Friday, February 12, 2016

Life After Divorce: My Thoughts on Getting Re-Married

"Life is unpredictable. 
It changes with the seasons,
Even your coldest winter,
happens for the best of reasons.
And though it feels eternal,
like all you'll ever do is freeze. 
I promise spring is coming,
and with it brand new leaves."

If my current self could visit my past self and tell her everything I have come to learn over the last three years, I can guarantee you the stubborn girl I used to be wouldn't believe a word of it. 

The girl I used to be was proud. 

Too proud. 

Oh, and have I mentioned that pedestal where she built a shrine to herself and her pious life? 


Don't even get me started.

The girl I used to be could of sworn she knew everything.


Especially when it came to marriage. 

I had my parents mistakes and failed marriage in my rearview mirror and a childhood of dialogue that was my constant reminder of what NOT to do.

Yep. I thought I had the whole lifetime commitment/marriage thing in the bag the first time around. 

According to "the church", we had so many positives going for us.

At least a full year of dating under our belt before we got engaged? Check!

Actually, we had been together almost 5 years the day my pretty little twenty-one year old self said "I do".

Same core values and belief systems? Check!

We had attended the same Christian school for most of our lives AND we belonged to similar Baptist churches.

Same goals and future plans? Check!

Sure. Of course. Don't all early twenty-somethings know exactly what they want from life?

<insert eye roll here>

Listen. Here's the hard truth on this: I was twenty-one, I was naive, and I wanted OUT of my parents broken home, so I pretty much just agreed to everything he said at that point in my life.

Those are the facts.

And, in the moment, it did seem like we wanted exactly the same things for our forever. 

Yes, according to "the church", the cards were clearly in our favor.

(Except people in Baptist churches don't play cards...but, I digress.)

They even tested our love and commitment to one another through extensive marriage counseling. 

(Another Baptist thing.)


We. were. ready. 

I mean, what could possible go wrong?

Oh, you know! 


Because here is the other hard truth: We were young. We were crazy. We were just plain stupid. 

We expected too much and we gave too little. 

We were selfish. 

We were children.

We were not prepared to live out our vow of, "for better or for worse", and too be honest, I don't even think we fully understood what that meant. 

And to top it all off, we were completely unprepared for the one consistent truth that comes with growing up: people change. 

The crazy, quirky girl who fell head over heels with a boy who was supposed to be the boy when she was eighteen years old was completely different from the girl who became a mother at twenty-four and a full fledged adult at twenty-five and the girl I am now at the very old age of thirty. 

I was evolving and leaving him behind, and visa versa. 

Sure there were other factors that played into our demise, and I've talked about those before here, here, here, and here, but these things were definitely at the core of it. 

And as the girl I used to be sat there on the stand in that courtroom bawling her eyes out while the judge granted her the divorce she so desperately wanted, I realized one thing: there is no such thing as ready. 

You see, "the church" has made up all these rules about marriage and what it takes to make a marriage successful. 

Marriage counseling. 

Couples retreats. 

Book studies. 

Weekly date nights. 

Going to church every. single. time. the. doors. are. open.  

And on, and on, and on. 

This is where they've set the bar.

And while these things are not necessarily a bad thing, because most of them come from a great place-a place where our churches only want our marriages to succeed-the truth of the matter is that the Bible has outlined THE ultimate key to a successful marriage in Ephesians 5: 

"22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, 
his body, of which he is the Savior. 
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, 
so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, 
just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, 
without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. 
He who loves his wife loves himself."
(Ephesians 5:22-28)
In my opinion, this passage of Scripture is misinterpreted a lot, and before all you die hard feminist start to spontaneously combust, please note: I do not interpret these Scriptures as women are worthless pieces of garbage that are meant to be controlled by their husbands, because they cannot think for themselves or be successful or blah, blah, blah. And if you interpret them that way, then sweetie, you need to read it again. 

