Have you ever seen the episode of Parks and Recreation where Leslie is talking about her last day on city council? She’s been recalled from her dream job, and she’s trying to talk about it on camera? (You know, the 5 stages of grief rant).
Well, the first time I said the “d” word out loud, it felt a lot like that.
I psyched myself up. I started to form the words, “I’m d—“. I choked on the words, and started again, “I’m di—.” Big gag. Drink some water. Big sigh. Repeat process.
Eventually, I got the words out. “I’m divorced.”
Then came the compulsion to explain WHY I’m divorced. Word vomit. “I’m divorced.” Deep breath, and then at lightening speed before they can form their own thoughts about my situation, “But it wasn’t my fault or my choice and I tried really, really, really, hard to avoid it, but he was sleeping with someone else, so there’s not but so much I can do about it, so, yeah, now I’m divorced.” Deep breath in. Quick glance to see if I’ve completely lost the respect of the person I’m talking to. I felt so ashamed. I FEEL so ashamed.
The truth is, I was never trained on how to say the “D” word, because the “D” word was never supposed to be on the table. We had conversations about how it would never be an option. We saw others going through it, and repeated the commitment to never, ever, ever pursue it ourselves. I never really thought about how to handle being divorced (the word still sticks in my throat), because I believed him when he said it was never an option.
Then one day, he changed his mind, and it became an option. He told me that he had been having an affair, he loved her more than he ever love me, and he wanted to see where it went with her. He left. For a year my life seemed to stand still, the future looming over my head. He dated her while I prayed, cried, screamed, pleaded for God to intervene. The “D” word was a hypothetical still, one possible outcome, only mentioned in a detached way as one possible option. I didn’t want the “D” word to ever be reality. But then one day it wasn’t just an option on the table, it was the ONLY table he wanted to sit at (sent via Facebook messenger, guys! What in the world!).
I did what any self-respecting, composed, confident woman would do. I got my hair done, took an amazing selfie, and set up an online dating profile. Ok, so maybe not the most emotionally healthy response. I’ve got some great online dating stories now, though, so those are coming. The emotional collapse came shortly after, and when I collapsed, I collapsed HARD. Learning to say the “D” word was the least of my concerns in that moment. Surviving the day was the best I could do. But, the divorce happened. Time continued to pass, and my reality became something I never imagined. Ash and debris from the life I thought I had surrounded me, and I questioned everything I knew. Including where God was in all this.
Every good story has a turn, normally indicated by a tone shift or a transition phrase. Here’s mine.
A turning point for me mentally and emotionally was when I realized that God didn’t see a huge flashing “D” above my head. He saw His child, hurt, broken, confused, but His. He hurt with me, and He wanted to heal me. In fact, He wanted to make me completely new, and stronger than I have ever been. He would equip me for the new journey in front of me. He’d give me steel-toed stilettos. He IS my steel-toed stilettos.
The healing isn’t immediate. The healing is still taking place, with plenty of setbacks. But God is Good. All the time.
Psalm 31:7,19 – “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the destress of my soul…Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you…”
Psalm 31:24 – “Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!”