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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emotions vs. Obedience

Live according to your beliefs, not your emotions.

I wasn’t feeling happy.

I wasn’t feeling in love.

I didn’t feel the butterflies, I wasn’t sure if I ever had.

So I left. The world told me that if I didn’t feel happy, I shouldn’t be in my marriage. I wasn’t walking in my beliefs, I was walking in my emotions. I was letting them dictate my decisions.

Are you being obedient regardless of what your emotions are telling you, or are you allowing your emotions to dictate your obedience?

I tell ya, being obedient at that point of my life would have taken everything I had. I was depressed, laying on the couch crying about nothing and everything, I felt like I was drowning and didn’t know how to help myself. My husband would ask what he could do to help and I wouldn’t know what to tell him. I could barely feel anything, let alone happiness.

Being obedient, regardless of my emotions, would have taken every ounce of energy and brain-space I had. It would have felt like I was hiking uphill in waist high mud. But I know, now that I have gotten to the other side and seen what it took to cure me, that it wasn’t impossible. That it would have ended and my marriage would have been stronger for it.

Now, my emotions try to dictate my thoughts in an entirely different way.

Being single in a world that tells you your completeness will come when you’re married, is a tough one especially when God has told me to remain single. My loneliness seeps in, my desire for intimacy and connection, and it whispers to me along with the mantras of the world, that God wouldn’t really ask me to be single for this long. He wants us to be happy, he wants us to be dating, married, childbearing women.

When I allow myself to enter into a dating relationship, am I allowing my emotions to dictate my actions? Or am I stepping forward in obedience, regardless of my feelings?

Life is constantly changing. There’s ebbs and flows, ins and outs. I believe our God can hold us to something today and release us from it tomorrow. But His commands and Word stay the same throughout time. Are we allowing our emotions to change what He has told us or what the Bible commands…that is the question.

Obedience takes bravery. Sometimes the Lord asks us to do something that is counter-culture.

It’s staying in the marriage when it doesn’t make sense.

It’s remaining single when everyone just wishes we would date.

It’s guarding our virginity when everyone else has given theirs up.

It’s somtimes saying No to the cute guy that asks you out.

It’s saying Yes to committing to that missions trip.

It’s being ok with not taking the better paying job.

Obedience is an act of worship. It is a sacrifice we lay at God’s feet telling Him that He has control and we will surrender our plan to His will, regardless of our emotions.

God honors our worship, He sees our human struggles and knows the heart-hurt it can cause us. He desires to give us what our hearts need, which is often very different than what we want. What we want is usually a short-term fix to a long-term desire.

When we can lay aside our emotions, knowing that God will look after us even when it feels like He is distant, that is when we will see God and feel His presence and perhaps even see a miracle.

 

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.

 

 

 

Calling

I feel like God has a special calling on my life. It’s a big calling, a scary one, but the more I live within that calling the more it fuels the fire inside of me to continue in it.

I look back on my life and I see where I have felt God leading me to this point. I also see those times where I’ve had Mission Drift.

I know what God is asking of me. I know what He wants me to be speaking about. I know what part of my story is to become my testimony. But isn’t it just so easy to become distracted?

We are so lucky to have such a gentle and patient God that allows us to make mistakes and quietly leads us back to where He wants us to be.

There’s so many things that I love and that I want to be involved in. So many good things that can take my time and focus. Yes, they are good things. They are time with friends, education, helping others, volunteering etc. But what is it that God wants for me? There is good and then there is great.

When I was younger I was working full time from home selling a body-care product. I loved this product and where I saw it taking me. I loved the work I was putting into it, the women I was surrounded with, the passion I felt.

At a training conference with this company, I looked over the stadium filled with over 8,000 women and a thought crossed my mind. If I spent just as much time and dedication on God, what would my faith look like? If we were all here for the Lord, how powerful would that be?

Of course, at that time, I didn’t go further with that thought. It was just an interesting moment that crossed my mind. But now, hindsight tells me if I had acted on it, my marriage most likely wouldn’t have failed.