Because when I read these Scriptures, I see one resounding theme: selflessness

My ultimate calling is to put God's will first and foremost in my life. His plan for me far exceeds any plan I could ever concoct by myself. And in order for me to do that, I have to die to self and submit my life to the Lord-which means that I have to give Him everything I have to give-even the things I don't think I am capable of giving-in order to receive the full blessing of God's ultimate design for my life.

And just like it says in the first verse, marriage requires the same thing of us.

I don't need to submit to a husband by allowing him to walk all over me and control every aspect of my life, but I do need to give a marriage everything that I have to give-even the things I don't feel like I'm capable of giving-in order to make my marriage successful and reap its blessings.

And in the same hand, a husband should love me as Christ loves the church.

How does Christ love the church?


Christ's love for His church is not circumstantial, because if it was, He would always be disappointed in us.

Christ sees our bad attitudes, our sickness, our humongous messes, our financial troubles, our really stupid life choices and says, "I love you anyway".

A marriage should be the same way.

A husband's love for his wife should never be circumstantial-as long as your saying and doing the right things I promise to love you-and in the same hand neither should a wife's.

When I read these Scriptures I feel like God is asking the same thing from both husband and wife just in completely different ways.

Now, you may think I'm crazy and it's okay, because most people do, but as impossible as these truths may seem, they are completely possible if you make God the center of it.


Because we are human.

And our human nature is going to cause us to fail at this every single day, unless we give it over to Him and allow Him to make our marriages exactly what is they were designed to be: a reflection of Him.

When I was twenty-one, I didn't get that.

I interpreted these Scriptures in a completely different way, because the conservative church I was raised in taught me to interpret them that way.

But, now that I have lived through it and failed miserably at it, I can truly see what it's going to take to be successful at this whole marriage thing the second time around.

Am I an expert?


Like most things, I am floundering at this just as much as the rest of you. 

But, there is a wisdom that comes with learning a hard lesson that settles into your soul and plays a part in changing you from the person you were to the person you are becoming. 

And over time you learn that a successful marriage is not based on how long you were together before you got married, or how many sessions of marriage counseling you had prior to your wedding, or how many awesome marriage books you try to read, or whether or not you took anything away from that marriage conference last fall.


It is based on one thing: your commitment to stick with it no matter how hard or ugly or painful it gets, so that we can be living, breathing examples of Christ and His love for us.

Because we are all just a bunch of imperfect humans trying to do impossible things that are only possible with His help.

And trust me, it's gonna get really hard some days, and really ugly other days, and sometimes, yeah, it's even gonna hurt...a lot.

But, if you can power through those moments.

If you can tether your life raft to the One who ordained marriage to be a reflection of Him.

If you can remind yourself that His grace is sufficient right in the middle of every single weakness.

Then you're going to be okay, and you are not only going survive-you are going to thrive at what will be one of the most beautiful parts of your whole story.

I know this now.

I know this with every fiber of my completely imperfect being.

And while getting married for a second time was never apart of MY original plan, I believe it has always been apart of His plan for my life.

This part of the story doesn't surprise Him at all.

I believe that He has allowed me to walk through every single trial and tribulation that I have faced for a very specific reason, and one of those reasons was to become the woman I am today.

A woman who is so much more sure of herself and what she wants from life.

A woman who is ready to make a real commitment instead of girl who is just trying to run away.

A woman who finally knows what it's going to take to be the kind of wife God always wanted me to be.

A woman who can allow herself to grow and change through every single season in her life without losing sight of her ultimate calling.

This is me.

This is who my soon to be husband is getting.

And to be honest, I think he's getting the much better end of the deal.

Because the girl I was nine years ago wasn't ready for this, but the woman I am today has never been more sure.

So, for every single person who doubts me or us or second marriages or the fact that we've only been together for almost two years, I would like to invite all of you to take a step back and watch us as we-with God's help-prove you wrong. 


  1. So beautifully said, Ashley! So much of this resonated with me. Thank you for sharing.

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