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Somewhere in my life I came to the conclusions that words have little to no meaning. I did not value promises or verbal commitments. I learned to question everything I heard. Even words written on a paper, especially those written for the purpose of binding a contract held little weight. As a result, I became a man of few words. I took the stance that my actions would say everything that I needed to communicate.
My position on the value of words begin to soften throughout the years; primarily, as a result of many trouble relationships. The differing communication styles, me choosing to lead by example and those I engaged needing to express themselves verbally caused great conflict. I begin to work towards being more communicative.
In my marriage, I had achieved a level of expression that made me uncomfortable. There were moments when I dominated conversations, and even became argumentative. This level of verbal engagement was a sharp turn from previous forms of expression. It was likely too much as I did not realize how much was pent up in my soul. Saying too much can be just as dangerous as saying too little.
However, two of the most powerful words known to anyone were still very difficult for me to use. Promise and apologize. Offering a promise presented a challenge. It was a personal offense when someone used this word, which signified the highest level of commitment, then brushed aside the necessary follow through with no regard. I was committed to not being that guy. I would not use this word unless I was absolutely sure that I was willing to give all of me towards achieving the commitment. In the event that I failed, the evidence would be clear that everything within my resources would have been expelled before I stopped trying.
The latter, apologize, is just a cleaver way of saying, “I’m sorry.” I forced “sorry” from my vocabulary long ago as I did not want to be associated with anything that was sorry, weak, insufficient, compromised, or lacking. Sorry was impossible for me to articulate, and an apology was not much easier to share. For me, it meant that either the act that would beg an apology had some intentionality or that the person apologizing could have altered the outcome. Both should be rare situations, so an apologize should seldom be rendered, in my opinion. This stance made me appear cold and callus.
On the morning of this recording, several months ago, I was feeling extremely apologetic. There was a flood of emotions as I could visually see all of the people that I needed to apologize to. Our marriage was over and I knew clearly the part that I played in the demise. There were people equally committed to our success and others dependent upon our success that would be affected by the outcome. Although I am much better at communicating, as I have a new appreciation for the value of words, I still find it difficult to apologize. Yet to all those I have hurt as a result of my decision to divorce my spouse, to them and to her, I Need to Apologize
Considering divorce as an option is a strong indication that a marriage is in great jeopardy. I know that some people enter marriages with this possibility as an escape route. Unfortunately, I have coached couples where this outcome was discussed or used as a threat so often that it was almost normalized. I would hope that both previous scenarios are not the norm, as they were certainly not the case for our marriage.
We both agreed this would be our last marriage. Both of us were previously divorced from our college sweethearts. We had suffered the consequences of marrying before we were ready and to people we knew were wrong for us. This time would be different. We were adults and expereinced in relationships, and we knew what we wanted out of life and marriage. These are the narratives we used to convince ourselves that this would be, not our first, but our last and best love.
I was the one that introduced the possibility of divorce. Not before I had tried other remedies. Some were healthy, like prayer, individual coaching and suggesting couples therapy. I say suggested, because we did not see a counselor until after I was prepared to file for a divorce. Shamefully, I also made some poor choices like seeking support and affection from people outside of our marriage. It is hard for any couple or any party in a marriage to exhaust all resources available to them, but you can feel that way after an extended period. I had reached what I thought were my limits when I decided to file for the divorce.
It took another year before I would decide to file for divorce, and a half year after that before I actually submitted the paper work. During these periods the journal entries helped me to confront feelings and thoughts that I wanted to ignore. Reviewing the recordings sends me to an emotional place, even now, months after the marriage has ended. The point of sharing these entries is to show some of what I experienced while making the decision. In addition, hopefully, the conversations I had with myself will help someone facing a similar decision cope with the weight of the burden.
The end of my journey has already been revealed. We have a new and interesting friendship for the sake of our children, the ministries we share, and because we still like more than a few things about each other. A judge’s signature cannot unravel years of building a marriage. But, the fact remains that we are divorced. This does not have to be anyone else’s reality. If it helps, place your feet in the path that I left and see if you can make a different and better decision. Divorce Journal – The Opening
When you choose to serve others, especially under the titled ‘Coached 2 Love,’ then transparency is a must. Love has multiple faces. Likewise, the relationships that are inspired by the pursuit of love has many outcomes. One of the most dreadful is divorce.
