Today I welcome one of my favorite encouragers to the blog. Her name is Carmen Brown and she blogs at Married by His Grace. Her story is powerful. It’s one many of us can relate to because, friends, marriage is where the enemy loves to attack. Maybe your marriage isn’t filled with addiction or adultery. Maybe it’s a different struggle. But I know there is or has been a struggle because marriage is not easy. We all face seasons of the difficult. I believe each of you will find glorious hope through Carmen’s story of worth after divorce.
Seven years ago I endured the tragedy of a painful divorce. As a Christian woman it was not in my plans nor was it my desire.
The word divorce was something I yelled across the room at my husband when addictions and affairs infiltrated our marriage.
The word divorce slipped easily out of my mouth because I fear and desperation wrapped around my soul. I wanted him to hurt as badly as I did, and so the heated arguments, pointing fingers, and shouting elevated.
Not only did the word divorce become our reality, but those harsh words we often exchanged between one another lived on as well.Harsh words have a way of sticking around long after they've been said. #divorce… Click To Tweet
We both walked away from a marriage that had left us wounded, unforgiven, and in a broken state of mind. One that said we were not worthy of marriage.
We walked out of marriage opposite of the way we walked in. Anger, resentment, frustration, and even worse, a multitude of insecurities ravished who we were.
The insecurities began consuming me. Who I was as a wife and as a woman all lay wrapped in the harsh words we had exchanged.
I was sure it was because of my awfulness that my own husband had not wanted to be around me. I thought to myself, “I will need to change everything about me for anyone to ever find me worthy.”
When I thought of changing, I envisioned the outward things:
The color of my hair.
How often I laughed.
The way I dressed.
The job I held.
My bank account.
And who I chose as friends.
I thought I needed to change everything about me in order to ever again have someone choose me and find me worthy as a wife.
Some days it felt like too much needed to be changed. With overwhelm, I’d push the thought of ever dating or getting married again out of my mind.
For three years I didn’t date and I filled my mind with the thoughts that said, “I am not fit enough to remarry,” I convinced myself marriage was not for me.
Contentment began settling into my loneliness. I lost some weight, entirely changed my wardrobe, laughed more often, became more of an adventurous risk-taker, and engaged in more activity with my children.
I did all the things I thought would make my image better.
Over time I did gain some confidence within myself. But it wasn’t because I was changing everything about my “image”. It was because I was allowing God to move in me. He was helping me forgive my ex-husband.
I was forgiving the moments when addictions and affairs overtook the marriage. However, there was something I hadn’t forgiven. It was something keeping me from complete freedom.
I had yet to forgive him for the painfully harsh words he had spoken to me.
One day, as thoughts of, “What’s next on my goal list?” popped up into my head, I took out my list only to realize I’d completed every single goal of the past three years. I saw all I had accomplished in such a short time. I traveled to Europe, achieved multiple promotions, cared for my own home, and bought the car I of my dreams.
But in that moment, all of that seemed so minimal. All of sudden it did not matter.
I fell to the floor crying out to the Lord, “Why do I still feel like this? Why do I still hurt like this? I forgave him and still I feel empty!”
I remember it as though it were yesterday. God clearly said, “Because you have not asked for his forgiveness. As My daughter, you need to ask for forgiveness.”
I was so confused, I was not the one who battled the addictions that broke our family or the one who committed the affairs that resulted in divorce. I did not do this!
God said, “No, but you battled with a tongue that brought life or death. You committed acts of vengeance that I clearly told you not to do. Whether he serves Me or not, he too is My son and he too walked away in pain.”
In that moment, memories flooded my mind of the times I chose to scream at him instead of hold him when he asked me to; of all the times I told him to leave the house because I was tired of him. Visions flooded my mind of all the nights I left our bedroom to sleep away from him.
Was I hurt as a wife? Feeling abused by every painful emotion? Yes.
But I also remembered the many times God directed me to listen, yet because I didn’t, my husband would walk out into the night relying on his addictions versus his wife. I also remember the nights the Lord told me not to leave the room and defile it with anger and hate. Yet, I did and it began a trail of diminishing our marriage.
Because I was magnifying his sins, justifying my emotions became the focus point of every marriage counseling session and of every conversation with God. I couldn’t see the times I had hurt him because I was too focused on what he had done to me. My disbelief kept me stuck and I took those emotions with me.
I needed to be free and know that I was worthy.
That night, I stood got up from the floor and confessed my sins of disobedience unto the Lord.
A few days later I asked my ex-husband for his forgiveness. He received my apology and forgave me.
It was the first time in years I tasted complete freedom. Over time I began to feel worthy and confident. I realized I was chosen to be a wife and mother. I began to see my true heart’s desire.There is power in forgiveness.Even when it's your ex-spouse! #forgiveness #chosenandworthy Click To Tweet
Within that year, God orchestrated the unexpected. A man I had passed many times but never spoken to, became my husband. God blessed me with a Godly man. A man who honors the Word of God, encourages me, and uplifts my calling as wife and mother.
I realize now I have always been chosen and worthy of marriage and motherhood. But it took asking for forgiveness before I could experience that truth. It is freedom that allows me to receive it and it is my obedience that allows me to live in it.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. -2 Corinthians 5:17-18 (NIV)
(Disclosure: As a women that bore through addiction and marital affairs, I do not promote nor encourage accepting adultery and/or any sort of abuse for either spouse – whether in a Godly marriage or not. This experience is of my own to speak confidently about. If you are in any sort of abusive relationship, I highly recommend you seek help. I do not encourage any man or women to accept adultery and/or abuse physically, mentally, or emotionally. I advise all wives and husbands to use discernment as to what is healthy for you and your children.)
Carmen Brown is the creator of Married by His Grace blog. She actively writes to women who are desiring to build their home with the word of God. Her passions involve staying connected with her family, drinking an immense amount of coffee daily, and developing content that will help and encourage new Christian Bloggers. You can connect with Carmen on her blog, Instagram, and Pinterest.
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