The Crazy-Ex

If anyone was a crazy ex-wife, it was me.

You know how you meet those people who have wild stories about how their ex-spouse turned into this crazy person…they went off the deep end and became someone they hadn’t been before.

They started being super aggressive, maybe making the custody battle near impossibleĀ  or making unreasonable demands. Or maybe they started acting out, partying, sleeping around. They just became CRAZY!

You don’t know how many times I heard that I was being called the Crazy Ex-Wife. Or that so-and-so saw our failed marriage coming from a mile away. Or that you-know-who hated me with a vengeance because of my behaviour.

I was that wild wife that left a lovely husband and became something she never had been before. I was self-absorbed, I was aggressive, I was demanding, I started swearing like a trucker and drinking like a fish…I turned into this wild, worldly girl that couldn’t give two hoots about what others thought of me. And I liked it. I liked that I swore and partied. I liked that I just slept around and didn’t feel remorse. I liked who I had become.

But when God grabbed me back, I realized that all of this had been a cover. It was all behaviour that Satan had tricked me with, making me burn perfectly good bridges in order to ruin me. I realized that I had been sick, fatally ill with spiritual blindness.

I believe that the world has created the title, The Crazy Ex, in order to shirk their responsibility to this person. It’s a way to remove ourselves from their lives, separate us from dealing with their issues. It’s a way for us to pretend that we don’t need to feel a connection to that person any longer. It’s a way to justify giving up on them.

But I know from experience, both being The Crazy Ex and then the returned prodigal aching for forgiveness, that we can’t ignore this individual. We can’t let them leave our lives and pretend they never existed.

It’s exhausting having to deal with them, I know. But reaching out every now and then and letting them know you’re still there, doesn’t take too much. They might not respond, but that quick text or call will be a moment for them.

This Crazy Ex is sick and we have an obligation to them, as a friend of the marriage, as a Christian, as a believer in the power of prayer. We are obligated to hold this person up to God. To remind the heavens of the marriage vows. And to stand firmly for the For Better or Worse, In Sickness and In Health, even when the spouses don’t have the strength or will to.

When we go to a wedding, we’re not just there to see pretty flowers and a beautiful dress. We’re not present to witness the tears. We’re there to bear witness to the vows being said before God and to help support that marriage when the partners aren’t capable.

If you know of a Crazy Ex, don’t give up on them. Do battle for them. Refuse to gossip. Stand against bitterness or damaging opinions.

I like to ask the question “If this person returned to who they once were, the person you originally married, would you be saying this about them? Would you welcome them back?” Often, the answer is No. But I wonder what the true answer is…not the answer that is being protective or worried, but the answer that would come out of a moment of thoughtfulness. I’m positive the answer would be a heartfelt Yes.

This return is possible. This person, this wild runner, needs our help to return to their old, true self. They will return. I personally know how truly, completely, dramatically, they can return…and we can’t be shutting the door in their face when it happens. We need to be an open door and a save haven for their broken heart to come rest when that heart-change happens.

 

 

For Better & For Worse

Vegas is always a fun place to go, especially when you’re at your wits end in your marriage and just wanting to let off steam. I didn’t party though, I had gone there on a business training trip. On the last night one of the girls and I went out to see the sights.

A quick gander of the Cowboy Ugly saloon in New York New York lead to meeting a few random people and we explored with them for the rest of the night. One pub here, a restaurant there…little to no drinking on my part, but it was fun! Flirting, laughing, exploring…one of the guys in the group and I hit it off by the end of the night and he had asked me up to his room. As far as I remember, there was no physical contact between us, but that doesn’t mean the desire wasn’t there. In a setting like that, when your marriage is struggling, of course the desire is there. I said no to his offer even though I wanted to. I just knew that I couldn’t realistically act on that urge.

This was another sign to me that I needed to leave my marriage. If the temptation to cheat was so strong, eventually I would give in to it, and I couldn’t do that to my husband. I needed to leave before I hurt him like that. He needed someone to love him more than I did.

