Creating filtered version of banner image.

Blog

LIE #5: Divorced = Disqualified

So I know you were wondering in that last chapter, "What were you doing living in Brazil? You skated right over that detail…."

 

Well, it all started when a half dozen or so of my worship songs got translated into Portuguese and then got recorded on an album by Vineyard Music Brazil somewhere back in 2010 or 2011, I think. They then invited me to go on a short-term trip to lead worship (in Portuguese!) for national pastors & leaders conferences there (2 years in a row), and I made a bunch of new friends, ate the most AMAZING food, and had the best time!

 

During the second trip, I was invited by one of the churches there to move to Brazil longer term to lead worship, teach guitar/piano/voice lessons, and train up worship teams in their region. I said yes and pretty much sold everything I owned before I left the States, because I wasn’t sure if I’d ever really come back. It was quite and adventure, indeed!

 

I suppose Brazil may have subconsciously been my "Why not?" reaction to a rough season of life (please tell me you've seen "We Bought a Zoo"...and if not, go watch it like NOW. My blog will still be here when you get back. Go. No, really…).

 

Or maybe it was kind of my own "Eat, Pray, Love" experience, so to speak….because I also ended up going on a month-long ministry trip to Italy, Germany, France, Monaco, & Switzerland with a gaggle of about a dozen Brazilians right before I moved to Brazil, which was a life-altering trip as well. One end of the dinner table would be speaking Italian and the other end would be speaking Portuguese, and I’d just be sitting there with the best smile, even if I could only gather like 8% of the convo happening (and YES, the spaghetti was AMAZING. Oh! And the gelato!!!).

 

I will always treasure my time oversees, and I absolutely adore the Brazilian people and culture. Backyard Brazilian BBQs, frozen açai, Guarana, pão de queijo, and Christmas day pool parties were the jam. To top it all off, God truly met me there in incredibly tangible ways. It’s like I got back to “me and Jesus” again and all was well with the world under those late night Brazilian skies.

 

I think my time in Europe and Brazil in 2013 was kind of part of my "recovery" from 2 super traumatic events in my life. At least that’s how I interpret it now. At the time I was just saying “yes” to an adventure with God when I felt I had nothing left to lose.

 

I will get to the second traumatic event very soon, but I think it's important to unpack the first traumatic event in detail, because it has definitely been the source of some major lies I have believed about myself for way too long.

 

I got married on September 4, 2004 to a handsome guy I’d gone to high school with. It was a beautiful ocean-front wedding in Anacortes, Washington. We were surrounded by a couple hundred of our closest friends and family that day, and it is still absolutely one of the best days of my life to date.

 

The irony is that in high school, he and I only had one class together that we can recall - journalism our sophomore year - and we weren’t really friends or anything. However, he had dated a friend of mine, and I had dated a friend of his, and we knew of one another. 

 

He was athletic, I was artistic. He was outgoing, I was shy. He said he basically remembers that I rarely spoke in class, but that I got good grades, was musically inclined, and was a good student. I remember that he ran cross-country, played baseball, was cute, cool, and popular, and  I honestly never imagined he’d give me the time of day. He moved away our junior year.

 

Fast forward like 7 years later, and we actually re-met online. Our first phone call, we basically shared the testimonies of what God had done in both our lives since high school. He was finishing his bachelors degree, was headed to seminary for a Masters of Divinity, and felt called to be a pastor. I never went to college, dove right into music, recording, and ministry at 18, and was a full-time worship leader on staff at a church at that time.

 

One thing led to another, and in the following months, God totally brought our paths together. After 2 years of dating, we got engaged and got married. 

 

He finished seminary and became a full-time pastor in 2007. I recorded a worship album with Nathan Nockels and started to tour full-time as an artist around the same time. My music career started to take off a bit in 2008 when Christianity Today named my album “Fearless Now” one of the “Top Worship Albums of 2008.” 

 

I knew our marriage had bumps like any marriage, but I absolutely loved him, and I believed we could weather any storm. And we did have them. Storms, I mean. Well, they felt a bit more like “strikes” against us, maybe…

 

Strike 1: Physical challenges. He needed a surgery our first year of marriage. I had to have a surgery a few years later. I had 2 herniated discs in my low back that left me unable to walk without a cane for a season (more on that later) and had to undergo spinal decompression treatments and physical therapy for over a year until I was able to walk normally again. So that led to a pile of medical bills. 

 

Strike 2: A move across the country. When we moved across from Mount Vernon, Washington to Atlanta, Georgia for him to finish up his degree at a particular school there that offered his program, that left our house sitting unsold and vacant in WA for 28 months. We finally gave in to a short-sale losing 20K+ of our investment. We also both really struggled with life and ministry in Atlanta; it was never the greatest fit for us (enter discouragement).

