It had been less than 24 hours since I’d opened the envelope containing the two, thin, nondescript sheets of paper announcing the approval of our annulment.
Not much had changed in the 24 hours. I had done the usual x number of loads of laundry, hours and hours of classwork for my new teaching position. I had even managed to straighten up the house a bit, although cleaning the house was something I’d pretty much given up on for the immediate future.
I hadn’t seen any change since finding out I had never been married.
And Sunday morning I got ready for church just like I always had.
I sat in the folding chairs in the wing of the church where I’d gotten used to sitting with the boys for the past 8+ years we’ve lived in this small town. Even without the boys and even now that they were bigger and wouldn’t be (or shouldn’t be!) causing a disturbance during Mass, even though we are part of a very small parish and I have many friends in both the wing and the main part of the church, I still sit in our usual section. I guess I am a creature of habit.
I keep promising one day to join the main part of the church where I can fully see the Mass.
And I sat there, scanning the backs of the heads in front of me peering slightly around the corner to the bit of the main part of the church I could also see, loving the familiar faces and praying for each of them as I glanced around when it suddenly hit me.
As the priest prepared to welcome and distribute the Body of Christ, I realized for the first time in almost half my life time, I was going to be receiving the Body of My Lord, My Savior, My God knowing I was an unmarried woman.
And that’s when the reality of the annulment hit me.
I really was FREE!
There were no more chains binding me to the life I was “supposed” to lead, the husband I was “supposed” to have, the Wife I was “supposed” to be.
Those around me did not know it. I told very few people the annulment process had even begun. I told far fewer that it had been completed.
It’s not that I was hiding it. It was just that there were always other things to talk about and so much of that annulment process was so difficult and started too soon after the divorce.
I watched the people ahead of me stand to receive the Body of Christ and I stood too. I hope my smile wasn’t too broad as I walked toward the front of the church, but my heart was singing in that moment.
I was going to meet Jesus Christ, to take His body, to become One in the Body of Christ, without the stain of divorce. I hadn’t realized until this moment that I truly had been the woman by the well, the woman deserving of being stoned for living with this man.
And now suddenly, I was free.
Not free because of two thin sheets of paper, but free because of the long long, arduous process, free because I hadn’t given up, free because those in the church were willing to put countless hours into collecting testimony, interviewing the man I’d lived with, friends, family, and me and then to debate and pray over OUR case, free because God took what the man I’d lived with did and his timing and used it for His Good.
I was Free because my God is a merciful God
who has great plans for His children.
The annulment freed me in a way that is hard to describe, but in a way that has had a profound effect on me since meeting my Lord as an unmarried woman.
My annulment was approved. My chains were gone. I had been set Free.
Thank you Jesus!
Thank you for joining me in my reaction to the approval of our annulment. obtaining the annulment is no easy task, but most things in life which are Good are not easy. If you are at all considering applying for an annulment, I urge you to go ahead, to speak to someone who knows and who can help, and, if you don’t get the answers or if you are mistreated, I urge you to pray for the misunderstanding of the person who spoke to you in such a way.
There really is a freedom in receiving the annulment that I could not have known or expected even a day before.
In the meantime, I urge you to pray and keep praying for families, marriage,and for one another.
Part V – My Chains ARE Gone!