Learning… It’s Messy

Learning… It’s Messy

Here it is…365(ish) days later and I have been a divorced lady for one year and Y’all, I made it. I survived. {Insert random, awkward, embarrass your kid, mom dance here.} It is crazy how the world can come full circle even in circumstances never planned for. What makes it even crazier is knowing that God has gone ahead of me and tied every loose end up with a pretty bow, which is how I like endings, tidy and final. However, I realize that nothing is actually tidy, final, or even ending for that matter; it’s just a continuation of the life I love with a different view from the top. This life will continue to be messy and hard. Each choice made will manifest itself into a new road to journey, a new chapter to write, and new life to fall completely and utterly in love with because God designed it just for me. (Isn’t that powerful? Knowing we all have a God who designs things just for us! It’s almost hard to comprehend.) He chose me to live this very life with these exact struggles, frustrations, and fears. He chose me and said, “yep, you can handle this” and off we went. One year later I am in awe of the person I have become and the person I continue to grow into but even more in awe of God; where He has taken me and places we have yet to get to.

From the beginning of my divorce journey, I knew that God would help me tell this story to further His kingdom. I share my story because I want people to know and understand that yes, divorce is less than ideal, but it is survivable. You can survive and most importantly you can thrive and be happy, healthy, and well-rounded. This is merely a chapter in my journey that defines a small whisper of time in my life. With that said, I wanted to share some things I have learned over the last 365 days.

I am stronger than I ever realized. When this journey started I had several people tell me how strong I was. Uh…I’m sorry but, what? As I stand there ugly crying, falling apart, can’t eat, can’t sleep, and can’t focus…and people are telling me I’m strong…ya…ok…right? Do you live in Crazy Town? Looking back now I can see that they were seeing the bigger picture. What I failed to see then was that no matter how I was feeling or how much I wanted to stay in bed drowning my sorrows with Ben and Jerry, I still got up out of bed, tended to my kids and their needs and just did what I had to do. I went to work. I took care of my responsibilities and tried my hardest to not make excuses and feel sorry for myself. I didn’t get there on my own though. I have to give a huge shoutout to my parents because they were there every step of the way, encouraging me, and supporting me as I went, sometimes moments at a time. I have an amazing support system between work, home, and church that it was hard for me to fail. I look back on my hardest day and thank God that He got me through it and that He provided all the right people at just the right time. Isaiah 40:29-31 says that when we place our hope and trust in Him, we will find new strength. My strength is nothing of my own doing but rather my trust being placed in God’s hands knowing that He would be there every day no matter my attitude or my feelings about my situation. My strength came from Him most of all.

It’s okay to not be okay. I am a perfectionist by nature. I like to think I have control over everything and when things don’t go the way I intend them to I get really down on myself. Through this process, I learned that it is absolutely okay to not be okay. There were many days that I plastered on my fakest smiles and just got through it. I also learned that it’s ok to smile, cry, laugh, cry some more, get mad, and cry yourself to sleep. It is absolutely acceptable to have some really crummy days, but it is not ok to stay in that frame of mind.  I have a choice to make every day and that choice is solely mine. My circumstances don’t get to define me or what I accomplish each day. Allow yourself time to process and be in a certain place for a short amount of time and then move on. It is okay to not be okay; just don’t stay there. You have much to look forward to and you may miss out if you don’t strive to look at the bigger picture.

Kids are resilient, but they will be affected by your divorce. I may be biased but my kids are literally the best thing ever. They are what I cherish most in this world. I try not to take advantage of the blessing that comes along with motherhood and because of that, most of the guilt and feelings of failure came from looking at my precious children knowing that I couldn’t make my marriage with their daddy last. It pained me to watch as Big Sister exhibited behaviors that weren’t like her, get angry when I couldn’t answer her questions, and to see her cry because she missed daddy and didn’t quite understand what was going on. I know she and little brother are wildly resilient and they know they are loved and they are going to be ok even if I can’t answer the questions or make sense of an adult issue. I will fight to protect them from the harsh realities of the world they live in but I also know that they don’t live in a bubble. They will ultimately see the world as it is – cruel and at times very unforgiving. The world will hurt them but I will work to show them that it is still good. Big sister and little brother will be affected by choices they didn’t make, but they will also know that they have a mommy and daddy that love them more than any reason that caused a divorce. It is my absolute goal that my children continue to see two imperfect people working through the struggles of divorce because above all else, it is what they deserve.

Ask for help! And don’t feel guilty about it either. For as far back as I can remember, I have been fiercely independent. Because of my independence, it is very hard for me to ask for help and even harder to accept it without feeling overwhelmingly guilty. I have also come to recognize that my inability to accept help is an issue of pride. I, for whatever reason, think that I can be in 12 places at once and do all the things with perfection and grace. (Insert hard eye roll here.) Over the last two years, I have finally realized, hey girl, you can’t do this alone. You are but one person and you need help. I am not quite sure why it took me 7 years into parenthood, 33 years of life, and a divorce to realize this, but here I am accepting help and refusing to feel guilty for accepting it. I am good to anyone, myself, my children, my coworkers, my family, anyone if I am so spent from doing all the things. There are still times that I feel guilty but I am getting better at realizing and accepting that I can’t do it alone. God didn’t intend for us to do life alone, no matter what kind of life we have; He created us for relationships. It truly does take a village to raise a child and God has blessed me with an amazing tribe. If you are struggling with guilt and pride with asking for help, single mom or not, let people love on you. Let them help. Accept the blessings.

