It is a very vulnerable place to revisit the memories almost 20 years later and share my divorce journey. It was a story I never dreamed would be mine. I am a pastor’s daughter. I grew up in the church, went to Bible college, and travelled in my own ministry for 8 years before I met a handsome, charming man at a camp where I was speaking and leading music. From the time I was a little girl, I dreamed of falling in love, getting married and becoming a mom. And that’s what I did.
But things are not always what they appear to be. Many of us are experts at putting on our strong, together face so others will only see the “perfect” side. As a side note, social media has elevated our ability to share our “amazing” relationships, and brag on our well-behaved, exceptional children. We post our photos using filters and beautifully worded captions for others to see and admire. Please remember that in all families and individuals are imperfections, brokenness, and sometimes overwhelming stress. Life is messy, not perfect. Don’t let appearances fool you.
In spite of how we looked on the outside, after 16 years of marriage, it came as a shock to most of the people around us when word spread that we were getting a divorce. And make no mistake, word spreads quickly – as do the whispers of whose fault it is and what must have happened. I went to counseling and had friends and family who cared deeply, but many days the darkness felt almost unbearable. Realizing that my children would be forever changed because of the divorce was also incredibly difficult.
My pain was devastating. For months, without warning I would find myself in a puddle of tears. And not just the trickle of tears softly falling down my cheeks – I’m talking about the heaving, ugly cry that shakes your whole body and leaves you exhausted and dehydrated. My life felt shattered. And as with Humpty-Dumpty, I was unable to put the pieces together again. It is terrifying to be facing life-changing decisions while dealing with brain fog that makes it impossible to think clearly. But here I was. No attorney, no job, no house, very little money and no clue about how to navigate this detour. I was so lost.
One of the difficult aspects of walking through the divorce process was that other people, even some who didn’t know me, felt qualified and entitled to judge whether or not I had made the right decision, the godly decision, the fair decision. Regardless of whether there is immorality, addiction, abuse (physical or verbal), abandonment or other factors that bring someone to divorce, the pain and sense of failure is devastating. And never is a person more vulnerable to the crushing blows of words, looks and judgment than when they are broken under the weight and grief of watching their dreams die as their marriage crumbles
During that time, it felt like the pain would never end. But it did. It took time, lots of therapy, wonderful family and friends who loved me through it all, and my faith that somehow God would redeem my story.
Several years ago, friends began to ask if I could talk to someone in their life who was facing divorce. Those women, like I had been, were hurting and needed support – someone who had been through divorce to give them some guidance about what to anticipate during the process. Using the internet to find an attorney or learn about getting a divorce is probably not your best resource.
So four years ago, I started a nonprofit called ReRoute to help women navigate the detour of divorce. We offer personal support/coaching, and based on their needs, we connect our clients with trusted professional resources to assist with legal, financial, emotional and/or spiritual needs.
This detour will end. A new normal will evolve. There is joy, wholeness and purpose ahead.