My heart is beating so fast as I pen this. It is never easy to be real and honest about areas of your brokenness but this is where I am right now…
Today, 9 May 2016 could have been my 7th year wedding anniversary. I wrestled hard on whether to use ‘would have’ or ‘should have” or ‘could have’ so I guess it would have or could have been if we had stayed married, and should have been as we had promised each other to. It has been 3 and a half years (same amount of time the marriage lasted) since I’ve been single again and quite a journey it’s been. This time frame is significant for me because I believe I am turning a corner where this matter is concerned.
Divorce is so affecting. I didn’t realize exactly how much I’d be affected by this decision and its aftermath even years after the fact. Before I got married I always had so much to say about divorced people until I walked the path myself. When I walked out of court a divorced woman, I was shocked that months of planning a wedding and R100 000 later, all evaporated in 4 minutes with me on the stand answering “yes mam,” to a magistrate who seemed uninterested in the fact that I was bleeding internally, that my marriage was coming to a disastrous and painful end. Too many years as a divorce decree-er must do that to a person. I noticed she wasn’t wearing a ring and wondered if she had also been down that road. A few years earlier I had stood before God, my pastor, our family and friends and declared “till death do us part” and 4 years on, I was no widow but the marriage was over. You’re better off a widow that much I can tell you. At least then you’re guaranteed support, love, acceptance and the opportunity to love and be loved again. Once you’re divorced, it gets tricky. There are so many schools of thought on the matter and whilst you’re still processing the fact that you’re going through a life changing experience, there’s an immediate uncertain future to think about. Doctrinal differences relating to your new life are part of the package although not something often openly talked about in churches in general.
Upon a change in my marital status, I found that some were cautious about me being in their midst as though divorce was contagious. Some husbands were concerned about my proximity to their wives while others were very vocal and bold about schooling me on what divorce was and what this now meant for me. I knew I would have to deal with comments, conclusions and gossips. That’s life. These were some of the things I needed to come to terms with given my new badge. I visited a church once and the preacher said something to the effect of ‘if you’re divorced, you’re doomed. Your prayers are not heard because you’re no longer in right standing with God.’ You know what the craziest thing in that moment was for me? I believed him. Not because I believed what he was saying was true, or because he had a significant position in my life for me to believe him. I knew that wasn’t true, but I believed him in that moment because divorce can be so damaging to a person’s emotions. It can make you feel very inadequate and unworthy and unloved and and and. Another happily married wife said to me, ‘you must have not loved God enough or you must not have lived a holy life, because you can’t love God and divorce.’ I don’t hold it against them. After all, God ain’t done with us yet. 😊. I could write a whole book about what not to say to someone going through a divorce.
According to some teaching, being divorced also disqualified me from being called, anointed and gifted. Being divorced disqualified me from ever identifying myself as a child of God who could unashamedly declare His love. How dare you talk of God’s love! Another said. Do you not know that God hates divorce? So how dare you speak of God’s love when you’ve done something He hates? This is the ugly and much untold reality of a divorced churched person. This D-word would take me a while to get used to. It’s a word that brings a lot of shame, disappointment and a reminder of failure.Who in their right mind gets married with the intention to divorce? I still believe marriage to be a sacred and lifetime covenant. The fact that my marriage didn’t work out hasn’t affected my views on that. My inability (without it having been for a lack of trying) to live up to my promise does not nullify the sanctity of marriage.
Truth is, I had many plans growing up in the dusty streets of Phasha Village and none of them included divorce. No, divorce wasn’t part of the plan. I would be 30, publishing best-seller books, flying all over the world, married with kids, mentoring girls, preaching, funding people to study and working on building homes for the homeless. That was the plan. Not divorce. I was a young zealous girl with gifts that were starting to emerge who had great promise. That was the plan until I disrupted it all by deciding to get married and then 3 and half years later chose to leave my husband. A decision I do not regret. My regret is in the fact that my marriage ended and that I failed God, my ex-husband, myself and all the witnesses to our union. The regret I hold is perhaps in how I got into the marriage – a blog for another day. Can the plan still be realized? So as a young woman who loves God and who had a failed marriage, I am still trying to find my confident place again in the kingdom.
Slowly but surely my life is taking shape. I am on the mend and God is busy putting together the broken pieces of my life. Here are some of the things I learnt in the process…
- We are all a work in progress. None of us have it all figured out all of the time no matter how we look on the outside.
- What God speaks over you trumps anything you or others could ever say.
- God’s love is utterly unfathomable; His grace and mercy is ridiculous. No wonder the Gospel is called the good news.
- The most difficult lesson for me was to believe that God still loved and accepted me. The thought that I could take all my pain, my disappointments, my brokenness, my shame and all my mistakes, and surrender them to Him in exchange for His acceptance, His affirmation, His healing, His forgiveness, His righteousness and His love, was for me difficult to accept.
Is this the end of my story and what will end up defining me and the rest of my life? Certainly not. This is only but a chapter in the book my Creator is writing.
Follow up blog here…