I have the opportunity through my writing and speaking and coaching 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 so great.
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 more than likely be worse off in a year, completely oblivious to their pain and how it’s affecting themselves and those around them; the other gal on the other hand, doing the hard work of feeling her pain, I predict 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:
Marriage Methods (now PAY WHAT YOU CAN): https://bit.ly/marriage-methods-pwyc
Heartbreak to Hope (now PAY WHAT YOU CAN): https://bit.ly/Heartbreak-to-Hope-pwyc
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.
Thank you for this. Just for me today! Feeling the pain a lot today. Wondering if I am “OK” to keep feeling such hurt. But just had a coworker tell me yesterday I seem “happier” than I used to. Not coping in any unhealthy ways,.that I can tell. Prayed almost exactly what you wrote as I cried all the way to work. Journaling. Keep crying.out to God. And I LOVE DivorceCare. 🙂 Actually may go back again. So, I hope I’m doing this hurting thing right. Thank you for your ministry.
Thank you for this thought today. For me it is a daily activity to ask God to search my heart and keep my heart soft and keep me from getting angry and bitter. I have had moments when I think it would be easier if he would die, or if I would die, or if Jesus would come back today and make this pain stop….but honestly when I stand back and realize how far the Lord has brought me, what He has taught me and what wonderful things the Lord has planned for me if I just hang on –it keeps me going. Only the Lord gives hope in these tough passages.
Thanks again for your honesty and for putting words to my pain.
This is a timely post. I have prayed recently for joy in the midst of this painful time in my life. I don’t want to be bitter although at times that is what I feel. I also feel resentment and I go to God in my journal and write, write, write.
I worry sometimes if I appear bitter to others when they suggest that I gave up on my marriage. That is a trigger but even in those times I am working to worry less about what others say or think.
Thank you . . .
Wow, some of those responses were scary! Healing is hard, but so worth the effort. Yes, let us take our woundedness to Jesus. He is the great healer.
So last week I found myself holding some REALLY and I mean REALLY great tickets to a local NBA game. You know, the kind of tickets you NEVER score – at least on a single mamma’s budget, I surely DO NOT. Of course, I surely had noticed my 13 year old son’s reaction when I had first mentioned getting the tickets. And as life has it, I was unable to go. And someone had to stay home with my younger daughter, so…I GAVE the tickets to my son. Well, actually, I texted my ex and asked him if he would like to take our son and I would give them the tickets. And get this – I even gave them my work parking garage parking pass so they wouldn’t have to pay for downtown parking rates or have to walk far. And it felt good. REALLY GOOD. I felt free of expecting anything in return. I was just simply happy to share because I knew it was good for my son and his dad. I didn’t think it made me the better person and I think that’s progress and really healthy growth. It’s funny how sometimes the little things make us realize how far we’ve come.