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.
“Here we go again.” My thoughts raced quickly as I knew the questions that were about to come from the sweet mom sitting next to me at a church organized event for mothers. As she smiles at me, the conversation starts. “Hi. Are you new here?” “Where are you from?” “What does your husband do for a living?” And… cue the end of the questions.
As my past unfolded with just a few innocent inquiries to get to know one another, these encounters would become really uncomfortable really quickly. Not for me, but for most kind-hearted Christians I met while trying to find a new church home.
Telling others that I was a separated or divorced single mom seemed like the equivalency of disclosing that I had a contagious, incurable disease. Most did not know how to handle that information. I recognized several common responses.
I was met with pity. I was met with avoidance. I was met with not-so-relatable or not-so-helpful information. I was met with silence.
But, the silence was not what you might expect. It came with subtle social situations like not being greeted in the same manner that others were, or being excluded in a group conversation. It was a silence and rejection by not being invited, and by that deep-down feeling like I was unacceptable material for friendship or relationship of any kind.
This is what hurt the most, to be honest. I did not enjoy being treated like I was unapproachable. It felt like the circumstances of my life were unspeakable in the church. I felt like I needed to hide, to stay silent, and by all means, to not draw attention to the elephant in the room of my divorce. This added to my pain.
I struggled with this tremendously. As a Christian, I daily live in pursuit Jesus Christ. I love using my God-given gifts, engaging in the lives of others, and activity experiencing a faith-filled life with other believers. This has been my priority for as long as I can recall. I grew up in the church. But I was not prepared for navigating my change in status that occurred with a church community from being identified as Married to Divorced.
I knew I could not hold on to this pain, this hurt, this rejection. I began to surrender this struggle over to God. I prayed for direction, wisdom, and discernment. I prayed that God would lead me to a place where I could find acceptance in my brokenness, where I could find support, and where I could find healing. I prayed that God would help me to not become bitter or angry, but instead help me to show grace toward those that needed it most.
I am blessed to share that God answered my prayers. He answered in big and unexpected ways. It began with reaching out to a small group of single mothers at a new church. Meeting others who had walked this journey offered me hope and a safe place to share my fears. I found acceptance. God answered by helping me find and connect with an online private group of Christian women who were going through separation and divorce. I found understanding. And finally, I found a church that I can call home. It is not filled with perfect people, but people who were willing to embrace me, and my past. I found peace. Healing is happening.
Now at church, I look forward to these awkward introductions. I get to share how great and faithful and loving God is in my life as a divorced single mom.
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