The Struggle is SOOOOOO Real!

So lets get to the nitty-gritty… lets talk about why the name of this blog is “Jesus loves your Ex-Husband and his Momma too”.  It’s not because I have it all together and want to tell the world how to do it, it’s because it’s a work in progress. From my fleshly perspective, it is ALWAYS a struggle to truly empathize for or see things from my ex-husbands perspective. But from my knees – I can see him and his family in the same light that our Heavenly Father shines on me. I can see grace for him, I can see forgiveness, I can see the good heart God gave him, I can see the blessing he is to OUR daughter!

To be truly transparent here I want to give you some back story.  I’m divorced because I left. I left a marriage that was young, fragile, fractured – but not broken. I can’t give you some huge sob story to convince you all to see that he was a terrible human being and I needed to get out. There’s not one. We each had our fair share of wrongs. Our perspective was WAYYYYYYYYY off base on what marriage is because we both grew up in homes that were ran by one parent. One parent CONTROLLED EVERYTHING. Control was an issue for both of us. I would dare say we both created huge wounds in each other by exerting control in different areas of our lives. But the bigger issue was insecurity. I can’t speak for my ex so this next part is just about me.

INSECURITY is an understatement for the emotional roller coaster I lived on and still fight to stay off of to this day. I wanted to believe that people around me loved me and would never leave me but I didn’t. I wanted to put ALL MY HOPE in the people right beside me. And when those people let me down, I felt betrayed and hurt. I didn’t know Jesus the way I know him now. I was searching for something only God could give me but I didn’t even know I was missing anything. I was young physically but emotionally I was a child. I needed sooooo much more than any one human could give. I don’t tell you these things to lessen the reality that I walked out on a marriage. I tell you this so you will understand the level of desperation I created in myself. I can’t play like a victim of divorce – I created the divorce. It was me. Did he do some things along the way, sure. Did he leave? Nope. I did.

In 2006, I decided I wanted out. It was too much to trust that this was gonna last. It was too much to forgive the things he had or hadn’t done. And it was easier to cling to someone new to fill all the voids I had in my heart. I had seen, lived, and been told that marriages don’t last and all husbands are cheaters so why stick around?? He didn’t cheat and I actually didn’t either. I just left like it was a high school boyfriend I could walk away from and move right onto the next man. I left and within two-weeks or so I had another crush from work to spend time with and that gave me all the crazy feelings that would temporarily fill the wounds in my heart. I just knew he would love me better. For the first few months of my separation from my ex-husband, I dated this new guy. Then my ex-husband and I decided we would try to work it out. But after just a couple of months, I  left again and went straight back to the same boyfriend.  I would later find that this boyfriend was affirmation for all the things I had been told – “men are rotten”, “all men cheat at some point”, and “men don’t stick around”. Yep – he was rotten, he was a cheater, and he would break-up with me at the drop of a hat and then swoop back-in with the right words just when he wanted to. This went on for a number of years… from the end of 2006 to 2010 we were on again… off again! Thankfully, around the end of  2009 I had started attending some Wednesday night services at a local church with a friend and was beginning to be exposed to more and more of God’s word. If you’ve read my first blog, you know I gave my life to Christ in 2011 at the funeral of my ex-husbands second wife’s father… haha! God clearly has a sense of humor as that has now become my testimony and I find myself sharing that nearly everyday! And to further that humor, God got right up in my face about that boyfriend.

