Two days ago my final divorce papers showed up in my mailbox. I knew they were coming. I had the experience of divorce court a few weeks ago so it wasn’t shocking when they arrived. I opened them up, did a once over and threw them on the never-ending pile that somehow accumulates on my kitchen counter.
In the weeks leading up to the official end of my marriage, I thought a lot about the last fifteen months. What I’ve learned in a separation, what I wish I’d done differently, how I’ve changed.
I wouldn’t say I came out a winner. No one wins in divorce. It was hands down, the most devastating, gut-wrenching, heartbreaking experience of my life. It is something that has shaped me, but I’ve chosen to not let it define me. But, I would say I found some victory. That victory wasn’t free. Is it ever? It cost me. Not so much in a sacrificial way, but definitely in a giving up, a surrendering.
I had to surrender so much of my pride. I laid down my desire to be right and for the world to know just how right I was. Coming from a family of divorce, I was determined not to be “one of them.” I had a pretty black and white view of the whole thing. One thing I’ve learned is that it takes two people to say yes at the end of the aisle. It only takes one to walk away. Every story is different, nuanced, and really not for me to judge. I think marriage is holy. I think it’s worth fighting for. I don’t think it’s something that should be entered into lightly. But, in the same way most people don’t know all the intricacies of my story, I don’t know it all. I laid down a lot of my judgment.
I found victory in my identity. I learned, more than ever before, that I am strong. But that strength doesn’t have to mean you’re harsh. I also learned that I am soft. And that staying soft doesn’t mean I am weak or that I’ve got to open myself up to be walked all over. I can be both. This victory meant I had to lay down my victimhood. On days it would have been easy to “poor me” myself I had to fight through that. I had to lay down the momentary comfort of self-pity for the greater work of defining my true self.
It. was. not. easy.
This season, in so many ways, has come to an end. Legally, it’s wrapped up. Emotionally, I’m ready to move on. Spiritually, the Lord has given me so much peace. It wasn’t fun. But, I’m proud of how I walked through it and of who I am on the other side.
The thing is, there’s still more victory for me to discover and more things to surrender. Unrelated to divorce, there’s stuff the Lord is chipping away at. Trauma has a way of opening us back up, arms raised and hands open. When we’re desperate, it often seems He’s the only place to turn. As I walk out of this chapter and into the clearing, I want to maintain my sense of desperation for Jesus. I want to be better about surrendering the things that make me less like Him and run towards the victory He has. It’s better.
In what areas of your life do you need a victory?
God’s kindness will lead you to surrender as you pursue it.