11 Minutes {Life Changes Quickly}

A police car’s flashing lights draw my attention.  I slow down and look to see why two cops are standing on the house’s porch. {Ok, I know it’s not polite, but I’m nosy.}

She sat on the porch wrapped in a blanket, holding a toddler tightly.  Tears streaming.  Fear evident.

The cops stood at the home’s entrance.  A shirtless man in the doorway.  Other activity in the house hidden from my view.

I don’t know the (very) young woman’s story.  But, in that moment my heart hurt on her behalf. What little girl dreams of sitting on a porch, wrapped in a blanket, hugging a small child while cops pace her porch?

Not that girl…not any girl.

I wonder…how did she end up there?  What happened to her or those around her putting her in such a place – in need of protecting?


I heard my own footsteps echoing on the courthouse floor.  Ascending the stairs toward the courtroom reminded me of walking the aisle to the altar. Both times I looked ahead and my husband awaited.

I took a seat across the waiting area on a wooden bench, which eerily reminded me of  a pew.  The similarities of the two days breaking my heart.

Where did you park, he asked.

In the lot, I say.

I keep my head down, repeating:  I will not cry, I do not care, I will not cry, I do not care.

(All lies…I cry. I care.)

The judge appears in the doorway…Farish…it’s our turn.

We stand and walk toward the door – my husband ahead with his lawyer – me alone because I chose to represent myself.

We take seats on opposite sides of the small room, each stating our names and addresses loudly and clearly for the record. The judge reads the names of my children, and it’s too much.  I break into sobs.

The judge stands, walks around her bench, and hands me a box of tissues. A gift of grace.

Repeating my I will not cry mantra doesn’t seem to be working.  So, I look around the room, searching for something on which to focus.  Just above the door – off to the right – is a pipe with color samples tucked behind it.

Six shades of gray.  I keep thinking…how appropriate.  Six shades of gray in a courtroom.  The irony isn’t lost on me as I listen to his lawyer ask questions for formality’s sake.

There’s a moment in which I almost forget where I am.  It’s surreal.  Like…this isn’t happening…none of it has happened…I am about to wake up.  Because even though it’s what I want to happen – it’s what I know MUST happen – a divorce – I am still sad.

My turn comes.  His lawyer repeats the questions.  I answer.

I hereby declare this marriage dissolved.  {or some such statement}

That was that.


Eleven minutes.


My divorce took 11 minutes.

That young gal on the porch?  Her life changed in less than 11 minutes.

Eleven minutes.

You have cancer.  You’re going to be a mom.  Will you marry me?  He’s gone.  She cheated. I don’t love you.

A wedding.  A meeting.  An audition.  A breakup. A diploma.  An abuse.  A murder.  An accident.  An award.

You’re invited (or you’re not).  Welcome to our church.  I am so sorry.  You’re fired.  You’re hired.  You made it!

A missed meal.  A false accusation.  An unfair assumption.

Eleven minutes.

Words of joy, words of affirmation.  Words of hate, words of dismissal.

All take less than a minute to utter, but stick in our hearts forever.

Eleven minutes can “make” or “break” us, huh?  Those minutes can change your life forever.

An altar and a courtroom – both 11 minutes.

A porch and a policeman – 11 minutes (or less).

Friend, today you’ll get to live 11 minutes about 130 times.  I know you have meals to fix, errands to run, conversations to have, meetings to attend, people to love.

And, 11 minutes will pass – and keep passing – without you even realizing it. But, as I passed a girl on a porch this morning, I felt God reminding me…

The next 11 minutes are different for everyone.  Some pain-filled and others joy-filled. Some life-changing and others nondescript.

I am driving to school and you’re heading to bed after the night shift.  I am saying hello, and you’re saying goodbye.  I am living in the States raising a family, and you’re across the globe raising a village.

All our minutes can look very different.


