Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Tag: divorce (page 1 of 3)

Undercover Assignment

I received a covert assignment the other day. I’d make for a horrible FBI agent since I can’t keep it secret, but that’s probably best since I’d love for you to go undercover with me, but first let me set the stage to better understand the assignment.

I was at church Sunday morning when a couple came in late with a newborn and all the gear. It was extraordinary watching their unspoken dance as mom, with baby strapped on, made her way past the other people already sitting down. Dad got the car seat past the crowd without hitting anyone (bonus points for him–I never would’ve been so graceful) and then promptly pulled out the paraphernalia: blanket, binky, and bottle, arming himself and mom for any would-be mishaps throughout the service.

As we worshipped, I’d look at the sweet newborn in front of me, but in the process, caught unexpected memory glances as dad peered at the baby, joy and awe oozing.

Then he looked at mom with almost the same look.

I forgot that look: that one that says, “we created this together” while also saying, “the sleepless nights are so worth it. I’d do it all over again as long as you’re by my side.”

That face took me back so far, beyond the more recent days when the look was more of a glare than anything positive. Dad’s face reminded me of what once-was, and as I remembered how quickly it faded to something else, I determined to not let their outcome drift to the same fate.

“God, be with them. Carry them through all that lies ahead of them. I know marriage is hard, especially while raising kids. Don’t let them lose sight of their love for each other and never, ever let them lose sight of you.”

I began praying for this couple, these unknown people who brought me back to the days when love reigned in my marriage. I knew the joy then, but I know too well what it turned into for me.

Not for them, Lord. Not for them, too.

And so began the silent undercover assignment. You see, for those of us that were married once upon a time and are no longer, we get the absolute devastation caused when the Sacred ends. In fact, we probably still don’t fully realize the layers of impact it creates as its ripples extend further than we comprehend. And with that knowledge firmly in place, you and I, dear divorced men and women, can be part of the answer.

Don’t write this off as being too simplistic, for if we do, we risk stating that prayer is ineffective. I can’t dare believe that. I won’t pretend to understand how my little mutterings make it directly to the throne room and I understand even less how, once there, they can have a powerful effect. While I can’t fully explain it, there are just too many Scriptures for me to believe that my prayers don’t matter.

So I prayed for that sweet couple and their little girl. And I’ll probably pray for them more throughout the week. Next week, God might press another couple on my heart and I’ll do some unseen battling for them.

Why?

Because we know the devastation and it’s time to change the currents.

To my fellow divorcees, join me. We know the battles of the courts. Let’s save others from it.

To my married friends, hear this: we’re fighting for you. We know it can be hard. Oh do we know that. But it’s beautiful, too (thanks to those of you who hold that torch and let us see your incredible love dance).

To my marrieds, I also say this: do a little battle for the singles, please. Encourage the young mom who is frazzled, frantic from trying to make her money and energy stretch to cover the bustling brew in her care. Pray for us to know we’re enough and to never consider trading the riches of Christ’s love for cheap imitations. Or perhaps that’s the prayer we need to extend over you, too, my married friends.

Whatever the case and whatever the station, we have a challenge before us.

Who’s in?

Stacy Voss

 

 

An Open Letter to Anyone Going through Divorce

Whenever a friend knows someone going through a divorce, they usually send them to me. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been divorced a time or two. I’d prefer to not have this ugly badge, but since I do, I might as well share a bit.

First, let me say sorry. No sugar-coating this one. Getting divorced is horrible awful. Keep that in mind as we delve into a few practicalities:

Not Fair

If you haven’t yet, you’ll soon find yourself saying that it isn’t fair. Your reason might be different than mine. Maybe it’s because he’s getting the house and you didn’t, or the custody schedule didn’t align the way you’d hoped. The reasons for making you say it might be different, but here’s one truth: it isn’t fair. Period. You’re taking something holy and dividing it. There’s no way that what is relegated to paper could ever equal what once was when you were together.

The only ones who win are the lawyers. Best case scenario: you might get half of what you  accumulated together. That’s still half, as in a guarantee of losing 50% of your investment. It’s crappy math, especially once you factor in the emotions that go along with it.