My divorce does not define me. I can remember when this journey began I felt a great deal of shame and guilt because I was a single mom. I had a ridiculous, paralyzing fear of going out in public. I was afraid of what strangers, yes STRANGERS, would think when they realized I was a single mom. I was afraid of what people might think of me and would carelessly judge me for being a mom with two kids and no husband. Then reality kicked in, it’s nobody’s business if I’m married or not. A marriage doesn’t define the person I am; God does. He says that I’m fearfully and wonderfully made and He says I am a daughter of the one true king. My divorce doesn’t define me or decide my value. My worth isn’t dictated by what jewelry on wear on my left finger. My worth isn’t dictated by my motherhood. My worth isn’t found in anyone or anything but God. I am learning that his opinion and understanding of me is all I care and the only opinion that has eternal meaning. He alone gets a say on who I am.

I am capable of forgiveness. It isn’t easy but it’s worth it. God really has had to work with me…a lot. I had to forgive myself. I had to forgive my ex-husband. I have to choose on a daily basis in all my walks of life to choose forgiveness. The Holy Spirit provides me a supernatural grace to show others what has been given to me, someone who doesn’t deserve a speck of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that was given to me. We don’t experience pain in vain. Forgiveness has been a huge piece of my growth spiritually. Without forgiveness, I wholeheartedly believe that I would not have been able to accomplish what I have over the last two years. We are called to forgive others so that we may be forgiven. I challenge you to seek out areas where you are harboring ill feelings and unforgiveness. As God as my witness, I tell you, if you give it to God and let go of the “power,” you will come out of it on the other side so much stronger and wiser. I choose forgiveness because my heart needs it.

Having a community you trust and can meet you where you are is a big deal.Staying humble, accountable, teachable, and faithful to growing in Christ is non-negotiable. My community has been a life saver. I have people in my life that are my frontline heroes that have done everything from providing shoulders to cry on, answering my late night text messages, praying protection over my children, my finances, my career, my family, my faith, you name it, they did it. They rescued me time and time again just because that is who God has called them to be. They have been the hands and feet of Jesus and have shown me what true love really is. They are each worth their weight in gold and there is no way that I could ever repay any of them in this lifetime. Find people that will hold you accountable and love you through your ugliest moments in life. You will be grateful to have a person or group of people that love you enough to call you out and keep you on track–you won’t regret it.

I have to take responsibility for my sins and my failures in my marriage. I am not above my mistakes. I strive to not become so self-righteous that I cannot see my own faults. I have to own them, ask for forgiveness, and move on. I have to choose to grow from the experiences and continually search my heart and examine it to see the parts that are not bearing fruit for the Lord. If I am wanting to grow and grow for the sake of His kingdom, I have to work to prune myself of what is of value so that good can sprout. (John 15:2)

Taking time to process, grieve, and mourn the loss of what you thought your life would be is a necessity. The best advice I ever got when this whole process started was to give yourself time to grieve and go through each stage of grief. I had to spend time saying goodbye and grieving over what I thought my life would be as if I was mourning the loss of a person I love. I had to let go of my marriage, my hopes and dreams as if they had physically died. I had to go through a grieving process to truly let go and let God make me whole again. I had to mourn but then pick up those pieces one by one seeking out God as I did it. I wanted him to fill the parts that had been shattered and lost so that I could be whole again; without Him, I am nothing. Taking time to grieve was the best decision I could have made. I sought out counseling and mentorship with people who had been right where I was. If anything, the time it took for me to get here, is priceless. It is never something I can ever get back but I am glad I took time. I still have days where I mourn that loss and I am nowhere near the end of my transformation, but I am a better version of myself on this side.

I don’t allow my failed marriage to define me and I refuse to stay in a mindset of using my divorce as a crutch. Divorce happened to me just like it happens to many others. I choose to learn from it and grow. I want to rise above it so that I can continue to grow into the person God destined me to be. I will not use this as a crutch and let the stigma of “single mom” decide my future. God is good and has brought me through so much and for that reason alone, I won’t allow Satan to get any part of me. He doesn’t win; my life, my mind, my soul, my spirit, my children, my family, and most certainly not my future. My life and all that is in it, even my divorce, belongs to God. I’m blessed because my divorce shook me to my core and woke me up from a slump I saw no end to. God used my divorce to help me see what I was missing out on; He opened my eyes to the lukewarm Christian I had become and set my soul on fire for Him. He showed me that through pain, He can stand above it all and pull us out when we trust him wholeheartedly. I am extremely proud of the person I have become over the last 2 years but more importantly, I am proud of the future I have begun to pave for myself and my children. I am a work in progress who began an unknown journey without a lot of hope for the future. I stand here today, still imperfect and full of sin just like the next person, but I stand here a much better version than I was before. By the grace of God, I stand here today doing better than I could have ever imagined. I am looking forward to seeing God on each page of the next chapters of this crazy life. There is no denying how good and wonderful our Father in Heaven is and I am blessed that He chose me to walk this very journey that I call my life.

To each of you that have stood by me through this journey, thank you. Thank you for praying for me through some of the hardest and darkest of days, rejoicing with me on the great days, and supporting me through all the days in between. You are my true HEROES! Here’s to the next 365 days!  xoxo

 

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