When Life Gets Messy

How to cope with the storm of divorce
When Life Gets Messy

By age 35, my life was looking pretty good. I had been married for more than a decade to a man who checked all the “right” boxes. I had a top notch education, a job I enjoyed, a church home, and two precious children. It looked like a life to be proud of, and I was proud.

Right up until the day my marriage fell apart and I realized I had been living in a lie.

Just like that, so much changed. My first thought was to try to save my marriage, but when it became clear that reconciliation wasn’t possible, my focus shifted to the kids. I fought hard to protect and stabilize and love them fully, despite the waves of sadness, betrayal, and shame threatening to overtake me. There was a part of me that wanted very much to hide—to close the door, wrap my sweet children in my arms, and shut the rest of the world out.

Practically speaking, though, I didn’t have that option. Although the world felt broken, it didn’t actually stop moving. I had kids to feed and obligations to fulfill and a life to live. So I kept going to work. I kept going to church. I leaned heavily on good friends and family, and I was deeply, desperately dependent on God.

Experiencing adversity is not a sign of admonition or failure; it is a fact of life that happens to everyone.

Through it all I saw and felt firsthand that there is no pain and no trouble in life that God cannot redeem for his good.

Learning to Let Go

Actually signing and filing a divorce petition was one of the more surreal experiences of my life. It was absolutely not a part of my life plan. Slowly, shakily, I recalibrated my thinking and my expectations. I’d always been a hard worker who tried to do the right thing, and I’d been successful in lots of ways that tended to garner the approval and admiration of others. Frankly, I liked that. Now there I was on the other side, experiencing this dramatic and conspicuous failure.

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Diane Paddison

Diane Paddison is a business professional and founder of 4wordwomen.org, local groups of professional working women committed to faith, family, work, and each other.

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May 25

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