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 impossible  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.

 

Savoring Singleness

The world preaches that singleness is a problem to be solved and the church, unfortunately, it riding this band wagon. As a majority, the Christian community has forgotten the truth of Paul’s words, “I wish that all of you were as I am” (1 Corinthians 7:7) and “an unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs, how he can please the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:32).

Shouldn’t that be our focus?

I am single by choice.

It’s not an easy choice, it’s one that I struggle with daily. It’s a choice that I believe God has asked me to make. To set myself, my relationship status, aside for Him.

It doesn’t make sense to many people at all. If I have an urge to be with someone, why not just see if it works? Even Christian friends try to encourage me to dive into the dating world. They’re not convinced that God has really asked me to live a single life.

But I view this part of my life as a sacrifice, a type of fasting, to God.

I know that it is for a season, not for the rest of my life. I do believe that God has a plan for my sexuality and relationship status that is beyond my happiness or momentary satisfaction.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if the single community, both pre-married and post-divorce, would view their single-status as a blessing, a time to focus on the Lord and a time to dedicate intentionality in growing close to God?

I really do believe that the divorcee community is an army of dry bones. One that God is waiting to breathe into, to awaken, to put flesh onto and to let loose into this troubled world. I believe this army will change our world completely and that they will set a fire in us for God that will be so effective, so consuming and passionate, it will surprise us all.

Think of it, divorce effects each and every one of us.

There isn’t a family that hasn’t been touched with divorce in some way. Whether it’s your mom and dad, your siblings, your friends, or extended family…divorce has permeated every single relationship.

And the after shocks of divorce are astounding.

It takes the average person 7 years to recover from their own divorce. Both financial recovery and emotional recovery.

Children have resounding residual effects from their parents divorce which extends into their own romantic relationships, their own children, their friendships, their jobs and their schooling.

Because of friends divorcing, your own marriage is effected.

The ripples of this division are all-encompassing and overwhelming and highly downplayed.

So if this is true, if a divorce is this effective at influencing so many years of a life, so many relationships around it…imagine what power a divorcee would have by taking control of their relationship status. By not allowing it to move them into other damaging, temporary unions but to instead devote their relationship status to growing deeper in the Lord, a divorcee could potentially change the tide completely.

By allowing God to breathe on the dry bones that divorce has shown to create, a person could allow themselves to be reworked into a new creature. A soldier of the Lord. A powerful force fueled by God’s power, focused intently on the Kingdom.

It’s here, in this singleness, this direction, that we can allow God to take the pen of our story and rewrite history and statistics. Instead of being a single, divorcee flowing with the tide of urges, the normalcy of the worlds expectations, a divorcee that embraces their singleness and lets God have control of their relationship status will see changes in themselves and their environment that they didn’t think was possible.

By embracing our singleness in this season of our life and pursuing God, I passionately believe that divorcees could literally change the world.

 

A special thank-you to Shelley Black of Savoring Single for including the KJS Online blog in their Blog Tour! Check out her great blog and Instagram feed for more encouragement in your single walk as well as her new book

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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.

Sex & God

I am totally fascinated by sexuality and the effects of sex on a human being. I’m taking a psychology course and I am completely enamoured with how the human mind works and specifically how sex changes us.

My goal with the course started with becoming a marriage and family counselor, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to focus more on the sexual aspect of relationships. It’s what fires me up, puts me on the edge of my seat, makes my eyes light up and my words come out really. really. fast. There’s an obvious passion built into me about this topic and I believe that God has written my story in a way that allows me help others in this area.

It’s interesting looking back on my life and seeing myself progress in the sexual intimacy department. I used to be (probably still am…) the friend that would crack the “that’s what she said” jokes and make innocent comments sexual (it’s amazing what raising your eyebrows can do). From my friends point of view, my marriage sex-life must have been passionate and the sex itself, frequent. If I was so open about sexuality in our friend-group, of course I would be just as open about it when my husband and I were alone.

Not the case.

We had a good sex life, the sex we did have was enjoyable and frequent, but it took some convincing for me to want to participate.

