My New Label {I Had to Check the “Divorced” Box Today}

Filling in blanks and checking boxes.

I’ve mindlessly completed form after form in my almost 38 years of life.

The who, what, when, and where of our lives is asked often – from the doctor to the DMV, we share our info easily and regularly.

Me too.  Until today.

Married.  Single.  Widowed.  Divorced.

Family status form (Marital Status form)

That was the list right after name, address, and date and birth.

A sob caught in my throat as I reluctantly checked “divorced.”

Divorced.

What an ugly word.  One I thought would NEVER describe me.  Heavens no.  I deemed myself the poster child (poster wife) for forgiveness and reconciliation – recentering on Jesus and doing all I could to keep it all together.

Counseling, quitting, leaving, defriending, moving – WHATEVER it took to keep this ship sailing – I would do – I did.  NO WAY would I allow my family to sink.  I would not be labelled “divorced”; I would not allow my children to come from “divorced” parents.

Honestly, my attitude bordered (ok, probably flooded over the border) on self- righteous.  By golly, we had made our marriage work; you could too.

And I heard myself say more than one time…what’s wrong with these people? Divorcing?  Do they know what the Bible says about marriage and divorce?  In my heart often thinking…if Jesus was their center, if they’d just ______(fill in the blank), then they could keep it together too.

And these same sentiments have been thrown my way recently.  From people just like me.  Those who have had trouble and “made it work” (or think they made it work when it was only by the grace of God) – who don’t really take time to know the story or listen because they have it all figured out based on their life experiences.  And every time one talks to me, I listen.  I do.  But, I am sad for them; sad me for me  – for all the times I thought I knew, but I had no clue.

I simply didn’t know the story.  Those precious ladies who hurt me with their attitudes and callous words?  They simply don’t know the story.  They need just as much grace as I needed…need.

The form continued…anniversary. Spouse.

I simply could not leave the “anniversary” blank empty, so I shared that I’d been married on August 1, 1998, but am in the process of divorce.  Then, I further felt compelled to “qualify” my sharing of this information by saying that my address would be changing soon, so I would need to change that as soon as I could.

What is it in us that feels we need to explain?  Qualify?

For me,  I HATE feeling left out – or even the perception of being left out.  And I HATE it when I think others are left out – or feeling left out.  To me, being exclusive screams “we’re better” and thus “you’re not good enough.”

So…I didn’t want to NOT have an anniversary or a spouse.  Seems almost everyone else filling out this same form has both.

Ugh.  Who knew a form could cut so deep.  (Actually, if I were a better listener, I’d have know about this potential hurt already because my single friends have tried to help me understand the alienation they feel because they’re not wives and mothers.)

Still… I know the form creators.  They are sweet women who love Jesus a whole bunch.  They designed the form to help ladies get to know one another and live out Titus better.

They never knew checking “divorced” would make me cringe and feel the weight of my new label.

Sigh.

But in the midst of form filling and label accepting, I feel a whisper in my heart from my Creator…grace, Sarah.  Grace for you and for those who don’t know.

Grace for the one who has no idea what life looks like beyond another’s front door.

Simply grace.

Grace allows my heart to continue loving and living.  It keeps my sensitive, defensive self from becoming bitter and hard.  It reminds me that God loves EACH of us equally.  That we are ALL wanted and welcome in His kingdom.  The happily married wife and mom is no more loved by the Creator than the one who sits in a mess – a mess of her own making or a mess of another’s making.

I don’t like this season of my life.  It stinks most of the time.  But, He is teaching me what his Word REALLY means in reality instead of in theory…my life is no longer about what I know.

It’s about how I live what I know.

It’s about what it truly means to remain joyful in the midst of suffering.

Dear brothers and sisters,when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1: 2-4

It’s about laying my worries and burdens at His feet…

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.1 Peter 5:7

It’s about experiencing the love of a Savior  – a love that never fails – a love that picks me up again and again…and being deeply thankful for that love.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.

His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to the Lord of lords.

His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 136:  1-3

I feel like I’ve written this a thousand times –and I’ll probably write it a thousand more – but give grace.  Ask God to make you aware of places in you that need filled with grace and love.  We have no idea what tomorrow holds.  We are all one decision – by us or by another – away from a completely different reality.  From a life that looks nothing like the one we wanted – or thought we wanted.

Regardless of where you sit, give grace.