It’s so interesting to me that feelings like this and others I had felt in the past, were signs to me that I needed to leave my marriage. If I was struggling with these thoughts, I assumed that I didn’t love my husband enough and I shouldn’t be in my marriage…when in actuality, they were signs of the dysfunction of my own heart, and red flags of correction that I, personally, needed to make. They shouldn’t have been reasons for me to leave my husband, they should have been reasons I needed to be honest with myself and my husband and seek help.

These struggles weren’t abnormal, they were ones that many individuals go through. They aren’t a reason to divorce, they’re a reason to assess the situation. Maybe love isn’t being given and / or received so the individual is looking else where. Maybe connection isn’t being felt. Maybe there’s a spiritual imbalance which has lead to an unhealthy thought life.

None of these issues are impossible! They’re all able to be corrected with counseling, intentional changes within the marriage, corrections to thought processes…But of course, that would mean admitting to my own faults, humbly asking for help and working at applying the steps it would take to make a change.

Doing this is so difficult, admitting unhealthy behaviour or thoughts is a blow to the pride and ego. But leaving a marriage because of these issues doesn’t mean they stop. You still carry these issues into whatever life situation comes next.

Dealing with your own issues before ruining a marriage because of them is the healthier, albeit harder option. It saves a severing that takes years to recover from, if at all. It prevents a situation that God has said he hates. It allows two people to work on themselves and become better individuals and a healthier team. You’ll grow, you’ll learn and God will bless the efforts he sees you making to heal yourself and your covenant.

I truly believe that a bigger blessing is waiting for you on the other side of this struggle. The covenant we make in front of God on our wedding day is sacred, it’s an earthly and obvious reflection of God’s relationship with us. He will back the efforts we put into it and will show us his presence in ways we thought were impossible. We need to stubbornly push through the For Worse to reach the For Better.

Pray Recklessly

Have you ever felt you needed to pray for something, but couldn’t bring yourself to say the words?

I had a friend ask me a question the other day, “Is there hope for restoration? Should I pray for that?” she asked. Valid question. I laughed and replied “It depends who you ask”.

My ex-husband proposed to his girlfriend the day that I sent him a letter of repentance, asking for a second (third…) chance. I had felt God tell me to write this letter and as it sat there in my Outgoing Messages, I prayed…I let it sit and marinate for a bit. Did God really want me to write this letter? Was it just my emotions taking over? I hadn’t found out about the proposal until a couple days later, so it wasn’t that detail that was affecting me, but maybe the emotions of Easter weekend, maybe being in my home town again, maybe being with family…

So the letter sat for a day or so, and I prayed, asking God what I should do.

I felt an overwhelming, heavy feeling that if I didn’t send it, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

So I sent it.

Sometimes our steps of obedience don’t make sense in that moment. The results are confusing and we wonder if we even heard God correctly. But just because they don’t make sense for now, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have taken that step.

“Is there hope?”

I don’t see any.

He’s remarried and seems to be happy.

But should that stop our prayers?

It’s as though we think that our words will confuse God. We can’t pray for something that will throw him off. If we ask for something outside of what he’s doing he might just answer it and then where would the plan be?! We’d ALL be in a mess!

That’s not how it is at all.

We can ask whatever we want of the Lord. We can ask for hope for restoration, even when it looks like that prayer won’t, or maybe even shouldn’t, be answered. We can ask for prodigals to return, even when it looks like they’re actually making the best of their situation. We can ask for changed hearts, impossibilities to become possible, doors to be opened, hearts to be softened…it doesn’t mean that God is going to say yes. And if he does, it’s in his will.

You can pray for hope even when it may seem wrong that you ask for that.

The only catch is that you need to be aware that the answer might be “no”. We need to hold our conversations with God in high regard, knowing that we are able to present our requests to him no matter what they are, and that he has the foresight to say yes or no.

