Life After Divorce: Living As Opposed To Choosing


Ever find yourself living a life that you didn’t really choose? If you’re divorced, I bet you would answer “yes” to that question. Your choice was to marry for life but it turned out to be very different than what you wanted. It’s times like these when you could sure use some wise words that go deeper than “You’ll get over it, just give it a few years,” or “Divorce is a journey into a new life.” 


Emilio Estevez‘ 2010 movie, The Way, is a story about a son, Daniel (played by Estevez) who is estranged from his father and decides to walk the Camino de Santiago on pilgrimage. Daniel is killed early on in the trek, which brings his father, Tom (played by Emilio’s real life father, Martin Sheen) to France to bring Daniel’s body home. There is a great scene where Daniel imparts some very practical wisdom to Tom:


     Tom says, “My life might not seem like much to you, but it’s the life I choose.”
     Daniel answers, “You don’t choose a life, Dad, you live one.”


This practical wisdom is something everyone going through difficult times should hear and contemplate in light of their own circumstances. It’s important to understand what is really being said. Of course, each of us chooses our careers and our friends, but when life throws us a curve ball the choosing you do becomes a way of trying to control your circumstances. Trying to control anything but yourself typically ends in more misery.


The wisdom lies in the “living.” Since you can’t control natural disasters, terrorism, accidents or other people’s thoughts, words, and actions, you can only control yourself and live through whatever happened to you to the best of your ability. And since we’re all hopefully on the path to heaven, I believe the more difficult your circumstances and the more determined you are to live them well is what makes you a truly great example for the rest of us.


My marriage fell apart in July of 1993 and my divorce was finalized against my will in 1994. It wasn’t the life I chose but I was now faced with the question, “How will I get through this?”


During my marriage, it was detected that I had a severe impediment to carrying a baby to term that resulted in three miscarriages. Just a few months before my marriage ended, and shortly after invasive surgery, the doctors who treated me said I would never be able to conceive. I was heartbroken. I didn’t choose this cross, but I was again faced with the same issue: How to live my life well despite my problems.


The years that followed were difficult. All that I had been through led me down a path of renewed love for my Catholic faith which was wonderful, but at the same time frustrating because I could not have a romantic relationship with a man until I received a decree of nullity. I could only watch others have that from afar and hope. Again, I didn’t choose this part of my life. I wanted to be a wife and mother so badly but ended up instead, a divorced single. Changing those circumstances was out of my control and I needed to find a way to live this new reality well.


I am a sinner and far from perfect. The truth is it was God’s grace that got me through it all. I found the key to walking through that fire and making it to the other side of suffering was through my faith and my relationship with Christ. He worked all things for my good (cf. Romans 8:28). Now, almost 20 years later, my husband and I celebrated our 12th anniversary – no thanks to my doubts and worries. I have 3 beautiful children without any trouble or help at all, even though the doctors said it couldn’t happen. 


The difference between choosing a life and living one lies in adopting less of a worldy view and more of a supernatural attitude. It’s accepting your circumstances and embracing your day-to-day events as blessings or crosses brought about by God’s hands. In doing so, you allow your life to enrich you as a person, not drag you into bitterness and cynicism.


Living, as opposed to choosing, means you trust God. You put one foot in front of the other. You make choices within your everyday life. But as you do, you leave an open door there for God to enter and work. And in giving him permission, you will find your dreams and aspirations pale considerably compared to the great things He wants to do for you.


I highly recommend the movie, The Way. It is an exceptional film with a great message. As always, please feel free to send me your questions or comments at



  1. Giselle R. November 4, 2012 Reply

    Yes! Thank you for sharing your story. After my divorce I was so low and depressed but I eventually knew I had to put my trust and faith in God. God said, “Trust in yourself. I am here for you. Take each day one at a time.” Today, I am a better person for it and much stronger in my faith. Giselle

  2. Evelyn-911074 October 27, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. I for one have been in a slump after my divorce. I have a routine whereby I go to church on the weekend and back home. During the week I due my chores and pay my bills; however i have no one to talk too. Well I do have three children two in college and one who will make me a grandmother in January 2013 which makes me happy. However, I do long to meet someone who will share the same values I have and respect me for who I am. I met my ex-husband in church however he was born and raised in Puerto Rico and I was born and raised in the Bronx NYC. I am very proud of where I was born and I had the opportunity to enrich my life with different friends. However by ex-husband never got use to living in NYC and we had to move to PR. After 5 years of marriage this where after 20 years it ended. I never thought that marrying a person from the same culture you are from was incompatible and not the person who you thought you knew.

