What a Waste! Or Not?
The early days of divorce are often so terribly difficult. One faces uncertainty uncertainty about almost every aspect of life in one way or another. But the uncertainty is not always about the external things in life; there is also uncertainty within as one is filled with much self-doubt (which occurs for most people in life at some point, though perhaps not with the same intensity).
What is wrong with me that he/she doesn’t love me anymore?
I must not have tried hard enough, otherwise I would still be married.
What is wrong with my judgment that I would marry somebody who would leave me? (Sometimes phrased as, “that I always seem to pick such losers.)
How could I have missed God’s voice so badly back when we got married, because surely God wouldn’t want me to marry someone knowing we would divorce later?
Why did this happen to me?
Could anyone ever really love me?
In the course of those regrets, one may wish he/she could go back to before the marriage began, and start again with the opportunity to make different choices. As if being able to go back like that would make everything okay now. However, as is demonstrated so clearly in that beloved old Christmas movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” going back and making different choices would have many more consequences than we realize (a theme used in many other stories as well).
I want to focus on one of the things that gets overlooked in that grieving and doubting time of life, which is the way the lesson of that movie describes the real life impacts life experiences have on us as people. That is to say, all the experiences of your life have combined to shape you into the person you are today. Each joy, each life changing moment, each encounter with another person, and more than that, all the experiences of your marriage have helped forge the person you are today. You might think that if you could go back you would choose differently, but you only see the need to choose differently because you have now seen the outcome, and only now have the understanding and perspective to make different choices for the future, not the past.
There are things even a divorcing individual has learned in marriage and from that marriage partner, some of them very hard lessons to learn, that he/she would not have known without those lessons. Things like, “I thought this was the kind of person who would be best for me, but now I realize that these other characteristics are more important for me.” Or, “I believed a marriage could last with these foundations stones, but now know that something else/more is needed to make a marriage work.” There can be a new self-understanding as one realizes what really is important to them, or as one selects which building blocks to retain for the next phase of life. Or the individual may not have entered the career he/she did, or been as successful at it as he/she was, or may not have moved to the area where best friends now live all around….so many shaping things come through marriage, even marriages that fail. One of the most important things of all may be to realize that the children you love would not have been without that relationship.
As in all of life, some shaping feels very negative, some seems to bring positive growth. It seems to me that it is important during a period of self-doubt and a time of questioning everything about the marriage now falling apart, to once in a while be able to step back and say to oneself, “And yet…” All these things are hard and sad, and yet…he/she brought this to my life, he/she taught me that, he/she help me accomplish this, God used that certain aspect to help me grow this way…
IN OTHER WORDS, though in the period of self-doubt you may feel like everything was such a failure and such a waste, in time and with some perspective, you can begin to recognize that God still used your marriage with purpose in your life, even though it may not have the purpose you were expecting. And in faith you can trust that somehow, that shaping was preparing you for what God has ahead for you in the years to come.