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Divorce & Annulments

God always sends us wake-up calls, scenarios that jolt us out of our daily slumber to recognize how precious life is and how none of us know when our time on earth is over.
 
Last week I was given yet another wake-up call.
 
I was driving home from a week at the beach with my family and parents. We had a ton of luggage and beach paraphernalia, so all seven of us were jammed into my Toyota Sequoia with no room to spare. We were driving along a two-lane country road through farmlands. The flow of traffic was about 55 miles per hour.
 
Suddenly, a woman appeared by the side of the road, watching traffic and waiting to cross the road. There was one car coming in the opposite direction and two cars in front of us in close proximity. The woman waited as the car on the other side passed and the two in front of us passed. Then without hesitation or recognition that my Sequoia was hurtling toward her, she ran across the road right in our path.
 
Tires screeched and hearts froze as we barely – barely – missed her. That in itself was a miracle.
 
When she reached the other side, she didn’t even look back and walked on as if nothing had happened. Everyone in the car was out of breath and upset. All I could say was, “Thank you, Jesus, thank you, guardian angels!”
 
And it hit me then…
 
By all accounts, my SUV should have rolled over due to the speed, force of the stop, and swerving. My father said he couldn’t believe the car didn’t roll. I looked back at my children and just thought: It wasn’t our time. We were protected from a potentially lethal situation because it wasn’t our time. God had different plans.
 
 
Divine gifts
I often wonder why God allows me, a wretched sinner, to have another glorious day? Why does He continue to shower me with blessings? I believe He allows me to continue on because He wants to use me. He wants me to serve Him. He wants me to serve others.
 
In my post-divorce years, I would always wonder the same thing: Why do you let me live, God? The pain I feel should kill me! There’s nothing worse and I can barely function!
I always came to the same conclusion then as I did last week. He wants to use me. He wants me to serve Him and others. That which does not kill us makes us stronger.
 
Matthew 5 tells us: 
“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
 
God allows our experiences – painful, scary, happy, surprising, shocking – to season us and keep us salty. Coupled with his graces and blessings, we can take these experiences and help others who are distressed in some way. We become the light of the world through our examples of perseverance and hope.
 
If you’re feeling scared, hopeless, or discouraged because of your divorce or your fear of the unknown, don’t allow these experiences to make you, the salt, become tasteless. Take heart and trust that God is using your circumstances to prepare you for great things. You can use your experiences to help others and give them hope.
 
When you have some quiet time, reflect on your life as it is today and see how you can turn your struggles and suffering into hope and light for others.
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6 Comments

  1. Stephen-725391 April 23, 2012

    I don’t question the premise, but how long can one go without relief from the Almighty?

  2. Lisa Duffy
    Lisa Duffy April 23, 2012

    Hi, Stephen!

    I know you’ve been suffering for a long time, not just with the legalistic issues, but of course, with all that’s happened to your family. I’m so glad you search for resources to help, whether at Catholic Match or other places, because God definitely uses those tools to speak to you and guide you.

    I commiserate with your situation – although my divorce and post-divorce years involved different circumstances, there were many, MANY times I felt like I could barely hang on. The pain I felt certainly was due to the failure of my marriage and the reprehensible things that had happened. But a lot of it was loneliness… even when I was surrounded by people, I felt very alone because of my divorce.

    God allowed me to stay boxed in in that place of misery for six years and then He revealed a new chapter of my life. But those six years were the worst of my life… no, come to think of it, they were not. The pain never went away really during that time, but it was God’s grace working through the pain that changed me. It caused me to come closer to Him, redefine myself, know more about my faith, become much less prideful and definitely more compassionate toward others who suffer. It made me very aware of the lessons I needed to learn and integrate into my life (not just acknowledge them) and it taught me what it means to really live.

    Blessed Mother Teresa always said, “If you have not suffered tremendously then you have not loved… to love is to suffer.” Maybe that is why you are suffering so much? You have loved much.

    We know now, years after her death, that Mother Teresa suffered for years and years with interior emptiness, dryness in prayer and hanging on to thin shreds of hope that God was with her. Yet, the entire time, she loved. She cared for the sick and dying. She brought others to Christ.

    To answer your question, Stephen, I think the longest you can go without consolation from God is as long as you maintain a spirit of hope and love. And until He unfolds for you a new chapter of life, follow Blessed Mother Teresa’s example. What a great example she was for us all!

    I hope that helps :)

    - Lisa

  3. Stephen-725391 April 23, 2012

    Lisa, Thanks for the kind words, except for one thing – I’m not Blessed Mother Teresa. She made a pact with the Almighty and from her life, it looks like He held up His end of the pact. Come to think of it, I did too, only what I gave wasn’t the same kind and in comparison it is immensely smaller. I suppose I ought to think of His living up to her bargain with Him when I consider my pain and when it will end.

    Stephen

    • Stephen-725391 April 24, 2012

      PS – “loved much” – No! Didn’t love, there was no love, empty! How does one recognize if one has done any of those things you list? How does one know when God opens the door to a new life?

      Stephen

  4. Edie-624008 May 2, 2012

    Hi Lisa,
    First off, thank you for sharing your story and thank God everyone emerged safely from that awful experience – certainly by the grace of God!

    The walking wounded is certainly a phrase that resonates for me… as the walk is long and the wounds are deep, and for me because the divorce “solution” was not my choice and my children were so negatively impacted.

    I’ve found that the sacraments and a deeper prayer life to discern the answer to the question you posed: “What is His will for me in this?” became a much better salve for my wounds than my first response which was to retreat into dispair, and lick my wounds with self pity, righteous anger, and an unforgiving heart. Doing the latter just kept the wounds opened and made the walking part near impossible.

    As you know, drawing closer to Him through the sacraments made me see that the blessing in disguise for me was having two children for whom I was solely responsible and who looked to me to help them make sense of their new world. My faith deepened and I grew so much (got saltier perhaps) because I had to answer their questions and grow their faith despite the deep sense of abandonment all three of us were feeling. Though it felt like my lamp was out, especially in the early days, weeks and months, by His grace and through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, St. Joseph, and St. Therese, I knew that it wasn’t out, I was just hiding it under a basket. And my children inspired me to get it on the lampstand and shine it for our household.

    And though I couldn’t believe Romans 8:28 in the beginning, I do now: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His will.” I’ve read it, reread it, and have repeated it like a mantra. I needed to discern His will for me and answer His call. And it is, as it has always been, other focused: to shine my light for others, especially for my children, so we can all see “the good.” It’s the gift of another day and the blessings He has for us – to be shared – to give Him glory and do His work on earth.

    Perhaps I’ll mix my metaphors here but in the ebb and flow of life – I’m feeling like my “salinity” is now moving from the brackish waters of the lower Hudson River here in New York City out into the Atlantic Ocean – with the Dea Sea off in the distance on this healing journey!

    • Lisa-727959 May 10, 2012

      Hello, Edie!

      So nice to see you on CatholicMatch and what a beautiful profile pic! Thanks so much for your candid and sincere description of your challenge to renew your life and faith after your divorce. I know it’s been a tremendous struggle for you, as it has for so many. But I’m glad to know it’s getting better day-by-day.

      - Lisa

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