So how do you trust again after your heart has been ripped to shreds by the person that you committed to live life with till the end of your days? Would you dare remarry again? For me, these are the thirteen not-so-easy steps.
- You tell your friends that you need hugs. You, the person who has never ever been a “hug” kind of person. It’s awkward at first, but after awhile, it’s a normal part of greeting and you soak in every hug at any opportunity from friends and family that you trust.
- You get some solid Christian counseling. You face your own issues and take responsibility for your own sins related to the marriage that broke up. When your counselor tells you to wait a year before dating again, you do that, even though you feel horribly lonely, and you think it’s not fair.
- Sometimes in that first year you are grieving so deeply that you bawl and scream at God when you are alone in the car. The emotional pain is so overwhelming, that occasionally you wish you were dead (though you are not suicidal), but you yell it out, because your counselor reminds you that God can handle that. Because when you are alone yelling in the car, God is all you have left.
- You go to college (a dream you’ve had for several years) and you study diligently and do well in your classes and find something you love to do. You find that your days are filled with studying and working.
- Some creep–you realize later that he’s a creep– from a college class asks you on a date, and you are so lonely, you hang out with him after class one evening. But he directly informs you that he has other motives, and you remember what the counselor said (see step 2) and you call your best friend and ask her to hold you accountable so you don’t do something you’ll regret. And you resist temptation despite the opportunity, and a few weeks after the flood of emotions is past, you realize that perhaps you might be okay being alone!
- You cling to the Psalms in your Bible. You pour your aching heart and tears along with David, the ancient king of Israel. Then you write miles of words in your journals and you pour out your aches and pains before God. You write until your hands hurt. Then you close the journal and walk away, and realize you feel lighter.
- You often call your best friend, your mom, and the one cousin you know who also went through a divorce. You tell them how lonely you feel and that a funeral would have been easier than this. After you stop seeing your counselor, you find a small support group and you share and they hear you. While you aren’t paying any attention and are just trying to survive, your heart heals every week because you are processing your grief and not avoiding it.
- You find things in your life to look forward to. You let your mind wander back to long-neglected hobbies and passions that have been smothered by the chaos of a difficult marriage. You pick up your crochet needles and make something pretty. You keep going to your church, even though you feel weird walking in all by yourself and jealous to see all the happily married couples. You worship, you take communion.
- And then a friend invites you to attend a meeting with his church single’s group. You are baffled at the idea after being a married woman for eight years, so you politely say no. So he invites you again, and you say no again. And one night when you are studying that same friend shows up at the coffee shop with a bunch of the people from the group. You sit by them for an hour and you realize they are friendly. A few weeks later you walk in to one of their meetings with your heart hammering in your chest. On the way home that night, you bawl your eyes out with gratitude, thanking God in the car, because you found some genuine Christian fellowship. So you jump in with both feet.
- You hang out with this group so much that they become like brothers and sisters to you. And particularly you notice the brothers treat you kindly, and you realize that not all men are out to treat women the way you were treated. They could care less that you are divorced and weigh over 300 pounds–sure they will sit in the coffee shop with you and talk and play board games and watch movies and discuss all sorts of things about life in general and they ask you how school is going and encourage you and treat you as a sister in Christ consistently and -oh-so-kindly. You actually find yourself laughing and it surprises you because you forgot that you could laugh. A few of these friends become aware that you have post traumatic stress syndrome, and that sometimes you have panic attacks and become nearly paralyzed just from riding in a car or watching a movie scene, and they still like to hang out with you and accept you as you are.
- And then about a year and a half after the first meeting, one of the guys in that group—who happens to be the most kind of them all (and wasn’t actually one that you had been hanging out with very often), surprisingly asks you out on a date. On your first date he gives you a card that says he is praying for God to guide the relationship. And you remind him (even though he already knew) that you are a divorced woman, because he has never been married. But he still wants to date you.
- So you go on your second date with him and he takes you to Lake Michigan and walks on the beach with you and holds your hand, and you didn’t imagine you could feel those butterflies again, but you do! So you go on your third date with this fellow, and you tell him that you have been infertile for eight years of marriage, and that you have had tests and procedures, and that you were the one with the problem, and that you may never be able to have children, and he says that he still wants to date you.
- As you continue to date, you share more and more of your heart with this man, the good and the bad, and he shares with you too, and there is lots of walking and talking and sharing and you find yourself wanting to trust again. Still, you don’t trust your own judgement, because obviously you have made poor decisions in the past. You ask your pastors and your closest friends and family if they think this is a good idea. Then you ask his roommates and his co-workers and his pastor and his family if he is a man of integrity as he seems to be, and you realize that he is, so there is nothing stopping you from marrying him. So you take a deep breath, walk down that aisle and make a new vow til’ death do you part.
That is how you trust a man again.
But really, the only way you can trust a man again, is to trust GOD and His workings. For you realize it is His book and His people that have healed your heart to the point that you are ready and willing to trust again. Then you see “He works all things for the good”, and that isn’t just a trite saying in Romans. And that God can take what has been the most painful experience of your life and turned it into something beautiful.
And this same man continues to show you, through all your hurts and insecurities and weight loss and weight gains (not to mention having a baby(!) born 9 months and 2 weeks after your wedding day—and another baby just sixteen months later—and two miscarriages–and unemployment, and four moves in 8 years) that he loves you. He calls you beautiful every day, still gives you cards, and reminds you that he’s not going anywhere. And you realize that God loves you too, you didn’t earn any of it, it’s all grace, and you know it more and more and more. How much you have been forgiven, and how much Jesus sacrificed to save you, and how you much you are loved. And you still have occasional bad days where there is grieving, anxiety and even some panic attacks, but you always know you are loved. And you know that the “happily ever after” is not here on earth, it’s still coming.
When I started to write on the topic, this is what poured out of me. It’s heavy stuff, and a little scary to hit the publish button, but it’s my story.