Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Single? Divorced? Married? A Status Does Not Define You

image by gps grace power strength 

I'm taking a Divorce Care class again. Some might say it's redundant to repeat the course but I've been surprised by the number of people who choose to take it again. It's been nice seeing familiar faces and catching up on how everyone is progressing along with a few new folks. My perspective is different this time versus the last course… last time I was a ball of hurt, tears and pain… not really wanting to share much but really just observe and listen. This time it's with more peace, calm, a renewed outlook, distance and clarity. It's being able to turn to someone and say "Oh, yes, I felt like that too… I totally feel your pain, I knew that phase, feeling, etc, well. It will get better." Each time we have the ability to walk away with learning something new with wherever we are situated in our healing.

Single? Divorced? Married? 

Last week's class was the topic of anger and the group discussion turned into an interesting one. In the class there is a couple who are each divorced from other people but now married to one another. They are each individually still working through the aftermath of their divorces. In that the wife admitted even though she's re-married she will always feel divorced. She stated that her divorce is not simply wiped away now that she's married… however happily. Her husband took issue with that noticeably by his outward expression in response. I wondered if that hurt him, as if it took away from what they had… I don't believe for a minute that she meant it in anyway whatsoever to hurt him. I think I understood what she meant. She further explained that when we get any type of form to fill out there are always a few categories to choose from… single, married, divorced, etc. She said those forms drive her crazy because she doesn't really feel like she fits into any one criteria. She said before she met her current husband and was single after the finalization of her divorce she felt single but not in the way she did when she was twenty-something prior to her first marriage. She didn't feel as though the choice of "single" post divorce really fit. Then she said she didn't really want to choose divorced because she was single… it was like a catch 22. Once she married a second time she checked "married" but still couldn't shake the fact she would always be divorced. Being divorced didn't sum her up, it didn't define her, yet it would always be a part of her and who she was, it was a part of her personal history… as there was no erasing it. She laughed that perhaps whoever comes up with these forms should make another category like "Been there, done all that!" I laughed at that with the others appreciatively and ruefully thought a "Now Free, Thank God!" category would also be appropriate. Nonetheless, I certainly got where she was coming from and could appreciate her perspective.

Our discussion in the group is food for thought. Are we letting the fact we are divorced define us? True, like in my Divorce Care group divorce is a large part of our history if we've experienced it… it is long, painful and demands to be dealt with. There is still a stigma even today with being divorced. I was absolutely shocked at the stigma regarding divorce today… at least towards women… I can't speak for men, as I'm not one, only the guys can… but there is something about a divorced woman in a room that clears out the couples speedy quick. It seems others may view you as potential interference to a marriage… which is so far from the truth, at least from my view. Most of us as divorced women are so glad to live in peace (finally!) if we've lived marriages that were toxic that simply working and raising children (sometimes on our own) takes up a lot of our energy… rest assured, the majority of us at least, are not after anyone's husband.

A Status Doesn't Define You… 

Whether were married or divorced we don't have to let our status define us. We don't have to give into labels summing up who we are or who others think we are. Just because we accept a proposal, a beautiful ring and lovely words of sentiment, promises of forever and ever… doesn't mean that we are then deemed worthy. It doesn't mean then that we are worthy of love, that we are "chosen", "special" or superior. We were chosen way, way before we were ever a gleam in someone else's eye of affection. Reality is… we are worthy in God's eyes… we are defined by his love for us… He says we are his beautiful one, his son or daughter. On social media today, especially Facebook we see relationships being defined by "In a relationship", "It's complicated", "Single", "Married", "Divorced", etc. We see the joining of two people, we see break-ups of couples, we see it all… but those don't really define us. What defines us is "In a relationship with Christ"… maybe they need that option.

New International Version

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. 

He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, 

but will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

I admit when I was initially married I thought being married and having children was a destination reached that was loftier, better than one of being single. Being married seemed so grown up. So adult. As the years dragged on… after years of feeling controlled… heck, lets face it, being controlled… I was beyond tired of always feeling like I was never enough… always feeling used, always feeling like a trophy of sorts by him… he worked too much and was gone much of the time, he stonewalled and shut me down, everything was a "deal" to be made… selfless, giving love did not exist under our roof by him… I was always indebted, walking on eggshells and I was utterly exhausted. The single life started looking pretty good… seeing my best friend completely independent in an apartment with her own belongings, living her own schedule, making her own decisions, at times I felt twinges of jealousy of her single life. It's no surprise in hindsight as my marriage was not the epitome of love but instead emptiness and tension with hurtful actions and words. True, there were good days interspersed but the anxiety of dealing with him often overshadowed them. Marriage can only be good when both people are healthy and doing the necessary work. Today do I believe marriage is superior to single hood? Not a bit. Nor do I believe single hood is superior to marriage. Even in the best of circumstances marriage and being single come with undeniable blessings and challenges, they are each so different… and we can't sum up someone's life by whether they are married or not. There is so much more to them than that.

New International Version (NIV)

10 For we are God’s handiwork, 
created in Christ Jesus to do good works, 
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

In life we can take heart and remember we are not defined by our status of single, married or divorced. We are not summed up by one status of a relationship or lack thereof. We are more than meets the eye. We can't be defined by checking a category on a form. God knows to whom you belong… Him. He delights in you as his son or daughter… you are wonderfully made… and he has a purpose for your life whether you're married… or not.

© ~ 2015 


Lord, if we begin to have thoughts of comparison to others or feeling as if our status sums us up… help us remember your view of us… gently remind us that we are your child and we are loved, that we don't find our identity in the world but in you. Amen.

To My Readers: 

Thank you for reading and sharing!

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