Divorce with kids….

Please note before you read this that I am not speaking about those who are truly being mistreated by another, those truly hurting for their children through their divorce. This is written for those who are allowing the hurt from their spouse cloud their judgment as parents.

Recently I have been noticing a handful of people going through what I am currently going through with my husband’s ex, and what I went through with my divorce. What I am writing about is fighting dirty with their ex and involving the kids. Many claim it’s for the kids. If we are to be completely honest it’s not about the kids, it’s about hurting the other one and getting revenge. I understand that hurt and the pain that you secretly suffer when a marriage falls apart. I understand the guilt that you cover with rage, and spiteful vengeance. This is why I believe God has laid this on my heart these last few weeks, and having it all come together today, October 29, 2010, one year after I finalized my divorce. I’ve chosen to focus on what destroyed my marriage, and the battle my husband has with the mother of his boys; money!

Matt and I were together 13 years and have two children. We spent the last 4 years of our marriage separated, and the last year I spent barely getting any child support. His company had shut down and this left him without a job. Right before we finalized the papers I had gone months without anything. I went from getting $800 a month to nothing. I survived by the grace of God, Chadd & payday loans. When it was time to go to court everyone was telling me how I have to “fight for my kids”, and “get what I deserve” that “I’ve got to do what’s right for me”. Today I write these words seeing clearly how although the ones that encouraged these things were not hurtful people, they just hurt for me, they wanted me to be taken care of. But these words are not the words that Jesus would’ve spoken to me. These are the words of Satan. “Fight, deserve, right for me”

I didn’t grow up with money, and wanted it so desperately for my kids, as did Matt. He too wanted to give his kids the life he always wanted as a child. He wanted to grow old with his kids and buy them 4 wheelers, take them riding, and love his baby girl so much that she would never allow a man that did not love her as a princess come into her life. We shared the same dreams for our family, and when we received our first daughter from the Lord she was blessed with two loving parents that devoted their lives to her. She never went without, and our weekends were spent out together as a family. Then things started to slow down and he made roughly $16,000 less that year. We agreed that during slow season I would go back to dancing since winter was our season. You see WE gave into that because we would do anything to keep our kids from going without like we did. The year after that he lost another $18,000 (on top of the $16k) again winter came and I went back. This continued throughout our entire marriage.

These weren’t the plans we agreed upon before we were married. The plan was I would dance full time while he went to school, when he graduated I would be done for good, and be a stay at home mom. When we first got married he was only making $18,000 a year. After Kayla turned one he was making over $50k – we were on cloud nine as you can imagine, increasing that much in a year. Today I can see where God was testing our commitment to our marriage. Was it really for richer or poorer, did I really mean for better or worse? We gave in to money. We agreed that me using my body, degrading my own self-esteem, and killing his trust in me was worth the money we would gain. Satan won in our marriage, but God won in our lives.

The one thing we still agreed upon was that we loved our children and giving them the life we never had was still most important. I fell in love with this man, chose to have his children, and build a future with him. He is the father of my children and I am the mother of his. He has given me 2 gifts that no one else ever has; 2 gifts that continually bless my life every single day. I still after almost 10 years of being a mother sometimes look at amazement that I was given so much through these two kids. When he first left I was completely lost and scared. The one thing I held onto to pull me through the pain was the fear of messing up their lives, especially my daughters’. The never ending gut wrenching fear I lived with was my daughter going through life with this emptiness inside of her, and so desperate to fill it she used sex, her looks, drugs, and alcohol to try and fill it. I was so afraid she would live a life exactly like me. At the time I knew the only way I could keep that from happening was to make sure her dad remain in her life. That I kept the men I dated away until he was the one I could answer yes to when I asked “would I want my daughter to marry a guy like this?” I had to do whatever I could do to give her the life I never had.

This time there was something different in the mix of this determination. I had begun going to church, I started to pray, and He started to change my heart. I voluntarily lowered Matt’s child support when winter came. Not because I had to, but because I knew it would allow him not to be bitter towards me, which would help him to want to come around to see the kids. Matt didn’t see the nice things I would do and continued to be hurtful and ungrateful. I didn’t always reply so kindly, but I didn’t use money to hurt him. Money was a weapon used to destroy our marriage; I would not allow Satan to use it to destroy the lives of my kids as well. I held onto the truth that we shared, the love that we shared, and the promise we made to our children. This is why I am writing this today. God granted me forgiveness already for my actions in my divorce, yesterday he allowed me to forgive myself.

