7 Years

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March of 2019 marked 7 years since my marriage ended. 7 is God’s number of completion so I began to ponder what has been “completed” in my life. What have I “graduated” from?

To start, I have completed the grieving process. I am no longer battling sadness and the pain of loss. I still think about it at times, but I am able to quickly dismiss it and move on. That is tremendous growth for me.

I have completed feeling sorry for myself. No more of the “Why did this happen to me?, Why couldn’t my marriage be successful?” I no longer asks those questions because after 7 years, I have finally realized that I will not get the answers. I know that my future is before me, not behind me.

I have completed rehearsing the relationship. You know how you keep going back in your mind to see if you should have done something differently that could have changed the outcome? No more of that. I know that I was loving, dutiful and faithful. I am responsible for my conduct, not my ex-husband’s.

I have completed feeling ashamed of my failed marriage. It is a part of my story, I own it, but I am allowing God to use it to bring enlightenment, healing and hope in the lives of others.

I have completed wondering if I will ever love again. I do not know and only time will tell. For now, I am focused on enjoying each and every day that God gives me with Him and all the wonderful people who love and support me.

Lastly, I have completed “hiding”. I am now publicly sharing my journey through two divorces in my upcoming book entitled, “Divorce Journey: God Used my Pain for His Purpose.”  

My book can be Pre-ordered at: https://yahscribe.com/shop/. – BOOK RELEASE JULY 2019.

I do not know where you are in your journey, but I am here to tell you that things DO get better, you DO get stronger, and you CAN live the life that God designed for you if you TRUST HIM through the process…on your worst days, TRUST GOD. This is how I made it through.

Proverbs 3:5Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 

The Thoughts Continue…

ANNOUNCEMENT: The Lord has provided an opportunity for me to publish my first book. It will be an addendum to my Divorce blog. The title will be: “Divorce Journey: God Used my Pain for His Purpose“. COMING JULY 2019. 

You may follow my “Divorce Is Not The End” FaceBook page for publishing updates and I would love for you to share my Blog and FB page with others who could benefit from it.

Thank you to all of you that read my blog and follow my page. I appreciate you all.

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The Thoughts Continue…

When you’ve been married and become “One” with another person, it is most challenging to train your mind not to think of them. Actually, I have not been able to achieve mastery in this area. My first marriage ended 19 years ago, and my second ended 7 years ago. I still have thoughts of my Ex-husbands daily.

I realize that I may be an unusual case and perhaps others just slam the door shut in their brains and move on! I have often asked God why can’t I just do that? I think I finally know why.

GENUINE LOVE can’t be turned on and off like a light switch. It runs through the very core of your being and trying to “get rid of it” is about as easy as changing your ethnicity.

After divorce, whether we wanted it or not, we move on because life isn’t going to stand still while we process our trauma. However, moving on is by no means an indicator that all is well. I think it is more so an indicator of, “I’m doing what is required of me because life goes on.” Not everyone can even do that! Some people are stifled by the loss of their spouse and need professional help to work through their pain. I say, if that is what is needed, by all means do what you must to begin your journey to wholeness.

Memories are a funny thing…they don’t go away. The best I’ve learned to do is “file them away” when they surface since I cannot erase them from my “Hard-drive” (Brain).

The memories pose a problem. We run the risk of getting stuck in our past, which hinders our forward movement. It is important that we make forward progress each day, even if it’s baby steps. As long as its forward…that’s what matters.

If you are struggling with constant thoughts of your former marriage, I actually think you are pretty normal. I want to encourage you that as time passes and you begin building a new life for yourself and discover your God-given identity, the thoughts will become less and less intrusive.

You will get through this.

 

Moving On…

REST IF YOU MUST BUT PLEASE DON’T QUIT!!

One of the hardest things for me was accepting what happened and moving on. Life doesn’t stop just because your world has fallen apart.

The challenge of moving on is quite complicated because there are so many things in life that cause you to remember your former spouse. The theater, restaurants, certain smells, songs, his Birthday, commercials, your anniversary, holidays, etc. How do you escape the memories of what used to be but is no more?

One thing that helped me was acknowledging the “reminder”, but telling myself that “I am going to make NEW memories now!” For example, I celebrate my Birthday with my children and then again with two of my closest friends! They make my day really special and I feel loved and spoiled.

Re-inventing your life is no easy task! It is work but the beauty of it is that YOU get to decide how it will go and you need no one else’s approval! How about that?

At this point in my journey, the sting of divorce has passed. It was 7 years as of March 24th and I truly do have a new life and have experienced the transformation that can happen when one surrenders their life to Jesus Christ.

Each day is a gift and because I know the pain that a soul can experience; I do not take my GOOD DAYS for granted.