Now, every time a good opportunity comes across my path, I balance it with my relationship with the Lord. Will this further my faith-walk? Is this what God wants for me? Is this within my calling?

I need extra money and I could sell products again. But what if God wants to show me that I can rely on Him for the extras and to spend that time on Him instead? He has taught me that every moment doesn’t have to be filled but that I can rest and let Him look after me.

I often feel myself easily flowing towards Mission Drift and I catch myself. I don’t want do fall off my path only to realize later I’m way off course. I want to keep my eyes firmly focused, with stubborn faith, on my Jesus. I know that His journey for me not only is better for me, but that it follows my personal passions, the ones that were built inside of me. I know that sometimes He will ask that I put things aside because He has something better in store up ahead.

His mission for my life will fill my soul and quench my thirst for purpose and meaning, which I think the world is desperately searching for. I continue to be reminded of this lesson and continue to balance myself with Jesus as my focus. And I hope that by being obedient to Him I can help lead others around me to God’s calling in their lives and help their souls feel the peace I’ve been blessed with.

Focus on Him and everything else blurs on the sidelines.

 

Secrets

I was reminded today, in a completely unexpected way, of a part of my story. A little forewarning, this is a sensitive subject.

When I was little, and until my mid teens, I had a very disturbing reoccurring dream. I didn’t tell anyone about it, I was ashamed, I felt gross and I was completely embarrassed. I would pray, beg, for this dream to stop, but for years it would roll through my sleeping hours.

Finally, close to my 20’s, the dream seemed to go away. Even so, I was left with the emotional damage. The feelings of shame, inadequacy, filth, failure and helplessness. I remember having intense emotional breakdowns, feeling overwhelmed with pain and inner struggle.

The scariest thing about these dreams was that I was sure who the perpetrator was. Not only this but I was becoming more and more confident that these dreams were images of acts that had been committed against me as a child.

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was married at the age of 22. Even though this pain that the dreams had left me with was still so present, I was certain that if I ignored it, it would go away. I believed that I was dealing with it myself and that my husband didn’t need to know. It would have been to hard for me to share the details with him, and I didn’t see the point of intentionally bringing that hurt into our marriage. The symptoms would disappear eventually. Right?

Fast-forward four point five years later and our marriage had hit a rough spot. I was drained and borderline depressed, barely having the strength to get out of bed or off the couch, let alone put energy into our relationship. But my husband wouldn’t accept that and he forced me / us to go to counseling. He is a good man.

Counseling was the most difficult thing I had ever done. I was shaking uncontrollably the entire two hour drive to the counseling session. I didn’t want to go and I hated my husband for making me. I couldn’t even look at him. I was positive that the counselor was going to tell me what a bad Christian wife I was being.

But it wasn’t like that. This session was the first of several we would go to and it did help me get a little closer to healing.

During the session the counselor used EMDR Therapy. Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy. A simplistic description of this therapy is that you follow the therapists hand movements with your eyes. Sometimes the client will loose sight of the fingers, showing that there is a blind spot in that area. Since humans process most memories visually, these blind spots are signs of repressed memories.

When the counselor hit a blind spot of mine, my body fell off balance and I struggled to stand upright. She asked what thoughts had come to mind in that moment and I lied and said that nothing had. But it was the memories of these dreams that had resurfaced. I quickly looked at my husband and knew I couldn’t bring them up. Once again, I believed the lie that acknowledging them would be pointless and that I was dealing with them on my own.

I know now that if I had been honest and brought up what had come to mind during the EMDR treatment, my story would be very different. I would not doubt that it would have saved my marriage. But instead, I decided to struggle with my secret on my own, thinking that everything would work out just fine.

I couldn’t see that this secret, although so far in the past, was affecting everything about myself and my marriage. It affected my confidence and body image, my view of men, my sexual experiences and view of these moments, the way I accepted affection and love…and that’s just a couple things that come to mind.

Secrets slowly seep into your life and darken everything.

