“And I made a vow that day
That I’d spend the rest of my life
Loving my Jesus,
Showing my scars;
Telling my story of how mercy
can reach you wherever you are.”
I graduated college in 2006. I had my degree. I had a job. I had a boyfriend that I’d been dating for a while. Check. Check. Check.
About a year into my career, we got engaged. I planned a huge wedding. We got married and lived happily ever after. Check. Check. Nope.
Like most driven women at the know-it-all age of 25, I felt the need to check boxes off. Like a to-do list for my life, I needed to do the things that society expected of me. Graduate college. Get a job. Get married. I thought check marks next to list items equated to happiness.
The thing is, I wasn’t happy. The shimmer and shine of that fairy tale wedding quickly faded into a life that was not the perfect marriage that I had imagined, prayed for even. We were two people thrust into something neither of us were ready for, and, if we’re being honest, neither of us really wanted to work for.
We barely made it to the two year mark when it was clearly time to throw in the towel. Now I found myself nearing 30 and going through a divorce. The aftermath was exactly what you’d expect. I went through all of the stages of grief.
1. Denial–This wasn’t happening to me. How could this happen to me? I checked all the boxes. I’d done everything right.
2. Anger–Why didn’t he work harder? Why didn’t we love each other anymore? Did we really ever love each other at all?
3. Bargaining–God, please don’t do this to me. I’ll try harder. I’ll change.
4. Depression–No one will ever love me again. I am used. I am unloveable. I am not capable of having a real relationship. I am going to be alone forever. My life is over.
5. Acceptance–It’s not so bad being alone. I would rather be by myself than in an unhappy marriage.
I would be lying if I told you life after divorce was roses. It wasn’t. There were days when I had to drag myself out of bed and go to work. I had to force a smile, because kindergarteners didn’t understand that I wasn’t in the mood to be happy that day. I had to be cheery all day and then go home and feel completely sorry for myself. The thing was, I didn’t feel sorry that my marriage was over; I felt sorry that I had failed. I felt sorry that I couldn’t make him love me. I felt sorry that I felt sorry.
I had to reach the very bottom of “rock bottom.” I can’t tell you the moment when that happened, but it happened. One day I woke up and I wasn’t sad anymore. One day I woke up and I didn’t feel sorry for myself. One day I woke up and it didn’t hurt. That day I thought would never come . . . it came.
This story is not intended to be a self-help excerpt. It’s not to discourage people from getting married young. It’s not to bash my ex-husband. This story is about mercy.
At one point, after my divorce, I came to the realization that, no matter who it was I’d married, I would have never been happy. I expected my happiness to be a direct result of the things he did. When that didn’t happen, I was let down and sad. So I started to see life differently.
Everyday I woke up, went to work, and was surrounded by sweet little smiling faces who were eager to hug me, love me and learn from me. Mercy.
I was surrounded by family, friends and coworkers who were a force of prayer and a source of comfort for me. Mercy.
I was prayerful and God was responsive. I talked. He listened. I reconnected. I realized. I healed. Mercy.
I allowed myself to fall apart, but God didn’t allow me to fall to pieces. I allowed myself to feel all the hard things, but God reminded me of the good. I allowed myself to hurt, but God allowed me to heal. Mercy.
I allowed myself to feel like a failure at love, but in the end, I learned to love myself. I loved the person I was. I loved the me I’d always been. I loved that God didn’t want me to change for anyone but Him. Mercy.
I have since found out things about my first marriage that would have broken me. After all this, nearly two years later, I met my second husband. Discovering things then stung a little, but they didn’t break me. Mercy.
If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t willingly put myself in a marriage that was doomed to fail. But I don’t have it to do all over again, and thank God for that. Mercy.
I have a husband who has been through a divorce as well. I don’t have to be ashamed of that word with Bradley. We talked about it freely when we first started dating. We needed to talk about it. It was part of our healing and moving forward together. We made a pact a long time ago never to compare each other to the ones who came before. We never have. There is just no comparison. Mercy.
So now that I’ve shown my scars, I hope the right person sees them. I hope that you’ll find healing in whatever it is that is burdening you.