The doctor frowned and said, “No man is worth this. You’ve got to let him go and move on.”

My friend “Ashley” just stared at him, thinking, But, how?

She weighed 95 pounds.
She couldn’t eat or sleep.
She was emaciated body, mind and soul.

That was 24 years ago. To see her smiling face now, you would never know it. She is healed. Whole.

And here’s what really blows my mind: she’s become friends with her former husband—and the woman who took him away.

Recently, I sat down with Ashley to talk about how she moved on after her divorce. Although I’ve known her for years, I never dared to ask her about it. But I’m so glad I did—what she said was priceless:

“Even though my husband was having an affair, I acted as if everything was fine. I didn’t want it to be real, so I pretended it wasn’t. In my mind, divorce wasn’t an option. I kept thinking, God will fix this. I will fix it. It’s not happening.

But it did.

When my husband left me for another woman, it tore our family apart. No more family vacations. No more Mom, Dad and the kids, living life together. My ex-husband and his girlfriend married shortly after our divorce was final. Although they were absolutely wonderful to our kids, it was horrific for me.

My parents were married for 70 years, so I assumed I would be, too. And when I wasn’t—it almost killed me.

What I Wish I’d Known
The Lord helped me through it, but it was a long journey. Way too long. And if I could go back to that painful time and talk to myself, here’s what I would say:

Turn to Jesus. Unfortunately, it took my life falling apart for me to turn to the Lord. Although I was a Christian, I was distant from Christ. But finally in desperation, I ran toward Him headlong, going to church and studying the Bible like never before. As I learned to seek after the Lord, I began to find Him everywhere. And slowly, He led me out of a very dark place.

Don’t deny it. When my sister told me about my husband’s affair, I didn’t believe her. I refused to talk about it and pretended everything was fine for almost a year. But kicking the emotional “can” down the road only caused me more pain and kept me from moving on.

Reach out to friends, sooner. The Lord sent a group of Godly friends to my rescue, but for a while, I kept my distance. Somehow, they loved me through it, inviting me to church and taking me with them to Sunday school. Now it’s clear that God placed those loving friends in my life for a purpose. It took me way too long, but finally, I opened up to them.

Don’t talk bad about your spouse. I used to pray, “Lord don’t let me say one word against my children’s father. If I start, I won’t be able to stop.” I loved my kids too much to talk him down and load them up with baggage. When you’re in pain, it’s so tempting to lash out. I guess that’s the one thing I did right from the start.

Be kind to yourself. I put the kids first—maybe too much—but I didn’t take care of myself. I buried my needs and feelings. I beat myself up. I didn’t eat. I didn’t exercise. And I looked pretty awful. When you’re severely hurt, you must treat yourself with grace and kindness.

Accept it—some things just can’t be fixed. I punished myself for not being able to fix my marriage. That was so unfair. My husband moved on, but I couldn’t. When I finally surrendered to reality, instead of fighting it, I felt such peace. There’s a time to hold on, but there’s also a time to let go.

Give it time. God’s beautiful plan for my life was really ugly in the short-term. But if He had given me a quick-fix, my faith wouldn’t have grown. Even though His work is slow, He does work. I am who I am in Christ because of an ugly divorce—nothing is more beautiful than that.

Communicate. For years, I didn’t talk through the divorce and what happened to our family with my kids. I left so many words unspoken—so many things bottled up inside. Failing to talk about it made healing much harder for them and for me.

Refuse to think of yourself as a victim. For a long time, I let my failed marriage define me. I used to think toxic thoughts like, I’m broken. I’ll never heal. I’m a failure. But that’s not what God says. He calls me redeemed, restored and free. He calls me victorious. I’ve chosen to believe Him. This means I no longer consider myself a victim of divorce or anything else; I am a privileged child of God.

The Best & Rest of My Story
In one miraculous night, God changed everything.

My son was hospitalized and I knew I couldn’t handle it alone. I felt God say, Go make it right. By Saturday (since I tend to drag my feet, He even gave me a deadline).

So, I sat down with my ex-husband and his wife and said what I never thought I could say:

“Thank you both for being so good to the kids for all of these years. You’ve loved them well. I’m sorry for holding hard feelings toward you. I want to move on. It’s time for us to come together.”

They were shocked. And although they didn’t apologize, I knew they were sorry.

It was a new beginning. And from that night on, it’s been amazing—almost like it didn’t happen. I felt such relief. Making peace not only helped me, it also helped my children, immensely. Finally, after 17 years of bottling it up, we began to talk about it openly. The Lord literally unlocked the chains and set us free.

Soon, I started visiting the hospital with my ex-husband and his wife. After my son got better, we made several road trips together to visit him at college. Now, we even celebrate the holidays together as one very unusual family.

I could have never gotten here without God. Never. He is the God of moving on. And without Him, you can easily get marooned in the past.

Finally, I let the Lord lead me out. I wish I had done that, earlier. I regret it took me so many years.

If you are dealing with divorce (or something painful), remember that God can redeem your story, too—it may not be perfect, it may not be pretty, but when you surrender to His leading, He can help you move on. The very thing that you think will ruin your life forever, He can use for good.”

 

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