I know the house seems to be the biggest thing that people feel jaded about. Some have worked diligently to keep it when it nearly cost them everything, others have kept it and managed it just fine, and others yet had to leave the place they once called home. I fall into this last category. Trust me, it cut in a big way, especially since it was the house that I took my baby home from the hospital to and figured we’d  live there long after the kids graduated.

But…

I’m not about to say there’s a good and a bad way, a you should keep the house or shouldn’t type thing. All I know is my experience and from that I can simply say that although I grieved leaving the place of bricks I once loved, it was only by leaving that I came to see so much more than I ever could have otherwise. For example, I had multiple sets of neighbors who told me that I could run to their house at a moment’s notice–anytime day or night.

I did. Strike that. We did. A crying mom, two kids and a big dog that followed them out, all on someone’s doorstep, welcomed inside to safety. Day One.

Day 2-16: Staying with family who welcomed us in without any questions and bent over backwards as we tried picking up fragmented pieces.

Day 17 – 425: Dear friends let us stay in their basement apartment, inviting us in for a year and then later asking us to stay even longer. They asked because they knew that things were still so shaky that stable housing wasn’t yet attainable. In the sweet way they’d done all along of treating us with grace and dignity–even while technically being homeless–they didn’t just say it’d be okay to stay longer. They asked us to as our families’ hearts and intertwined. We moved in as friends. A year and a half later, we moved out as family. Words fail to explain the full beauty of our stay there, something that could never be fully explained in a short blog post. Instead, I offer this: countless gratitude and appreciation. They knew that this very needy mama wouldn’t just stay in the beautiful basement, but would come upstairs whenever the storms brewed, which they did. All too often. They let me cry (more like cried with me) and offered me daily doses of love and grace.

In an ideal world, I never would have had to flee. Never would have known the pain of divorce. Yet through those less-than-ideals, I came to realize something I ironically couldn’t understand while married:

I am loved. More deeply than I can imagine, both by family, friends-turned-family, countless people who I thought were mere acquaintances who intervened in incredible ways, and from a God who refused to turn His back on this hot mess.

The Shift of Pronouns

This one was a doozy for me. It didn’t take me long to switch from “I” to “us” when I got married, perhaps because I started using the plural long before donning the fancy gown as we started planning our lives together. But then came the day when we walked our apartment (I mean my apartment) and wrote new pronouns for each of our possessions. His. Mine.

Ours no longer existed. Neither did us. It was the solitary land of “me.”

It took a while for my vocabulary to catch up after the gavel sounded. People would raise an eyebrow when they’d catch me saying “we” when I really should have said “I.” Looks of pity crossed their faces. Poor girl. Can’t remember she needs to refer to herself in the singular now.

The reality is, this pronoun thing messed me up long before papers were drawn. There were things fervently loved prior to dating either of my would-be hubs, things that each of those men claimed to love about me. But sometime after the ceremonies, I heard, “we don’t ______.” The things varied in each marriage. One example: “we  don’t like this song.”

We don’t? I thought. But I love it. 

As each we statement was uttered, my sense of faltered, so much so that words didn’t even have to be said. In order to save the marriage, I abandoned parts of my  that I had loved but quickly realized posed as threats to the we. Whad a hard time making decisions, meaning that needed to be more soft-spoken and not assert myself. Later, quit my business because the hubby’s self-esteem couldn’t handle the fact that I made more per hour than he did.

Some of you going through divorce will read this and shake your head, slowly admitting that you’ve been there. Others will think I’m droning on about my pain and neglecting yours, but listen closely, for there is a beautiful secret I need to share with you:

Years after the sacred cracked, I speak in the plural more than the singular. No, I didn’t get married again (make that an emphatic no) and I haven’t turned schizophrenic.

So why the we?

Simple.

I’m more surrounded by love than ever before.

Seriously. I’m not speaking cliches. I would never be able to list everyone by name, but there have been probably hundreds who have stood with me in prayer or have helped in countless practical ways. I’m blessed beyond measure and couldn’t dare say on most things since the majority of what I now do is truly a community effort. I’ll share more about that in part 2 of this post.

