My Divorce: How God Has Made Me Mighty

(Part 2 of 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

God has made me mighty in that he gave me the strength to walk away from abuseInfidelity is abuse. It just is. Emotional infidelity is almost certainly either a precursor to physical infidelity or a cover for it (i.e. the emotional affair is not an emotional affair, it’s the regular kind).

I had been on PBS Religion & Ethics Newsweekly and in The Washington Post, talking about my marriage to the man who had abandoned me. I’d had interfaith couples writing to me for years, asking me for advice on how to make their relationships work. Do you think I wanted to initiate a divorce? Do you think I wasn’t embarrassed?

Screencap from the PBS special that featured our interfaith family in 2010; editing mine

Screencap from the PBS special that featured our interfaith family; editing mine

If an arsonist sets your house on fire, you get out. It doesn’t matter that you’re going to be standing on the street in your underwear. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t even your sexy underwear, it’s your granny panties. You still get out. There will be contemptible people who will point and laugh and say, “Ha ha, nice granny panties!” The decent people of the world will say, “You just escaped an arson attack, thank goodness you’re all right!” That is what infidelity is. Marital arson.

I stand before you now in my metaphorical granny panties and say: divorce was my escape from that house, and I’m glad that I escaped. No, I rejoice that I escaped from that house.

homeydclown

My new reality.

I didn’t just initiate a divorce though. I drew boundaries and I maintained them. My then-husband still wanted to be “buddies” so that he could tell me all about how fabulous his latest affair partner was. I pulled the divorce equivalent of bopping him on the head with a sock full of pennies and yelling, “Homey don’t play that!” I told him that if he wanted to be with this other woman, then go and be with her, but leave me out of it. (She dumped him before the divorce was even final.) I told him that if he wasn’t contacting me about the kids, then he didn’t need to be contacting me, period.

You don’t have to stay in an abusive relationship. You don’t have to live with infidelity and abandonment. The call to Christian love and forgiveness does not mean you have to let a disordered person remain in your life so that they can keep hurting you. Let other people be responsible for the care of his/her soul. God will give you the strength to walk away.

God has made me mighty in that I got what I wanted in the divorce – I’m not going to go into details here, but my then-husband’s desire to quickly end the marriage so that he could pursue his latest affair partner translated into a decent financial settlement package for me. If he ever again tries to tell me that financially supporting his children is not his responsibility, he will have the State of Illinois to answer to.

More importantly though: my children can be raised in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There will be no Reyes v. Shapiro-style “interfaith divorce” fighting for us. My daughter and son are always welcome to visit their father’s church when he has visitation, but their religious upbringing will be my domain. Are you beginning to see why this divorce has been a joyful occasion for me?

God has made me mighty in that he has shown me that there is life after divorce – For most of my married life, due to constraints that involved work, money, transportation and childcare, I was a shut-in. I went to church, I went to my classes, and I ran errands. Beyond that, I did not get out much.

That is no longer my life. I go out probably 2-3 times per week, not counting work or Sunday morning church. Blackhawks games in pubs, MST3K meetings, church classes/small groups, theology discussions, single parent socials, book clubs, volunteer work, social causes, and holiday parties. I’m also working on (finally!) finishing my master’s degree (church history comprehensive exam next week!). And I haven’t even seriously pursued dating yet.

Is working full-time while caring for a 13-month-old and a disabled 8-year-old hard? Yes. Intensely. Do I hope my kids have a godly stepfather someday? Definitely. But I feel pretty optimistic right now about my capacity to both enjoy life and serve God as a single parent. God has been good.

Conclusion

I have told a little bit of the story of my divorce for two reasons.

I get that divorce is “sad” because it marks the end of what probably started out as a happy and hopeful union. However, some marriages end for good reasons. For some of us, because of the actions of our spouses, life is better for us post-marriage. We should be allowed to rejoice in our newfound freedom from abuse.

Secondly, I told my story because I believe in the title of these posts. If you’re dealing with spousal infidelity or abandonment by an unbelieving spouse, God does not require that you remain in the marriage. If your spouse demonstrates true brokenness and repentance, then yes, you have the option of forgiving them. But you can leave. Not only that, but God will make you mighty and equip you with what you need to leave.

If you had told me 14 months ago that I’d be where I am today—divorced and happy about it—I’d have asked what your damage was. Yet here I stand. So if your situation is hopeless and desperate, keep on fighting. God sees your pain. He can make you mighty to claim a better life for yourself.

Happy Reformation Day 2014!

This is what my better life is starting to look like. Happy Reformation Day 2014 from IronMan, Rainbow Dash, and Black Widow!

———–

RELATED:

“Tell Me How You’re Mighty” at ChumpLady.com

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3 Comments

Filed under Christian Life, Divorce, Personal Reflections, Single Parenting

3 responses to “My Divorce: How God Has Made Me Mighty

  1. Dvorah

    Your story is amazing, and beautifully written, and I rejoice for you that you have triumphed over unthinkable anguish and are in a good place now. I hope everyone dealing with such personal tragedy gets to taste triumph like yours. At the same time, I am uncomfortable with the implication that it is /God/ (and not, say, love or grit or good fortune) who has made you mighty. To attribute it to God, and to testify that God can and will do the same for others, seems to imply that if someone else finds herself in a situation as utterly shattering as yours and attempts to do as you have done and does *not* end up with an outcome as positive as yours, then it must have been God who decided to (passively or actively) deny her the deliverance she sought. I fully support your freedom to interpret your life in a way that is meaningful for you, but I’m not sure what to do about the hurt it might cause other people who see themselves in your story up until the end, where apparently God decided to beat them down.

  2. Hi Dvorah,

    Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Will get back to you as soon as I can!

  3. bcclove

    [NOTE FROM BRIDGET: Dear Nasty person,

    Reality check for you: my ex-husband was last seen getting arrested for driving with a suspended license all while being shacked up with a woman who isn’t his wife. He has expressed interest in giving his children up for adoption should I re-marry. He isn’t getting back into good standing with the LDS church anytime soon, and the last thing he wants is his children back.

    The fact that Mormons like you have heaped scorn and derision on a woman who was abandoned by her Mormon husband while pregnant (disabled daughter, also abandoned) only reiterates to me that you are anything but members of “the Church of Jesus Christ,” and my decision to remove my children’s names from the records of the LDS church was a wise one.

    I hope you discover what being a Christian really means someday. Your comment has been deleted and your IP will be banned.

    BTW, it’s pretty cowardly of you to leave a comment on this blog using a fake e-mail address so that I can’t contact you. Seems you went ahead and “demasculated” (you do know that’s not a word, right?) yourself.]

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