My Faith Said I Shouldn’t Get Divorced
I prayed for a miracle as my beliefs and reality were colliding
On Facebook, a woman confided her marriage was falling apart and asked for prayers. She wanted to save her marriage. I read her post and understood her conflict. Not only the one between a husband and a wife.
The one between her and God.
Marriage is a vow. One we make before God. One that is supposed to be forever.
If all of these things are true, won’t God help us save our marriage?
Won’t He give us a miracle? Or divine intervention when our spouse is cheating, lying, has an addiction or is simply unwilling to work at the marriage.
I prayed and prayed for a miracle. My faith so deep I was certain if anything would get that miracle it would be my marriage.
I’ve often said I don’t know what my mother was thinking when she dropped this five-year-old, double pigtail wearing rule follower off at Catholic school.
My sister jokes that she was the opposite. The rule breaker. I would have to agree. While I was wearing full on approved plaid apparel, she was taping up the hem of her uniform skirt.
I believed everything they threw at me.
I was a believer.
And rule-following believers, don’t get divorced.
Or do they?
I sought the counsel of my parish priest. He looked at me and said, “Colleen I am a priest I am not supposed to say this to you. My sister was married to a man like this. You need to get out of this situation.”
This may appear shocking, but my uncle was also a priest. He gave me similar advice.
“Colleen,” he said. “The Holy Spirit has given you the gift of joy your whole life. Do not let another human being take it from you.”
I heard their words.
But there was something else involved here. My heart.
It was not only my spirituality speaking to me. I didn’t want to lose the love of my life. I didn’t want my family to be torn apart.
Certainly, I was in a bad situation but God is in the business of making the impossible possible.
And He would certainly answer the prayers of a faithful, five-year-old double pigtail-wearing girl.
He would get through to my husband and the bad behavior would stop, and all would be good. But as much as I prayed the problems in my marriage intensified.
I got angry and I yelled at God.
Enough. I never complained about my parents being divorced. About growing up without my own dad who was absent most of my life. About losing my mom when I was only twenty-eight. I can’t lose my family.
I refer to this as the time I was ‘fighting God.’
When my spirituality and my actual reality were colliding.
One day, I was on the phone with my equally faith-filled friend.
“Colleen,” she said. “You can’t get mad at God. We all have free will and your husband is making the choices he is making.”
Okay, I’ve definitely mentioned I was a rule follower. I forgot to mention I was not a good listener. At least back in grade school. My report cards each year would say the same thing.
“Colleen is a sweet girl but she talks too much. Colleen is a nice girl but she talks too much. Colleen is a beautiful girl but she talks too much.”
Somewhere around grade five, they ran out of nice adjectives.
I was so busy talking I forgot the lesson about free will.
I was the only one trying to save my marriage AND I was the only one praying for my marriage. I could no longer be angry at God nor could I continue to fight my relationship truth.
My marriage was over.
Sometimes God has a path for us which we reject and would never have chosen.
I learned something important as my spirituality and actual reality were colliding.
There was nothing wrong with praying for my marriage. It was not misguided. It was faith.
But I was misdirected.
I should have worked on myself individually.
On my own independence, self-care, and future as my marriage was falling apart. And prayed.
Instead, what I did was invest every morsel of myself — to the point of ultimate depletion — into another human being who was using his free will for the opposite. Himself.
We can pray for people. We can pray for our relationships. For our marriages. But we can’t control people. We can only control our own actions. Our own free will.
At some point, we must surrender to self-protection accompanied by prayer.
I love this person but they are making their own choices.
Therefore, I need to make the best choices for myself and my children and pray. In other words, I needed to take the focus off of my husband. I needed to stop begging him to go back to marriage counseling. I needed to stop begging him to stop the bad behavior.
I needed to let him go — long before my marriage ended.
To surrender, work on me, and pray.
To understand it wasn’t just my spirituality speaking to me. It was also my heart. One that desperately needed protection. And never got it.
Because I was too busy caught between my faith and my reality.
Fighting for another person’s heart I had vowed to love forever. Fighting God. Fighting myself. Fighting my truth.
Sometimes God has a path for us that we reject and would never have chosen.
And even rule-following — big believers — must surrender.
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