Dear Divorced Woman,
I see you.
I see how you look away from the heart-dotted card selection in the drug store and the abundance of stuffed animals spilling off the shelves. How your shoulders tense when your co-worker receives a bouquet of flowers delivered to work, how you force a smile and hope no one sees through the mask as you graciously decline a candy from someone else’s ribbon-wrapped gift box.
This time of year is hard enough when you’re alone—made harder still when you not only lost love but were rejected by it. Divorce carries a unique bite, one that seems to sink its greedy teeth in a little deeper around Valentine’s Day.
I know. I’ve been there.
I know how it feels to try to convince yourself you don’t care about the manufactured holiday, that it’s just an excuse for big companies to make more money. That you don’t really want a stuffed bear or a single-stemmed rose, and that you aren’t really interested in a fancy date night out or having a reason to wear the red high heels that are now dusty in your closet. And maybe you don’t.
But you are interested in feeling loved, and no matter how many times you ignore the billboard or turn off the TV, Valentine’s Day ads seem to remind you more and more that you’re not. That the person who promised before God and witnesses to love you for better or for worse bailed before death made you part. At every turn, there’s a constant reminder that you’re no longer part of a team. And that while you’re perfectly capable of buying your own message-heart candy or a new piece of jewelry, there’s an aching part of you that doesn’t want to have to.
Piled on top of that ache is the temptation to fall headlong into resentment. It’s hard not to be jealous when you see other couples holding hands in the grocery store or flirting in line at the movie theater while you’re wishing you had someone to share your popcorn with.
I know. I see you.
I see how everywhere you go, your senses hum as radars, picking up on things you’re too savvy now to ignore. You overhear young couples arguing over something irrelevant and want to warn them to stop, to catch the foxes before they destroy the vineyard of young love. You see a man checking out another woman while standing next to his wife, and indignation burns so hard you glare at the back of his head. You hear a group of women on a girl’s night out griping about their husbands and wish that you still had someone to complain about—and realize if you did, you probably wouldn’t now.
I know. I remember.
I know the difficult struggle you face as a woman of God. You want to honor Christ with your body, but the temptation to try to earn some measure of attention through your wardrobe is strong. So you compromise on your hemline or your neckline, just a little, because you’re so desperate to confirm you’re still worthy of a second look. Your spouse made it clear he didn’t want you—does anyone else?
You’ve read the books and heard the wisdom that it’s foolish to rebound date. And while you believe that and agree, you aren’t sure how much longer you can hold the cracked pieces of your heart together anymore. You say yes to invitations you know better than to accept because at least dating the wrong type of guy is a different kind of hard than the one you’re used to—being alone.
I know the questions that echo on a loop in your head, late at night while lying in a king-sized bed by yourself, pillows piled up on the far side, so it doesn’t feel so unbearably empty…the questions that rattle around when you’re on autopilot and things are too silent to distract you, like when you’re getting dressed in the mornings or driving home from work. Will I be alone forever? What’s wrong with me? Why is it so hard to love me? Who is ever going to want me again?
I hear you. I asked the same questions when my husband left me just a few days before Valentine’s Day—and guess what? I discovered the overarching answer. It wasn’t found in being pursued for a coffee date, though I later was. It wasn’t even found in walking back down the aisle, though I eventually did. It was only found in the true Lover of our souls.
Isaiah 54:5 (ESV) For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.
Stay with me. I know what you’re thinking. You’re shifting uncomfortably in your seat right now because as much as you want those words to mean something, they don’t. You believe them. You know they are technically true. But there’s that unrelenting part of you that still fears you’re missing out. Something was taken from you and there’s a part of your heart that won’t rest until you get it back.
I remember. I even got angry one time when someone encouraged me with the hope that one day, I’d be able to comfort with the comfort I was given, via 2 Corinthians 1:4. I didn’t want to help someone else feel better later. I wanted to feel better myself, now.
I get it. Trust me. Dear Divorced Woman, I know you want guarantees. I know you want to read a promise that you’ll find earthly love again. That you’ll have someone to fight with and share popcorn with and flirt with. That you’ll get remarried and grumble over him stealing the covers in that king-size bed and still be able to trust that this time, it’ll work out.
I can’t promise that. I don’t know the next chapter of your story, but I do know the Author and Finisher of our faith. And I know that His Word is true and that Romans 8:28 is not exempt for you, Divorced Woman. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
This Valentine’s Day, I beg you—don’t listen to the lies that you need a relationship or a marriage to be whole and happy. Turn the TV off and open your Bible. Romance might or might not be waiting for you in the grocery store aisle or in your local coffee shop, but it’s always waiting for you between the pages of God’s Word. And what better to guide you into that next chapter of your life, whatever it looks like?
Divorced Woman, your husband left you. But God sees. He knows. He cares. He hears. He collects your tears. He knows how many hairs you have—along with which ones are turning gray and which ones are falling out from stress. He knows the ache, and He alone is the one who can fill it. The same God who made the skies sherbet orange and pink colored your eyes with intention. The same God who told the ocean exactly how far it can go holds your heart, and you’re safe in His relentless grip. He knows your favorite ice cream flavor, what you’re allergic to, and what you truly need. He sends you gifts every single day if you just have eyes to see. He’s always ready to listen to you, with love and compassion.
What’s more romantic than that?
You might get married again one day, or you might not, Divorced Woman. But there is nothing separating you from the sustaining, redemptive, unconditional love of Christ—right here, right now, in this holiday, and in every other.
Hold on to that, as He holds on to you.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/grinvalds