I’m divorced. This is not about my divorce.

This is about life after divorce. This is for the 50 percent of you who have been married and experienced the pain, heartbreak, and grief of going through something we were never created to endure.

This is for those who have experienced the shame, picked up the pieces, accepted accountability where needed, forgiven the act needing forgiveness, and have come to the point where you’re ready to move on.

The dust has settled, the wound has been healed.

This is for those who have come to the point when you realize you’ve still got love to give, and just as much as you want to love someone, you’re ready to be loved, too.

I came to this point after my divorce, and I dabbled in the dating scene. Dating is an awkward thing, but dating after divorce–whoa—that catapults the awkwardness to a whole different level. I don’t even know how to put it to words—it’s weird.

For me, my first venture back into the dating world was with someone from my past. There was nothing wrong with him. Isn’t it interesting, our inclination to return to what we know, whether we’ve seen it work or not? It’s a comfort thing, we like the predictable in its blanket-like appeal wrapping us up in its warmth of expectation—but there are good reasons we shouldn’t pick our past up and allow it to be part of our future. 

I woke up one morning, and that old familiar gut wrench of insecurity . . . the one that I’ve felt in every relationship since, well, I started dating . . . it was there. And that feeling was an all-too-familiar pain of what I had already lived, and it was enough to make up my mind. This hanging out was over. If having a relationship meant this type of feeling and insecurity, I was out. I didn’t want that for me, and I sure didn’t want to bring something like that into the lives of my little ones . . . so I stopped answering my phone and that was the end of that (I know, it’s terrible . . . I told you, it’s awkward!).

On that day, I made up my mind if raising my little ones alone was the path to take, then I was going to do it, and life was still going to lead us to happily ever after even if it meant just us as a party of three.

It’s funny how life works—we stop looking, stop forcing, and then boom, life happens . . . and the desire of our heart becomes reality. There’s a lot of truth in Jeremiah 29:11 when it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” God’s plan of hope and future is a promise, but what I’ve come to understand is I get in the way of that a lot—we get in the way of that a lot. It’s as if God with his gentleman-like personality waits patiently for us to do what we feel compelled to do, watches us get tired of it, waits for us to come to a point of released control, and then He moves allowing us to see goodness and hope unfold.

For me, a while after I warded off all relationships, an unlikely prince charming came walking into my path. He wasn’t like anyone I’d dated before. I didn’t meet him in the usual place. The similar characteristics I looked for were not there. His occupation was totally different, and his personality was not like any other I’ve ever been drawn to. He was careful, respectful, a gentleman in every single way I could imagine, and when it came time (a long time after we started hanging out) for him to meet my children, he treated them like royalty. Prepared a surprise for them, one that I had no idea was coming, and allowed them in their silliness to make a mess of his home.

I didn’t see anything like this ever happening for me, and I certainly didn’t expect it after enduring the dirtiness and shame brought on by divorce. But here’s what I’ve learned: we serve a gracious God. A God whose forgiveness is incomprehensible. A God who can make the most beautiful thing rise from the ashes of our sin and pain.

To the woman who sits in the place where I once sat, I encourage you to slow down, take a deep breath, and allow the grace of our Heavenly Father to saturate you. Give Him the control He is so gingerly asking you to release, and stop focusing on the things that are not yet, and start focusing on the things that are right now. In doing so, you will finally experience the fullness of living the right now, as you stop daydreaming of the not quite yet.

JD Hartz

I'm JD and I am a follower of Jesus Christ. It is through him that I have been trusted to become a wife, and mother to four children. I live, breathe, and love the chaos brought on by working full-time outside of the home, becoming the dedicated wife I am called to be, and raising the energetic little ones God has trusted me to mother. In my free time I can be found having fun chasing our children around the yard of our home, curled up next to my husband (when we actually find time) catching up on the DVR, or digging into God's word growing more deeply in my relationship with our Heavenly Father.