In my last post, My Story (part 1), I shared my heart on what has been happening in my life over the last two years. I'm not proud of what has happened to me, my marriage, and my family, but I've also learned the hard way that perfectionism and my pride are no longer worth holding on to.
Whether we like it or not, life is messy. If I can share my story through the vehicle of this blog, and it helps someone in their walk with Christ, then I'm willing to swallow my pride and perfectionistic tendencies and share with you what God has done and continues to do in my life.
9 Lessons Learned From A Messy Life
Over the last two years, these are some of the lessons that I feel that I've learned along the way. This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it's a pretty good representation of what God has been teaching me through a very difficult time in my life.
- Don't ignore warning signs. Whether it's in a dating relationship or in a marriage, if you see any warning signs that need to be addressed, don't stick your head in the sand. Unfortunately, I found out the hard way that ignoring issues solves nothing. In fact, it usually makes things worse. In my case, many of these warning signs most likely led to an ugly divorce.
- You don't have life figured out. When I started this blog about two and a half years ago, I somewhat arrogantly thought I had life all figured out. In fact, I even thought I had marriage figured out after making it to the 10 year mark. Through this difficult time, I found out that I'm pretty stupid. I know nothing! This fact reminds me of the verse Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall." None of us has a lock on life or marriage. Things will happen that are beyond our control.
- Trust in God. When my ex-wife walked away from our marriage, my prayers first focused on the Holy Spirit working in her heart and mind to bring her into right thinking. My trust in God was centered on how He was going to bring about change in her life. As time went on, though, my trust in God changed to what He was going to do in me and through me as He worked in a difficult situation. I continue to trust in Him that He will somehow use these difficult circumstances to ultimately bring Him honor and glory.
- God desires to go deeper with you. As you walk through a time of difficulty in your life, you have choices to make. You can blame God for your problems and turn your back on Him. Or, you can go deeper in your relationship with the Almighty. He wants more of you. He wants to walk with you through the pain. I can truly say that I have a more intimate relationship with God today then before my marriage fell apart. What Satan and other people have intended for evil purposes, God has turned it around and used this for good in my life.
- You can't make it on your own. I have a tendency to live life with a "pull myself up by my bootstraps," rugged individualism mentality. When my family fell apart, though, I needed help. I needed encouragement. I needed prayer support. I needed assistance as a single father. Many people from my church came alongside me to help me, and I'm so thankful that my church family was there for me. Even after almost two years, they continue to help me whenever they can. They haven't forgotten about me. In God's family, we truly do need each other!
- Seek out professional help. When you go through a time of difficulty, there is no shame in seeking out a professional therapist or counselor. I was blessed to connect with an excellent Christian counselor who was of great assistance in helping me sort out my pain, hurt, frustration, and anger. He gave me wonderful, Biblically-based advice, and I'm eternally grateful for his wisdom.
- Do right, no matter what. When we as Christians walk in obedience to what He tells us through His Word, then I truly believe that God honors right actions. Since I attempted everything possible to pursue reconciliation and healing of a broken marriage, I have no shame and no regrets for doing the right thing. I can move forward with my life because I attempted to write a better story while my ex-wife chose to write a different story. I can't force her to write what God's story should be for her or for me.
- God can still use you. Even though I have endured the shame and disappointment of a marriage that fell apart, I never felt a removing of the call of God on my life. In fact, I believe the call has grown deeper over the last two years. God has called me to be his servant in the areas of worship and stewardship, and I'm thankful that my church has affirmed me in my calling. God can still use broken people. In fact, I think that's usually when His best Kingdom work takes place.
- God has some really cool stuff planned for you. The storm clouds are slowly starting to dissipate in my life, and a new "normal" has set in for me since my divorce was finalized. I'm beginning to see how God is using my difficulty to help others in their own struggles. In many ways, I also sense that God is beginning to bring restoration and blessing into my life as I have attempted to honor Him through it all. Over time, God really can work all things for the good of those who love Him.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:27-29).
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