I’m “Moving On”! Sometimes I move slowly, but I’m still moving towards NEW LIFE! How about joining me?

Practicing His Presence…

Image result for black woman sitting in darkness   03/17/19

As I have traveled this journey of recovery and restoration from the injury of divorce, I have often had to just “sit with God.” I had no words, they wouldn’t form, but I knew I had to be near Him.

I am amazed that I have practiced Christianity for 37 years, but it wasn’t until my life fell apart that I learned the power of “sitting with God.”

What I mean is, there are times that I arise very early, before day, and go to my living room and sit on the couch – no worship music, no praying, no Bible reading…just sitting. I close my eyes and say “God, I am here.” I have no agenda, I just show up. He meets me and I sense His presence around me and the tears begin to flow.

When I am burdened, anxious, concerned or facing a trial; He has taught me to “sit with Him.” When I am in His presence, the “heaviness” leaves. I receive strength and encouragement.

Psalm 61:2(b)..When my heart is overwhelmed: Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

He may remind me of a past problem that He has brought me through which invokes gratitude and praise, or He may bring to mind an area in my life that still needs healing which brings humility. He may remind me of something that I said that I should have said differently. But, most of all, He reassures me that I am LOVED and that He will always be there.

Sometimes that is all I need. I don’t need more money, a new car, a vacation, or a big house. I need to know He is with me.

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There are times when I’m watching TV and God directs me to turn it off and sit with Him. Immediately after my divorce, I went an entire year with no cable or internet. My testimony is that I grew more spiritually in those 12 months than I have in my lifetime. There are times when God will direct me to “shut in” on a Saturday and be with Him. He prepares the agenda by directing me to passages in the Bible to read, topics to study and guides my prayers. This is how I nurture my relationship with Him, by demonstrating to Him that HE is my priority and I don’t give him the “left overs” from my day when everyone else has received my best. Above anything else, I need HIM. He has assured me that I can handle what comes if I stay connected to Him.

John 15:4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

Divorce leaves you broken and shattered. Sometimes so shattered that you will never recover all the pieces of your heart, but the beauty of serving the Lord Jesus Christ is that you can bring Him what remains. He is the God of resurrection and multiplication. He took 2 fish and 5 loaves and fed 5,000 men (multiplication) John 6:9-14. He called forth Lazarus from the grave (Resurrection) John 11:43-44. He is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore. He took the fragments of my broken heart and resurrected me to new life with a new heart. How do I know this? The evidence is that the anger and hatred that crept in when I was rejected, abandoned, and betrayed is gone. There is now forgiveness, love and compassion. God is using my pain and testimony to bring healing, peace, hope and restoration to others. That is multiplication.

Oh how I need Him. Oh how I love Him. I don’t even view my life the same anymore! This is because God pushed the “Reset” button and gave me a new mindset, a new attitude, new desires and ambitions – all to bring glory to Him!

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Too often, we seek religion – legalistic practice of do’s and dont’s. I am here to tell you that God wants RELATIONSHIP. He does not just want you to know ABOUT HIM, but He wants you TO KNOW HIM, intimately.

How can you embark upon this relationship? Try “Sitting with God.”

Scripture references taken from biblegateway.com. Photos/Graphics taken from Google images 

 

What about the children?

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Most of us give thought to the impact of divorce on the couple involved in the marital relationship.

However, I often wonder how much consideration is given to the impact of divorce on the children.

There are many factors that come into play that effect how a child handles this horrible demise of their family and there will be unique situations, but for the most part, children are often “in the middle” of Mom and Dad and depending on the maturity of the parents, children can suffer additional heartache and pain because of their parent’s inability to co-parent as responsible adults.

Too often, children are used as “pawns” by one or both parents to gain control or leverage over the other parent. Children are placed in situations where they have to listen to one or both parents berate and disrespect the other. Sometimes, incredibly selfish and immature parents try to “win” the loyalty of the child by bribing them with material gifts.

Parents use children to “spy” on the other parent and report back to them the household behavior of the other parent. Or, one parent may decide to be unnecessarily non-compliant and refuse to obey court orders governing the children.

Angry Words: Why Your School Needs Reviews Today!Here is my question to parents creating these unnecessary hardships in the lives of their children: If divorce is so painstakingly traumatizing to ADULTS, how much MORE traumatizing do you think it is to your CHILD who has no adult life experience or coping skills?

Parents, WAKE UP! You have a responsibility to provide as much stability and safety for your child(ren) as you possibly can. Children must have stability in order to feel safe and secure in the world. When a parent has had to leave the home; a landmine has been set off in your child’s life.

Stop arguing in front of your children. Stop talking about their “Daddy” and reminding them of how no good you think he is. Let me give you some advice. Whatever their Father is or isn’t, they will discover in time on their OWN. You do not need to tell them and if you continue to berate their father, you run the risk of the tables turning and them growing to resent YOU. I use this example because the case of mother berating father happens quite frequently. However, it works both ways.