When I heard on Sexy Marriage Radio that sex is a form of communication, it really made me assess my sex life. Dr. Corey Allan and Shannon Ethridge mentioned that the way you live out this part of your life is often the way you live out your day-to-day life.

If this is true, what did it mean for me?

In my marital sex life, I was very distrusting and on edge.

It took everything in me to believe that my husband wasn’t just using me.

I had to be convinced to relax and be vulnerable.

Big sigh.

All of these things could be translated into my life in general.

In friendships I held emotional connection back, creating walls, until I saw that it was safe to let my heart participate. People around me may not have seen the hesitation, but inside, my mind was telling me I shouldn’t trust.

In my day-to-day, my first thought was that people were using me or going to hurt me, and it took a mental game to convince myself that they genuinely wanted a friendship.

I often had to be coerced to do something out of my comfort zone and even when I did participate it took a while for me to relax and enjoy myself. In the meantime a bad attitude and an edgy-ness was obvious (both defense mechanisms).

The way I lived out my marital sex life was absolutely a direct reflection of how I lived out my every day.

Now, what do I do with this knowledge?

Knowledge is power.

I consider how I have changed through the last few years, and how my sex-life has gone from one extreme to another only to settle into what I believe God has called me to. How does this reflect my life and how I communicate myself to others?

Is this even important? To consider how our sex lives are a reflection of other parts of us? I think it is. Sex was given to us by God, built into our humanity. It’s a drive for each of us. It’s important to acknowledge it and it gives us insight to other aspects of our lives.

Even if it’s just helping us see ourselves in a new light, that is important.

So looking at my current sex life (or lack thereof), I can see how I have changed. How I have matured. How God is working and molding me. Leading me in His direction and not my own.

I see the forgiveness I’ve received. The softness of my heart. The grace. The patience. When I look at my sexual journey, strange as it may seem, I see God and His work in my life.

 

 

 

Am I Alone?

Nothing can prepare you for the reality of marriage. People try. There’s books, advice, seminars, counseling…but nothing can truly prepare you for the depth of what you’re about to immerse yourself in. Much like childbirth. There’s only so many words to explain the experience and nothing can come close to just experiencing it.

Marriage. Childbirth. Divorce. Three major life experiences that you cannot prepare yourself for. You can try, and that is applauded, but unless you experience it, you cannot fully describe it or help someone to prepare for it.

I thought that divorce was just a separation of two people. Splitting the household items, going on with life without the person I used to call Husband. Media taught me that it was relatively easy. The first stage would be painful, the movies said, but happiness and completeness would come in time. I would find my lobster, Friends told me. My Noah was out there, The Notebook said.

At first, I believed it. I was ‘happy’, I was finally being my true self, I was doing what I wanted to do and wasn’t held back.

But the longer I lived in this Divorce Stage, the more I struggled to believe this was true. I tried online dating, I tried partying, I tried casual sex, I tried committed relationships, I tried not dating.

The movies, the songs, don’t prepare you for the soul connection that Divorce leaves you with. That attachment you can’t shake. That piece of you that you attempted to terminate and leaves you with a gaping hole. They tell you that it will go away, but I’m not convinced that it ever does.

Don’t think that I feel hopeless, depressed or lonely. I am a happy, healthy, well-rounded 30-something woman who is pursuing a relationship with the Lord, a career and meaningful friendships and tons of fun adventures in-between. But because of my divorce, I do believe that a part of me will always remain empty. When I left my marriage I purposely, although unknowingly, gave myself and my husband a marital-amputation that would leave me with phantom pains.

And this is what I’m wanting to focus on at KJS Online. Marriage relationships, life after divorce, sex and intimacy, the feelings / consequences of divorce, are some topics on my heart.

I hope that you’ll enjoy the learning journey I’m on and that you find it encouraging, interesting and hopefully somewhat funny. I don’t believe that I am alone in my feelings of life after divorce, so many of us are struggling with the How-To’s  and What-Now’s of this life stage. I hope that we can come together, share, cry, laugh and spur each other on towards more fulfillment as we try to figure it all out.