. Then I moved into a phase where I experienced many moments of wondering which parts of my married life were real.  And, the flashbacks of realizing that so many of my good memories are tainted by his double life.  

In a way, I am thankful that God protected me from all the details.  I truly believe that He knew how much I could handle and chose to reveal the depth of the betrayal in layers so it was not completely debilitating.

Know that I never viewed divorce lightly.  I knew that there are only a few instances where the Bible permits divorce.  I knew that there would be serious, life long implications for my children. I also knew with every fiber of my being that my marriage was over.  I found it borderline sociopathic that my husband was able to keep up a double life for years.  I just knew that the only way I could ever be whole again was to be done and so I chose divorce.  

I want to say that I know that there are many couples who are able to forgive the betrayal and heal the broken trust.  I respect that.  I admire that, but I also know that each situation is so very different.  Only the husband and wife and God truly know all of the details.  Having lived through this dark valley, I would never tell someone else how to handle their own trial.  Nothing hurt me more than people who judged my decision as sinful while only knowing pieces of the whole story.  

Churches need to be gentle with spouses who are considering divorce after adultery.  We are already hurting enough without the church imposing a blanket policy on how we should respond.  I'm thankful for the support of friends and Christian counselors who held me together when I was disintegrating.  

I had a difficult time forgiving the pastors of the church I was attending who made me feel that I was wrong to even consider it.  Their harsh admonitions of "So what that he broke the covenant?  We break the covenant with Christ every day" and "Hosea repeatedly took back Gomar" cut deeply when I was already badly wounded. 

A wise friend shared with me that God provides just enough light for the step we're on.  I can testify that this is true.  God walked with me.  He listened.  He knew my every need.  He loved me deeply.  He provided immense comfort.  He sent people to provide encouragement.  He met my physical needs.  He protected my children from the enormity of their lives being torn apart.  He gave clarity where people (some who even claim to teach the Word) could not.  He healed and restored the broken places.  

I prayed and prayed and prayed to be able to forgive my ex-husband.  I knew that in order to be free I had to get to a place of forgiveness and eventually I did.  But, forgiveness does not mean reconciliation.  There is confusion about that in our pulpits.  You can forgive the thief who broke into your home and stole from you.  You don't make the thief a part of your family.  
Divorce is ugly and lonely and misunderstood.  Few people know what to say or how to help or what to do.  Divorce makes other people uncomfortable.  I appreciated my family and friends who continued to love me for me.  Who truly listened.  Who sent me encouraging texts and cards.  Who invited me to do fun things.  Those people taught me what it means to love other people well.  

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