Stacy Voss

See life differently. Live courageously.

Tag: divorce (page 1 of 3)

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

Destroyed by another

DESTROYED BY OTHER'S ACTIONSThis house is personal to me, although I’ve never met the owners and haven’t been inside its walls.

There isn’t a need, for what I’ve seen on the outside is enough. This picture doesn’t do it justice, mainly because it took me nearly a year to capture it on pixels, a span of time that erased most of the damage.

Most, but not all.

Yes, this house shares my story in many ways.

From what I’ve heard, there was a car parked in its driveway that caught on fire. The flames quickly spread and before long, the house was burning, too. Fire trucks came. Water doused. Lives saved. And probably a lot of belongings lost.

Boards soon covered the windows, or should I say, the places windows once were. Dark lines painted the area where the smoke pushed off the roof and escaped. A roll-off sat parked in the driveway for many months. As I went past it on my runs, it looked like it’d been left to remain in its sad, unusable condition.

But then.

It took a long time, but I began to see it. The change, that is. The house hadn’t been abandoned, although it was uninhabitable. The things that were supposed to provide support weren’t as strong as they once were, but rather than destroying the entire house, they were reinforced.

This house is personal because a problem in something else tore it down. The homeowners couldn’t have known that having a friend park in their driveway would destroy what had once been their sanctuary. Without saying too much about my marriage that once was, I’ll simply say there was a diagnosis left untreated, and by refusing to care for it, flames erupted that spread to people beyond the one diagnosed. No, I’m not shirking my role in the demise or attempting to paint a black-and-white, all good or bad picture. I’m simply saying God used that house to set me free, releasing me from the guilt, the shame and the doubt that started to burn the foundation of my being.

He used it to remind me that sometimes we find ourselves in unfortunate positions and get caught in the crossfire, like those unfortunate victims that simply wanted to watch a movie, and yet never made it out of the theater because James Holmes opened fire.

But this house does more than just remind me: it encourages me. Perhaps that is why I couldn’t bring myself to snap a pic when it was in its sad state and only could once it looked more like, well, like a house, the thing it was designed to be.

This fire that spread into my life from someone else’s actions threatened to destroy everything, collapsing the foundation until all that remained was rubble. I haven’t been around this piece of internet real-estate because what I once held true was so scorched that I couldn’t believe it had a place anymore.

I didn’t lose faith in God, but I stopped believing that God could use me. I let myself believe that the smoke-streaked facade proved I was too inept, too broken to live what I was called to do.

As I write those words, I realize that believing God couldn’t use this mess is just the same as saying I lost faith in God, for how does one truly believe God can do anything, while simultaneously believing He can’t do anything? In fact, the irony is too much to ignore, for Jesus himself said,

This is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24, emphasis mine

Broken isn’t a foreign place to God; it’s the very place He can do some of His most powerful work.

What about you? Are you broken? If so, do you think that disqualifies you? Are you willing to risk the faith with me to believe that belief in Him somehow also means belief in you, that He who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, think or imagine could actually do some of that immeasurably more stuff in these shattered messes?

 

Linking in with:

Ember Grey
Missional Women

Live Fully, Freely, Extravagantly

“Your hatred of her is unjustified,” the teacher said as a man ranted about his ex-wife.

“What do you mean unjustified?” he spit out. “You have no idea how she treated me, the things she’s said to me, or the #$#@$@# things she continues to do. It’s my God-given right to hate her.”

I’m taking a class for couples who are divorcing or are recently divorced that have too much conflict. Actually, let me restate that: the judge ordered that we take it. It’s like a finishing school of sorts for something that is, well, finished, or at least theoretically should be.

The class is divided in 2 sessions: one partner comes to the earlier class and the other comes to the later one. Mr. It’s My Right to Hate Her was in the later class with me and assumed the teacher was making comments based on something his ex had said in his absence.

“My comment has nothing to do with her,” the teacher responded in his calm and gentle tone. “She hasn’t said anything that makes me say it. I simply want you to know that your hatred of her will be your undoing.”

They’re strong words.

They’re also accurate. Trust me, I know.

I once believed that if I didn’t fight for certain causes, it meant I was a pushover and was somehow giving my approval to things that should’t ever have a seal of okay-ness on them. If someone pushed me on it, I would have justified my stance, probably even defined it as a righteous indignation. There are definite times for anger and indignation, but this was something different: it became a pattern of combativeness, of trying to determine who was right and who was wrong, or more aptly, of trying to prove my worth over someone else’s while recruiting others into my ring of dislike for the other party.

That other party died recently. I’m not saying the fight ended. I am talking funeral service and all that jazz. I won’t–can’t–go into it, other than to say something in me did, too.

If I had known their days were more limited than expected, would I have done things differently? I sure hope so. No, wait. Strike that and make it a resounding yes, one that echoes deep within and bubbles out, even to the point of verbalizing it to Mr. Its My Right.

“Yes, you absolutely have every right to hate her,” I softly said to him. “No judge or anyone else is ever going to mandate that you abandon your views of her. But even though you have that right, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth it. The hatred comes at a high cost. There is so much that is valuable around you, especially your kids, yet you’re losing out on it as you’re consumed in this war against her. When does it end and when do you get to be you and have the freedom to live?”

live fully

Image courtesy of and altered from Flickr: Ben Salter

My words weren’t intended to be a I’m better-than thing, but rather of one who has been there for much too long and can look back and see the price. It comes with a ticket I refuse to pay anymore: bondage, depression, grief, and perhaps worst of all, giving someone else the right to determine if I was happy, upset, or somewhere in between.

This life is too great to chance it away like that.

This life is too great to hate it away like that.

Today, I’m on a different mission. It’s one I eagerly recruit people into the ring with me to fight for it and embrace it dearly. It’s called life. I want to live, not as a result of what others say and think, but to live, fully, extravagantly, truly.

Come join me in the ring.

signature

Older posts

© 2017 Stacy Voss