I was certain the Lord would save our marriage, that He would override my husband’s free will, change his heart, and make him see reason, but the Lord didn’t, and things went from bad to worse.
I had no job, no skills and certifications that had expired requiring almost two years of college credits to get back. Lack of child support left me with a badly damaged credit rating, and we lost our family home. 24/7 I faced five small children who were scared and hurting and looking to me for everything, and I wasn’t able to give them a fraction they needed emotionally. Worse than facing those children was handing them over to this man who had said and done such awful things. What was worst of all was that I needed them to go sometimes. I needed time alone, to cry, to scream, to beat my fists, and to try to clear my head.
I needed time to search for God.
And search I did. My oldest son suggested reading the Book of Job. He had recently finished 6th grade CCD and a study of the Old Testament. Job lost his wealth, his children, his health, so much. My loss was not to the same extent, but it was intense and ongoing, and I did feel a bit like Job. I began to read Job to the boys and then began making my own way through the entire Bible. There was so much I didn’t know in there, and I wondered why Catholics didn’t read the Bible?
I listened to Christian radio and the testimony of the DJ, a long recovered drug addict, as he talked of his wife, of his child, of how Jesus had transformed his life. I listened to the songs that spoke to my heart and to those that called me to stand up another day and even to those that gently commanded me to forgive when forgiveness isn’t deserved. The stories on the radio were from Christians but not Catholics.
I attended church with a friend, a Baptist church with a married pastor. I spoke briefly with him suspecting my friends had already explained my situation to him. He was kind and patient and understanding. He understood marriage issues. He got it. He got the pain. He got the confusion. He got the fear. He got it, when my own parish priest whom I had known for years did not.
I needed to get away from my life, from the home I was losing, from the mess I couldn’t keep up with, from my new reality. I just needed to get away. On my weekends without the kids, I began driving long distances and found a non-denominational mega church. I loved the pastor there. He has an incredible message delivered in a personal, engaging manner. I believe his faith is real. The band (yes band – complete with drum set behind a plastic sound enclosure!) was incredible, so different from the little old ladies croaking out solemn tunes in the Catholic church I’d grown up in. I felt myself swaying along, singing loudly with strangers, reaching out and meeting new friends who spoke openly about their faith in the Lord and in our Savior Jesus Christ in a way Catholics do not often do. I met people who touched my heart with their testimonies of the healing, transformational power of Jesus Christ, people who know so much more about the Bible than the Catholics I knew did, inspirational people who remain friends of mine to this day.
I understood the draw those other churches had. I enjoyed services and learned a lot from them. I respected and looked up to and loved my new friends, and I thought about leaving the Catholic church for these more understanding, more exciting, Christian churches.
After all, I wouldn’t really be leaving my faith – just serving God differently, in a way more connected to the modern world while at the same time, as they said in those churches, they were delivering the Gospel as the early disciples had…
The real trial came when my ex had the annulment papers delivered. My good non-Christian friends were shocked and outraged and saddened by his actions and the ongoing trauma I experienced because of it. I leaned on them for support seeking shelter in their loving embraces while my own church began, through the annulment process, tearing apart my childhood, my dating life, my marriage, and me in search of answers I don’t know that any of us is truly qualified to unearth.
I know there are some who say they found peace in the annulment, but I found none of it. Instead I found a deeper doubting of my faith…
Thank you for joining me as I explore why one should remain Catholic through divorce. Tomorrow, I will explore the annulment process, and then finally, I will get to the point, Why Did I Remain Catholic Through Divorce? I hope you will join me over these next two days, and share your own stories of what happened to your faith when you were confronted with divorce.
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Other Why Remain Catholic Posts:
Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce (Part I)
Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce (Part II) Catholics v. Christians
Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce (Part III) The Annulment Disaster
Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce (Part IV) More Than One Reason
11 thoughts on “Why Remain Catholic After Divorce – Catholics v. Christians”
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It is so painful to be misunderstood, accused and misjudged. Through the experience of divorce, so many women, and men and children face the horrors of a heartbreak, intensified by a tendency to “blame the victim”. Only Jesus can give the strength to endure this pain. The worst part of the pain is that it lasts for many, many years, as hurtful issues remain unresolved. God bless you for your encouragement for all who choose to remain faithful to our beautiful Catholic faith, even when circumstances are so dismal. Thank you for sharing so candidly.
I know you know and understand this all firsthand, and I am so glad you mentioned women, men, and children being affected by that “blame the victim” mentality. I write for women, but I know too many men who have been affected by divorce too and always the children, ALWAYS the children…yes, the pain can last a long time – generations.
I was praying the Rosary today and reflecting on the Wedding at Cana. It is no coincidence that Jesus’ first miracle was at a Wedding. He understands the power of Sacred vows exchanged in marriage; He is also the one to begin the healing when we ask Him to. I hope my writing helps others find healing and Grace through the Lord as well. God never leaves us, but I can’t imagine where I’d be if I had left my faith!
