I have the opportunity through my writing and speaking to both virtually and in-reality meet many, many women who are hurting and broken due to their hard marriages or their divorces. It’s bittersweet, of course, because I wish this kind of pain just didn’t exist and yet it reminds me that there’s still plenty of work to do, that there’s a reason I’m in the position I get to be in.
I was sharing with someone how I can look at a woman and tell after a few minutes of talking with her if she’s going to be just fine in a year or if she’s going to still be stuck. In other words, I can tell if a woman is broken and will heal or if she is bitter and will just become an uglier, sadder version of her current self.
One gal stopped at my book table recently and told me that she was no longer angry with her ex-husband for leaving her.
That’s great, I said.
And then she went on to tell me that she sometimes follows him as he goes to spend time with his new girlfriend.
Ummm, I’m thinking, not a great sign.
And how she has told God to just kill him off now while she’s still on his insurance policy.
Oh my lands, you are so not over your ex-husband or your anger, I thought.
(Quick tangent: we hurting ones have probably all thought something like this…it’s the living-in-it that is frightening and telling and prophetic.)
The scariest part, perhaps, is that she was saying this loudly, with no shame, while others were gathered around. And, she said all this just moments after telling me DivorceCare wasn’t for her because of all the sob stories.
This sweet, hurting woman has not allowed God to heal her and transform her pain. And now it is coming out in shards, and she is completely unaware of it. So very sad.
Or the man whose acquaintance described him as someone who more than likely goes to sleep trying to think of ways to make his ex-wife’s life a living hell. The train shot right through brokenness and healing and went straight on to bitter and resentment and just plain mean with that one. Also, so very sad.
But then there’s the other side of the spectrum. I met with a friend who is getting used to living on her own. And it’s hard. And she has fifty/fifty custody of her children, so it’s heart-breaking. And she works a lot, so she’s tired. And it’s quiet in her new home, so it’s lonely. But she told me that she’s not going to date. (BRAVO!!!) She’s rearranging her work schedule for more time with the kids and a bit more rest for her. And she said she’s not going to fill up the sadness and grieving work with other things. She is experiencing deep pain and it totally sucks but she is right on track, exactly where she needs to be.
The first two hurting ones will be worse off in a year, completely oblivious to their pain and how it’s affecting themselves and those around them; my friend on the other hand, doing the hard work of feeling her pain, will be more than fine.
So, sweet one, if you are in a hard marriage, and every day you feel yourself becoming more and more angry, or if you are divorced, and you just cannot let go, please take notice and be very careful.
In fact, I want to look you in the metaphorical eyes and take you by your shoulders and shake you just a tad. Gently and with great love, of course, and tell you this:
You’ve got an entire life to live.
You may have children who need you to be on your way back to whole.
A job that is waiting to be done.
Ministry that has your name written all over it.
Friends who need to be supported and prayed for.
A God who is willing and ready to heal you.
And you’ve got a heart that is hurting. Trust me, I know this all too well. Your heart is fractured. Your heart may be currently being pummeled on a regular basis. I know.
But you are the keeper of your heart. And you have a decision to make. Do you want to be the woman who is loud and brash and makes people walk away feeling sorry for her because of the pain she shoots out like arrows? Do you want to be like the man who plots his ex’s downfall? Do you want to be the one who is sad forever?
Or do you want to be the one who takes her heart, filled with pain, and brings it to Jesus, and asks him to heal her, and asks him to do something amazing and beautiful with the ashes, and asks him to fill her with such grace so that she is now known for her softness and gentleness and empathy, and asks him to help you move forward?
You get to decide which way you go with this. You may not have decided your current circumstance, and I get that. (And if you can’t tell if this is you because of the amount of pain you’re in – if you don’t know if you are just broken or if you are heading into bitterness or stuckness, ask a dear friend who will tell you the gentle truth.)
But bottom line, you do get to decide how your heart will respond to the place you find yourself in. It’s totally up to you. And I’ve got a TON of ways for you to move forward:
Listen, my child, and be wise, and guide your heart on the right way. –Proverbs 23:19
If you have a heart for women, please consider partnering with me as I reach out to help hurting women by bringing them hope.