This is a continuation of a new series every Friday where I will be highlighting the growth and healing of one of my readers, a new reader each week. I sent out the call for stories that answered either ‘what is one lesson God has taught you?’ or ‘what is one way God has healed you?’ through their hard marriages, their separations, their divorces, their single mothering seasons, their forays into dating post-divorce, or even their remarriages. These, my sweet ones, are their brave and vulnerable stories. Take heart…you are not alone. -Elisabeth
New Year, New Life
New Year's Eve, 2014. I pondered this theme that was printed on the invitation of a wedding I was attending that night to ring in the New Year. I felt this theme applied to me, personally, too. You see, my divorce was finalized days earlier. The finalization of a 14 month, dramatic divorce journey with more plot twists, shocking revelations, and emotional bomb shells than a made-for-TV movie! That divorce process was the culmination of a hard, difficult 18 year marriage. I was left emotionally exhausted, wounded, and broken.
Yet, as I sat on that threshold of a New Year and a new life, I was freed from a toxic relationship. I was a newly single woman. I was feeling hopeful and expectant which were feelings I hadn't felt in decades….
Sounds like the beginning of a happy ending, huh? Well, this is one of those times where I am thankful God doesn't give us glimpses into the future. If He had, I'm fairly confident I would have walked in front of the first moving 18-wheeler on the interstate a couple of miles from my home. 2015 rang in innocently enough. In no time, though, it hit my life like a wrecking ball leaving very little structure intact.
From early March to August of that year, in 6 months flat: my ex-husband was incarcerated in a local, public scandal which hit the local news media with very visible “dirty laundry”. I lost my job. Well, I was fired. Unnecessarily and rather meanly. I was now a single mother with no income and not receiving child support. I did, quickly, find another job, but I was working a different shift every day and taking mandatory call shifts twice a week in a new work place. My house that I loved, lived in for 11 years, brought my only child home to, had the best neighbors ever, was my sanctuary, was our dream home, sold in less than 48 hours with no idea where I was going to move. I moved into an apartment. I was not happy about this move. At all. My ex-husband (out of prison, obviously) married, again, to a woman 20 years my junior.
A counselor friend and mentor stated I scored higher on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale than anyone she had counseled thus far. (I scored 540 out of 600, in case you are wondering.) Not a distinction I wanted, thank you very much. She further stated most people do not survive that level of stress without some sort of mental or emotional breakdown.
Yet, there I was. Functioning. Barely. How? Why? Underneath all the tears–I cried every day, sometimes most of the day, from June until October–; the stripping away of almost everything that I found my identity in; the deep, dark depression; the emotional turmoil; the reeling rejection; the begging God every morning when I woke up and every night before I fell asleep to please take me Home with Him; the desperation; the confusion; the spiritual battle waging in my heart and mind; the massive disconnect between my personal theology–God uses all things for my good and His glory, is in the “business” of restoration and redemption, His plans are not to harm me but to give me a hope and future– and devastating reality there was an undercurrent of belief. I had an anchor to that belief I had cast many years earlier. I had a foundation of Biblical truth I had been building firm for the past 14 years of following Christ with no holds barred. I KNEW God was for me and not against me. I KNEW He had not led to me to a place He would abandon me in. I KNEW I had sought His direction and guidance every step of the way out of my marriage. I KNEW He was dragging me kicking and screaming to the place I needed to be. Did I FEEL any of those things? No. Did I pray happy, sweet prayers? Nope. They were quite ugly, actually. Did I like this process? NOOO!!! I did the only thing I knew to do despite wanting to run to a host of other ways to numb my pain. I did what my pastor, therapist, Elisabeth, and other mentors taught me to do: I laid myself on a spiritual operating room table. I submitted to open heart surgery without anesthesia. Like Jacob as he realized he was wrestling with God Himself in Genesis 32:26 , I clung for dear life and said “I will not let you go until you bless me. I knew from earlier years of my life that anything else I ran to would leave me only emptier and more desperate. I chose to walk the painful road to wholeness. I determined to be a miner for joy in every day and every circumstance. To search for the preciousness of it, clean the grime off of it, to polish it, and set it where the Light of Life can be reflected in it for all to see.
You see, I did get a new year and new life after all. It is not a new life of ease. It is not pain free. Many relationships have not been repaired. It still has some crazy plot twists. It has not been wrapped up in a happy ending. It is wrapped in much better: grace, mercy, redemption, restoration, and sweet, blessed hope. For my good and His glory.
If this sweet woman’s post resonated with your heart, please know that you are not alone. Here are a few resources for you:
If you would like to join one my private Facebook groups (difficult marriage, separated/divorced, single moms, remarried), please send me a friend request at www.facebook.com/elisabethkleinfisher.
If in a difficult marriage:
Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/store
Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage is available in paperback/e-book: http://tinyurl.com/phowp95
If a single mom:
Moving on as a Christian Single Mom is available as a PDF/e-book: www.elisabethklein.com/store