Divorcing couples with children need to understand the difference in relationship. He or she was YOUR SPOUSE, but they are your child’s PARENT. The child will NEVER see them through your eyes. Let them decide for themselves what relationship they want with THEIR parent (of course there are exceptions when a parent poses a danger to a child).

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For your children’s sake, PLEASE – just be the best Mom or Dad that YOU can be. If your ex-spouse is negating their responsibilities, handle it legally, but do all that you can to keep your children out of it. They need to be loved and nurtured more than ever because their world has imploded.

If you are going through divorce and there are minor children involved – PROTECT THEM and be supportive of their relationship with the other parent as long as there is no danger in doing so. The safety of children is the priority.

This may seem like the hardest thing in the world for you to do, especially if you have been wronged by your ex-spouse. But, you are stronger and more resilient than you think and when you think of WHY you are being cordial and respectful to a former spouse, it should fuel you to press on! You are helping your child to feel safe and supported. The benefits of such are fewer behavioral issues and improved coping skills.

Do ALL you can to give them BOTH of you. They deserve this.

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He died…

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I suppose I am ready to write about this. My ex-spouse passed away in December of 2017. I remember the day so vividly.

It was December 14th and I was at school that evening. My phone rang (vibrated) and I saw his sister’s name come across the caller ID. It was extremely odd as I had not maintained a relationship with any of his 3 sisters after our divorce. They lived out of state and we were never very close, but we did have wonderful phone conversations and occasional visits throughout the years. I truly liked them and they liked me and felt I was good for their brother.

I stepped away and answered the call. After saying hello, I heard, “Hi Cathy, this is Sally (not her real name). I asked how she was doing and she replied, “Not too good. We found Bob (not his real name) dead this morning.” I could not believe what I was hearing. “Bob” had relocated from Michigan back to the south a few years after our divorce. He migrated to Michigan to work in the factory as a young man and retired during our marriage. I was glad he went back south because I knew he was not a well man and needed the care and support of his siblings, who were all now back in the south.

I expressed my utter shock and gave her my condolences. She proceeded to ask if I might be able to help locate his only son, who still resided in Michigan. I told her I would reach out to my daughters to see if they could help as they maintained a relationship with “Bob” after our divorce.

I got both my daughters on a 2-way call so that I could tell them at the same time. They were beyond shocked and so incredibly broken-hearted. They had come to love “Bob” as a father figure in their lives (in the absence of their own father’s presence in their lives). When “Bob” came into my life, he fully embraced responsibility for me and my two daughters. It was a turbulent and sometimes painful ride as he came onboard as Stepdad to his Stepdaughters, but he helped them get their first cars, assisted with college expenses, helped support and babysit our 1st grandchild so my daughter could finish her degree and he just truly embraced my girls as daughters. It did not matter to him what their biological father did, or didn’t do, he always pitched in when they had needs.

They were able to locate his son and put him in touch with his Dad’s family.

I walked back to class and sat down. I was quiet the rest of the evening. I always wondered how I would feel when “that day” came for him. I did not feel anything at all initially, I was numb. I wanted to feel, but I was numb.

When the numbness wore off a few days later, I was experiencing so many emotions at one time that I could not think straight. I had to remind myself that this was real. It really happened. He is gone. I thought about how he liked to cook and would cook my dinner every day. He would make us a pot of coffee on the weekend mornings and that would be our time to sit and talk. Then we’d head out for the day to grocery shop, ride out to a rural area for a drive, go to a movie, or whatever we felt like doing that day.

Then I would think about how he broke my heart so abruptly and callously. How his abandonment and rejection sent my mind into a very dark place, my self-esteem to the gutter, and my heart….I do not have the words to describe my heartbreak.

Proverbs 18:14 (CEB) – The human spirit sustains a sick person, but who can bear a broken spirit?

Would I go to his funeral? Should I go? Is it even appropriate? How will I respond when I see him in a casket? Will I be angry? Will I feel love? Will I lose my composure? Will it be weird around his family? Oh my Lord!!! I cannot process all these questions. That’s it! I am NOT going. It’s over.

…I went. To this day, I am not sure WHY I went, but I felt that I needed to go. Many say that I needed closure. I will agree with that.

What bothers me most is that although he is no longer in this realm of life, he is still in my head, heart and spirit. I suppose that will never change. I have had many conflicting emotional moments since December 2017. I have grieved for him, I have still felt anger towards him and I have rehearsed our marriage in my mind many times just to be SURE I did right by him. Although I know that I was a committed wife to him who loved and took care of him through many years of chronic & debilitating illnesses, I still have to reassure myself that I don’t need to ask for forgiveness for anything where he is concerned. I was so grateful that I told him that I forgive him not long after our divorce. It wasn’t just words, by God’s grace, I was TRULY able to forgive him, but there could be no reconciliation. He asked on several occasions, but the breech of trust was too deep. I would never trust him again.