Our prayers have the power to change the world and the people around us. They are POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE but it doesn’t mean that God will scramble to answer them if they’re not in his plan already. Our prayers for the impossible don’t send God into a frenzy. They don’t make him panic because they’ve thrown off his groove. Instead, they’re communication with our Creator and that’s what God wants and our hearts crave. They soften our own hearts to knowing Gods answer is the best for us, even if we can’t see it in the moment.

“God, this is where I’m at, this is what I desire, if it’s your will…and if it’s not, guide me through that as well.”

So when my friend asked if there was hope and I laughed, it was because there’s always hope, regardless of how we view the situation. There’s hope that God has a plan and it will most likely look much different than we predict. Just because we view something as hopeless, doesn’t mean it’s true.

So go ahead and pray for hope. Pray for restoration. Pray for changed hearts. Pray for the impossible. Our prayers are heard and welcomed. God may say no, but we don’t have to feel guilty for praying for something that seems strange. We just have to realize that whatever happens with that prayer and with God’s answer was in his will and plan.

 

Single-For-Now

Being called to a single-for-now life has it’s struggles. Obviously. Have you ever tried living against the flow of culture?? Everywhere you go, there are messages telling you that where you’re at isn’t good enough.

You need him.

You need her.

You should feel like that.

You should do this.

Dress like that.

Flirt like this.

Sex. It. Up.

There’s magazine covers, posters, TV shows, movies, social media…even taxes tell you that if you are with someone, they’ll go easier on you. The world shouts that there is more benefits to being attached than there are to being an individual.

The world, and unfortunately a lot of the Christian community, tells the single person that they won’t be happy until they’re with someone (“we need to find you someone”). And then when they’re finally dating, they need to get married (“has he proposssssed yet?!”). And then when they’re married, they need to have kids (“so like, are you guys trying??”).

We’re told as singles that we will be more fulfilled when we have a partner.

But what about those that God is calling to be single, even if it is just for a season?

I am convinced that this is a stage I am in. I have my reasons, God breathed reasons (I’d change them if I could, trust me), but still, when I tell people this they have a worried look in their eyes. They still subtly hint at matching me with one of their friends. Or tell me that “*shrug* maybe you just need to heal”. Girl, it’s been seven years of working through healing, I’m pretty sure there’s more to this season than getting over past hurt.

I do believe that this is a stage. A, God willing, temporary stage. But if God continued to lead me to be single for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be surprised.

Often I wonder who would be the right fit to stand beside me in this journey God has given me.

What sort of man would be willing to accept that so much of my ministry revolves around my previous marriage?

No, it’s not fear of this that keeps me away from a relationship. But it’s a question that I often think about.

If the human life is created to have relationship with the Lord and to bring Glory to His name and an individual is doing this well without a romantic partner, why isn’t that our focus as a Church, instead of making sure they meet someone special?

Our focus as the Church body should be centered on relationship with our Saviour, not relationship between the sexes.

Are we living on fire for God’s word, striving towards obedience, communicating with Him and keeping our eyes on His prize?

Or are we frustrated with our relationship status, trying to rush a stage that isn’t there yet, or maybe forcing a single guy on a single girl because they both ‘need’ someone?

Singleness is a blessing! It’s a frustration in some ways, I understand that. Man, do I understand that!! It’s not easy when the entire world is telling you that your single status makes you incomplete. But it’s a blessing.

You are free to make choices for yourself. You have quiet time when you need it. Your issues are your issues. Life as a single person is simple. Your finances are your own, your time is your own, your body is your own, your bed is your own.

That’s not to say that I want it to stay this way for me my whole life, but if God lead me into that, I know that not only would He sustain me, but blessings would wait for me in that season too.

As a Christian community, let’s learn to support our singles where they are, not where we think they should be.

Let’s wrap our arms around them, encourage them, build them up, provide for their love languages, pray for them, pray with them, feed them, change the oil in their car, let them babysit (ok, seriously, are my friends getting these hints?!).

