Question: “Why am I still so surprised and shocked each time my ex-husband does something mean to me? I feel so naïve and foolish.”

You, with your words like knives and swords and weapons that you use against me/
You, have knocked me off my feet again, got me feeling like I’m nothing
You, with your voice like nails on a chalkboard, calling me out when I’m wounded
You, pickin’ on the weaker man
Why you gotta be so mean?
-Taylor Swift, “Mean”

Cut yourself some slack, dear one. Of course you’re surprised. Even shocked. This isn’t the man you married. You didn’t, more than likely, willingly choose to marry a person who does intentionally hurtful things to you or even, God forbid, to your children.

Even if you sadly have years of different kinds of abuse under your belt, the soft-hearted part of you still can’t believe that it’s come to this. I mean, really, could you ever have predicted this? Of course not.

On the other hand, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re still surprised. That means that your heart isn’t one hundred percent bitter. Because a bitter person would expect mean things to keep coming. Your shock means you are trying to stay soft, which is something to be lauded.

However, Jesus did tell his disciples in Matthew 10:16 to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”, so it’s important not to just rest on your naiveté. It’s important not to be completely blindsided or thrown at every turn.

Pray for a wise heart.  The Holy Spirit can give you inside information…I’ve had this happen. Beth Moore says we can know more than we know. It’s totally true. God is the secret-revealer. I don’t say this in like a psychic way or anything. I say it in that if we have asked Christ to lead us and we are following him, we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity. Therefore, we have access to divine knowledge. We can know things we don’t know. I just prayed this for myself this morning. There are some things I need to find out, and I believe God will help me.

Run it by a trusted friend. I’ve noticed that when being dragged back into CrazyTown against my will, I can get a little crazy myself if I’m not careful.  So being able to talk to someone and share whatever the thing is that just happened is huge.  Proverbs 11:14 says that “in the multitude of counselors, there is safety”.  Once you say the crazy words out loud and a sane person hears them, they will be able to look you in the eye and say, “Yep, crazy”. Then you can try to put it in perspective and move on.

Take action if needed.  Don’t take action if only in revenge. Sometimes, something will need to be done to counter the mean thing done to you. In fact, I’ve got a few tasks to do today to clean up a mess from this weekend. But other times, you know that the action you want to take will serve only one purpose: to hurt the other person back. And trust me, the momentary feeling of revenge doesn’t hold a candle to knowing you handled a sticky situation with integrity.

Hand it over. Pray some more.  You may just have to lay that mean thing down at the foot of the cross and ask God to deal with it.  Lies and accusations from people are hard to take, they are heavy burdens to carry.  But God invites us to give him our heavy things, he wants to carry them with us, for us even.  He wants us to pray for his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  That means, to me, that he fully intends to set every single thing right.  So let him.

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

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