A divorce is much like a ten-car pile up. It affects not just two vehicles but a whole slew of perimeter vehicles that get caught in the chaos. Not even innocent bystanders come out unscathed.
So you might feel totaled, like a pile of scrap metal. Take heart; you’re not beyond some bodywork and a little loving care. In the right hands you could come out in better shape than before the crash.
Usually, the first thing you see when you climb out of the car is the damage. You know you’re okay, but as steam pours from your radiator you hear a ka-ching in your head as you survey the needed repairs. With a divorce, it’s a sinking feeling we call dread.
Much like being in a car wreck, during the months following my divorce I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. An overwhelming sense of hopelessness chewed on the back of my mind.
I didn’t know it at the time but the reason I felt this way was that I had put my confidence in what I had acquired, not who I was in Christ. I thought my identity was in the things I had attained, and they were slipping away from me—my wife, my kids, my house, my cars—all of it.
Looking at my life as if it were a listing on the Kelley Blue Book website was a mistake. When I entered all my features into the fields and clicked on the “appraisal” button, I didn’t like the amount it calculated. My self-worth was way below the world’s market price. This stung.
As I embraced the world’s mentality, my actions followed suit. Desperate, I attempted to prove to the universe that I was an excellent father, a great employee, and a successful and desirable man. But it was all in vain because I really didn’t believe it. After all, how could I argue with the calculations from the internal appraisal I kept pondering?
In my feeble attempts to appear respectable, the opposite began to happen. I needed to pay the mortgage on the house my wife was living in while paying rent on my own apartment. As a result, I lost my car to the repo man, got fired from my job, and had to move to a seedy part of town in order to afford the rent. Worst of all, the kids didn't enjoy living with me during this season.
My transmission was slowly slipping as I went down the road to becoming one of those clueless fathers you often see in films. I could feel failure encroaching upon my dignity like an infection. Obviously, I lacked understanding for why I’m placed on this earth. In all my years of living for the Lord I somehow missed that it was about Him and not my own happiness or success.
It was in the midst of this when I called out to the Lord for help. I was tired of my journey. All my life had been an uphill climb to accomplish little more than a few trophies that had been wiped out. Life was vanity, nothing but striving for petty ghost treasures.
I saw how chaotic my life was because I had placed idols on the throne of my heart rather than allowing God to sit there. Idols like having a wife and kids, a house with a picket fence, the American dream. Those were my idols.
I repented, asking Christ to take His rightful place on that throne. Then I prayed for the Holy Spirit to rearrange my priorities, placing them under the control of the Father instead of me. The late Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, calls this “spiritual breathing.” Rightly so, because when I exhaled my sin and inhaled the Spirit of God, I could suddenly breathe a lot easier.
As followers of Jesus, as children of God, we don’t need to calculate our worth by the world’s standards. When we understand our significance and security come from who we are in Christ, it defeats thoughts of failure. Why should we fear trials and tribulations when He has not given us a fearful disposition (2 Tim. 1:7)? These trials are perfecting us into mighty men of valor. His heart is toward us with loving kindness and compassion (Lam. 3:21-23). So should we feel alone, confused, or even cursed? If we do, He wants to whisper in your ear, “I love you. I revel over you, favored one.”
Take heart friend, He likes us—a lot!
What are your idols?