I got a comment on my About page by a woman who wanted to know this:
At what point did you KNOW that there would be no more reconciliation and how did you know how to quit. And approximately how long till the heartache ends once the quitting has started.
I wish I could tell you there was a moment when I knew. But for me it was more like the unveiling of truth over time. I did not want to accept it, I wanted my husband to come home. But he had different plans and he didn’t care what I wanted. Not anymore. I sat and prayed and cried for months while he went off and did exactly what he wanted to do. No matter how strong my faith was in the Lord I knew my husband had a free will of his own and God would not force him to come back. I knew that God hates divorce but his number one priority is always our spiritual health and I began to understand that maybe I was better off spiritually with my husband gone. He had not treated me like a wife for over a year in any way. He gave not one hint that he would ever even consider coming back. I had to accept reality instead of the idea that I could save him. It wasn’t up to me.
As soon as I let him go emotionally and mentally I began to heal. Little by little. It’s been about 8 months since I started to heal and I’d say I’m about 90% there. Up until that time I left myself very open to get stomped on by him. I let him know I would never give up on him, told him all the things I thought were worth it and highlighted his strengths. But he had already moved on months if not years before. I was treating him like a husband because that was MY reality. But he was not acting like one. He had broken his vows AND left me for months. And at one point I found myself realizing that whatever hope I was clinging to was wrong in two ways.
One is that we should always pray like Jesus did in that we can plead our case but ultimately honor God as the sovereign authority in our lives and trust that whatever he allows in our lives will be best for us. I had been praying for my husband to come back. Period. I knew that God hated divorce and I wanted him home. It was the only acceptable result. I didn’t let myself think about if God is who he says he is. And if God is outside space and time then he already knows if my husband’s hardened heart would soften. If God knew he would never willingly want to be married to me again in a way that would honor Him…maybe just maybe God would allow him to leave for good because God wanted more for me than that? I needed to accept everything that God allowed in my life as His will for my life. And I had been shaking my head saying..”No, no no…God hates divorce.” And I could not see passed that.
And two, letting go did not mean quitting or giving up. Since he had already left and I had done everything in my power to please him before leaving and was patient with him after he left, I knew that my conscience was clear. I was not the one who gave up. I was the faithful partner sticking it out until the end. And I would have done anything to save my marriage. But you can’t save anything alone. Especially a marriage. If the other person is already gone, you can’t save them either. They are their own person and they are adults and you can love them but you can’t force them to accept it. It’s I’m sure the same kind of heartache that God has when one of his children walks away. But you have to let them go. I still pray for my husband, for his heart and his spiritual well-being but I don’t pray for him to come back.
Having said that the state of your heart is paramount in healing afterwards. Know that you are right where God wants you to be. No where else. You wouldn’t be where you are if it was not God’s will because he takes everything…EVERYTHING and works it together for good to the people who love him and are called to his purpose. He doesn’t promise that to backsliders or people not in the faith. It is a promise to those who love God.
But here is the tricky part. And this is where the Holy Spirit comes in. You have to also be willing to accept whatever else happens. Your husband could decide to come back into the marriage, he could decide to go off and have a complete and total mid-life crisis and do a bunch of things that don’t seem like his character at all. You could be alone and single for a long time and get involved in even more at church and in your community, have lots of friends and a vibrant wonderful life. Or you could find someone new. The trick is to just let it happen as it happens. Don’t force any of it.
Redefining yourself comes through baby steps taken in the real world which takes time not by deciding a new life manifesto. I think a lot of times people determine what their next years will be like and then they are closed off to other possibilities. I wanted to so desperately do what God wanted for me instead of what I wanted for me. I wanted to be open to the Lords leading in everything. What I did with my free time, who I hung out with, how I parented my kids through the mine field of divorce and how I treated my ex.
And finally, giving up on a person is not the same as giving up on God. And I think I thought I did not have that choice. God is worthy of our dedication and honor and commitment. But people will often let you down. God has set up a definition of marriage and its importance but He’s also given guidelines for divorce. And He has done so I’m sure because He loves us. I did not want to quit. I DIDN’T! What I did was accept reality. He wants what is best for us. And if you are close to Him, reading your Scripture, in daily communion with God through prayer; you will know when the right time to let go is or not. You will know when it’s time to move on with picking up the pieces of your life and seeing the GOOD of what lies before you instead of the pain of what lies behind.
I had a friend of mine tell me that God not only hates divorce but he also hates sin. And if my husband was in open rebellion and an instrument of sin in my household, why wouldn’t God want him removed. She said, that God sees your heart and wants to use you for something and you might be in your obstinance getting in the way of that and prolonging your pain. Looking back now, that was a huge day for me. And if I had not listened to her advice I might not have met Martin. And God brought him into my life at just the right moment to change my story. I KNOW God used me in his life and now many other people’s lives have been effected as a result.
I have learned that what God wants for me is far better than what I cling to and want for myself. If God allows it, He will see us through it. And I am a testimony to that. It was the hardest year and a half of my life. At times I had to lean on God completely for strength because I had nothing left.
But maybe and I say this somewhat facetiously because I know in fact that this is what God was doing. Maybe God had a work he wanted to do in me too. Maybe he wanted me to let go and trust Him more completely. And maybe I had to go through a lot of heartache just because I simply was not willing to do that because I thought I had it all figured out and was working toward that goal instead of being open to something else.
My goal now is to hold onto things more loosely, to see everything as a gift and not a possession. And to understand it is a blessing and should be enjoyed completely but not coveted.
“Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”
— Corrie Ten Boom
Dianne – I don’t know if this post helped answer your questions or not. I pray that you come out of your storm healthy and strong and trusting Him.