Today is my “Every Other Sunday” and I woke up feeling pretty bold this morning. I imagine I am getting ready to offend a few, but if I never offend anyone, how can I call this living?
Here are two things you should know: First, I’m a good Southern girl who was raised in the Bible Belt with a mother and a grandmother who were tough on me and preached the words of the Bible on marriage and divorce to me from the time I could listen. Second, I’m divorced.
Coming to a decision about something that you were led to believe was always the wrong one was heart-wrenching. Not only was I afraid for me and my children, I was also worried about disappointing God and my family and friends. Since getting a divorce, my lifestyle has completely changed, I have lost many friends and I have felt lonely more times than I would care to admit. In this small, conservative town, I have been approached by people who don’t know the first thing about me telling me that I am making a mistake and that I need to pray to get back with my ex-husband. Somewhere deep inside, I wear my divorce like a scarlet letter.
I am not here to tell anyone that divorce is good or right, because I’m still not sure about that. I am here to say that divorce is okay.
My background allows me to see that sacrificing your entire life and happiness for the sake of staying married can effect your children, your children’s children, and on and on and on. I appreciate the fact that my ancestors thought they were doing the right thing and I do admire their devotion, but I cannot honestly say that I respect it. No one’s life is more precious than another and I believe that God wants us all to find our own way through the mistakes we make. Strife sparks creativity and there is more than one way to raise happy children and have a meaningful, loving life.
Marriage taught me to compromise, to sacrifice, to support, to depend, to bite my tongue, to say what I need to say. Divorce has taught me to be strong, to be alone, to be true, to surrender, to be hopeful and to accept. I am equally grateful for all of those lessons. There are things I am learning through divorce that I would never have learned had I stayed in a bad marriage. I would have become sad and bitter and hopeless and that is not why I am here.
I am here to experience, to learn and grow and give. I can take all the energy I was wasting on trying to salvage an unsalvageable marriage and give more to my children and to my teaching. I feel like a much better mom now that I am not distracted by the worry and arguments that my marriage created in my life. I feel like a much better teacher now that I can focus on my skills and talents instead of my shortcomings and faults.
My children are learning through their parents that all people deserve happiness. They are fully aware that we could have stayed together “for them”, but I will continue to explain to them that we wanted to be an example of love for our children and that could have never happened in the marriage we were in. Love does not always look like a nice house in the suburbs with a mini van parked in the garage that will take you to your soccer games. Love can be two calm, peaceful, loving homes where we talk and laugh and play and sleep without tension or futile expectations.
I picked up my boys from their father’s house the other day and they were all hugs and kisses for me. When we got in my car, my youngest son said to his brother, “Kids like us, who’s parents are divorced, have the best of both worlds, don’t we?!” In that moment, I was more sure than I have been about anything else in my life that I had done the right thing.