It wasn’t until writing the “final” post on the annulment – My Chains ARE Gone – that I realized how free I was. Not in the sense of free to date as much as that I was free to reinvent myself, free be anything, free to start again.
The old me could be replaced with a better, updated version and, with that new me, even bad habits could be erased.
A future spouse would never have to know my pet peeves, like how aggravated I get when I put a “left” sock on my right foot and vice versa (Sometimes it’s the little things that get you!)
Or that I always smell my food before I eat it (As a mom of 5 boys, smell is one of my more acute senses!)
Or that I always eat my pizza crust first (a story for another time).
But all of those Or thats were beside the point.
Bad habits could be erased, but, as I was enjoying my newfound freedom, I realized with even greater conviction that bad habits were not what most needed to be erased.
I knew as I wrote that post that there was only one thing holding me back from a truly new start, that my chains were not exactly gone. They had been loosened. I’d been put on a longer leash, but I was still chained.
Chained by the sins I had made leading up to my marriage.
Chained by the sins I had committed during my marriage.
Chained by the sins I had committed after the man I’d lived with had left.
To Be Truly Free, I Needed Confession.
I sat in the church waiting for my turn. I don’t enjoy Confession the way some Good Catholics do. I am not a big fan of exposing the evil, meanness, selfishness, or even just plain stupidness inside of me. I find Confession just a bit humiliating and a whole lot nerve wracking, and so I was glad to see there were other people ahead of me but also concerned that I might be too late, Mass might start, and I’d miss the opportunity.
I sat on the hard pew, knowing my pride was keeping me from sporting a Good Catholic attitude (something else I’d have to Confess – again!) and wondering, if Mass started before I got my turn, how long it would be before I got up the nerve to come back.
But I shouldn’t have worried.
God is Good, and my turn did come.
I went in to the Confessional and asked for forgiveness. The priest is a kindly man who spoke at length about starting over and being strong, taking a stand and not faltering, and about forgiveness, forgiving all those involved in the failure of the relationship I had with “the man whose bed (I) shared.”
I listened carefully hoping this Good Priest would give insight on what to call the man I’d lived with, but referring to him as the man whose bed I shared probably wouldn’t go over well in most of my social circles. I continue to pray for God to give me a better name for him.
And, then I was offered absolution
For my penance, I was told to read Psalm 51, and then I was given 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys. Ten! I don’t think I’d ever been given more than 5.
Ten Our Fathers.
Ten Hail Marys.
In exchange for a lifetime of sin, a lifetime of turning my back time and time again, not just on the man I’d thought of as my Husband, but on the one who Saves,
Ten Our Fathers and ten Hail Mary’s – in exchange for a future washed clean in the Blood of Christ.
It wasn’t 10 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys.
It was a few short prayers and the Blood of a Man who died 2000 years ago – for me.
Suddenly, those few Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s didn’t seem like so much. I should have been given many more prayers, many more acts of service. I didn’t deserve to exchange the few minutes of prayer for the Freedom and Release my Lord was offering me.
And yet, that is the amazing Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are Forgiven. We are set free from our sin, free from our past.
My chains truly were broken.
I left the church knowing I had been forgiven.
And now I was ready to begin life anew.
My chains were not broken by the annulment. The annulment provided the key to help turn the lock. The annulment prevented me from being bound by future chains if I were to meet someone and want to experience Love again one day.
But I realized now that the annulment did not break my chains.
Jesus Christ and His infinite Love and Mercy and Forgiveness truly did save a wretched soul like me through His death and His gift of Confession.
I’d long ago learned forgiving doesn’t mean liking the person or wanting to spend time with him and it certainly doesn’t mean having to approve the things another does, but it does mean not dwelling on the wrong doing and realizing the person is Loved even in his sinfulness.
I have forgiven the man I lived with for many things; I must keep working on forgiving him for more.
But now, hearing God had forgiven me, I could forgive myself too.
I had not been perfect in my marriage and good enough is almost never really good enough, but I didn’t have to be good enough. I didn’t have to be better. I was Loved where I was.
I am Loved now. We all are.
I was forgiven, born again, ready to start Life anew.
And I needed to thank one man,
a man on a Cross 2000 years ago,
a man who still lives today.
And now, I can truly say with understanding and Gratitude,
My chains are gone! I’ve been set free
Thank you my God and Savior, for ransoming Me!
Divorce is a terrible thing, a tragedy affecting our country and our world. It tears apart children and women and men and our society, schools, government, and churches, and as much as some want to believe that divorce is no big deal today or that there is justice in our courts, they are wrong.
There is no freedom in child support or visitation rights or orders of protection. Freedom only comes from God. If you have been abandoned, abused, divorced, do not give up Hope. You are Loved. Offer up your pain and hurt and the little pride you rely on to confess the sins you have committed to contribute to where you are whether it was seeking the wrong spouse before marriage or something that happened during or after the marriage.
Seek the annulment, go to confession. Start anew each day. Freedom is possible.