Today is my birthday. This morning I woke up happy, smiling, and very excited to be alive and well with a great home, a great job, and great family and friends.
But I’d like to give you a window into what it was like this time last year.
I was not well.
In fact, I was spiraling downward emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When I woke up last year on my birthday, I made a vow to myself that I could and would not remain in the same place for my sake and for the sake of my children.
In all of my adult life, I was taught that the institution of a Christian marriage is sacred. I still have a very high view of marriage. But marriage is only as sacred as the people in it and their desire to keep it sacred.
What I have gone through has been more difficult than I can articulate. There have been so.many.tears. I fought hard.
I sought counsel from church leaders in two different churches. There was “marriage” counseling, although I’d never, ever recommend marriage counseling in a situation like mine. I also received individual counseling. Because of my advocacy work, I have been fortunate to know experts who understand issues of trauma and abuse (we both came from highly abusive homes).
I asked tough questions. Can this marriage be saved? Have you ever seen a positive result in a situation like mine? The answer was always the same: No. Even though I believed and trusted these experts, I still wanted to hope. So, I allowed more time to go by, hoping and hanging on to anything that might indicate a willingness to seek help and salvage my marriage.
I held on for a decade longer than I should have primarily because of teachings and social pressures present within many churches such as “God hates divorce” and “What does it say to the world when you break your vows as Christians?” (That is messed up, friends, and it needs to change.)
God doesn’t hate divorce. He hates the hardened heart that leads to divorce. God has strong words about marriage, and love, and contempt in a marriage.
For years on my blog and advocacy work, I have told abused women that God does not value the institution of marriage over the lives of the individuals in the marriage (even though that is not what I heard from pastors). It was a huge challenge for me to walk this talk.
Without getting into great detail, I was dying a slow death. My health was deteriorating. I asked my physician what I could do to get off of specific medicines. He said that I couldn’t…until my environment changed. That specific comment hit me hard.
If I am loved by God, and my body is dying a slow death because of what was happening in the home and in our marriage, did God really mean for me to continue to live like that?
And I also had to listen to my kids.
I received an ultimatum by two of my adult children, which was a wake-up call. They did this because they loved me.
Additionally, a few other members of my family made it abundantly clear to me that divorce would be better than the agony I was experiencing. They wanted me to be happy, healthy, and whole, and they knew it wasn’t ever going to happen in the marriage.
I have since discovered that children (adults) are, many times, far more prepared for the inevitable than I thought. When I told all seven of them, each told me they knew it was coming. Did their responses make it any easier? Heck no. There is absolutely nothing easy about this.
In October 2019, I filed for divorce, which ended up being backlogged for some time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Yet this life-saving divorce that was finalized last week — a divorce I never wanted and fought against for nearly 35 years — is a gift.
That’s right, it was a gift. I gave myself the best gift I could give myself: a life-saving divorce. I am now alive and well.
And you know how I know I’m getting healthy and thriving? I’ve now nearly mastered “Rêverie” by Claude Debussy on the piano, a glorious piece of music that I love.
…It truly is a very happy birthday to me.