 

Strike 3: Debt & depression. Financial strain started to weigh on us. His $80K in student loans weighed in on top of that. He started fighting severe anxiety, depression, and insomnia. He started to see a counselor. The counselor wanted him to take meds. He refused. I was still certain he’d come through it alright and leaned into God.

 

In late summer 2009, I had just come home from a short 12-day tour. He was always super supportive of my music and ministry, and I felt so blessed to have a husband who encouraged me to do what I was made to do. 

 

However, when he picked me up from the airport, I just knew that something was terribly wrong. It was like the man I had married 5 years prior was no longer there. I kept trying to reach out and find him those next few days. I asked him if he wanted me to stop traveling. He said not at all - that he knew I was doing exactly what God wanted me to be doing. But I could tell that the depression had gotten the best of him. 

 

Finally, a few days after I got home, he told me he had been contemplating divorce. Divorce. The word side-swiped me in the gut, knocking the wind right out of me.

 

As I asked 10,000 questions and tried to understand, he was saying things like, “I feel like I have this sickness and that I’ll never be free of it until I’m free of you…” and things like, “I want to be a husband and father, but I don’t want to have kids with you. I feel like I need to get out sooner than later so that I still have time to have a family with someone else.” When I asked him if there was someone else, his response was, “No….but there’s the dream of someone else.”

 

Then the kicker was when he said, “I feel like you’ve racked up all this debt and that you can’t be trusted as a wife anymore. It’s as bad as committing adultery.” I was in total shock. I couldn't believe what was coming out of his mouth. I had worked full time through our entire marriage supporting him while he finished school. I had worked so hard, tried so hard, and I felt so betrayed, so hurt, and so confused. 

 

I begged him to see a marriage counselor with me. He reluctantly agreed.

 

We went to 8 sessions. He seemed to have a softening of heart about halfway through, and I thought perhaps we had gotten over the worst of it. But then one night he actually told me he’d had a dream, and he said in the dream he felt like God had told him to divorce me. I was dumbfounded. I eventually surrendered to the fact that there was nothing I could do to change his mind.  

 

As we return to the part of the story where he was packing his bag, he literally walked out the door that terrible Friday night in 2009 and never returned. I remember falling to my knees in utter disbelief in the front room of the house, watching as his tail-lights left our driveway for the very last time. Through tears and screams and gasping for air, I think I muttered something like, “What do I do now, God? I don’t know what to do….please tell me what to do...”

 

The day after he walked out, I moved in with my parents, canceled all my tour dates, and basically crumbled into a hundred million pieces. In one fell swoop I’d lost my husband, my home, my church, my job, my music career, my reputation, his side of the family, some of our friends, half my belongings…and to add insult to injury, even our two cats. My mom and dad helped me do the most basic of things that seemed totally overwhelming - doing my laundry, cooking meals for me - crying with me & praying over me all the while. I was a total wreck.

 

At that point, I honestly didn’t know if I’d ever do music again, lead worship again, or write songs again. It didn’t seem possible to ever recover. I felt so ashamed. So broken. So embarrassed. So hurt. So abandoned. So alone. So discouraged. So ruined. I felt like I was living someone else’s insanely awful nightmare and this couldn’t possibly be my life. Anybody else relate?!?

 

He had made me believe it was my fault our marriage failed and that I was the source of our problems. Don’t get me wrong,  I have no doubt I contributed - marriage is a two-way street - but I also had no doubt I was willing to do anything and everything to stay in it, work through it, and stay married at all costs. He chose to walk away, and I basically had to accept his choice. It nearly killed me. It was completely unbelievable that the man I married could just walk away from me like that. It made no sense.

 

You know that old book called "The Scarlet Letter" that you likely had to read in school at some point - about the woman who committed adultery and had to bear a scarlet "A" on her chest? Well...after my husband walked out on me (and our divorce was final 6 months later), I totally felt like I had a scarlet "D" carved on my forehead. To me, that D not only stood for “Divorced” but even more so, I believed:

 

Divorced = Disqualified

 

At the crux of it all, I felt my divorce basically disqualified me from ever doing ministry again. And that broke my heart completely. I felt like I had failed God & that my life was ruined.

 

I am so grateful for the friends and family who rallied around me at the time, and I had some fellow worship leaders from another church in Atlanta who reached out to me as well when they heard what had happened. I started hanging out there on Sundays, hiding in the shadows, and basically silently crying through the services. Sometimes people would come stand beside me and just stay quietly there with me until I was ready to talk and share my story. Precious friendships started forming, and pastors started speaking life back into my life. Healing began to happen.

 

I’ll never forget a chat I had with one the pastors there one day. He said to me, “You know, whenever you feel ready to lead worship again, there’s a place for you here.” I thanked him for his kind words & the invitation, but told him I was afraid I’d honestly just get up on stage to sing but would be a puddle of tears instead. His response was something like, “That’s okay. Cry then. There’s a whole church full of hurting people out there who need to see that we can worship in the midst of our brokenness right where we are, and that to God even our tears are worship. So whenever you’re ready…you just let us know.”

