Dividing things up during a divorce process is painful. Of course, the first is the kids. Nothing was scarier than the day I heard, “I want the kids to come live with me.” Oh really? I said, “Do you honestly think that’s best for the kids?” “Yes, absolutely!” I was stunned. “I don’t believe you. I don’t think that even you believe it’s best for these kids to leave Tulsa, their school, Redeemer….” Not a happy conversation. In the end, senses were regained (or overpowered?). We kinda, sorta agreed to a plan. ish. Unbelievable. Unbelievably painful consequences to really, really tragic decisions. Those were the days in which I often said, “I’m living in the twilight zone and it’s getting comfortable in here.” I didn’t think it would ever get better. My friends said it would. I didn’t believe them.
But I’m not just talking about the kids. There was the stuff. Stuff isn’t that important to me. OK, clarifying… my camera, my family’s 100 year old Victrola, my grandmother’s doughnut cutter – these are important. But I can let go of the everyday stuff.
Anyway we had to decide who would get custody of the stuff. Much to the kids’ chagrin, I insisted he take the camping/kayaking stuff out of my sight. I think my exact angry-moment words were, “I wouldn’t be caught dead in, on, around, or under this [stuff].” (I may or may not have used more colorful, descriptive language at that moment.) Oh, that’s a whole ‘nother long story. I kept the furniture except a table and our bed – the bed I helped design and he built. I just didn’t want it any more.
I miss some things that he got, though. The tools. I want to know that there’s a jig saw and a mitre saw in the garage in case I need them. Which, honestly, I probably never will NEED need, but I could’ve used already. And I miss the books. This is messed up, I know, because I don’t even read much. I have a huge stack of unread books my friends have recommended. But, having a library of seminary and theology books is just comforting to me. I don’t really know why. It was very sad to pack them up and watch him haul them away. Well, not all of them. I snagged de Graff’s Promise and Deliverance volumes. Don’t tell on me.
At one point, a friend said, “Well, at least you got custody of the friends.” I guess I did, mostly. There are a few who could never understand why I would be the one to file for divorce after he had changed his mind. But, changing one’s mind and repentance are two entirely different things. More on that another day maybe.
The morning that he walked out the door, I stood at the end of the bed and he stood in the doorway and said, “I don’t want to take anything away from you and the kids.” I think he was talking about the stuff, but my head was swimming. I wanted to run. I wanted to scream. I wanted to vomit and he was talking about the stuff. Our life was apparently over and he’s thinking about the dining room table? I didn’t care about any of it. Whether he wanted to or not, he took plenty. What he took away was our life -- birthdays, graduations, weddings, Christmases, camping, the beach. None of it would ever be the same or normal. This didn’t seem to matter in that most insane moment of decision. But we feel it now.
There is an abiding truth in all of this: It doesn’t matter at all who gets custody of the stuff.
What matters is this: who gets custody of me? Will Jesus have custody of my heart? We have been through so much. Do you know how easy it would be to stop caring about the gospel, grace or Jesus himself in favor of letting my heart be consumed with bitterness and anger. Anger is power. It’s easier to be angry than to experience deep hurt. Hurt is vulnerable and painful.
From the early days until now, by the grace of almighty God, I chose to hurt. I must do this. Yes, I’ve been angry. I’ve been snide and sarcastic. These are things to repent of. If I had consistently chosen the bitter angry route, I would never have been able to stand at the communion table while my dear, repentant friend came back to the table months after offending me so deeply. I would never been able to say, “I forgive you” to her and the man who took so much from me. I said it, and I meant it. It was a miracle. It was a miracle of grace working itself out in my heart – the heart that Jesus is holding gently in his hand.