Yesterday after I dropped the kids off to Lindsey I had this wonderful feeling of love inside of me. I honestly love that he has her. She loves him in a way I couldn’t. She gives him what I never could, and he so desperately needed, which was trust. I do not go out of my way to cause problems between them, quite the opposite actually. I get so consumed with worry that she might leave him when we do fight that it allows me to drop it. You see because their happiness will only build up my children’s lives. If I destroy something that brings him happiness because I am so consumed with my own selfishness, I am only destroying another piece of my kids’ lives. Allowing Satan to win, he will never give up trying to defeat me, and I will have to endure the consequences of getting a divorce, but God will always protect me as long as I continue to love the way He commands me to do.

In September of last year I wrote this:

I know a lot of people say fight him on back child support, WHY? IF he had it and kept it from us then YES there would be no question about me fighting for what the kids deserve. But he doesn’t have it, I have gone this long without it; it isn’t worth years of anger and bitterness that will be taken out on the kids. Just so I don’t appear to be a complete fool. I will tell them that I haven’t received anything since July 5th, but as far as the rest it isn’t worth it to me. I know he doesn’t appreciate what I’ve done for him in the last 4 years, hell the past 13 years but that’s NOT why you do good things, you do them only bc you CAN! When you choose to love someone, you choose them as your family and your family aside from God is the most important thing in this world. You protect them even if you don’t think they deserve it, it’s not your choice to make if they deserve it or not. You do what you can, now I don’t mean to put them BEFORE yourself, you do what you can simply bc you can. That is what I am choosing to do. I ask that you continue to pray for me and the kids but I also ask that you pray for him.  

A year later I can tell you that was the best decision I ever made for my children. The relationship he built with them after our divorce has been the best it’s ever been. I fought for what was right for my kids, which was letting go of the money that I had already survived months without, asking only for our daily needs, and nothing more. So when you say I deserve this…or they deserve this…No they deserve to be able to love their parents equally without carrying the burden of hurting you.   

I’m not writing this to condemn anyone, although I know it seems as if I am. For this I am sorry. I wrote this to truly encourage all of you to look at what your children are hearing, and seeing. Try and step back for a moment and ask yourself is this the life you imagined for them? Will your actions cause them any unnecessary hurt now and in the future? Can you change how you behave when they are able to see or hear? Will you do whatever it takes to put their feelings before your own?

Something that I realized last November was the man I married was no longer there. If I had met Matt then, he and I wouldn’t even give each other the time of day. Realizing that allowed me freedom from my expectations of how he should behave. When he reacted opposite than I expected, I was no longer hurt by this because the man I married was no longer there. He was and is a stranger to me. I love the man he was (before the hurt began) and I will always love the life we had. I will never regret one moment (even the bad) I had with him. Every choice that we made led us both to the lives God intended for us with one another, but was unable to achieve through us, yet God still knew we deserved to be happy and loved the way He intended. You see Satan won by breaking up our marriage, but God will always win in the end to those who he has chosen.

Still to this day Matt can get pretty mean when money gets brought up, so I do my very best to keep it out of our relationship. I ask myself over and over “is it worth it?” Because I have been able to let go of the hurt he caused me I’m able to think of him the way I want my daughter to. Understand something, when you say “I’m doing this for my kids” I can assure you, your kids do not care about the things you care about. You are thinking through a broken heart, through anger, pride, pride, and pride. Your kids LOVE their mother, they LOVE their father…they do not care about what you think of the other. Stop involving your kids in your immature battles with one another. Stop allowing them to hear, read, or see on FB your personal battles. This kills a child to feel like they have to choose between parents.

I know that this will be read and many will think I am looking down on you or that I think I am better than you. Not for one second do I think I am better than you, I too have done what you are doing. I have recently done the things you have done with Chadd’s ex, and therefore could never look down on you. I am sharing my life with you; because I have been there, and I chose a different route and my kids thrive today because of it. I am living in the midst of what works and what doesn’t. I have 4 kids and they resemble the actions of their parents during a divorce. I am not speaking of something I know nothing about. I have and am currently living it! I have proof that it works!

What kind of memory are you wanting to leave with others?

7 Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9

This letter was written by the Apostle Paul to the Thessalonians. Imagine for a moment receiving a letter from your pastor, in this letter he tells you how you give him encouragement. How your walk has allowed him to get through all of the pain he is going through. That because you love the Lord, he really feels alive.

I don’t know about you, but I would have to check the address label over and over again to make sure he was writing the right person. There is no way that me, and my walk could encourage the pastor of my church. No way! However, when I read this I sat for a moment, and thought about all the women (& 2 men) God has allowed my life to be a testimony to His power. When I am going through a moment of darkness, and feel like such a horrible failure worthy of nothing, especially Gods love. I will see one of these people praising God on their Facebook status, and I feel so blessed that I am a part of that. That He found me worthy to be a part of their lives. When I see a widow of 3 praising God through financial burdens, my heart is overflowed with so much joy I begin to cry. Through this I am encouraged; through this I am able to remember his truth through the lies. His light breaks through the darkness that surrounds my heart, and He shows me that He knows the plans for my life; he has hope and a beautiful future. (Jeremiah 29:11) One that is so filled with pure tranquility that my mind cannot fathom just how remarkable life with Him truly is.