 

That short little convo and his precious words meant more to me than he’ll ever know…and it broke something loose in me. It wasn’t long at all until I was up on stage singing again.

 

It was Easter weekend 2010. Our divorce wasn't finalized yet, but the settlement over our belongings was, and Good Friday just happened to be the day that the judge had chosen for me to go move my belongings out of my old house. 

 

I will never forget how dark that day felt. This empty feeling hovered over me in blackness and regret. It felt so symbolic to me that it was happening on a day when we were remembering Jesus being crucified and the powerful declaration he made: it is finished.

 

Basically, the entire worship community from my new church showed up to help me move that Friday, and it was amazing. They busted a move and got me out of there in like 2 hours and into a new apartment - an apartment all of my own that was only possible because some of those dear new friends offered to pay my entire rent for like 6 months - making a whole new start possible for me when I broke as heck, in more ways than one. 

 

I spent all day Saturday home alone in my new place unpacking, trying to make sense of it all. I was reminded that day what the disciples must have felt like that day after Jesus died. I’m sure nothing made sense to them at all, either.

 

But Sunday came. I woke up in my new home, got dressed, went to church…and sang on the worship team that Easter morning. I truly felt like I experienced God’s resurrection power in my life that day. It was so powerful encountering God’s presence in worship in a whole new way, brokenness and all. The symbolism and timing of it all was such a gift, and I will never forget it. It was Easter brought to life. I experienced God’s redemptive power first-hand.

 

I think what I learned in the process was that the scars I have don’t disqualify me one iota in God's economy. I now think what I went through actually QUALIFIES me for ministry all the more. There is a whole world of hurting people out there, and I have seen that when I am vulnerable to bear my scars openly, unashamed in Jesus, others can find His healing as I am brave to share my story and simply worship Him in the midst of the storms. 

 

I just LOVE how Jesus takes our ashes and truly makes something beautiful out of them. He has done it for me, and He can and WILL do it for you.

 

Jesus = Redeemer.

 

I feel like my life verse is Romans 8:28:

 

“WE CAN BE SO SURE 

THAT EVERY DETAIL 

IN OUR LIVES 

OF LOVE FOR GOD 

WILL BE  W O V E N 

INTO SOMETHING GOOD.”

 

I'm telling you, God has absolutely woven SO many amazing things together in my life these last 8 years. One of those beautiful new things being a very special movement/event called WOVEN for Women that was birthed right out of my own story and journey. If you want to know more, you can read the story behind it here. We hope to have another gathering in 2018, so sign up for my email list and stay tuned for that!

 
Obviously I'm the queen of ten thousand rabbit trails, but back to the point here...


Ya'll...I am living proof that no matter what you have gone through in your life (or may be in the middle of right this very moment), nothing disqualifies you, nothing can thwart His plans and purposes for you, and nothing can separate you from the love of God. God won’t waste a single tear you’ve cried and won’t waste a single sleepless night. He can do the impossible, and he can turn what the enemy intended for harm into something truly good. If it’s not good right now…then it’s not the end! 

 

So hold on, friends! There’s a new “D” in town: DELIVERANCE

 

It’s coming. You can be sure of it. 

 

His love never fails, never gives up, & never runs out on us. Never never ever.

 

=======

 

If you want a practical way to declare this truth from God’s word over your life, download a new worship remix of “One Thing Remains” I recently helped create for Mountainbrook Kids Worship, and put it on repeat for a little while until you start to believe what you’re singing. Check it out here: mountainbrook.net/mbkidsworship

 

=======

Preface: No More Stalling: It's Time to Be Brave

Lie #1: Fat Girls Don't Deserve Love

Lie #2: It's All Your Fault

Lie # 3: You're Just too Much but Never Quite Enough

Lie #4: You Are Invisible 

Lie #5: Divorced = Disqualified

Lie #6: You Are Broken & Useless

 

 

Comments Section

Hey there !! i have to thank you for your honesty this story just touched my heart, I am a worship leader (sort of) since I am in a sabbatic time, well I just finished reading this and I am weeping, I am going thru a very devastating situation and it's that I am holding with all my streght to my girlfriend and the reason it's because even when she tells me that she loves me she just do not demonstrate it, that situation hurts my heart and I am not sure if I am just being so insecure and that is the reason I can't feel the love she has or if I do not really have her love, but well I only have a BIG question for you How do you do to realize or how can you overcome the reality that someone that you love with all your heart doesn't love you the same way? Thanks for sharing your story it was just so good to know that someone out there has experience something similar and is still alive and hanging on there !!! Thanks Aslim
 

Post a comment

  •  

Connect Online

Take a Listen

INSTAGRAM

Get the latest news and more