2013 welcomed me with a torrential downpour of sorrow.
One day, quite suddenly, my life as I knew it came crashing down. Complete destruction had happened. It happened to my marriage, my family, my future, my heart, my trust, my judgment, you name it … destruction happened. My happily ever after had taken a horribly wrong turn and I was determined to get my picture perfect life back.
I found myself the sad victim of someone else’s sinful choices. How did the man I committed my life to break our vows so harshly? This could not be real life. After all, we met at and were very involved in our church, dated for a reasonable time, did intensive pre-marital, had a happy marriage, and just welcomed our sweet daughter. These components did not add up to a man’s affair. Call me naive (because I was), but I thought my marriage was above something like this.
I have always been more of the hopeful optimist, so I didn’t quite know what to do with this newfound victim role. I felt paralyzed, with zero control. As a Type A, put together, borderline control freak, I barely recognized myself. I went from “never been much of a crier” to randomly weeping in Trader Joe’s. All I could muster up were desperate prayers, begging and pleading with God. I stood both overwhelmed by the depravity of our world and then at the same time not the slightest bit surprised. Let’s be real, as followers of Christ, the bible is clear that we WILL have trouble, but with that trouble will come a beautiful peace that trumps anything we can wrap our minds around.
John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
So, why are we so surprised when the hard times come? Why do we act puzzled and disgusted? Thinking, me of all people did not deserve this! Why do we go into fix-it mode and explore every angle of how to mend the difficult situation? All of the questions above described my initial reaction to what had happened.
As every gut-wrenching event of my saga unfolded, I kept meditating on this truth: “And we know God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them,” Romans 8:28. Why did my “good” look so different from God’s? I wanted my life to go back to the good God had for me before this mayhem. It was hard for me to grasp that my “good” and God’s good could look so radically different. Was God really sparing me from something I couldn’t see? Was he protecting me from the wickedness of a rebellious soul? And the questions went on and on.
Well, the answer to all of my questions was this: God wanted me to rest in His peace amongst the chaos. After trying to mend all of the madness myself, I finally surrendered to this gem: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still,” Exodus 14:14. He wanted me to be still and obedient in the moment.
C.S. Lewis put it perfectly, “Never in peace or war, commit your virtue or happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord.’ It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”
In hindsight, what I saw as horribly wrong turns, turned out to be a level of God’s character that had never been present in the rainbows and butterflies. Hour by hour, through all of the sadness and loss, I realized I had never fully experienced the essence of God’s comfort. I saw that His comfort was most fully revealed in the absolute pits of sorrow.
As time passed, my outcome was looking different from God’s, but all the while His supernatural comfort was there. Comfort that brought underlying peace, moments of joy, and overall sustenance in a time of downright grief. “I cried out, ‘I am slipping!’ but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer,” Psalm 94:18-19.
The outcome of my marriage was decided for me. My ex-husband chose his life with the other woman over one with me. I am not an advocate of divorce, quite the contrary, but sometimes we don’t have a choice in the matter. God’s good sometimes looks different than ours, and I learned to trust this truth and look forward to the greater good He had planned.
Day by day, God faithfully showed me how I could use this difficult time to help others who had endured similar pain. I no longer wished for my former life. God taught me that many of life’s richest blessings are the fruit of sorrow or pain. He showed me that some blessings will never be ours unless we are ready to pay the price of pain. After all, redemption, the world’s greatest blessing, is the fruit of the world’s greatest sorrow.Redemption - the world's greatest blessing - is the fruit of the world's greatest sorrow. Click To Tweet
I have been divorced for almost one full year, separated on and off for three. I will say that God’s faithfulness and goodness are not confined by the walls of divorce. God’s good is better than the life and dreams you lost. I am experiencing this firsthand and let me tell you, it’s a beautiful picture of restoration. “God takes our ashes and gives us beauty,” Isaiah 61:3. Take the time you need to REALLY grieve all of the losses that made up your former life.
Don’t rush a darn thing.
Pray for God to heal your heart and make it new again. The more time you spend letting God repair your heart and soul, the healthier you’ll be for what your future holds. Embrace this detour of divorce, trusting fully in the goodness of God’s work.
Lauren McKinley is the founder of Her Soul Repair, an online community of women who are healing from the brokenness in marriage. Her heart gushes for all things marriage and family. More specifically, she loves encouraging women who have every reason to call it quits in marriage. She is a Truth-seeker, mama to one, teacher by trade and writer by passion. Her first book, Stop Wrecking My Home, will be released in Fall 2016. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her daughter, sharing meals with dear friends, and adventuring to new places. She is most passionate about sharing the peace God can bring to even the most heartbreaking situations.