I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. Life is crazy busy, but I’ve got a bit of time right now. I’ll be sending you an email this week and would love to see more photos of your family too if you’ve got some!
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I should have added to the previous email that I applied for the annulment and my husband never responded to or read my application. He wasn’t Catholic but was raised in the Methodist church. He told me he thought it was stupid that the church could say we were never married. What he didn’t understand is that in the Catholic church a marriage is a sacrament, a covenant, a contract with God. There were times he would tell me that if the time came to end the marriage he wasn’t going to stay married and work on it. We didn’t have a marriage based on God. A marriage based on God will have great results. If it doesn’t have great results then God is missing some way, some how….
October will be my 5th year divorce-aversary (fancy word passed on from my sister-I’m not sure it’s in Webster’s Dictionary yet;-) and not a day goes by without some little memory, a thought to ponder, or the many trials and errors of my 31 year marriage to the father of my wonderful sons. I am a returning Catholic (gone for 18 years & practiced in a non-denominational church) and had just started visiting a Catholic church several months before my husband left. I’m not sure why I went back except I missed many of the traditions of the church and receiving communion. Thank you God for bringing me back!!
Last week I received my decree of nullity which took about four years to submit. My “very long narrative” was so full of sorrow that it would haunt me every time I sat down to draft and prepare my version of “our” lives prior to marriage, during the first few years of our marriage and the final stages of my married life to the man I loved. I did not like the fact that I had to follow this procedure if I ever wanted to marry again. I did not like the fact that “I thought” my sons might be considered illegitimate (they aren’t), I didn’t like the fact that Priests were determining whether my marriage was truly a Catholic marriage! But I did it because mostly everybody who had done this said it brought a great comfort to them…
The depressed, gloomy feeling wasn’t there when Monsignor told me that all had gone through and I could now move forward with my life. Often, I’d wonder how I would react when I received the news of my annulment. I was a bit subdued with the announcement but it didn’t come with the overwhelming sadness I endured over my divorce. I’m wondering if I unknowingly prepared myself for my reaction or if God played a part in it? Most people told me their annulment was the closure they needed, they rejoiced and celebrated. I quietly organized my feelings with my male friend over a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate cake.
A week later my church held an informational forum on the annulment process and had a panel of two priests and a couple who had been through the process themselves. I know that even though I loved my husband very much his free will allowed this to happen but I’m not sure it wouldn’t have happened anyway. We did not put each other first in the way God wanted us to. It is sad but I learned so much in going through this process.
I promised myself several years ago if I ever dated a man again he would be a practicing Catholic with strong morals and values. A man who would pray with me, discuss and debate faith and religion, and who would see to it that Heaven is my destination AND I want to do the same for him. I met this man two years ago. We both have our decree of nullity and I’m not sure where it will go from here but it’s good.
I will pray for you. God hears us and Mother Mary intercedes for us always wanting the best for us. Place your faith and trust in them and don’t doubt yourself. God Bless you and your family…
Welcome back to the Catholic church! I also visited a wonderful non-denominational church, but was drawn to come home to the Catholic Church. The Eucharist will be a big part of my final post in this topic Why Remain Catholic Through Divorce. If you’d be interested in writing about your experience with marriage, divorce, experience coming back to the Catholic Church, or something else, please use the contact me page. I’d love to have you speak to my readers.
I know exactly what you mean about the annulment process and felt many of the same emotions from wondering why these people who know nothing about our lives would presume to make such an important decision, to trying to negate the falsehoods and anger my ex put into his writings.
My emotions were very similar to yours when the annulment came through, just kind of a quiet, calm cane over me. I told very few of those close to me. There was a bit of freeing within me, but it was a quiet acceptance of me ex’s free will.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, “I’m not sure it wouldn’t have happened anyway. We did not put each other first in the way God wanted us to.” You’re right about needing to put each other first (after the Lord). I also did not put my husband first for a while and although I did several years before he left,I’m not sure he ever put me first and maybe it was too late for me to put him first too.
I have often thought about dating again and have started keeping my eyes open for the rught opportunity, but the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Others keep urging me to date, but I think part of the reason even more 2nd marriages fail than first is that people repeat the same mistakes and fail to put God and their spouses above first. Lisa Duffy recently wrote a book called The Catholic Guide to Dating after Divorce that I’ve been asked to review by Ava Maria Press. I’ll include a link later today but am running late for work right now 🙂 . I am SO THRILLED to hear you have found someone faithful. You are an inspiration and I will also pray for you at Adoration later today.
Your story rings familiar. My story is far different, but I relate well with the doubt of my faith and how the annulment process was not at all a healing process for me.
I’m sorry Ellen. I understand the importance of the Sacrament of marriage and the need to determine whether a Sacred union was really present or not, but I also think the annulment process needs to be reviewed and changed when necessary. If you would like to write a guest post for Single Mom Smiling, please let me know. In the meantime, I will hope and pray that you are reconnecting with your Catholic faith.
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