After nearly a year of attending Wednesday night services at Church of the Highlands (Birmingham, Al), I began to really see and feel that everything I was doing was wrong. In late 2010, I hadn’t yet given my life to Christ but I started to pray. Pray for Christ to lead me and show me direction. I knew I wasn’t supposed be hurting emotionally or feeling empty the way I did. I felt that God was weighing on my heart to get rid of that boyfriend. I had finally decided to break it off for good in October 2010. Per his usual fashion, around mid-November, he called and insisted on meeting for dinner at a Mexican restaurant after I got off from work one day. I obliged, but didn’t feel quite right about it. I remember driving to the restaurant and yelling out “God – help me! I’m so confused! Show me a sign or give me something! Damn it! Why are you letting me do this? God I’m tired of being hurt. DO SOMETHING PLEASE GOD!” and I ended that prayer/demand/desperate plea with a nice slammed fist on my steering wheel as I parked my car. I walked into the restaurant and put a smile on as he proceeded to woo me with all the right words. By the end of dinner, he had convinced me to come back to his house for a movie night. Little did I know, I was about to get that sign from God I had just ever-so-politely demanded, haha! As he walked me to my car to leave, I could see something stuck to my driver-side window. When we got closer I could see a boot on my tire. The sticker on the window read “you aren’t supposed to be here” it was signed by the tow-truck driver with a hand-written cellphone number to call. I knew immediately! I wasn’t supposed to be there and I wasn’t supposed to go watch movies! I quickly turned and said to my boyfriend – “you need to go, now! I asked God for a sign and this is it – we’re done!”. After a small discussion and looking at me like I just fell out of the Bible-thumper-tree, he left. I called the tow-truck driver to come remove the boot. It was supposed to be a $250 fee. But when he got there, I was visibly upset and he asked if I was okay. As I started to share with him what I felt like was my sign from God, he looked at me and said “young-lady, when God speaks you listen – if you don’t He’s gonna get all up in your face until you do”! He didn’t charge me a dime. He sent me on my way on a promise that I would seek God every time I missed that boyfriend. Oh how I wish I had gotten his name or even paid attention to the small name on his homemade tow-truck!

Of course, there is a lot of details that happened between 2006 and my salvation in 2011. Many of those details will be subjects of future blogs. But what I want you to take away from this blog today, is I am not innocent…. I have my fair share of wrongs. I left a marriage for a boyfriend. I filled the nights that I didn’t have my daughter with bars, parties, and alcohol to keep my heart from hurting while she was gone or to keep myself too busy to grieve my marriage. But God can do so much with the messes we create! And I had no idea of the things to come that would make my testimony and turn me into the person I am today!

A psalm of David.

PSALM 23, NIV

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

Transformed!

Transformed from a bitter, nasty divorce and a drawn out custody battle into a beautiful little alliance of parents. Doesn’t seem possible…right? Today, I’m still astounded at how quickly and completely God transformed my heart. I can’t speak for my ex-husband, but I can speak for his actions – and by his actions, his heart was clearly transformed too! Sometimes when we just take that one little step towards God, He sweeps in and picks us up. Much like a Father would when his children run up to him as he comes in the door from work.

Being transformed isn’t just about changing how others see you, its about changing how you see others. For the first time in three years, I began to see my ex-husband as Ana’s Daddy and not as the whole list “done me wrongs” I had kept since our divorce. I begin to thank God for anything and everything positive I could find in him. I remember a time I was so irritated that her Dad came to her softball practice that fell on my time with her – but all of the sudden, I was thanking God that I didn’t have to explain to Ana why her Dad wasn’t there. Who was this person I was becoming and where on earth did those prayers come from? {Please don’t stop reading here thinking this is one of those “fairytale” they fell back in love and lived happily ever-after stories. That’s not our story at all – by this time (2011) Her Dad was married to his second wife and I was soon to be engaged to my current husband.}

Within a few weeks of finding my salvation in a funeral home – at a service for someone I didn’t even like, I found myself seated in a row at a local church praying for this transformation to overflow… I had tasted just a tiny bit of the freedom offered by our Mighty Savior and felt just a little weight lifted. Just enough to know I wanted more. More of Him and less of me.