Let’s love on the singles in our community and encourage them in whatever stage they’re in. God has so much blessing in singleness, let’s not encourage them to rush through this part of the process. Their singleness may be where their breakthrough happens.

 

Bonding

“But it’s different for me,” I responded “I’m divorced.”

This conversation was between my sister and I, but I had talked about this with multiple people.

Waiting for a second marriage to have sex didn’t count for me, I told myself. I had been married before and so my body and mind had already experienced it. Not only that, but I was closing in on my 30’s. Realistically, I wasn’t going to wait until marriage to have sex again and neither were the guys I would be dating.

Not only had I already experienced sex but, in my mind, because I had experienced it, it wasn’t as big of deal to continue.

What I was saying, without being conscious of it, was that sexual interactions were no longer precious.

Isn’t that how the world views sexual interactions? It’s a physical deed with little importance. I mean, yes, it marks an important moment in a relationship, but other than that it’s for physical pleasure. Sex, the world says, is to an individual what air is to a human. It’s a need, a necessity, and one we quickly take for granted.

Even though, scientifically, we are bonded to another human by having sex or even a more simplistic orgasmic experience because of the release of chemicals, the world shouts that the bond doesn’t matter. Or they don’t acknowledge it. It doesn’t affect us, the world says. It’s the physical act of sex that is appreciated, not the connection it creates.

I have learned about the bonding agent of sexual experiences the hard way. It’s taken broken hearts, STI’s, and lengthened heart-attachments. Embarrassment, shame and one night stands. As much as I wish I could go back, change it all and learn the easy way, I know that my personality needed these difficult moments to truly teach me the importance of sexual connection.

I’ve learned that sex is a bonding agent between two people. Yes, it’s (usually) a special moment, but it’s actually even more than that. It ties two individuals together. It makes you feel connected on a deeper level, even if the foundation of that connection isn’t established. It makes your heart yearn for the person you’ve shared this experience with after they’re long gone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a committed relationship or a casual one.

If all of these things happen with the act of sex, why are we flippant with one night stands? Why do we rush the sexual moments? Why do we not consider the importance and depth of this experience?

A while ago I decided to get to know someone without adding sex to the mix. For several weeks we just got to know each other, went for walks and hikes, watched movies and had great chats. Although he wasn’t wanting the relationship to stay at that level, he did respect my wishes.

When we decided to go our separate ways, I noticed that I was able to mentally move on from that relationship so much faster than any other in the past. I didn’t feel a lengthened attachment to him. I felt like our relationship had a healthy break instead of a strained one.

In the past the relationships that had included sex took so much longer to break from. My heart ached for those connections longer and hurt deeper.

I think that we need to not only see the act of sex but also the connection that is built because of sex, as important and precious. We need to acknowledge it, preach it, believe it. It’s so easy to tell our kids, or even adults that aren’t married yet, that sex should be saved for marriage. But when we tell them about the depth of connection that happens, it’s more than just saving these moments for marriage. It’s saving these bonds for our spouses, these in-depth emotional connections and feelings for someone we want to spend the rest of our lives with.

I am constantly reminding myself of this part of sex. It’s so easy to be brainwashed by the worlds definition of relationships and what should be part of dating. Sometimes it’s hard to remember why I’m trying to set myself apart in this way. But when I remember the hurt that I’ve been through before and how I felt linked to guys that I wanted to be separated from, it’s easier to hold back sexually.

Beyond that, when I think about the connection I want with my husband one day and the distance I want from men in my past, it’s easier to hold back sexually. Still a mental (and spiritual) process, but it’s easier to keep my sights on what is true.

I Know

Some of my biggest passions are sexual intimacy, helping the struggling marriage and the Christian walk after divorce. I often feel attacked in these areas, as though my divorced relational status should silence my opinion. But there’s nothing that will get me fired up faster or make my eyes come alive quicker than starting to talk about these life subjects.

