Marriage and weddings have been so romanticized by culture, and I wanted it all – the marriage, the kids, and the big house. I always dreamed I’d marry someone wonderful, and we’d work as a team to meet our financial, religious, and family goals together. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go according to my plan. My marriage wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t perfect either.
We had lost our first child and I don’t know that I ever recovered emotionally from that. Then, it was the dreaded Seven-Year Itch. One night after work, I picked up my sons from my parents’ house, which was nearby, and headed home. For some reason, the traffic light had a very long wait, and that particular evening, God revealed something devastating about my marriage to my heart.
My mind had been on getting my sons home and preparing for the next day. To have this come out of nowhere while innocently sitting at a red light took the wind out of me. I thought for sure God had gotten this wrong. I was the First Lady of my church, and there was no way this could be true. The revelation was confirmed soon after that incident, and the forewarning by God helped to soften the blow. Although this was a devastating situation, I was thankful to be connected to the Source of all knowledge. The next month I moved out of my house and in with my parents.
God – don’t you care?
Life wasn’t so different for my sons as my parents had always taken care of them while I worked. Now, instead of going home each night, they just stayed there all the time. This arrangement was fine with me until my three-year-old son asked how Santa would find him for Christmas. With all the changes going on in our family, I decided to move back into our family home in December so Santa would not miss him.
Marriage counseling was unsuccessful, so I started attending individual counseling by myself. Before long, more revelations came that devastated me further, and I met with an attorney soon after that. I was conflicted about divorce, especially with two young boys. For months I carried the divorce papers in my work bag without looking at them. The stress of the situation eventually caused me to get sick – I had a urinary tract infection, could not walk upright, and my blood pressure was at a stroke level.
God – don’t you care?
When I didn’t get any help or assistance through my illness and realized I was truly alone, I laid my youngest son on the bed with me, and prayed that God would watch him and that I would live through the night, as my systolic blood pressure – the top number – was over 200. The next day, I contacted my lawyer and proceeded with filing for divorce.
Devastation and desolation swallowed me, and I spent my days at work and home in a daze, not knowing if I was coming or going. Divorce? It was not an easy decision as this was not in my life plan, how could this be happening to me? I knew it was the right choice as I had been faithfully attending counseling and praying fervently, even through my daily tears and meltdowns.
Soon, it was just me and the boys living in the house. Life got more difficult – I could not cover the bills on my salary alone, and some days I didn’t have enough money for bread or milk. I was behind on the mortgage, and it felt like there was always something wrong with my car. After I fixed one problem, another one soon came. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I drove the car to the bank and left the keys in the night deposit box. Daycare fees and credit card debt had me drowning financially.
God – don’t you care?
Without any financial support, I could no longer afford the house or its upkeep. I had to move away from my home and wonderful neighbors, especially my next-door neighbors, who encouraged me, prayed for me and helped me with supporting the boys. I struggled with embarrassment and shame. Soon, I had to move again…and again…and then again – four times in three years! It was such an awful time. The multiple moves began to upset my sons as they didn’t understand what was going on, and I felt like I was as low as I could go.
I had little support during this time. My parents supported me as much as they could. A college friend who got married and had a child around the same time I did, and now was subsequently getting a divorce was a huge source of support for me, as I felt like she understood everything I was going through.
No one from the church where I was once First Lady ever checked up on me. I returned to my old church, and attended each Sunday even though sometimes my mind was elsewhere. Reading my Bible and praying felt like I was just going through the motions. It wasn’t coming from my heart.
God – don’t you care?
I remember one Sunday on the way to church, I suddenly made a detour to Chuck E. Cheese. Because it was early morning, we had the entire place to ourselves. While my sons were off playing in their Sunday’s best clothes, I was at the table, overcome with tears and emotion. It was at that moment that I decided – ENOUGH. I could no longer let my sons see me this broken. Even though I wanted out of the storm I was in, I realized that God DID care and was with me along the journey. I would just have to trust Him every step of the way while in the storm.
With the divorce being finalized a year later, I began to operate in survival mode, constantly stressed out with everything going on in my life. In addition to being a full-time working mom, I was also a caretaker for my ailing father, and working on my Ph.D. in Early Childhood Education. Sometimes I questioned my decision to get a divorce, especially when I saw the effects it had on my sons. But I know through my relationship with God, that I made the right choice, and that He’s been with me every step of the way.
Two years later, I finally obtained my Ph.D., and then a year after that, my father passed away in 2013. I found a counselor for my sons to make sure they were processing the divorce and loss of their grandfather, but it didn’t seem to be very beneficial due to their young ages. Nonetheless, I made sure they were involved with various activities with strong male figures – like Boy Scouts and church.
I intentionally did not seek higher professional opportunities so that their lives would not be disturbed, nor would they have to change schools, or face any other difficult transitions after all they had been through.
I’m realizing that I haven’t stopped to fully process everything I’ve been through. I’ve reflected but have never settled myself enough to deeply feel and fully heal. To a degree, I’m on autopilot, with the busyness of life. Getting to a place of forgiveness has taken a lot of work, and healing is still in progress. Reading through my old notes and journal entries even today can rip open old wounds, causing emotions to flood my soul and tears to rain down on my face. Memories of feeling less-than and unworthy can still pop up out of nowhere. However, I’m determined to walk in the truth. And the truth is that I was an extremely hurt and wounded woman, but it’s also the truth that when I decided to trust God along the journey, He began to heal the raw hurt and pain I was experiencing. He was always there.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR MOMS:
“Through She Who Believed, I have shared my journey through divorce, into a new career, and then my calling into ministry. What are my next steps? I do not know, but what I am assured of is that God will guide and provide. Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. (Ezekiel 37:5)
I would love to remarry and share my life with the right person. I would love to bring women to God and help them through their storms. I do not know when or how, but God knows. That is all I need because
this self-confident woman is covered by God’s favor and is being prepared in God’s yoke. And this I know, because I am S.H.E. – She Who Believed.” Excerpt from S.H.E. Who Believed, by Andrea Lewis, Ph. D.
When Is It Time?
Divorce was never in my plan, but through God’s grace and my loving family, I made it through. Several women have confided in me through the years to share their stories. They typically ask how I knew it was time to file for divorce and I always give the same answer – only you know. It is a decision that you can only approach with prayer and an intentional plan. The plan includes actions such as: where you will live, how will you survive financially, who will be your support system, and what will you do first? Proper planning is paramount to major life decisions.
My decision to divorce was difficult but the best decision for me. I also considered the age of my boys, then two and four. As an early childhood educator and a mom, I felt this was the best time to be divorced, as opposed to waiting until they were older.
When you have conversations with your children – they should all be different, based on each one’s maturity level, personality, and temperament. Be sure to continually and intentionally communicate with them.
Again, the process and painful journey to divorce is highly personal. Seek prayer, pastoral counseling, and love from family and best girlfriends. Your tribe will pull you through even on the days when you do not have the energy to put one foot in front of the other. God has you, always.
PRAYER FOR MOMS:
Most merciful God, be with the women reading this prayer. Allow your Holy Spirit to dwell in and with her and she makes life-changing decisions. Be with her God, guide her, sustain her, and heal her. Wrap your loving arms around her and give her peace. As the days and months go by, allow her to see your goodness and footprint in all that she does.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Connect with Andrea at www.drandrealewis.com. Her book, S.H.E. Who Believed: Redefining life through God’s Grace can be purchased at her website, Amazon, or Barnes & Noble.
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