Comments

  1. This is just beautiful. Man alive, you’re inspiring. xoxoxo

    • I love you much, dear one. I am so thankful that almost a year ago you answered when I asked for “stories” for my blog. Who knew that we’d now be REAL life friends! woohoo! I appreciate your love…support…encouragement. And our girls budding friendship makes me very happy 🙂

  2. You are so inspiring!
    Im sending prayers!

  3. Yes, very beautiful! We all need to give ourselves and others more grace because God gives grace to us liberally. My heart goes out to you during this very difficult time, and I pray God will give you strength and wisdom at every turn. Looking forward to getting to know you and others in Story 101 🙂

  4. Shelli Philpott says:

    Sara I am so thankful to know you and to be able to read and listen to what God is doing in your life. I only wish when I was going through this very same thing that I could have done this and realized what God was doing in my life. That I could have been the new breath your are for people reading your blog!

    • Thanks, Shelli…but I am learning it’s never too late…it’s never too late to change or see things differently. God is always at work. He can take any suffering…old or new…and do a good work. So while you may not have realized God’s work at the time, you can look back and see His hand now. And be thankful for how He’s weaving your story:) That’s really what this life is all about…growing more and more toward and into the image of Jesus.

  5. Yes, yes, yes. I just walked through the first close divorce with my husband’s cousin and i learned so, so much. Mainly how self-righteous I’d been in the past. I have so much more compassion with those that have gone through it. This was a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Thanks, Amy…I think we don’t realize how self-righteous we can be until something “hits home” with us. That’s why I am so thankful for grace. 🙂

  6. Judy Peoples says:

    Sarah, you are a”good and faithfully servant” and you and the children will get through this dark time. I know that years ago when I went through this, I felt like I was diseased or worse – I did not believe in divorce (I was 18 years old when we were married and I married my minister’s son. Unknowing to me, he was having an affair after 10 years of marriage.)
    God had something soooo much better waiting for me and I had to trust that He would take care of me – He always has! He gave me a wonderful friend and husband and blessed us with two beautiful, healthy children.
    You are such an inspiration and you are in my thoughts and prayers!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement and kind words, Judy…I truly appreciate you sharing a part of your story (when you certainly didnt have to)…it gives me hope in so many ways. Honestly…I had no idea our stories were/are so similar…I don’t believe in divorce either, but as you know, some things are beyond our control. I appreciate each prayer…and truly believe God has something better waiting for me and my kiddos…while only He knows what that looks like, I trust him:)

  7. Helen J Hovestol says:

    Hi there my friend–I am praying for you! Thanks for your words of honesty, vulnerability and hurt. I have learned in our weakness He is strong. AND when we are willing to share our weaknesses, there is an unending stream of precious ones who will come and say…”I am so thankful you shared…I thought I was the only one going through _______…” I will continue to lift you up in prayer, and please know that your words will touch and encourage many to practice genuine grace! Love and hugs to you! Helen

    • Thanks for your prayers, Helen – and for the many hugs at Revive. They helped my soul so much. You’re a precious woman, servant, and friend. Much love!

  8. I am praying for you and your family, Sarah.

  9. You’ve been on my mind lately, and definitely in my heart and prayers. I was that woman, too, who would have done – and did – everything and anything I could think of to make it work. Sometimes, though, when we think we just aren’t doing enough, God will take our faces in his hands and whisper, “enough.” He will allow us to rest, to give up the fight, and begin to lead us down a path of reawakening and redemption that we never dreamed possible. But it is! It’s so so hard, but God never leaves us. Take comfort in that, sweet friend!

    PS – my anniversary was August 1, 2009. 🙂

    • I loved this, Jennifer. I can picture times in my life – this one included – where Father God is holding my cheeks in his palms whispering…enough. I love that visual. Thanks for the encouragement…there is much that I don’t think is possible right now, but through gals like you who are open and honest, I am learning that there’s hope. Hope for a new and maybe even better life. And while my hope is in Him and not some cushy life, it does this gal’s heart good to see others coming through divorce (or any suffering) more and more in love her Creator. Thanks, sweet friend!

  10. I so get this. Holding your heart close right now, Sarah.

    • Alece…Before I replied to you, I went back and read most of your posts on a Deeper Story. I wonder if we share a brain 😉 Truly, I am thankful for you, your honesty, and your openness. I have had so many of the same experiences thoughout this divorce process. Your posts are also like a glimpse into my future – maybe/sorta. I’ve learned there’s life after divorce – after loss. And I am clinging to this line: Divorce is no more a sign of relationship failure than marriage is of relationship success. Because my failure is all I’ve been able to think of lately, this quote reminds me of what I know. So, thank you – for writing and reading and encouraging. This girl’s heart is encouraged!