When you happen upon the withdrawn, quiet gal or the loud, exuberant gal.  When you can’t stand all her drama or decide to embrace all her beauty.  When you think she’s broken (and don’t have time for it) or think she’s amazing.  When you roll your eyes or reach for a hug.

Remember…she’s just lived 11 minutes. In a divorce court.  In a happy marriage.  With the knowledge of an affair.  With the compliment of her friend.  After the phone call.  After the news.

Embrace her with grace.  With love and understanding. Ask, don’t assume.  Lean toward love and not “she’s less than.”

Most of all…

Consider the cross.

He knew you (and her) before you lived your first 11 minutes.  He knows each of the 11 minutes you’ve lived and has stood sovereign over all – as hard as that may be to swallow.

He’s in the courtroom and on the porch.

He’s holding you, interceding on your behalf to His Father.  Extending grace and judgment.  Love and mercy. Consequences and help.  Dancing or weeping alongside you.

So, whether your last minutes brought pain or progress – delight or devastation – look up.  That’s where our help and hope come from.

19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf…Hebrews 6:19-20


  1. Michelle Wilson says:

    Feel all the prayers from those of us who love you……wish I was there to give you a hug.

  2. Tears for you, friend. This is just beautiful. Minutes ago I had my arms around an 11yo boy. Hugging him, but also restraining him. Keeping from hurting someone else. Hot, angry tears fell from his face to the sidewalk. His life is hard and he’s lashing out. Jesus, be near. xoxoxoxo

    • Anita Byrd says:

      This is one of the most powerful posts you’ve written. Sarah, I’m so very sorry for this 11 minutes in your life. Thank you for using this deep heartbreak to encourage and edify others. I know it wasn’t easy. Love and hugs to you and your family. –Anita

    • Jesus, be near. That’s become my prayer often. I am thankful for the courage you give me. Walking with you helps me to focus on what’s important…what matters…instead of living up to others’ expectations. It’s a gift:)

  3. Amazing sarah!

  4. I too have walked in your shoes. Know that God has a greater plan than yours. He will hold your hand each and everyday as you get the strength you need to follow his will! I have the best life ever, and looking back 22 years ago, God blessed me more than I deserved!

    • I am resting in His Word and these words, Penny. Thank you. I know He has a plan, and I pray I walk it out according to his purpose.

  5. Praying for you

  6. Love you Sarah, God wraps His arms around His children so they can have strength to face what the world has to offer. And sometimes we say this time Lord you gave me a mountain, but He has His hands out stretched for us to hold on to.

  7. Sarah, I ran across your blog this morning via a mutual Facebook friend. This was a beautiful, poignant account of an incredibly emotional and horrible 11 minutes. I shared this via Facebook, but do you mind if I also share it in a divorce recovery group?

    • Hi Lisa…You’re welcome to share it. I’d be honored. Praying for the divorce recovery group! It’s a long journey (so I’ve heard), but please remind of HIS love and purpose. Thanks, Sarah

  8. You describe the scene so well. I’m sorry for this day but confident about the future for you and your children. Thank you for letting us experience some of the raw emotion.

  9. Beth West says:

    Thank you sweet lady for this. I too am walking the journey of divorce. Wanted yes like you. Painful none the less. The person I married is not this man I am divorcing. The poison … I just want you to know I am here for you always. I pray for you and your gorgeous children 🙂

    • I’d have to agree, Beth. The person I married is no longer the one I married. I also acknowledge that the person I am is no longer the one he married. I hate to hear of your divorce…I know we’ve walked similar roads for similar lengths of time. I appreciate your prayers and kind words…please let me know if there’s any way I can serve you or your kiddos. Much love!!

  10. Just that quick…my life as yours was changed in an instant. 3 yrs later, still growing, rebuilding… but surviving. And I still have lots of moments of sadness and loneliness. But I am ok and you will be too! <3

    • I’ve heard from many that the road post-divorce is not a short one. I am praying for better than ok – for you and me:) I am praying for joy and restoration…and new hope!

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