You see no matter who you are, if you believe that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, you are an encourager. Your life is a testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ, and Gods unwavering gift of Grace, and Forgiveness. When you say out loud that you are a Christian you now wear a badge of honor that never goes away. No matter how far you fall into the pit of darkness. He is still there with you, and He is patiently waiting for you to see His light and come back Home, where you belong.

11 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12

I had to read this over and over again until He showed me how this is not a contradiction. In verse 11 Paul says ‘to mind your own business and to work with your hands’ When we involve ourselves in others ‘business’ we take on a role that God never intended us to lead. We are there to encourage one another, not intercede for one another. Not ‘do’ the work for one another in their personal business. Over the years I fell victim to this trap over and over again. I have always fought for the underdog, and every time I have been the one to be burned. Today the Lord has shown me, with patience mind you, that my past of being ‘picked on’ wasn’t given to me so that I can defend those picked on. That life was given to me so that I can love the ones being picked on, as well as displaying a different way to behave to those causing the harm.

Scripture repeatedly tells us to ‘love one another’ even our ‘enemies’. Personally this is one of the hardest instructions for me to grasp. How can Jesus ask me to love those who are maliciously trying to destroy the ones I love? If he really knew just how horrible these people were, he would allow me to return the hurt. Do you believe that? I mean really when you read what I just wrote can you say to yourself ‘yes he would’ or are you like me and feel the Holy Spirit convicting you? My heart speaks through His Spirit and I hear Him saying…I forgave you for putting me to a treacherous death, I forgave you for all that you have done….I love them too. Just as I love you, no more, no less.

So instead of barging in on someone else’s business, look to Jesus, and choose to encourage the one being hurt, and pray for the one hurting them. Yes, PRAY for them! God can change anyone! Even them! He’s just waiting for someone to love them enough to lift them up, so that He may begin to intercede for them, and for us. Sometimes this is an instant thing, and sometimes it’s a life-long process, one that may never happen. We can only do so much for someone else; they have to accept the gift given to them. If you’ve never honestly loved and prayed for an enemy then this is something you may not believe. I am a firm believer that we have become a society that must experience something before we will trust it to be true. So I write this understanding it may fall on deaf ears. But, when you wholeheartedly love and pray for your enemy, not for selfish gain but for pure empathy for their salvation there is a whole different kind of love that comes over you.

Let me pause for a moment and focus on what I just wrote. Can you admit that you love your spouse different than you love your children? Although it is different, it is no less pure. I have four children all which are very different, and I love them so completely, yet so completely different. No less than the other, just different. This is what I mean when I say there is a different kind of love that comes over you when you wholeheartedly love and pray for your enemy. It’s not easy, and sometimes you need others not close to this other person to pray for and with you. One thing I must warn you about though is once you obtain this unselfish love for your enemies, they may still be horrible and you might have to start all over again. I did. I have to work at getting back this unselfish love every day. The evil one does not want me praying for this person. When I am defeated and allow his horrible traps to be set through this person, he not only has them, but he has caused me to forbid the Holy Spirit to be with me.

Go back and read the last sentence out loud. By allowing the evil ones traps to entangle me in sin, I have invited Satan into our home and kicked God out. God CANNOT be a part of sin. He is unable to dwell within us when we are filled with a little or a lot of sin. Imagine for a moment opening the door and you have to make a choice who you will allow to watch your children for the night; your pastor or a pedophile. Choice seems easy doesn’t it? Some will even say in their heads…”that’s a little extreme Crystal” Is it though? If you are the one that thought that, then maybe you should take a look at your child or if you have none, look at your niece or nephew and ask yourself “Who do I want them to see when they are with me?” “Who do I want them to think about when they remember me after I have passed on?”

Understand something; your life is not yours. I may have lost some of you there and that’s ok, I believe by the end of this God will have used my words to speak to you somehow, some way. You may not be a parent, but you know someone who is. You know someone who has a child, and God has placed you in that person’s life ‘FOR A REASON’ a reason larger than yourself, more important than your happiness, a reason that will last for eternity; a reason that will go on when you no longer do. How do you want to be remembered? Whose life are you willing to sacrifice for your own selfish desires? Who are you willing to allow the pedophile to watch over night?

Every day your life is being watched by someone, every day the way you talk, the way you react, and the life you live is an impact on those around you. In verse 12 Paul warns us of this,  so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders’.

The day you accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your savior you then became Gods child, if you have not accepted the Lord as your savior but want to please email me, let me pray for you. A life without Jesus is a life filled with darkness. You can have days that are filled with laughter, money, and happiness. It ends there though, what a life with Jesus offers compared to a life without Him isn’t easy, it isn’t a promise that dark days won’t come. It isn’t a promise that you will avoid tragedy or sickness, but it is a promise at life.

