If you knew me 10 years ago when we divorced, you wouldn’t think me and my ex would ever be caught dead in the same room.
And if we were, it would be tense and extremely uncomfortable. You probably would have felt the need to pick sides (or find the nearest exit as fast as humanly possible)
Our divorce was complex and had many layers.
Ones that included multiple attorneys, grilling depositions and years of court hearings.
If you knew me then, you would be surprised that just last week the two of us had coffee. That I smiled when I greeted him. That we talked about our daughter, while respecting and hearing the other’s point of view.
You would be shocked that we text nicely. YES NICELY. With friendly emojis and all that.
And you might totally fall over to hear that I actually consider him my friend.
WHY would this be so shocking?
Here’s some background…
When we divorced, I was determined it was ALL HIS FAULT. He was convinced it was my fault.
I aired all his dirty laundry.
Like ALL of it.
I told anyone who would listen how I believed he had wronged me. I wrote letters. I composed emails (you all know how I am with words. Yikes) Good Lord, I practically waved a flag with his face on it promoting my perceived injustice.
It was ugly.
But, I believed I was justified. I believed the hurt validated the response. Maybe in some ways it did. But, as I later learned, it only drove my anger deeper.
(Which did me no favors in the whole healing process, I might add)
When every hurt that has happened to you becomes a constant thread in your conversation, thoughts and decision making – it is no longer a part of your story – it has become your ENTIRE STORY.
And, that’s not a pretty book.
Nor is it the gospel.
I was engaged to Zac (current husband) when I realized just how ugly my book had become. And it wrecked me.
In the very best way.
I was broken into a million pieces.
I was desperate for an encounter with God.
I wanted to be the me I was created to be.
I knew that girl was still in there.
She just needed to be let out.
She needed to be set free.
So, on my floor in a very small apartment all by myself I sat with my Bible and a journal. I cried. I CRIED.
God met me there.
I finally saw the simplicity of the gospel:
Jesus came to heal me.
Jesus came to set me free.
Now, I know that sounds super neat and packaged. And as we all know, rarely is anything in life that easy.
Well, it wasn’t easy.
It took time.
A LOT OF TIME.
But, most of that time included these two things: blind faith and stupid obedience.
Reading the Bible.
Having faith to believe it.
And stupid obedience to do what it said.
That was my rhythm.
Over and over again.
I read verses on forgiveness (that were stinking hard). I chose to believe them. I chose to obey them.
I read verses on loving those who hurt me (that were EVEN FREAKING HARDER). But, I chose to believe them. I chose to obey them.
That simple pattern is what set me free.
Seriously Anna? You can’t love your ex! That’s just weird.
Well, yeah. It is weird. But, if it wasn’t a little strange and out there, it probably wouldn’t be God 🙂
My steps to loving him started in prayer. I devoted every morning to praying for him and his new wife. EVERY MORNING.
Mind you, this was during some of the most tense, painful years of our history. IT WAS HARD.
But, that’s what scripture and the Holy Spirit told me to do. So, I blindly did it. And eventually it became easier.
I don’t know if any of my prayers made an impact on them. I like to think that they did. But, more so than that, they made a dramatic impact on me.
On my heart.
On my perspective.
With each prayer, my heart softened. With each word, I began to see them the way God did.
Gradually, as my heart began to heal during these prayers, I saw the part I had played in our divorce. My own sin was exposed. And it broke me.
This led to me apologizing to him for my part in our divorce.
This led to me choosing to smile and be kind when I saw them.
This led to me to the decision that I would choose to love them and pray for them,
no matter how they treated me.
It was humbling. But, oh so freeing.
And it all started from one tiny baby step of faith and obedience.
I don’t know what God has done on my ex’s end. I can’t speak to that.
But, what I can speak to is what God has done on my end. And I know for certain, that had I not chosen to walk in love (even when it was painful) that we would not be here today.
Does it take two?
Absolutely. But, I am one of those two.
I can’t make any person be nice to me. Or hear me. Or believe me.
But, I can control my responses to them.
I can take ownership of the temperature of my heart.
Only I can guard my heart and keep it from becoming bitter (which can happen any day of the week, people. It’s is a constant job!)
When we fully surrender to the Holy Spirit in this area, we make room for him to work wonders.