Exactly That Bad
Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…
During the implosion and eventual destruction of my marriage I had many conversations with God.
‘Kay, that’s not true. Sorry, God.
I had ONE conversation with God, many, many times. It went a little something like this: WHY, God? Why? If he wanted out, why could he not just say that? If he wasn’t happy, why didn’t he suggest we get therapy? Why does it have to be THIS BAD? Why such humiliation? Why is he being so vicious? Where did my husband go? I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand. I don’t understand….
At a certain point it became clear I was stuck. In the absence of answers, I found myself paralyzed. The life I had been living was no longer an option, but I couldn’t move forward. My friends became really concerned for me. Rightly so. I was slipping into despair. My best friend Angela decided that the kind of help I needed was above her pay grade, and went ahead and made me an appointment with the pastor at our church. I did not want to go. Angela didn’t so much care about that, because she is bossy.
She came to my house, put me in her minivan and brought me to church. It was a hostage situation. A very loving hostage situation, but still.
My poor pastor. I met him at his office, and was crying before I even sat down on the sofa. He waited patiently. It was a while before I could speak, but once I started I couldn’t stop. I told him EVERYTHING. All of the things. Things I’d not told my friends or even my sisters. Things I’d not been able to say out loud. He listened without interruption, and then said with such compassion and kindness, the words it never occurred to me would come out of my pastor’s mouth.
Laura, this marriage is not redeemable.
Say WHAT, now?
I don’t know what I’d expected, but it was not that. He went on with some words of encouragement, some very practical and wise advice. At no point did he say anything to me about trying to work on my marriage. About not giving up. He quoted Romans 8:28, and he prayed with me. I did not know what to make of this. I would love to say I took great comfort in his words and left feeling better, but I would be lying. It did, however, plant a seed.
He was right, of course. There was nothing I could do to save my marriage. That’s what he was trying to say to me. He knew I could not want it enough for both of us. I couldn’t will my husband to show up. I couldn’t do the work for both of us. He knew my husband was already done, and that I simply hadn’t accepted it. And even though I didn’t leave his office that day convinced, it really was what I needed to hear. I needed to hear it from someone who cared, but wasn’t in the trenches with me. I needed to hear it from someone who knew the whole situation. I needed to hear it from someone who revered marriage.
One night, after I’d filed for divorce, I sat in bed unable to sleep. I had an epiphany.
I’d used that word before, but not in a serious way. More like, I’ve had an epiphany! High waisted jeans and bangs are not for me! This was different.
I had a moment of absolute clarity. Have you ever had a moment like that, where all of a sudden you know in your bones that something is TRUE? That’s what this was. I realized that things had to be exactly that bad. Had they not, had they been any less painful, less shocking, less humiliating- I would never have asked him to leave. I would never have filed for divorce, I would never, ever have given up. And I needed to give up.
I think about my conversations with God during that time. I imagine Him, looking down at me struggling, in SO much pain, and SO confused. I imagine it is not unlike when a parent has a seriously ill child and some awful procedure needs to be done. Being devastated that your child needs to endure more pain, but knowing it is for her own good. Knowing it is necessary. Knowing it is a life saving measure. I believe, to my very core, that the circumstances and pain of my divorce were a life saving measure, and a gift.
And so as I move forward and build this new life- happier and lighter, with a much clearer sense of who I am and what I want, I thank God. I thank God every single day for the awfulness. I thank God for making it exactly bad enough.