On a Thursday during the pandemic in April 2020, I was working from home and doing what I like to call “academic management” with my two sons – one in 4th grade and the other in 5th. It had only been a few weeks since the world had shut down and everyone was trying to adjust and navigate a new normal. By the time we got to this particular day, it seemed like we had a rhythm going, as we were slowly but surely figuring things out. Little did I know that by the end of the night, my life would be completely turned upside down.
I had a conversation that night that caused my heart to race; nervousness led to fear as the discussion went on. I initially thought the discussion would focus on getting my marriage on the right track, as I had been feeling like a single mother and very much disconnected.
But never in a million years would I have guessed that my marriage was about to end. I felt paralyzed in the moment. All I could feel were warm tears flooding my face. I suggested counseling, but that notion was dismissed. I was hurt, confused, and angry. And no matter what I said, the decision was already made. After being in a relationship for over 20 years, and married for almost 14 years, separation was a foreign concept to me. It felt like the beginning of the end…
Here I was in the middle of a pandemic, working from home and virtual homeschooling, and now having to deal with my marriage ending. My son’s birthday and my wedding anniversary were a few weeks away. On top of everything I was dealing with, I had to schedule a breast procedure! Needless to say, life was coming at me fast and furious and showed no signs of stopping.
How was I going to look my sons in the eye the next day and explain that life as they knew it would never be the same?
Where were we going to live?
How could I ever do this?
Why wasn’t I enough?
What did I do wrong?
Why wasn’t I good enough?
These were the questions that were running rampant in my mind like a hamster on a wheel. From the time the bomb dropped, I only had a few weeks to find a place and move out. Since the lease was up in 3 months, I decided to move out, and within a month I found another place. I had to create a budget, buy furniture, and make moving arrangements all while trying to process what was happening.
It was the first time I had lived by myself in almost 17 years. Because I found myself in full strong-black-woman mode, there was no time to grieve, mourn, cry, or be sad. Healing was not on my to-do list.
Over the next few months, we settled into our new space. I experienced all kinds of emotions and stages of grief. It felt like a merry-go-round and I couldn’t get off. I remember the “shock stage” being a major blow for me, like – I can’t believe this is happening. But I had to keep going because life’s demands and responsibilities were not going to end even though the marriage was. There were days when I was good – smiling and laughing, feeling like things were going to be okay. But there were also days that I didn’t want to get out of bed and had no hope for the future.
One day, while the kids were gone, I was listening to worship music. It was a gray and gloomy day; my front room has a lot of windows, and it was as if the atmosphere outside began to consume the inside of my home. While the music was playing, a prayer came on and I began to cry and weep uncontrollably. By this time, I had done my fair share of crying, but this was something different. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t stop the tears from falling. Somehow, I managed to get to the bathroom and retrieved some tissue to dry my eyes.
I found myself balled up on the cold dark bathroom floor, crying out to God! I asked Him ‘Why now? Why this? Why ME? Who am I now? I CAN’T DO THIS!!!” God responded: “Now I have you right where I want you.” Not that He wanted to see me suffer, but He wanted my intimacy, honesty, realness, and surrender.
Telling God that I couldn’t do this showed that I needed Him and that could no longer try and do this by myself. For months I had been in self-preservation and survival mode. I realized that I had not fully let my guard down with God about what had happened to me.
It was now time to give Him all I had. All the pain, hurt, confusion, fear, anxiety, uncertainty, anger, and unforgiveness. I had to be willing to trust Him with my healing. I was at a place where I was allowing the pain and rejection of separation to define who I was becoming. I was at a crossroads, and I had to decide if I would stay down or get up and face each day with the strength and power of God. I chose to get up and continue moving forward.
As the end of 2020 came to an end, I found myself seriously considering divorce. There had been no effort to work on the marriage and no discussion of reconciliation. Finally, I decided to move forward with divorce. It was not an easy choice, and I didn’t make it lightly. My church was doing a fast and I knew this was the right time to seek the Holy Spirit about where I was, and what I believed was the best decision to make.
My pastors (and spiritual parents) walked me through this process. They listened to me, loved on me, encouraged me, and spoke life to me. They gave me space to cry, get angry, express my hurt and to just BE! To ensure that I was equipped spiritually in making the decision to divorce, they gave me a book to read – Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible by Jay E. Adams, which broke down marriage, divorce, and remarriage biblically. It was a heavy read but a good one. When I finished the book and the fast, I had my answer. I felt peace about deciding to move forward with divorce.
It was a joint decision to deliver the news to the boys. They were assured that they were loved very much, and we would always be a family, but the marriage was ending. They were reassured that none of this was their fault. Needless to say, they displayed every emotion expected. Silent in words, but every emotion was written all over their faces. They cried and asked why, and their questions were answered.
Throughout the separation, I worked hard to create an open and safe space for them to share their thoughts and feeling about everything going on. I remembered telling them divorce was a big, legal word for what our lives already looked like.
The divorce process and paperwork were so overwhelming. I decided not to hire an attorney and I did everything myself. I am grateful because God placed people in my life who both had been through the process or were currently going through the process, and who were able to help and guide me.
During that time, God was preparing me for my future. I was able to accomplish goals, grow, heal, and evolve. I was in therapy, participated in a course to become a public speaker, wrote a devotional/journal, and was a part of a Speaker’s Expo. I realized I did not have to be completely healed and whole before walking in my purpose and experiencing God’s Victory in my life.
