We can do hard things...
because He never leaves us
or forsakes us.
I always knew the question would come. While I dreaded having to answer it, I knew that only prayer could help me tell that part of my story with grace and compassion.
No one had quite said it with such vulnerability. The fragile tone of voice, and the words barely able to escape her lips, well, they caught me off guard.
My dear student, with tears cascading down her face, her voice
shaking, her knees moving up and down, as if panic was only inches away. Her world was about to implode, and she couldn't imagine how she and her two children would get through this. She had been betrayed at the deepest level. Not once, but over and over again.
She couldn't do it any more. After talking to her minister, and then her counselor, she had filed to end her marriage. She felt completely broken.
Little did she know that when she came to my class that day that
I would show the video of Fred and Lorraine and the song Fred had written about his beloved wife. They had been married for more than 70 years. Lorraine had just passed away and Fred wrote a song for her called "Sweet Lorraine." The video clip was a testimony about for better or worse...marriage vows that have such deep meaning.
(Please, don't miss seeing this powerful video clip...it's life-changing and heart-healing.)
Seeing how much Fred loved Lorraine broke the dam wide open.
When the lights in class came back on, she was not the only one crying. I always keep kleenex in my classroom since our topics are academic and soul-baring all at the same time.
She asked if we could stay after class, and she could talk to me one-on-one.
"Of course," I said. I picked up her hand, gave it a small squeeze of reassurance, released it and dismissed the rest of my students.
She just sat there for a long minute, quiet, trying to find the words.
We both took a deep breath. This wasn't an easy topic. It was a heart-breaker. I did what I always do. I closed my eyes for just a moment and whispered to God, "Please help me say to her what You would want me to say."
The look on her face took me back to another time, another conversation, years and years ago....
"Mom, I want to know the truth. You never leave anyone. Why did you and Dad get a divorce?"
Oh. my. dear. heart. be. still.
Sometimes the truth stays hidden in the dark. Sometimes the truth is so hurtful that it feels like we won't survive telling it.
Sometimes it's hard to separate my truth from their truth.
What do I say? What do I leave out?
Years ago I had said the same prayer I had just sent for my student..."Dear God, please help me!"
As a Mama, I would have given anything, and I mean anything, to not rip my children's lives apart. How could they possibly survive all of the pain and destruction of a family torn in two. I loved them more than I loved myself.
How could I do this to them?
Leaving a marriage when you had promised to stay? Who does that? Why do they do that? How could they do that if they knew what it would do to their dear hearts, their babies, their precious "lovies?"
This is not the place to get into all the details, but perhaps
it is the place to share the insights gained from so much pain.
I never expected to be divorced. Never, ever, ever. I never expected to have a marriage unravel, a marriage I had given everything to. I just never, ever expected to be in that place.
I had always wanted to protect my dear hearts from any pain.
After all, wasn't that a Mama's job? To protect her lovies?
Yet here I was...taped out, prayed out, depleted and scared and
feeling at the end of my rope. How would my dear hearts get through this?
The answer came to me one night, years and years ago, with such clarity and peace after a time of deep, deep anguish and prayer.
We will get through this. God is with us and because of Him, we can do hard things.
*Hard things so hard that we fear they will rip us in two.
*Hard things so hard that we can't imagine ever finding peace
* Hard things so hard that our stomaches ache and our hearts
God loves us and never leaves us. He is there with us in the midst of such pain and fear that we can hardly breathe.
He will hold our hands as we navigate so much fear that it feels like it will swallow us whole.
He will be there with our lovies when they feel lost and alone.
We can do hard things, not by ourselves, but because He is with us.
So back to the talk with my student...
She could only whisper the question..."How did you get through a divorce? How did you survive it? How did you
help your children get through it?"
"How will I survive this?" she said looking up at me with such sorrow. "How will I help my children survive this?" she said, looking so torn apart that I reached for her hand again.
All these many years later...there it was. That question I knew
would one day be asked by one of my students.
That's a very tough question to answer, at least for me to answer with compassion and God's love and grace.
My own tears came cascading down my face as I found my voice enough to whisper back to her...
"It is so, so hard," I said, knowing that sugar-coating the truth would only make things worse. "I remember feeling just like you are feeling now. I felt hopeless too. Ruined, too.
"Yet what I know for sure, is that in the hardest of hard moments, God never left me. He gave me a hope and strength to carry on. He never left my children. And inch-by-inch, with His unending love and peace and hope and grace, He brought me back to life. He brought my children back to life again, too"
"What I know for sure is that He brought me through that pain and He will bring you through it, too. He will never leave you or forsake you."
We talked for almost an hour. I prayed with her right there in my classroom. She took a deep breath, hugged me and then left to go get her children at daycare.
I took a deep breath too...closed my eyes and whispered to my Heavenly Father...
"Thank you for never leaving me, Lord. Please be with her
in all that is to come."
I know and trust that He will be.
Yes, we can all do hard things, things that threaten to break us, because He never, ever leaves us or forsakes us!
Amen and Amen!
"If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old." ...