1. to pull apart or in pieces by force, especially so as to leveraged or irregular edges. Synonyms: rend, rip, rive. Antonyms: mend, repair, sew.
2. to pull or snatch violently; wrench away with force
3. to distress greatly: anguish that tears the heart. Synonyms: break, crack, shatter, afflict.
4. to divide or disrupt: a country torn by civil war. Synonyms:disunite, split, splinter. Antonyms: unite, reunite, join, bind.
5. to wound or injure by or as if by rending; lacerate. Synonyms: cut, mangle, slash.
Yesterday was my birthday. Yesterday was also the day I received divorce papers. I knew they were coming…I’ve known they were coming for almost three years. That didn’t change the deep sadness I felt when I saw my name on that attorney’s envelope.
No matter the reason for the end of our marriage, this is not what God intended. When we stood at the altar in July of 1999, the three of us created a covenant that was not designed to be broken. The end of a marriage is a tearing of that covenant that feels very much like a physical tearing, but one that can’t be mended with stitches or an antibiotic and a bandaid. It’s a deep wrenching of soul and spirit, inflicting pain that is not quickly healed.
The first year of our separation, I was a basket case. I cried at the drop of a hat, because for years I had put up a wall that was not easily breached, erected to protect me from the pain of a relationship that desperately needed healing. I woke up each day for weeks feeling my stomach drop seconds after my eyes opened, realizing that it was not a dream…he was not home, the bed was empty and probably would be for years, maybe forever. I counted my blessings on the nights when I actually did sleep, since once I turned out the lights (some nights I didn’t bother doing even that), every sound was seemingly magnified by loudspeakers. I felt varying degrees of anger, sadness, frustration, rejection, devastation, shame, guilt, furiousness, relief, hopefulness, hopelessness, depression, exhilaration, exhaustion, worthlessness, yet gratefulness and so blessed. The body of Christ came alongside me in so many ways, both physical and spiritual. My heavenly Father used my earthly father to meet many needs. At one point I remember realizing that if I made a list of every problem I had before my husband left, it would no longer apply – He had met every need. I just didn’t have my husband.
The second year of our separation I began to accept it was over and tried to begin figuring out who I was without him. What were my likes and dislikes? How did I want to decorate what was now my home? Who did I want to spend my time with? What relationships were important to me? What were my goals – physical, spiritual, financial? Where did I want to go to church? How was I going to provide for myself? I wish I could say I had succeeded answering these questions. Many of them are still unanswered. I had so disappeared into the relationship that at age 38 I’m now discovering who I really am.
Since March, I’ve been marking time…counting the passing weeks and thinking I was ready, beyond ready even, for those final papers to arrive. I just wanted to put it behind me, to try to move on and stop living in the limbo of being single for all practical purposes, but not actually single. It’s kind of hard to join a singles group when you are in fact still married. I wanted to get the name change behind me, get past those inevitable questions…”oh you have a new last name. Did you get married?” “Well no…I got divorced.” Is there a graceful way of answering that question? I don’t want anyone to feel badly for asking, they have no way of knowing. I’m in no way ready for a new relationship, I just desire to put this behind me and begin living what is now my life.
Yesterday when I pulled that envelope out of the mailbox, I kept waiting to feel the joy, the relief that they were finally here. But I didn’t feel that at all. Just a sadness that this is where we are, so far away from what we intended and promised each other and our Lord on that hot summer day. How did it all go wrong? How did we get so far from the dreams we had? When did we cross the line from love and passion to dread and disrespect?
I don’t have the answers. All those feelings of anger and hurt and sadness that I thought I’d dealt with have come bubbling back to the surface, and I knew they would. Several friends warned me this would happen. I do know that Jehovah Jireh has provided for me over and over again. He has become my husband and He is the best husband a woman could ask for. There is great relief in that reality. And great comfort knowing that He will make beauty from these ashes, and He will use this death for my good, according to His purpose. After all, ‘many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ (Prov. 19:21)