Divorce is heartbreaking and messy, but it is not the end of your story. Let God speak hope, peace, and abundant joy into your broken heart, bringing beauty from your ashes.
Today, I am sitting on the red couch, visiting friends that are really more like family. This is not just any red couch. It’s the same red couch I sat on the day I left my husband, crumbling into the arms of my dear friend as my heart shattered and my entire world fell apart. It’s the couch where I spent my first Christmas morning as a newly single woman, no longer part of my own family unit, but now an addition to another family. This is the same red couch I have sat on hundreds of times since those broken days, slowly rebuilding my life, my purpose, and my identity after the utter destruction of divorce.
Where’s My Happy Ending?
I read the book The War Room earlier this year. It’s a fantastic read about a spunky older woman cheering on a couple in her life whose marriage was quickly spiraling downward. She inspires the wife to reignite her faith and start her own war room – a special place she goes to fight for her marriage with the power of prayer. Day after day, this younger woman goes into her war room and fervently asks God to bring her husband back to her and restore their marriage. There is plenty of hurt and heartache along the way, but the book ends with a heartwarming reunion of two hearts falling back in love with each other.
Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love happy endings (and, boy, do I believe in the power of prayer)! But, when I finished the last page, I just thought, what happens to those of us who don’t get our fairy tale endings? What happens to all of us whose marriages ended in heart-wrenching divorce instead of reconciliation? Does it somehow mean that we are irreparably broken? That we didn’t pray hard enough, often enough, long enough, or passionately enough for our husbands? That if we had only wanted it more, God would have saved our marriages?
After years of wrestling with these questions (and so many more), I have come to the conclusion that just because my marriage didn’t end in reconciliation does not mean I didn’t get my happy ending.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Hope in Him
Divorce is not a good thing. It’s horrible and agonizing to rip apart two people, two hearts, that had been joined together with the purpose of being one for the rest of their lives. Dreams and trust are broken and there is a grieving process very much like mourning the death of a loved one. It’s not what God intended for marriages to look like.
But we are human, and humans sin. We make mistakes. Sin severs that beautiful union between two people with swords of lies, betrayel, control, and manipulation. And, as a result, marriages burn into a pile of ashes. Sometimes we added fuel to the fire. Sometimes we were entirely powerless to do a thing as we helplessly watched our relationships burn to the ground.
But that is not the end of our story. So, our marriages weren’t reconciled. We don’t get to ride off into the sunset in romantic bliss and our futures are suddenly uncertain, because that foundational relationship in our lives vanished into thin air.
That day that I left my husband, I handed God the pen to keep writing my story. It was a choice to let go, a choice to trust. My hopes and dreams for a family, for my future, were no longer resting on an earthly relationship, but in God alone.
“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” – Romans 8:24-25
Our hope is in Him – a God who rescues, saves, and redeems. Our God is not a God who works inside of our teeny tiny box of understanding. He is a God of miracles who blows our logic and reason out of the water.
When all we can see is broken dreams, shattered hearts, and a hopeless future, He shines His light of hope. I’m not talking about hope in a saved marriage, hope in a steady future, or hope in anything that we can see. I’m talking about hope in the unseen – hope in Him. Knowing, without a doubt, that He is still working for your good in the midst of sin, and in the middle of the darkest, bleakest seasons of your life.
Beauty From Ashes
Even when you can’t see how good will ever come of this, even when things are entirely unfair, even when you feel broken beyond repair – when you bring Him ashes, He gives you a crown of beauty. When you bring Him your mourning, He gives you abounding joy. When you offer Him the pieces of your shattered heart, He gives you a garment of praise.
“…to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.”
What God offers is not just a temporary little spark of encouragement, it’s complete transformation! The same God that conquered the grave can turn your hopeless into hopeful. He can turn your mourning into dancing. He lifts the weight of your shame. He works great power in your greatest weakness.
In the first few days and weeks of my divorce, it was a victory just to merely survive one day at a time. Worry flooded my mind with “what ifs” and I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. All of a sudden, I was a divorced Christian, wearing that bright scarlet letter around my neck. It felt like I was starting over in life, covered in shame. It was too much to process, so much so that most of my prayers in those days consisted of only three words, Jesus, please help.
And, He did. Every single time I asked. I survived those minutes and days that felt like it took all of my energy just to keep breathing, only by His strength. I healed from the trauma of an unhealthy marriage, only by His grace. He drowned out the roaring lies that had been spoken to me about my worth and my identity by gently whispering His truths into my broken life.
“…I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” – Jeremiah 33:6
I am not saying my life now is perfect. There is still a piece of me that desperately longs to be a wife and a mother. And maybe someday that will happen for me! But I am saying that I’m not waiting to live until that happens. I don’t need a successful marriage to know that God is good. I don’t need to be a wife to know that He has given my life purpose and meaning. I don’t need to have a man in my life to give me hope for my future.
God is the author of my story and He is not done writing yet. But, even if today was the last page of my book, it would be a happy ending.
Today, as I sit on the same red couch that saw me through the most tragic days of my divorce, I can loudly proclaim that He has blessed me immeasurably more than I can even comprehend. It took time, an amazing support system, and a whole lot of grieving and prayer, but I am now madly in love with my life, even as a divorced Christian woman.
I have filled journal after journal with His abundant blessings. My shattered heart has been mended and my mourning has turned to dancing. I sit here on this red couch and I am whole, only because of Him. I am overwhelmed by His goodness, His faithfulness, and His hope. I am not only surviving, but I am thriving because my life source is His grace alone.
That is my fairy tale ending…and it just keeps getting better every day.