I choose to be grateful for the good that “Bob” did as he helped me through some very difficult financial matters, stepped in to “be there” for my daughters, truly loved and cared for our grandchildren, gave to many in need and did his best to make me happy until he got “off course”.

If you are reading this blog and you have not yet come to a place of forgiveness for your ex-spouse, I pray that you will not delay. It is too important to “put off” until later and life is so uncertain; you may not get the chance later on. It is God’s requirement and to withhold it causes God to have to withhold HIS forgiveness towards you when you need it.

Matthew 6:14-15 (KJV) – For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I still feel moments of grief. I probably always will. But I have learned not to dismiss it or file it away for later. I have to “flow” through it, as painful as that is. For me, that is the only way to get to the other side of it. I now grieve two events where “Bob” is concerned; the death of our marriage and his natural death. I give ALL praise to God, my Sustainer! I would have had a nervous break down by now if it had not been for the LORD who is on my side.

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Divorce does not end a marriage in totality. It ends the legal contract between husband and wife. I do not believe it is possible to end the soul ties that form when the two become one.

Genesis 2:24 (KJV) – Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

How do you “unbecome” ONE? Herein lies the tragedy of life after divorce and there is no court in the land that can undo spiritual ONENESS.

As I counsel others, I make sure to explain that divorce is not a “solution” to all problems. It may alleviate some problems; but believe me, it will bring with it, NEW problems of its own.

Scripture retrieved from biblegateway.com. Photo retrieved from Google Images.

Learning to be Single…

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(Image taken from Google Images)

One of the many challenges I faced was learning to be a single woman. The fact that I was middle-aged and had never lived alone did not help my adjustment to my “new” relationship status at all.

I had no idea how many “things” in my life would be impacted by my sudden singleness. I had to get used to no one being there every time I came home. I would return to an empty home that was completely silent. No one would be there to welcome me or ask how my day went. If I didn’t make it home, who would know immediately? There were days that I just needed a hug. Not possible. Prior to divorce, I was totally oblivious to the issues facing single adults.

I had to get used to cooking a meal for ME to enjoy. I would no longer get the joy of sharing meal times with my family. I had to learn to eat alone and appreciate the blessing of having food and the ability to prepare my own meals.

I had to learn to enjoy my own company. This took some time because my life always centered on my husband and children. I hadn’t really assessed what I like or enjoy. I realized my life was lost in the lives of others. Now, the “others” have moved on so I had to get a life and establish my own identity! Man…who needs this!!!

In order to discover what I enjoyed, I decided to be open to new experiences. You know, come out of my comfort zone. I found that I enjoyed movies (at home or at the theater), going to live plays/shows/musicals, taking vacations with my kids and grandkids, and sharing meals and conversation with friends.

It became VERY clear to me that I had to make sure that I planned a fun activity on my weekends. I weekends off and although it’s almost 7 years since my divorce, I still have to ensure that I do something that brings me joy every weekend. I have found that if I don’t have that connection with a friend or loved one and create opportunities to laugh; I will be extremely sad.

I feel that I have been very blessed in that I have not had significant battles with loneliness. I have had moments of loneliness, but, by God’s grace, they have not been many nor terribly excruciating. I MAKE A POINT to connect with people! There is no replacement for social connection. God designed us to need one another and to deny that need is to inflict harm to the soul and spirit.

Divorce forced me into self-exploration and I am grateful for that. I am not grateful for divorce because I hate it just like God does (Malachi 2:15-17). I am grateful that God took my tragedy and brought about something good! Because of this experience, I learned that I still harbored a love for learning that caused me to return to college at age 49. I learned that I could feel wholesome and complete with God alone. I learned that I could be happy with a good video and a bag of chips. I learned to take risks and grow as an individual.

I have learned oh so many lessons in the last 6 years and 10 months. But, there is one train of thought that truly liberated me from my self-pity and negative view of myself. It was the realization that – Divorce is what happened TO ME; it does not define WHO I AM. Learning to separate the EXPERIENCE from my evaluation of self opened up a whole new world to me. It changed my mind FOREVER.

Remember, there is SO much more to you than what has happened TO YOU! I gave control of my life to God. I told Him that I realize that I truly suck at guiding my own life and I humbly and willfully submit to His leadership for the remainder of my days.

COMPLETE surrender to the Lord has brought about a re-birth I never thought imaginable!

Psalm 32:8 (AMP) –I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you. 

Scripture references retrieved from biblegateway.com