John 3:30-36 New International Version (NIV)

30 He must become greater; I must become less.”[a]

What I did not know at this time, was that we had not yet faced our biggest post-divorce dilemmas. There would be many more trials and situations headed our way. But God had begun a work in my heart so that I could see these predicaments for what they were. I could see the enemy all-over them. God was constantly reminding me –

Ephesians 6:12 New International Version (NIV)

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

If you’re thinking to yourself “but you don’t know what my ex has done!” or “You would never feel that way if you had been through what I’ve been through” – Please stay tuned for future blogs. God’s moved some mighty mountains between my ex-husband and I. He has also blessed both of us with loving spouses who are on board and supportive of our active roles in Ana’s life. My husband and I are still standing in faith for the mountains He will continue to move in our future. Check back to get the details on some amazing things Christ has used for good in our lives!

Genesis 50:20 NIV

20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

Grace starts here.

Thanks for joining me! I’m super passionate about changing the nasty cycle of divorce we continue to see divide our families and the hearts of our children! This blog will be geared toward how God can change our current circumstances with our ex-spouses and their families, in-turn providing the best opportunity for our children to grow up with two involved and loving families!

But first, a little background on who I am and what drives my passion in this area. I am a product of a divorced home and I married at 20 years old, only to find myself divorced by 23. This is a cycle we see time and time again. Incomplete, broken, and emotionally wounded children that grow up with no understanding of what or how marriage is. A whole generation that does not comprehend forever… a generation that laugh’s at the thought of being married to one person for life. Those laugh’s are not because of ignorance or rebellious thoughts and actions. The majority of those thoughts are because of emotional wounds carried by them or even their parents.

During my morning prayer about 9 years ago, God revealed something to me… He revealed to me that I, through my own divorce and emotional wounds, was setting my daughter up for the same emotional insecurities and wounds I carried myself. I came from home where my Father wasn’t present. He was around, just not daily, or even weekly. We talked to him and saw him on holidays. But I had no idea what a functioning marriage looked like or what it felt like to feel whole. I didn’t know I wasn’t whole. I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed feel broken. The thoughts and beliefs I carried toward marriage and fathers were so far from reality. But they were MY reality. The thing is, I can’t look back at my childhood and say “oh, my dad was a dead beat” or “my mom was crazy”. From the outside, we actually had a very normal childhood with two loving and hardworking parents. No one, including myself, knew how shattered my security and confidence really was.

I didn’t even start to see my own brokenness until I saw it in my daughter. I saw me in her. I saw shattered and scared. I saw unsure and worried. I saw anxiety and control over what she could control. I saw all the things I lived and was too young to understand. I saw broken. And it terrified me. I repeated the cycle and my ex-husband was also from a shattered home. He had a father who left and wasn’t around. Didn’t call. Didn’t come for holidays. So essentially, we had two big broken messes… that didn’t know they were broken. We repeated the cycle. Married. Divorced. Fuss and tear down. I mean society tells us it’s okay to hate our ex…right? In fact, society actually fuels the fire and animosity between divorcee’s.

January 12, 2011 is the day I received the greatest Grace man could know. I remember this day for several reasons. The biggest reason is this is the day I was saved… reborn… set free… restored… oh, so beautifully saved! The other reason I remember this day because this was also the day of my ex-husbands second wife’s fathers funeral. Did you catch all that? Yep, I got saved at the funeral of my daughter’s, step-moms, father. How is that for God’s sense of humor? I, in support of my daughter, went to the funeral. I remember getting ready to go and being totally annoyed by the thought of it but knowing  I should go and do the right thing for my Ana. The preacher doing the eulogy begins talking about being saved and then starts to pray. He ask anyone who wants to be saved to raise their hand, out of nowhere, my hand shoots straight up in the air! I even said to myself, “what are you doing, put your hand down!” But my hand stayed and I reluctantly began repeating the words he was speaking. As the words were coming out, the weight was lifting off of me. I could feel the changes in my heart starting.

Over the next nine years, God transformed a nasty, bitter divorce into a team of parents that work synergistically to raise a beautiful daughter in a loving environment. I say team because Ana has myself, my husband, her Dad, and his wife; along with all the grandparents from all four of those parents. We are team Ana. And this is where this blog will begin – Transformed…

“Quit asking man for something only God can give you.”   -Kathy Devaughn