Secrets kill. They are a deadly rust that spreads throughout relationships, slowly crumbling the foundation until it all topples over.

I refuse to feel guilt and shame from my past. I will acknowledge the wrong and move forward with those lessons. But I will fight the lies that Satan would love to tie me down with. I will share my story in order to help others in their walks, knowing that God has given me this plot for a reason. There is a purpose to my path and I believe that is to give glory to his name and to help those struggling around me.

So my offering of help today is this: Are you keeping a secret? Is there something you think that you’re dealing with on your own?

It might be hard, you might be shaking the entire time you do it, but share your secret with someone. Help them carry this burden. Ask for guidance or just spill the beans. Go to someone wise, loving and full of grace.

And friends, if you’re the one helping to share the burden, be gentle. Guide with truth and bring God into this conversation. Pray, listen, and remember that words aren’t always necessary. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being a sounding board. Have the wherewithal to suggest therapy if needed, or hold your friends hand all the way to the pastors office if you have to. But most of all, be open and listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Sharing secrets is painful but that pain will pass. It doesn’t feel like it, I understand that. But please believe me when I say, dealing with secrets is so much better than hiding them.

 

 

 

 

Position

Continue to put yourself in a position where you can watch God do something through you or around you that blows your mind.

– Lisa Whittle

I was married before. Have I told you that? Girl, I’m going to tell you that every chance I have.

I was 22 when I married, just a baby, and at that point I just assumed that life happened and you went along with the flow. You tried, you put in some effort, but if something wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. Either you were successful or you weren’t. Either you were happy or you weren’t. At the time I wasn’t conscious of this type of thinking. Hindsight is 20/20.

So I left this marriage. I ran, sprinted, away from the Lord and my husband. I lived how I wanted to live and did what I wanted to do. At the end of two years of living this way, I was exhausted. I was empty, confused, and completely exhausted.

I truly believe that God allows us to go down the wrong road in order to show us that everything we thought we wanted wasn’t at all what we needed.

When I left my marriage, I had a list of things I was searching for. A physical list. And at the end of two Rebel Years of achieving this list, I realized that none of it mattered. Not one of those items filled my soul.

When I finally stopped running, I looked at God, who had been walking patiently beside me the whole time. This gentle, Loving Giant had watched all my sin and all my wrong turns and had allowed me to mess up. He had tolerated me calling the shots and watched as I realized the results didn’t lead to the fulfillment or success I thought they would. When I finally looked at him and asked “Lord, what do you want? What do I do?” he was there. Ready with another list, one would fill my soul.

God had allowed me to get to brokenness in order to make me a willing participant in his plan for my life. 

I was now eager to follow his commands. Whatever he wanted, I was willing to do. Because I had run so far from him and seen the emptiness of chasing after my own unsuccessful definition of happiness, I was willing to do whatever he asked me, knowing that it would lead to more fulfillment than I had found so far.

I know that putting yourself in a position to see God work can be hard.

Sometimes we are scared of what it will mean. How hard will he actually allow it to get? What will change because of these prayers? How far out of my comfort zone will I have to go?

Praying these prayers can be difficult, challenging, angering…I have felt all of these emotions while I pray to be put in a place to see God work. Even after God has brought me so far, often because God has brought me so far, I struggle to pray those words.

I’ve often prayed these prayers even when I’m not feeling able to surrender, because I know that being in a place of surrender is the best place for my soul.

I have lived a life where my own plan fell flat. Where all I wanted was nothing that satisfied. Because of that lesson being so painfully etched into my heart, I am willing to go through whatever God wants for me, knowing that will ultimately lead to a fullness and wholeness that nothing else can compare to.

The trials are worth it, the discomfort is worth it, the brokenness is worth it. It will all lead to what we were built to crave: intimacy with our saviour. Enter heart emoji here. Continue to put yourself in a position where you see God Work. Continue to push through the fear and doubt and trust that he’s asking you to do this for a reason. He’s got this.

 

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.