I don’t know why divorce happens sometimes, why every year people who certainly aren’t perfect, but who certainly have done nothing to deserve divorce or the kind of treatment a cruel, self-centered ex spouse delivers are forced to endure such trauma. Even less, do our innocent children deserve this kind of division, this kind of treatment, this kind of loss.
This is not fair.
I do not deserve this.
My children do not deserve this.
And yet here we are. Like most divorced women and children, we have seen a substantial change in our post-divorce lives. Even with state garnished child support, we live on less than half the income we had just a few years ago, with more expenses than we had just a few years ago, and less time than we had just a few years ago.
Like most men, the abandoner’s income has increased substantially. His expenses have also increased because of his purchase of a vacation/rental homes and other items hidden from the courts under the other woman’s name. His increased leisure time is obvious in monthly trips to exotic places such as Barcelona, the Bahamas, Chicago, Cape Cod, Las Vegas…
And after a while, the money, the expenses, the trips mean virtually nothing to most women.
There are losses far greater than money can define.
Like many custodial parents, I found myself dragged into court again, forced to fight for the well-being of my children in a court system hardened by cases worse than ours, defended by shortsighted lawyers looking out only for themselves, facing a man who can be extremely cruel or quite charming depending on the front he wants you to see, and trying to determine what is best for children who are confused, sometimes scared, and who, understandably, give mixed messages because they have been caught in the middle, traumatized by divorce they certainly didn’t want.
And there are so many times that I just want to escape, to run away, to leave. There are some days I envy my ex his freedom. He takes the children when they are convenient while I will always be available for them, even when they are decidedly not convenient because I Love them unconditionally.
But that availability, that unconditional Love, takes its toll, and in my occasional bouts of self-pity I cry out to God, sometimes cursing the world I live in, the man I used to love, and yes, I occasionally even curse innocent bystanders and question God about the extreme injustice of it all.
The desire to get away, to start over somewhere new, to just pick up and leave can be strong, but running away is a trait of an abandoner. It doesn’t solve anything and simply presents new hardships. Running away is a sign of weakness when God gave us the strength to do all things. It is a sign of selfishness when God made us to Love in His image.
We each have a Cross to bear. Running from our Crosses, hiding from our responsibilities, escaping from our realities is like hiding from our own shadows. It is impossible and can present scarier, more dangerous possibilities as we are destined to fall eventually.
Even Jesus Christ had His Cross to bear, not just in the wooden Cross He was nailed to, but a Cross in the abuse He suffered at the hands of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, those who should have Loved Him best. He had His Cross in the emotional abuse dealt by those who thrilled at the idea of seeing Him fall.
In Sunday’s Gospel, we see Jesus speaking with His disciples,
He began to teach them
that the Son of Man must suffer greatly
and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed, and rise after three days.
He spoke this openly.
Jesus knew He would not escape His Cross, and yet we feel we have the right to curse God and demand He remove our Crosses?
We know God hates divorce and that He will judge those who break their vows as He will judge us. We know that the Father, as a just Judge, and Jesus, as our Devoted, Trusted Advocate, present a total contrast to what occurs in our earthly courtrooms. We think that because the Lord and Jesus Christ would do differently, we should expect differently here on earth.
We feel we are owed better treatment. We look at how unfair life is – and it truly is! – and we want instant Justice, instant answers, instant escape. Rather than picking up our Crosses, we are quick to look to discard them.
We are Peter, thinking as humans do, not as God does.
Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples,
rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Oh to think as God does, to see our desire to cast aside suffering and injustice as the thought of the ruler of this world rather than the thought of the Lord! Oh the impossibility of that task!
How, when emotionally battered by one from whom we cannot escape, when iron-fisted by a court incapable of justice, when wronged in so many ways, how are we to think like God? How are we to simply accept our Crosses without complaint? How do we just give in and let go?
We do this by listening and responding to the summons Jesus gives rather than the shouts of injustice. Sometimes, we do this by bowing our head in prayer rather than by lifting our voices in righteous anger-filled shouts. Sometimes we are called to do the hard thing day in and day out looking toward eternity rather than being stuck in the now.
When fighting our Crosses, when shouting down our Crosses, when running from our Crosses, we often find ourselves literally short of breath, overwhelmed, exhausted, those Crosses taking up more and more of our time, our thoughts, our energy.
Instead, we must embrace the Lord by denying ourselves when we face impossible battles. Even in peaceful times, we must ask the Lord to fill us more with Him and less with us. We must be in shape to carry our Crosses so that the pressures of negativity and defeat are unable to weigh us down.
He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,
but whoever loses his life for my sake
and that of the gospel will save it.”
Never quit. Never give up, but surrender, not the battle, not the injustice, not the ability to Stand, but when you surrender the pain and the plan to the Lord, you find you never lose your life or the lives of your children. It is in the surrendering to Jesus, that we save our lives and, through our examples, those of our children.
Stop for a moment and Pray right now for your family and for the Crosses – visible and invisible – that each of you carries.
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