When things fall apart, the broken pieces allow all sorts of things to enter, and one of them is the presence of God. – Shauna Niequist
Denial. It’s a poison that many of us like to carry around with us, and it is something that can kill our dreams, those around us, even ourselves if we’re not careful.
Unfortunately, denial is the poison I sipped upon for months after my divorce. I thought I was okay. I thought it wasn’t affecting me very much. And that’s the beauty of denial – it’s able to seep down into the deepest roots of our being, blind us to the truth, and destroy us from the inside out.
When my wife left me back in September of 2017, my first reaction was defensive. I had to protect our marriage. I had to protect the 12 years that we had fought hard to build together, the dreams we had been working on. I had to protect my son. I fought a valiant battle that eventually ended like any book that doesn’t have a happy ending ends.
My next reaction was to run. I ran from the pain, I ran from the reality of the situation. I ran from myself. I ran from everything. Even God, in some respects.
The problem is, I’m not really in shape. I mean, I’m slender, but my lungs don’t like me running. They hate it when I try to jot down the three stories of stairs from my apartment, or hurry across a parking lot to get to the car in the rain. So God had an easy time catching me. And when He did, He did what He usually does – He held me, comforted me. He reminded me that He’s there – always has been, and had no intention of ever leaving my side. I’ve never felt closer to Him since having to lean on him through this long and bitterly cold season.
And then, after He comforted me and restored me, He dragged me in the other direction to face reality.
What God showed me was something that I had hoped wasn’t true. In fact, I denied the fact that it was. But the reality was, I was broken. And all my pieces were where I left them – at the foot of my divorce.
When I finally opened my eyes and saw what God was trying to show me, I saw a multitude of shattered pieces. Pieces of my heart, pieces of my dreams, pieces of my life that had been fractured by the act of divorce.
And it was then that I encountered my third reaction – grief. Pain. Loss.
When you have a vision of what you believe your future will look like – a house, a successful writing/publishing career, a quarter dozen kids running around, a wonderful wife who loves and supports no matter what – and that vision is shattered, it’s enough to nearly kill you. Your entire – my entire – perception of what I thought life would have in store for me was destroyed, and since then, I’ve had to create a ‘new normal’. I’ve had to rebuild my life from scratch, nearly from the ground up, and learn to move forward, one step at a time, only without my wife walking beside me.
In the last few months – per the recommendation of a very good friend – I’ve been attending DivorceCare, a class and support group that helps anyone and everyone deal with divorce. Attending the class has helped me face the harsh realities I didn’t want to face a year ago. It’s helped me pick up the shattered pieces that once made up me, and put them back where they belong. It’s helped me prioritize my life, get back into the swing of projects, and regain hope for the future.
And I’m happy to say I’m finally coming back to me. Each day is hard, each day is another step forward through challenging heartache, but each one of those steps is another step into healing.
There’s three facets that I’m rebuilding, three areas of my life I’m pouring into with everything I’ve got:
My relationship with God has grown so much stronger through this trial. There was never really a point where I turned completely away from God – because I certainly didn’t blame Him for the divorce – but there were aspects of my life I ignored him (conveniently) so I could better push my own agenda without having to be told ‘No’.
And like any good father, God corrected me. Comforted me. And then set me on the right path. And as I’ve fallen back in line with what God has called me to, I realize that He’s only ever had my best interest in mind. As much as I’d love to claim I know best, I absolutely do not. God does. And listening to Him, pivoting myself back to Him, has made all the difference in this season.
I never ignored my son in the beginning of all of this. But I thought my mere presence was enough to comfort him through this trying time, and I was wrong.
I’ve had some people tell me that kids are resilient, that they aren’t really affected by divorce as much as we claim they are.
You’re wrong if you believe that. They hurt, on a greater scale then we do sometimes. I mean, I myself am a product of multiple divorces, and I still carry the scars of those with me everywhere I go.
I’ve realized that being there physically is not the same as being there, completely, for my son. I’ve learned to give him advice when he’s lost on what to do, to hold him when he’s sad, to stand up for him when he’s crushed, to pick him up when he falls, and to love him with every ounce of my being.
My purpose can be a great many things – my God-calling, my son, the work I do, the people I pour into. But what I mean by purpose in this sense is what I should be working on toward building a better future for myself, my son, and everyone involved.
I’ve neglected my writing for a good year now. Right before the divorce, I was reaching a point of breakthrough with a novel that I had been working on for 12 years. Then the divorce hit, and everything collapsed, burying my writing underneath it.
I’ve been writing consistently every morning for the past couple weeks now. I’m making great headway on the book, and it feels good – healing, even – to be writing again.
And this time, nothing is going to sidetrack me.
THE CROSSOVER ALLIANCE
God is good in all He does. And God did good by assembling a team together to help perform some of the company functions of The Crossover Alliance before the divorce. Right before, actually, making it possible for the company to keep running even when I was busy battling demons I never thought I’d have to face.
With those struggles came an extreme amount of guilt on my part. Guilt at putting the company to the side so I could deal with the divorce, so I could be there for my son, so I could try to learn how to function again. But God has done so much to erase my guilt, to remind me that He cares for the company, but He cares more about my well-being and me getting myself back together to run the company.
It’s taken a year, but I believe things are getting back on track with the small niche publishing company that was started nearly 4 years ago, and I’m thrilled to be jumping back into the fray with some awesome projects this year.
RED DRAFT EDITING
One of the many downfalls of the divorce was the fact that I had to go back to a 9-5 job to make ends meet while waiting for the writing and publishing to pay the bills. And it’s been rough getting back into the workplace, after having been absent from it for the last 9 years.
I can’t stand it. I really, truly, cannot stand working for someone else. But this is where God has me, and I have had to work very hard to accept that this is where God has me.
Meanwhile, I’ve had a large number of people mention to me over the last year that I should start freelance editing. I mean, I’ve been writing/editing/publishing for years now. I blew everyone off, thinking it was a ridiculous notion for me to edit freelance, especially with everything else going on.
But God wouldn’t let me say no forever. So, I’ve started a freelance editing business:
Red Draft Editing – www.reddraftediting.com
My hope is to bring on enough projects to pay the bills, then be able to work from home again, gain the flexibility I need in my schedule for running the publishing company properly, and eventually run the publishing company and write full time again.
And so, I continued to rebuilding my life, one shattered piece at a time…