5 years ago today I got engaged. It’s really an incredible story. I was out of town on an acting job and my ex-husband flew in without me knowing and proposed to me onstage at the end of my show. He also flew in two of our friends to videotape the whole thing so that we could have that special memory forever. I was surprised and thrilled. I had known I wanted to be his wife from the beginning of our relationship. We had been together over 4 years and every part of me knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I had imagined how and when and where he would propose in my head over and over again and it was finally happening. Everything felt right in my world. It was all falling into place. There was no one in the world as happy as I was at this very moment. The joy was overwhelming. I was his!
I’ll never forget his getting down on one knee. I’ll never forget the words he said. I still remember every one of them. I’ll never forget his face and that feeling your heart gets when you think it’s going to burst because you are so happy, you can’t believe this is actually your life. That this wonderful human chose you to be his forever. That every morning you get to wake up to the blessed assurance that you are loved by the one you love the most. It’s a beautiful feeling. It’s pure and real and honest and a true gift. My precious little heart was so full.
All this doesn’t change the fact that “it didn’t work out.” It doesn’t change the judgements of those who will always think “if they’d only tried harder…”. It won’t silence the feelings of hypocrites who believe “they would never let this happen to their marriage.” The long and hard truth of the matter is you don’t know how you would handle a divorce unless you’ve gone through one. Yes, I had a beautiful proposal. Yes, I truly believe that at one point in time my ex-husband did love me in the best way he knew how. Yes, I am now divorced…and yes, I fought with every fiber of my being and every ounce of will that I had to save our marriage from divorce. I own that.
And since it has happened I’ve looked at it as a personal failure. I don’t need other humans to remind me of my shortcomings, because I count them every day. My divorce. My failure. My guilt. A joy and gift that I once had that I lost. A perfect union that was entrusted to me, but I couldn’t hack it. My friend Jake hates it when I call it MY failure. But I still feel like it is. It took the both of us to get engaged on that miraculous day 5 years ago and it took both of us to end that covenant 4 years later. Maybe not my fault, but it still feels like my failure.
There is a divine point where we can turn our hearts to heaven and accept God’s forgiveness for these failings we have in life. We can let his mercy wash over us and revel in the knowledge that we were forgiven before we even asked for forgiveness. That his grace is beyond sufficient. And time and time again, I look back on that day where everything seemed so right and wonder where I went wrong. What could I have done? Where should I have gone? How long will I own the defeat of my marriage?
And I don’t know what the answer is. I feel my shame, yet I know God still loves me just as I am. I own my choices, but I know I serve a God who created me with a specific plan and purpose. I accept my circumstances, but praise the God who continues to give me more than I deserve. So I sit, sad that this isn’t the anniversary of the happy day I envisioned. Depressed that we are not acknowledging the special memory we were supposed to celebrate for the rest of our lives. Torn that although divorce was the right choice, it was not the choice I wanted to make. All these emotions that add up to failure…and still, working every day to accept the glorious fact that to my savior, I am not a failure. I am simply, his.
1 John 4:4 “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”