It was six years ago when I was packing my belongings to leave my husband. On top of the confusion of my decision to leave one thing that he couldn’t understand was why God had so clearly told him to marry me. Why would God have done this if He knew it would end in divorce?

I don’t know the answer to this, but what I do know is that what Satan intends for evil, God turns into good.

I know that because of my marital struggles and how I gave up, I am now able to speak into other lives to encourage them to stay in their marriages when times get tough.

I know that I am now passionate about the marriage Covenant and the vows we make to our spouses.

I know that because of hitting rock bottom and having only God’s hand to grab hold of, I have seen miracles that I didn’t think were possible.

I know that because of God’s dramatic movement in my life it is possible for others as well.

I know the power of prayer and reality for complete heart-change that can come from it.

I know now the importance of spending time with God daily and the difference that can make in mental health.

Do I believe that God wanted my husband and I to go through divorce? No. I don’t believe that was in His ideal plan. I do believe, though, that God has taught me lessons through this process that have changed me for the better. I do believe that because of these lessons I can have more grace for those struggling around me. It’s because of these lessons that I can speak into their lives and help their marriage. And it’s because of these lessons that I have a deep and personal relationship with the Lord.

It’s because of this relationship with God and the heart-changes I’ve had throughout the divorce process that makes me so excited to see what God has next. If God can change me when it looked as though there was no hope, He can change anyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Numb

Feeling numb is the natural reaction to having an unhealthy definition of what’s enough.

Mike Foster

It was a feeling of unfeeling. A complete numbness. I had checked out and was incapable of feeling anything at all. I didn’t feel the pain of leaving my husband or the hurt I was causing. I didn’t feel energy, happiness. I felt completely indifferent to everything around me.

Looking back, I wonder how on earth I allowed it to get this far. How had I allowed the world to influence me so much? Enough to get to the point of ending my marriage.

It wasn’t just the world, I know. There’s a powerful force out there, roaming around, scheming to lead us into situations and mentalities of destruction. I had allowed it to seep in, slowly poisoning my being. I was the frog in the pot of water, not having any idea I was slowly boiling to death.

Our marriage had started out well, or so I thought. We were two young, Christian people from good faith filled families. And we loved each other. Wasn’t it that simple? Two people who believe the same thing, feel chemistry…and then life just falls into place after that, doesn’t it?

Looking back, I believed it was this simple.

We loved each other and life would just happen and we would live through it and one day, after we just flowed through life, we would look at each other from our creaking rocking chairs and smile. Still happy. Still in love.

But life doesn’t happen that way. Life takes work, dedication, pushing through the hard things, holding on when it seems impossible. And it takes intention. Intentional steps of obedience. Intentional choices to do what we need to do, not always what we want to do. Intentional clinging to what is right even when our emotions are telling us to run.

I just didn’t realize marriage was going to be like this.

And so, after life flowed over me, pushing me this way and that, telling me I should do this, be this, go there, have that…and after I realized I was none of these things and fell so short of the worlds definition of success…I crumbled.

I was numb, shut off, depressed and I blamed my unhappiness and failure on my marriage and husband. I tried staying, hoping that without much effort, the feelings of emptiness would just disappear. But they didn’t, so I didn’t.

I ran as far as my little legs would carry me. I left a marriage, a good man, and family behind. I hurt many people and I became someone that was so far from my true self. I pursued a life that I thought would give me the happiness and success that I felt I needed.

When my list of Wants was all crossed off I realized I had nothing. I was just as empty as before but on top of that, I was alone.

Sometimes God gives you everything you want to show you it’s not at all what you need.

The remedy for a numb heart is focusing on Jesus. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Too simple. Maddeningly simple. But I promise you that this is the cure. When you start to dive into the Word, surround yourself with Christians, dedicate time to pray, listen to what God is telling you…when you do these things it redefines your definition of success.

When your focus is on God, everything else blurs on the sidelines. He is all that matters. His definition of success is the only true definition.

When you start to define things by how the Lord defines them, you can start to do what seems impossible…like save your marriage.