 

You’ll Think You’re in Hell

You don’t need me to tell you how painful divorce is. It is hands-down the most devastating thing I’ve ever experienced. I was lost. Confused. Bewildered. I usually have a clear sense of where I’m going, but each divorce made me feel like I was hiking a path I’d never been on in the middle of a dark night without a flash light. I never knew if the next step would be the one that would make me tumble–and oftentimes it was.

But it isn’t just hard and painful.

It feels like hell.

Here’s the weird irony. Hell is anywhere God is not. Through both of my divorces, I felt God’s presence stronger than any other time in my life. No, He doesn’t favor those of us whose “I do’s” disintegrate. Instead, the fluff of my world disappeared. Gone were the hopes that things were good. The busyness of the days slowed as the things that mattered most came into focus. And through that all, I clung to the only one I knew could truly carry me.

I wouldn’t wish a divorce on anyone. Ever. Yet what I learned of God during those times were so profound and personal that I wouldn’t unwish these black parts of my story.

I have more to say on living through divorce, maybe for you and definitely for me. I’ll post more next week on what I’m learning two years post-divorce. Until then, know this:

You are loved, more than you can imagine. (Don’t believe me? Read the Gospel of John).

Stacy Voss

 

Thoughts on Valentine’s Day from a Divorcee

Perhaps it’s because we’re officially in the month of heart-shaped boxes that I had that fleeting thought of, “ugh. Valentine’s Day.” Yes, it really was more of a cave-man grunting-type thought rather than a full coherent sentence, but it quickly got pushed to the wayside with something else: the words a friend had told me minutes earlier:

“I love you, my friend.”

My friend, Nina, was my first adult, non-family, female friend to tell me she loved me many years ago.

“I uh, um, well,” I probably stammered back, unsure how to respond. (Nina, if you’re reading this, please accept my very belated apologies, along with an equally overdue word of thanks).

It took me a while to understand what Nina was saying, words that later on were echoed by other non-family folk.

Love. A pure, caring, with-you kind of thing.

I couldn’t accept it because it didn’t fit for multiple reasons, one being that I’d only heard that phrase from family, both the blood kind and the marriage ones. I didn’t believe someone not in a blood-binding kind of way would love me.

Nor did I think that getting divorced would teach me about love.

thoughts on valentines dayUntitled

Yup, you read that right. Before I say any more on that, hear me out: I revere marriage. It is a holy institution, something not to be entered into lightly and definitely not something to be exited at whim.

But.

In those three letters lies a story of heartache, hope, and a bitter surrender to the reality that we have no control over others’ emotions, actions, perceptions or anything else. So when the gavel sounded as the judge reduced the holy to a thing of the past, I guess I figured love was gone.

I was wrong.

In the time since becoming a divorcee last year, I’ve been told “I love you” more times than I can count. Sure, maybe not as frequently as when the phrase was some sort of expected salutation in my marriage, words said before bed just like “hello” is said when answering a phone.

No, this “I love you” phrase means something entirely different now.

Many, many of my friends have told me this in the past year. Let me stop there for a second.

Many, many of my friends. Wow. How lucky am I? These with-you girls mean it when they say they love me. They have my back, cover me in prayer, and listen on those days when something has me worked up (and even better, go on to put me in place when necessary rather than sitting back and watching me slide off the tracks).

Yes, they tell me they love me. I still feel a bit like that first day when Nina said those words to me, a touch of that “are girls supposed to say this to each other?” mixed with “this is awkward” sprinkled with a huge dose of, “but maybe this is closer to what love really is than what I previously thought.”

Actions and words. That’s what James tells us about love. I think prior to getting divorced I primarily had people who said they loved me but their actions said otherwise. But now, when many might think I receive less love than ever before, I can’t help but say it’s the exact opposite. The love I receive from my friends surpasses anything words alone could convince a heart of. They say the words, perhaps to remind me of something I had to fight desperately to remember: I am valuable and am loved.

 

So as Valentine’s Day draws near, don’t worry about this divorcee in that regard because I’ll share the thing I know now that I didn’t believe a year ago: I am loved. And so are you.

Happy chocolate-fest, love-celebrating Valentine’s Day!

Stacy Voss

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