  11. Thank you. I’m at the tail end of a divorce and what you write speaks directly to me. Thank you.

  12. Shea Wilkinson says:

    Dear Sarah,
    I am so very sorry that you are going through this. I had no idea but then again I have been so wrapped up in my own family’s issues I haven’t really been where I should be. Please know that I will be praying for you and the kids. Much love to you!

  13. Wow, first of all let me say that after reading this I am praying for you and your beautiful kids. Second, you are so right about grace. Not only in divorce but all things that we see others going through and think “that would never happen to me or my family.” My wake up call has come through very close family members’ addiction to drugs. Since I have started sharing my story with others it is amazing at how many families are affected—rich, poor, white, black, Christian or not—drugs touch everyone. I pray for continued grace for you, me, and others and encouragement for you and your family!

    • Thanks for sharing, Nicole..and prayers to you and your family. I think we like to look at the statistics and say….drugs or divorce or whatever happens to those people. But, sin touches everyone. And so does grace. We can never really say…that will never be me. Thankful for your reminder and openness. God bless you!

  14. AnnMarie Dixon says:

    We all need grace each and every moment. Our Abba Father gives it to us so liberally and yet most of the times we forget to give others grace just as how we receive it. Grace by Tasha Cobbs sums it all up. Hope you can listen to that song Sarah and be blessed by it. It blesses my heart every time I listen to it.

    • Divorce is very difficult….and I, too, used to think people should try at all costs to avoid divorcing. With that said, no one knows what goes on inside a home and sometimes, for the children’s sake, the marriage has to end. Even though at one time my family appeared “nuclear” to our little town, it was a very dysfunctional unit. A unit that would have continued as such would have had devastating and everlasting consequences for my children and possible future generations of mine. I learned the people who knew me the least had the most to say about me. I learned “friends” would disappoint me. I learned that a blended family can be more functional than biological families. I learned my oldest child carried the burden of taking care of and worrying about me at a very young age as she witnessed a verbally abused and controlled mother suffer. I remembered that even those on death row are forgiven if they ask, so surely I would be forgiven in choosing a poor quality husband. I learned I am nothing I was ever told I was, for I now know I am smart, funny, cute, caring and worthy of being loved. I learned from a friend that one of my own confided in her that she is thankful for and feels blessed having her step dad in her life….and she wants a future husband just like him. The other daughter wishes her biological dad was her “uncle” and her step dad was her real dad…..I say judge me and mine all you want but my life and the life of my children has changed for the better and am thankful to God for giving me the courage, the will, and the peace for getting out of an undeserved hell.

      • Thanks, Tana. We definitely can not concern ourselves with the court of public opinion. Seems our culture can justify or villify just about anything.

    • AnnMarie…I had never heard of this song until you commented. Thanks so much! I love the lines, “Grace loves me and it’s not what I deserve, And nothing that I’ve earned. But daily grace saves me.” Regardless of who is “right” or “wrong” in this divorce – or in any other situation in life – we BOTH live under His grace. We BOTH “deserve” nothing but death for our sin. But, grace saves us. And while I am mad at my husband right now, I want God to extend him the same grace He extends me. I wouldn’t want to serve a God who picks and chooses who gets grace and who doesn’t based on what we earn. Again..thanks for sharing…I love it.

  15. Wow! I almost had to check again to make sure I hadn’t written this myself. You put it so beautifully. I too went through a divorce years ago and never thought It would happen to me because I loved the Lord, went to church, taught Jr church, taught my children from the bible, etc and was so confident to tell others who were headed to divorce what the “formula” to keeping it from happening was. A friend of mine reminded me of my advice to her during her divorce (after I had went through mine) and I was so apologetic to her and felt embarrassed that I thought I had the key to keeping marriage alive. Although I believe you should fight with all your might for your marriage, I have learned that because each spouse has their own will, there are times you cannot keep them where you want them to be. I have experienced like you the fullness of Gods grace, love and mercy and know that whatever I go through, He is there to heal the hurt, bring comfort and helps us to encourage others to keep trusting Him no matter what storm is around us. I am more blessed today than I have ever been, Praise the Lord.