One that matters more than you could ever imagine, one that will last for eternity, one that makes a difference in the lives of others. One that is filled with true friends, true family, and true love. One that allows you to know when someone tells you that they are praying for you they really are, one that allows you to know a trust like never before. People are kind and loving to you because they really love you, not because you have something they want. This is a wall of lies that Jesus’ love has been slowly chipping away at over the last year of my life.

Some changes the Spirit of God makes in you can be instant, my drinking for instance; May 1, 2009 He washed my addiction away. He did this for me I believe because He knew I was unable to. That I loved Him and my children so deeply, but the addiction was too much for me. Since then I have fallen into darkness and being an ex-cutter, self-inflictor I tried to hurt myself by drinking. He sent my sister whom I love with agape love over to my home to simply hug me because He knew I needed to experience what He was trying so hard to do.  The second time He sent His Spirit to whisper in my ear ‘you are my child, and when you hurt yourself you hurt me’ I heard this and didn’t think of it as me personally hurting God, (however this is exactly what my pain was doing) but that my daily life could hurt who He is. Although drinking is not a sin, and I definitely was not drunk, I am an alcoholic and for me to be sitting in a restaurant having a drink all I could think about was, “what if someone sees me and thinks God is a lie”  Other changes are gradual, they are not forced by God they are patiently taught by others actions. What kind of memory are you wanting to leave with others?

He even planned that….

“Living by Faith not by sight” KP Yohannan (bold added by me)

 When I am faced with problems, disappointments, lack of resources or sickness, if I fix my eyes on the things that are visible, then all those difficulties discourage me and I get weighed down by the impossibilities. But when I turn my eyes to the invisible, fixing them on God, all those difficulties become instruments He uses to help me live by faith. By faith, those afflictions are used to change me on the inside so that I reflect His glory. These pains and hardships will lead to the benefits and rewards that He promised, if I would only trust Him in the situations of life. But if I do not keep my eyes focused beyond the problems, beyond the struggles and beyond the here and now and on God, then those promises will not come about, simply because I am not putting my faith to work.

I remember back to when I was 16 years old serving with Operation Mobilization. It was there that I first began to understand that every disagreement, every problem, every tension, every irritation happens in our lives because God has orchestrated it. He has designed it. God put us in that situation or with that person so that we would be changed into His image. You may say, “I don’t want this kind of problem.” But He has designed it just for you, to be an instrument to make you like Him.

Reading this two nights ago, after the most infuriating month, filled with bitterness, rage, anger, self-righteousness,  judgment, doubt and hoplessness. I was able to see why and how I got myself there. Bc I forgot all of the truth that I have in my head. I knew… these things, but I also knew all of those things I listed….and God will not force me to walk in His light. He does not change for me…He does not alter the Way of His word just bc I am a proclaimed Christian, and if I suffer others might doubt in His existence. He doesn’t NEED me, He WANTS me, He LOVES me, He KNOWS me, and knows that I would never want Him to change so that my time here on earth would be easier, I would never want Him to change even if I threaten Him to end it all bc it’s just too hard.

What a disgrace I bring to being a Christian….when I refuse to see how I allowed myself to get that moment of those feelings. I don’t bring disgrace to being a Christian bc I have those moments where my rage overtakes me, I don’t bring disgrace to being a Christian when I am so angry for being mistreated for no reason, I don’t bring disgrace to being a Christian when I am filled with dispair. I bring disgrace to being a Christian when I refuse to see that it is MY doing, that it is MY responsibility to repent of those feelings, that it is MY choice to dwell in misery OR bring honor to God. When I admit that I am a sinner in need of a Savior, that I do not do the things I want to do, and do the things I do not want to do, that I am unable to make it on my own in this body without sinning if He is not with me.

I uttered that same quote so many times this month “I don’t want this problem” even worse I said “I didn’t ask for this life, or this gift…I don’t want it…I’m not strong enough” What’s so sweet is even in my anger I didn’t lie to God. I didn’t ask to be born – He gave me life. I didn’t ask for the spiritual gift of prophecy – He gave it to me. I’m not strong enough to live without Him, I’m not strong enough to use His gifts without Him. You see He designed this life JUST for ME. Not you, not your mom, not your friend, JUST ME!

How beautiful is that? You are reading this right now bc God wanted your eyes to see into my heart, where He lives. He can live in yours too, all you have to do is ask Him to forgive your sins, Believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, he lived, died, and rose just so you can ask Him this very question, at this very moment. If you have not already accepted Our Fathers gift simply ask Him to help you repent of your ways, be baptized, to allow His Spirit to live within you….and one day you will be able to say these things to another…the one God created your life for. ♥