Divorce Was Not Meant To Be My Story – Julie’s Story
Divorce was one of those things that was never going to happen to me, like never in a million years. If someone had told me that I would be on my own, as a single mum for 10 years, I would have said, ‘No way, not a chance, not going to happen!’
Divorce was not meant to be my story.
I met my husband when I was 22 and we were both working for the same church. I had grown up in church, loved God and had purposefully not dated as I was ‘waiting for the right one.’ I was a good girl who played by the rules and ticked all the boxes, naively thinking that this would somehow guarantee me a blessed, happy, life-long marriage. Don’t get me wrong, I do not regret any of the choices I made, but looking back I now see that my faith was in my own goodness and efforts (which was actually self-righteousness!) not in God’s goodness.
After six years of marriage and two beautiful boys, unbeknown to me, my husband had met someone else. Eventually, he decided to leave me, for her. In the months leading up to this point, there were signs. I knew deep down something was very wrong and that our marriage was in grave trouble. I didn’t know what was happening but I just remember desperately praying, ‘God, you have to fix this!’ I never imagined that instead, God would allow it to finish.
Just weeks before my marriage ended, I remember sitting in church feeling alone, heartbroken and confused. I sensed God tell me that our marriage would soon be over. My first thought was, ‘No God, No!’ I felt sick. My heart knew it to be true but my head couldn’t accept or even imagine it. I was filled with shame and fear, a failed marriage, how could I ever face people again? I thought of our beautiful boys. They were only two and six months old at the time. How would they cope not growing up in a whole family, not having their dad walk through the door at night or being there for every milestone? It was devastating. Every ideal about marriage and family I’d held onto so dearly, was crumbling away. I couldn’t understand why, but God knew what was ahead, and in His kindness prepared me.
It was just a few weeks after that day in church that I found ‘the text’ on my husbands’ phone. Everything was brought to light and suddenly our marriage was over. Yet despite all the pain, hurt and confusion I experienced an underlying peace and calm I could not explain. It was literally a peace that surpassed understanding! What at first seemed like my worst nightmare come true, became the beginning of a journey from brokenness to wholeness, and learning to trust God like I’d never had to before.
When my marriage ended, I felt like my world had been turned upside down. Everything was so uncertain, emotions were incredibly raw and insecurities were at an all-time high. It was a little fight or flight and honestly, it could have gone either way. Yet, in those early moments and days, amongst the shock and devastation, I felt a definite sense that God was calling me to walk the narrow path, a path of peace.
This meant taking the high road and doing the right thing before God, even when I didn’t want to.
It’s human nature to want to feel justified in our hurt and anger, to want to give that person who has betrayed and hurt us, exactly what we think they deserve. As much as those feelings are understandable, it’s the broad path, and to live that way brings nothing but more pain, bitterness and destruction to ourselves, and especially our children.
By choosing to obey and walk that path of peace, I saw God do incredible things for my boys, and myself and bring the best out of a less than best, situation. I was able to navigate a peaceful and amicable relationship with my ex-husband, which continues today. I’m so grateful for it. If I’d gone up against him, tried to ‘make him pay’ and get some sort of revenge, it could have been a very different story and very ugly for all involved.
God’s ways are so much higher and better than ours!
I knew I had no choice but to fully forgive my ex-husband. As a Christian who’d grown up in a loving home I had heard about forgiveness my whole life. I couldn’t plead ignorance. I realised that if I was going to call myself a Christian, then I better act like one! If I wanted God to make me whole and bless my life, then I had no choice but to forgive.
Forgiveness is not an optional extra…it’s the very core of keeping our heart right before God.
Through my divorce, and in the years that have followed, I continue to pray and bless my ex-husband and his partner. I’ve realised that it’s really hard to hold a grudge against people that you’re praying for. As I prayed, God changed my heart towards them. Trust me, there were some days when I may have prayed a blessing through gritted teeth, ha-ha, but seriously, doing this totally kept my heart on track.
It’s been quite a journey and through it all I’ve seen the goodness, faithfulness, kindness, protection, provision and favour of God over myself and my boys time and time again. Yes, there’s been plenty of hard times and lots of natural repercussions and challenges to work through, but God has always been with us. I am now re-married (and that was an amazing two year faith-filled adventure in itself!) after 10 years as a solo mum. I have been incredibly blessed with a gorgeous husband and three amazing step-kids. But the journey doesn’t end there as happily ever after. Re-marriage and blending a family is a whole other level of growth and challenges. Fun and games, but worth every bit!
You too may have a story that was not meant to be your story. Just remember, God is so faithful and, regardless of whatever curveball life has thrown you, His plans for your life remain the same…to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11) and to restore the years that were stolen (Joel 2:26). Whatever your situation, you can trust God with your heart, you can trust God with your life and you can trust God with your kids. I pray you’ve been encouraged by my story and know that in God there is ALWAYS hope.
To connect with Julie you can visit her blog www.jewelsandpearls.org