It's been a long year. If you are unaware, I went through a divorce this year (I realize that may be a shock to some, and I apologize for being so blunt, but it is time). I've held a lot in over the past 8 months for fear of many things, I've come to a realization that I must share...for me. Writing is therapeutic and brings personal intimacy with the Lord, and....it's just time. The words that follow are from my heart, with the utmost sincerity and love. I pray they not bruise, offend, or provoke questions, that they somehow give life and hope to someone hurting.
As I said, it's been a long year. There has been a great deal of loss. Not only was there the loss of our family unit (regardless of the health or condition), we've lost in-laws, a ministry, a church family, and in some instances reputation. It has not been easy. I've had my salvation questioned, my fidelity, my honor, my sincerity, my character, my heart all doubted . All of this, while being roughly 300 miles from my parents, my main support system. I did well to hold it together this long.
My friend Audra has been one of the people to brave the shadows with me. She has spoken the truth even when it pains her and has been gracious enough to let me know that I didn't have the luxury of falling apart. I have four children, am now a single mom with a household to run, and a job I must keep to tend all of the above. If you have ever been through a divorce, you know the weight, the turmoil, heartache, guilt and struggle (again, regardless of the circumstances surrounding it). It's hard. This past week, I finally came undone. I experienced three of the most difficult days of my life.
Unfortunately for me, I was at school when my panic attack first came on. I was in the middle of teaching math to my 2nd graders when something triggered a wave of fear and anxiety. My stomach turned to knots, I was incredibly nauseated and couldn't stop crying. It was awful. Thankfully my principal was gracious enough to send me home, but it didn't end there. This episode literally lasted for the next two days.
I share all of this, not to out myself as a crazy person, but to say, "It happened, it hurt, yet God is still good." And, I know that I am not alone in my experience. I have been so fearful for months of really talking about my divorce, afraid of the judgment and persecution. Afraid of people seeing me differently or thinking less of me. The sad truth is, many people already have. And it has been painful.
I can't begin to describe for you the heartache my family has experienced over the past several months. Until you walk through the mud personally, you never really understand how dirty those trenches are. You don't truly know the grief and questions and fear that can make a home in a divorced person's heart, until you are one. I never thought this would be part of my story, yet here I am. And God is still good.
So, what have I learned through this process? A lot. I've learned that one can find strength they didn't even know they had. I've learned that you find out who your true friends are in the most difficult times because, quite honestly, most people don't want to get your mess on their hands. I've learned that God is gracious and puts specific people in our lives to love us when we need literal arms around us and kisses on our forehead. I've learned there is beauty in the most simple of things, like a sunset or long drive or favorite song. I've learned that life is REALLY hard, divorce is painful, but it's not the end. There is more to the story because God redeems and makes beauty from ashes. I've learned that He is near to the brokenhearted and longs to bring dancing where there was once deep sadness. He brings life out of the death. He brings hope out of the despair. He is STILL good.