The divorce was granted on January 5, 2022. My 20+ year relationship was dissolved in less than 20 minutes. They actually used the word dissolve. That word, dissolve, was horrible. When you think of something dissolving, in the end, it’s as if it never existed. Surprisingly, my healing was not done. After the divorce, I thought I would return to life as usual, as I had done the work of healing and growing during the separation. God showed me that I needed to grieve the divorce, as it was different from the separation. I now had to mourn the finality of the marriage.
My faith was challenged when I realized I was feeling like nothing in my life was in my control. One of the things I trusted in the most, which was my marriage, was now gone. How could I trust God? He knew this was going to happen. He knew I was going to hurt, and be in pain and my children as well, yet He allowed it to happen!
My actions and words going forward would show where my faith was, so I had to be intentional. It wasn’t easy at first, but I am thankful for an amazing tribe who was there to encourage and push me. No one was letting me fall on their watch. There were days I didn’t want to declare, read my word, pray, or talk to anyone. Despite how I felt, I knew I needed to do those very things.
During my separation and divorce, I drew closer to God! It’s all I knew to do! He was ALL I had. There was a moment when I was angry with God. I figured since He was all-knowing, He knew this was going to happen on the day I said, “I do”. However, even in these very real moments with God, they drew me closer to him.
The more vulnerable I was with myself and God, the closer I was drawn to Him, and Him to me. I got to a place where I could finally say, “God, I trust you with my whole life!” I would often declare, “God I understand, but I don’t like it.” Since the day of my separation, my relationship with God has grown and gotten more intimate. Now, there is nothing that I don’t go to Him with.
It was especially important to me that I handle the emotions of my young black sons with care. I knew I had to focus on not allowing my emotions to be on full display. I wanted them to know whatever feelings they had was validated. Our thing was – acknowledge your feelings and we’ll learn how to deal with them and move forward. I also didn’t want to always think, “I have to be strong for them.” I realized they needed to see me expressing real emotions, so they would know it was ok to express theirs.
I had the most amazing support system, I like to call them my SQUAD, and they were LIT!!! I was blessed with women who allowed me to be me; whatever emotion I had and no matter how often I had them, they created a safe space for me to express it. My friend/mentor reassured me it was okay to break, and not to hold some of it in, but to let it all out. She knew my issues with perfectionism, and that I was trying to hold it together, and it wasn’t doing me any good. So, she gave me the permission I needed to break.
My squad prayed for me, with me, and over me. I could call at any time and say anything and not be judged. I continued therapy throughout the separation and the divorce and am still in therapy to this day. This allowed me to share feelings and discover feelings I didn’t even realize I had. Therapy also allowed me to put how I was feeling into words.
I also made sure that I was listening and reading books, podcasts, and sermon messages that spoke to healing and were undergirded with the word of God. I listened a lot to Real Talk Kim, Pastor Dharius Daniels, and Dear Future Wifey podcast just to name a few. I had to be intentional about my healing and growth in the face of this kind of heartbreak.
Divorce is a loss, and it feels like a perpetual death. It is important to grieve and process your feelings in a healthy way. I like to say you need God, a Squad, and Therapy. It’s important to go to God and keep it real with your feelings. He can’t heal what you are not willing to reveal to Him. He said to cast your cares, worries, stress, and anxiety onto him because he affectionately cares for you!
Your Squad means having women and men of God in your life that you can trust; those who have the capacity to hold your vulnerability without judgment. They will not attend your pity party, but tell you the party is OVER, to gather your edges, and get yourself together because you have work to do for the Kingdom. They will extend to you grace, compassion, and kindness.
And finally, Therapy (counseling, coaching, mentor) – you need someone on the outside, and something with professional training and/or a licensed specialist can be helpful. They can equip you with tools to help manage your emotions and cope with what you are going through.
Divorce SUCKS!!! But it is not the end of your world! I believe that when you get to the right perspective on divorce it changes things. I began to see that this was something that happened for me and not to me. I was reminded that the word of God says that he will work all things for our good and that he knows the thoughts and plans He has toward me. He wastes nothing and He would use this experience for my purpose and his glory!
Advice for Moms:
I want to encourage moms to know that what we go through (or what God allows) does not define us. Our purpose and identity are found in God and God alone, and not in the person who walked away. Divorce is a loss and you have to allow yourself space and time to grieve/mourn, and there is no one way to grieve. You need to know that healing is not linear. There will be days you are feeling great and other days where you are down and confused about what has happened. What you focus on and who you talk to during those heavy emotional days are so important. Your self-talk is equally as important. Be kind to yourself and give yourself grace to just be and remain in the present. In the present is where you will find peace.
Perspective is everything! Work on having a perspective shift from what happened to you to what happened for you. God does not waste anything, and like His word states, “He will work all things together for your good”, even the most painful experiences are all for purpose. It is important to realize healing is your responsibility, and you must be intentional about it. Write scriptures on index cards and post-it notes and keep them around the house, in your car, and/or in your office where you can consistently see them!
You are not alone, and you do not have to go through this alone! Our God promises never to leave nor forsake us and He will be with you on this journey. Remember what you are going through is a journey and not a destination. I encourage you to embrace every moment, the good, the bad, and the ugly because I believe it is about who you become on the journey that is the most important.
Prayer for Moms:
I thank you for these amazing moms. I thank you that you have a purpose and a plan for their lives – greater than they could even imagine. I pray they will seek who You are and Your purpose for what they are going through. I pray their hearts will be healed and that you will get the glory out of their lives.
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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