People often ask me how I ended up in sunny California. More often than not, it’s because I’ve complained about the state, and they’re not really sure why I live here voluntarily! Don’t get me wrong. There are worse places to live, and I have to give it to this beautiful state; the weather is an 8 out of 10. I do NOT miss the blizzards and -7° of Wyoming. I moved here, however, for a far better reason than the weather.
Nine years ago, I signed my second set of divorce papers from Chris, my second husband. My daughter, McKenna, was going through the motions of another divorce at the age of 10, and Peyton, my youngest at 5, was experiencing for the first time not living with her dad every day. It was a difficult period in which neither of us were willing to give in to the work that a marriage required. And with the baggage from my first divorce still not unpacked, I simply chose to add another suitcase to the pile and walk away.
It’s not something I’m proud of. At the time, I felt I was justified in leaving. Believe me, it felt easier. But what’s easier isn’t always right.
For the next seven years, I went on with life. Chris moved away, but we learned to co-parent Peyton well. He became much more involved in her world, and somehow, we were able to put aside our anger and resentment towards each other for the sake of everyone involved.
During those seven years, I taught a DivorceCare® class at my church in Wyoming. Every time I taught session 12, Reconciliation, I always felt the Holy Spirit nudge me. I would tune him out because I was in a relationship and wasn’t interested in hearing what He had to say to me on the topic. If my heart started to soften, I would remind myself how terrible our marriage had been so as not to fall into that trap ever again.
But He is never done nudging you until He’s finally gotten your attention. The Holy Spirit just kept poking me regarding the thought of reconciliation, until finally I couldn’t take it anymore. The conversation with God following my irritation at the topic not going away went something like this.
“God, I don’t WANT to reconcile. Not interested, for the billionth time. I’m not broaching the topic. I don’t want to bring it up. I.DO.NOT.WANT.TO.GO.DOWN.THAT.RABBIT.HOLE.AGAIN. So, God, if you want it to happen, YOU make it happen. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Very holy and reverent of me, right?!
Two years ago, I offered to pick Chris up at the airport in Denver when he flew in from California to see Peyton perform in a concert, and on that ride back into Cheyenne he asked me if I’d ever thought of getting back together. I know….I’ve known Jesus for a long time and even I was stunned!
Several months later, after many discussions and prayer, my little family packed our belongings and moved from Wyoming to California so that we could be closer to Chris as he and I pursued reconciliation.
It’s not easy. Reconciliation is no joke. It takes work and effort. Chris and I are both set in our ways. I had seven years to be a single parent and learn to make decisions while running a household on my own. Chris had the same learning curve. We have many of the same habits and inclinations that we had before. We’re just older and more stubborn.
We also still have different lifestyles. When I met and married Chris, he was not a follower of Jesus. He still isn’t. I know it can be difficult to understand why I’m choosing to work on reconciliation with my ex-husband who doesn’t believe in Jesus. But to me, the answer is simple. God told me to. He is in the business of healing, and He’s in the business of saving. God is healing a disastrous relationship that I was convinced had no hope of being healed. And while, as believers, we shouldn’t be unequally yoked (2 Corinthians 6:14), I know that God is requiring me to restore my marriage because I made the covenant before God nine years ago to love, honor and cherish Chris.
I try and weave this verse into my daily walk of restoration with Chris every day:
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” –James 1:22 (NIV)
Today, Jesus works daily in my life to ensure I’m walking in the right steps to have a complete and whole reconciliation, one that is God-given. I trust that full restoration will be had through His faithfulness to me because of my faithfulness to Him. And it’s a beautiful thing.