No one gets married with divorce in mind as the desired outcome. At least none who take the vows of marriage sacred. The parties invested in the success of the marriage extend beyond the persons taking the vows or the attendants that stand with them. Usually there is a community of supporters, including family, friends, fraternity and sorority siblings, classmates, neighbors, and co-workers. The outcome of the marriage has an impact on all of those who poured in their feelings, time, and prayers. So, when a marriage ends it has an impact on the entire community.
If a marriage brings a community together to celebrate, then it stands to reason that a divorce should also bring one together to mourn. Unfortunately, the painful process of separation and divorce drives the partners into seclusion or excessive behaviors that make them hard to approach. And no one has the right to judge how someone processes the sting of divorce. And, no one has the right to deny the congregation of believers their opportunities to heal too.
I recorded a number of videos, journal entries, in an effort to both process the decision to divorce my spouse and begin the long journey towards healing. The idea was not my own, but that of a relationship consultant that happened to sit next to me at a networking function. Coincidence or not, she challenged me to combine the goal of leading others in conversation about love while sharing my own challenges to obtain the heart’s desire.
And I was immediately afraid. I was afraid of hurting the woman that I had spent seven years with. I was afraid of hurting her daughters who I call my own, or my sons, which had already seen their father loose at love. Our families, friends, fraternal and sorority siblings, and so many others were of concern. Yet, fear has never had the final say over my actions and this challenge would not be any different.
Recording the journal entries were at times cathartic. It is my hope that in sharing these journal entries others will find meaning or understanding for their own relationships. It is too late for there to be a different outcome in my marriage. Perhaps, someone will find the strength they need to fight for their marriage, so that it will not end in divorce. It may simply provide clarity for the community that stood with us through our courting period and on our wedding day. I trust that in sharing these videos others will benefit through the outpouring of my emotions.
I decided to start with one of the final videos that was recorded. This entry was completed shortly after a judge granted the petition for divorce. The range of emotions that I was experiencing should be evident as I struggled with finding words to describe the experience and what I hoped to come next. Clarity was not the goal, it was only authenticity. Truth is that divorce has never been that clear to me and there is great ambiguity with starting a new chapter.Divorce Journal – Starting Our New Chapter
“I don’t want you money or your honey,” is the proclamation that one of my favorite pastors says to members and visitors during the altar call. The point he is making is that men can feel safe with their families, specifically wives and daughters, and any financial contributions made to the church that is under this pastor’s leadership. But, why is such a proclamation even necessary in the church. The answer lies in another popular phrase that I first heard from a pulpit, “hurt people, hurt people.” I would say some of the deepest hurt that people carry, than recycle occurs in the church.
Let’s agree so the sake of avoiding a lengthy discussion that pastors and church leaders are more than capable of hurting people. We should also agree that their positions of authority carry a tremendous responsibility for branding or representing what the church should or should not be. Forget about, as we often do that the ‘church’ (lower case “c”) is really the body or entire congregation, and not the physical structure or the leadership. I mean the body of Jesus Christ is the church. Therefore, hurt in our churches can and will come from pastors and leaders, but will also come from the body as a whole.
How do we forgive an entire church, denomination, religious or doctrinal structure? How do we over look perversion or intentional misuse of power from the leadership? How do we get past the imbedded hierarchy that contradicts almost every principle that Jesus Christ taught? How do we over look denial or rejection or abandonment from a church that we have supported with tithes and offerings of all our talents? We begin the process through modeling the nails of grace and mercy and love that bound our pre-risen Savior to a cross.
Forgiveness is a serious matter. And for some of us, we have accrued large debts against the church, which come from all sorts of disappointment. However, now is the time of perpetual jubilee, where all debts are forgiven and all captives are set-free. After all, Jesus Christ paid our debts on the cross, so how can we now hold anyone else hostage for the debts they owe us? We must not be the lender that becomes slave to the debtor through holding grudges. We have the opportunity to for-give grace, mercy, and love. In the process, we can restore the church to a place where a family’s money and honey is never in question.
We look forward to continuing the conversation with you Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 7pm CST on Coached 2 Love Radio – 347-237-4648.