Friday, June 27, 2008

What no one tells you about divorce and remarriage

When my first marriage failed, I received lots of advice. Most of it was about finances and parenting alone. Some of it was about surviving the pain of the divorce itself. But what no one told me, what no one suggested or warned me about was the hazards that would befall me if I ever got married again.

Perhaps that is because within the Church, there are those who believe that there is no right for a divorced Christian to remarry. Perhaps it is because the rate of divorce for second marriages is higher. Perhaps people secretly believed, as I did, that I could not find a man worth marrying. At any rate, I am stumbling upon lessons that I wish could have been imparted before I remarried. (I hate making mistakes...sigh)

I entered into my first marriage at the very tender age of 18. I took the commitment very seriously. I got married to him for life. To me, divorce was not an option. I believed that there was nothing that our love and God wouldn't get us through. I was right about the second part, just not the first. And we were not set evenly on the faith field. At times, neither of us was seeking God's will for our marriage.

After two years of separation, we divorced. It was traumatic, but I knew that God wanted me to be at peace. I knew that God wanted me to find healing. And in time I did.

In time, I found the kind of love and marriage that God had wanted for me from the beginning. I could not fairly compare the two marriages, so I won't. But what I am learning is that what happened in the first marriage continues to haunt me in the second. There is still a fear of abandonment, although highly irrational. It's there whether it's logical or not. When you go into a marriage with belief that it is forever, and then the marriage falls apart and ends, it is nearly impossible to face a second with the same belief that it will be forever. The ghosts in the closet will attempt to follow you and haunt you. They whisper, "Yeah, but remember how it happened last time...wasn't it alot like what you're feeling right can't honestly think he'll love you and stand beside you no matter what, especially after what you've already experienced." And you have to take a stand to ignore them.

So today, I am learning that healing is an ongoing process. I am learning that the scars from the first marriage can scab over and affect the new marriage. And I am flawed and so, so human. All I can do is go to Jesus, fall at his feet and ask Him to help me.

Father, I love my husband with all that I am. He loves me with the devotion that you have directed husbands to have for their wives. He loves me as Christ loves the church. And yet I have been wounded by past relationships. And because of this, I get afraid. I fear what is not present and real at this time because of what has happened in the past. In fact, I know that if I am honest, there is not an inkling of what has gone before present in my marriage. And I know that we both go to you when things get tough--on our own and together. We know and trust that you are the giver of all good things and the healer of all hurts. Heal me of the wounds that make my heart so cautious to let my husband really love me. Remove all doubt of his genuine-ness of heart so that I can be my best for him. Give us both the ability to be patient as we work through the myriad of challenges that a second marriage poses so that we can know and be absolutely sure that when our lives on earth on through, we will still be standing side by side, following you. In Jesus' name, AMEN.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Not Afraid

“Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
--Christopher Robin to Pooh(A.A. Milne)

My son, Mr. M was born in 1997 with a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate. We were fortunate in many ways. We knew before he was born from an ultrasound that he was going to be cleft-affected. He was also born with a very symmetrical cleft which made it much easier for the surgeons to repair his lip and make him look "normal".
Before he was born, we met the cleft team that would be responsible for his medical care. We met other cleft parents. We were warned about the possibility of overt oral defensiveness. We met parents whose children had been to the orthodontist 20 times and still had not allowed them to place a single bracket or wire in their mouth. We were told about all the different surgeries that his future potentially held. We were informed of the possibility of cluster defects that might not be obvious until birth and of learning disabilities which might not be detectable until age 3 or 4, or even until after he began school.

But God knew me. He knew my son. And He knew how much we could handle, and what we couldn't.

Mr. M is the bravest, most courageous, fearless boy of 10 you'll ever meet. Today at 7am, he walked into the oral surgeon's office with a large toothy grin on his face for his 12th (no...that is NOT a typo) surgical procedure. The plan was to pull six ankylosed baby teeth from the bottom jaw, continue with a third vestibuloplasty, and open the hard palate to expose and pull down his adult bicuspids. OUCH.

They were unable to deal with the bicuspids. We will go back in two months to deal with those then.

But Mr. M came home without a single tear. He has taken the Tylenol-3 prescribed, but has not whined once. His upper lip is swollen to three times its normal size. He has a large mouthguard covering his upper teeth/jaw. He can barely talk. He can only take thin purees. And yet, he continues to walk into these appointments and surgeries with a smile on his face.

And I stand amazed. I cannot claim any responsibility for his bravery and courage. I cower at the idea of having wisdom teeth pulled or my tonsils removed. I made my OB doc promise that they would only do a caesarean section on me if it was a medical emergency.

And it makes me wonder, does he entertain angels unaware? Or, is he aware?

Maybe he knows this:

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
--Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

Father, I cannot begin to thank and praise you for your hand upon my child. He continues to model for me what bravery is. He teaches me things that I would think I should model for him but do not posess. How great it is to know that he doesn't need to be afraid, and neither do I. In Jesus' name, AMEN.