    • I agree, Robin…you fight with all your might for your marriage. But, sometimes…life just doesn’t go as we had planned. I am thankful for your comment and encouargement. It’s always good to hear from those who have experienced divorce and can say ” I am more blessed than I have ever been.” There’s such hope in that for me – and others. Where I currently sit, I can’t imagine that. But, I trust and look at His examples of redemption (you). God bless:)

  16. Beautifully written. Praying for you.

  17. Sarah
    I’m reading your words today thanks to a prompt from our mutual tribe writer friend, Sundi Jo. I’m thankful for your call to grace and your honest words of pain and reality. I look forward to reading your blog and hope that we can chat one day soon about our stories. I’m a divorced pastor’s wife, remarried, and learning to live the Word as well. 1 Peter 1:2

  18. Thank you for sharing your heart. I have to say that I read my own attitudes in your “I made my marriage work, why couldn’t you make yours work?” comments. Hearing you say it that way makes me feel ashamed of my attitude…in a good, convicted way. 😉 I thank you for the grace you are showing (even when you have to remind yourself to breathe in, breathe out) and for the reminder for me to show grace as well. I thank you for the reminder that just because my husband and I have made it through a few tough years of marriage doesn’t mean that “I” did anything right, nor that more tough times aren’t right around the corner. But for the grace of God, I am married, but for the grace of God…who knows what tomorrow may bring. Thank you for your words and your testimony!

    • Hi Liza…I am always thankful for the “good, convicted way” – for me or for another. I find I don’t often even recognize my attitude until I see it in someone else. Then I say…I DO NOT want to be that kid. I’ve read your comment to more than one friend lately. I love how you humbly and honestly admit…it’s by God’s grace. Sure, you probably put in hard work – maybe counseling – you followed God in what he had for you in that season. But, ultimately, the “fixing” is not of you, but Him. Because you understand that, you can offer extraordinary grace to me and others who aren’t like you. You don’t judge us – you love us. I LOVE THAT! Thanks for commenting. It helped my heart a bunch:)

  19. Sarah, I was “righteous” at one point in life. God showed me I was not. But I also felt so much joy in his grace; more joy than I had ever known. God is and has always been good. I can’t explain man’s evil, but I know God loves me and every one of his children the same. He wins in the end:)

    • I am so thankful for you…and for our discussion on my sub day. While things didn’t turn out as I had anticipated, I know He wins in the end. Thanks for the reminder:) I once read that God allowed the Israelites to wonder in the wilderness because he needed 40 days to get Egypt out of them. I think I am in the wilderness as God removes some stuff from me that I need gone. It’s yucky, but thankful for his love!

  20. Oh Sarah, I had no idea. Being that I had no idea, this message spoke to me even more clearly. You’re right…we never know what’s going on behinds another’s door. We never know what they may be dealing with, have dealt with and are trying to heal, or what is coming down the pike and about to erupt in their face.

    I am so sorry, but even through your words of hurt and pain, I see a strong Godly woman who loves her children more than herself. One who wants others to heal from her hurt, and who hopes eyes are widened, even if it takes her being the one to take the mental and physical beating.

    Today being January 1 [and after reading your very open story], I have heard the calling of the Lord to be more open with my life also. To not live behind a mask and allow everyone to continue to see a perfect life, marriage, and family, but to see the real and raw truth of living in this world. I am not saying that my marriage and life isn’t all of those things, but it hasn’t always been and I have learned from so many of my own personal mistakes, God-teachings, and life-livings.

    This year, my life is going to be more tangible, real and raw to others. Love you and hope we can see each other soon! We need a Talia, Sarah and Jen coffee and conversation date before this month’s up!

    • Thanks, Talia…I love that you’ve decided to be more open about both the joy and suffering in your life. I really think many want to live more “authentically” – more real- but we just don’t know how. Not all of us have a blog etc. I often wonder…what does being more open look like? When I walk into church on Sunday morning feeling overwhelmed and sad and the greeter/usher says, “Good morning, how are you?” Should I break down in tears? Or should I smile and say good? Good’s not authentic, but the poor usher doesn’t need to be burdened either. Of course, this illustration is a bit silly…but WHERE and HOW do we live “real” if we don’t have a blog? How much “real” can be or should be shared on Facebook? I’ve been struggling more and more with what the ‘church’ should look like. I do think my “sharing” wont come on a Sunday morning – it’s happen in a faith community that’s smaller, more intimate. But, how do we develop those? (You probably had no idea that your comment would hit on something that I’ve been pondering for a few years 😉

      I can’t wait to see how you share and how God grows you…he’s so good. AND YES! We need a coffee date:) Could you email me at sarah.b.farish@gmail.com so we can exchange phone numbers for texting? I’d love to see you!

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