  3. Eileen-890971 October 19, 2012 Reply

    Hi Lisa,

    I believe it is true that you don’t choose a life but that life chooses you. When I was a child and my mother asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I told her I wanted to take care of retarded kids. My careeer is working on a Neuro floor filled again with people with some sort of disability whether a birth injury or a stroke. I am taking care of people. My middle child is just about to turn 25 and he was diagnosed with global developmental delay and autistic features when he was 11 months old. I had to lose my baby before him to ask God not to take another child from me, that I would be happy to have any child and take care of them. So you can see God has had His hand in my life since childhood, it is not the life I had envisioned but it has been a rewarding one. It is not to say that I have not been frustrated in this walk but I have also grown in who I am and still continue to find that I am stronger than I ever thought.

    Thanks for the opportunity to present my life.


  4. Lydia-889871 October 18, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for sharing, Lisa! I usually don’t read the blogs on divorce as they don’t pertain to me, and I regretfully am too quick to judge people who are divorced, but I clicked because I recognized the thumbnail pic as being from “The Way”. It certainly is an AMAZING film, and I highly recommend it. I’m glad I read this post. It helped me look at divorce in a different light, and reminded me that I need to hear a person’s whole story rather than judging before I get to know them.

    • Lisa-727959 October 19, 2012 Reply

      Lydia, your comments are appreciated. We’re all prone to judging and you’re right, we need to know the whole story first. Thanks for wandering over to the “other” side 🙂

  5. Stephen-725391 October 18, 2012 Reply

    Lisa, Do you know why Martin Sheen has a son named Emilio Estevez? Martin Sheen changed his name early in his acting career, something that is not unusual (John Wane is not John Wayne’s real name) to Sheen from Estevez. But do you know why Sheen was chosen? A guy by the name of Sheen was very popular at the time – Fulton Sheen, yep, Bishop Fulton Sheen is here the ‘Sheen’ in Martin’s name. Stephen

    • Lisa-727959 October 19, 2012 Reply

      I actually found out about how “Sheen” came about when I watched an interview with Martin and Emilio on EWTN’s “The World Over.” It was amazing to hear that.

  6. Brenda-74660 October 18, 2012 Reply

    So many times in my life things did not turn out the way I would have chosen. What has given me strength to continue in the wake of tragedy in my life is those little signs God has given me that he is still there, carrying me when I am ready to throw up my hands. The song Jesus take the wheel comes to my mind.

    The night before my son passed away on May 13th which is the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima I saw the most perfect double rainbow I have ever witnessed in my life. I thought about taking a photo with my cell phone but there was a still quiet voice from deep within my heart that said, ‘Mary kept all these things in here heart’. I was with others who also witnessed and remarked upon the rainbows brightness and beauty.

    Later the Priest who gave my sons service shared with me that he saw that same rainbow in Shawnee at approximately the same time as I told him of my vision.

    God bless Brenda

    • Brenda-74660 October 19, 2012 Reply

      I purchased the movie tonight and plan on watching it over the weekend. Thank you for blogging about the movie, I suspect God is calling me to watch this one now, my heart was in such a state of shock for so long, now I feel God calling me to be open to the healing power of his love. God bless Brenda

      • Lisa-727959 October 19, 2012 Reply

        Yes, I think the movie will be helpful to you, but have a box of Kleenex handy when you watch it. God bless you, Brenda!

    • Lisa-727959 October 19, 2012 Reply

      I am so sorry to know that you have had to suffer through so much loss, Brenda. I can’t imagine the pain of losing a son. It sounds like you are beginning to move into a better phase. Count on my prayers for you!

      • Brenda-74660 October 19, 2012 Reply

        Thank you Lisa – I suspect God has been carrying me for awhile now…footprints in the sand has always been a favorite poem.

      • Brenda-74660 October 19, 2012 Reply

        May I say WOW and I have not had time to watch this yet. I was in training with my son to walk a five K by the end of May, of course he was in the hospital in a coma from May 7th till he passed away May 13th. I have friends who have offered to help me finish what I started with Andrew in his honor but emotionally I have not been ready. My prayer even before I view this movie is that God will help me allow others to help me do this walk in honor of Andrew by Thanksgiving which will be appropriate in more ways than one. Andrew took his first steps on thanksgiving day after he turned a year old on Nov 7th of that year…..thank you again for your timely blog

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