Last week, I contemplated the question, “Would I do it again?” meaning would I walk through a divorce if I could go back and live my life over again.
Saturday would have been my 28th wedding anniversary if I had remained married to my ex-husband and if he were still alive. I found myself contemplating the same question this past weekend.
However, when I contemplated the question, “Would I do it again?” I was contemplating whether I would have married my ex-husband in the first place.
It’s really a tough question. Perhaps it’s even a loaded question. Let me give you the background.
I met my ex-husband on a spring break mission trip in college. It was really a last minute decision for both of us to attend—his sister called him the week before and offered to pay.
It was on that trip that I became friends with this funny red-headed guy. He had a great sense of humor. He seemed to have a heart for the gospel. He came across as confident and capable.
Over the next two years, our friendship grew. I remember praying that God would open a place for me to serve. I bumped into him at a local restaurant one day and he mentioned that he was looking for a Sunday school teacher for his middle school girls at the church where he served as youth minister. Answered prayer right there.
As I began working with the youth, we interacted more. Our friendship grew. He turned to me when he had serious questions. One day, he loaned me a book about marriage. As I read the book, I began to measure the guy I was dating against the book. Nope. Nope. Nope. He didn’t measure up. But when I got to the end of the book, I had this sudden revelation that the book described my ex!
It was literally the same time when my ex came to a sudden realization that he wanted to date me!
The entire situation just had God’s hand all over it!
Over the next year as we dated, I saw red flags. I saw selfishness. I saw irresponsibility. I saw laziness. But I was so convinced that God had clearly told me that this man was the one for me! I was completely convinced that if God called me to marry this man, he would take care of the rest.
So would I marry him again? Would I overlook the red flags and follow God with abandon? I’ve already said I would divorce him again, but would I marry him again?
I’m not sure I have a really easy answer. I suffered much in the nearly 17 years of marriage. My kids suffered more in the six years after our divorce. I have many painful memories, many reminders of the pain I suffered.
But I also have so much good in my life because of my marriage to him. I can say I followed God even when it didn’t make sense. I can say I experienced God’s goodness and grace that sustained me for many years. I can see how God used difficult circumstances for my good.
As I contemplated whether I would marry him again, I came up with this list of reasons to do it all again:
I followed God. We are told to walk by faith and not by sight, and I believe I did just that. Even as I reflect on all the ways God confirmed His will to me, I honestly can’t see it any other way. I believe God wanted me to marry him, and I walked in obedience. I don’t think we can ever go wrong when we follow God.
I have three incredible and unique kids. These kids are who they are because they have my DNA combined with their dad’s DNA. They are who they are because of who their parents are. Do I wish I could change the pain they have experienced? Absolutely! Do I wish I could take away the struggles they have because of what they’ve experienced? I wouldn’t be a good mom if I didn’t. But I wouldn’t have their strengths. Their weaknesses. Their sense of humor. Their personalities. They have an incredible mix of me and him, and I wouldn’t change anything about them.
I learned so much about life. I learned about relationships—my strengths and weaknesses in relationships. I learned about faith and walking by faith and not by sight. I learned about scripture because he was an incredible Bible teacher. I learned about God, His love and His justice and His ways and how they don’t match up with our own ways.
I experienced God’s goodness and faithfulness. As I struggled with what was wrong with me, why I was such a failure at marriage, I heard God whisper that it wasn’t me. As I wondered where He was in my pain, I heard His gentle whisper guiding my steps. When I spent years in the wilderness between the captivity of my marriage and the Promised Land, I saw Him faithfully care for my every need. He is so good even in our pain.
I see the truth of Joseph’s dilemma. Joseph’s brothers sold him into captivity. He spent many years toiling away in prison, wondering when God would fulfill His promises. At the end of his life, he looked his brothers—the very people who had betrayed him—in the eyes and reassured them that what they had meant for evil, God had used for good. What I experienced in my marriage was evil. Perhaps my ex-husband even meant evil against me, maybe he meant to tear me down and destroy me. But what man meant for evil, God has used for good, giving me the opportunity to help others experiencing the same type of pain and betrayal.
This morning as I walked, I listed to a sermon by Andy Stanley. He made several profound statements I would like to leave with you:
I wasn’t broken; I was chosen. I remember clearly reading the first chapter of Job when Satan came to God looking for someone to test. God clearly chose Job to suffer. As I read Job 1, I suddenly heard God clearly say to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Dena?” I was chosen. Chosen to suffer. Chosen to experience life-changing circumstances. Chosen to see the hand of God, to hear His gentle voice, to see His faithfulness as He picked up the pieces of my broken life and created something beautiful. Being chosen doesn’t always look the way we think it would. Sometimes being chosen means being chosen to suffer.
God changes the world through broken people who choose to follow Him. I was created for a great purpose. I am a masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 clearly tells me that I have been chosen for His purpose. I can’t think of a single biblical character who wasn’t broken, who wasn’t a mess. But God delights in using broken people to change this world.
Although it is more difficult to say yes, I would choose to marry him again knowing what I know today, you see the many incredible blessings I have. I would not be who I am today without the experiences of my past. So yes, I think I would endure it all again to gain what I have gained today. I am forever changed because of what I endured. And I pray this world is different because of what I have endured.