You Better Pray for Your Ex…Especially if You Have Kids
I remember proclaiming as a young child, and most of my teen years, that I would never ever go through a divorce. It was one of those things that I had a deep conviction about because I went through one as a child that contributed to many hurts and complexes. As soon as I became an adult…or so I thought at 18…I quickly married without understanding the lifelong commitment that I had made. The story that God wrote for me was the furthest that I could have imagined and it has taught me much about myself, my life and my relationship with Him.
Marrying young was not much of a shock to my family as I was always out to prove something or to prove someone wrong. I had this deep sense of rejection from the absence of my father and was determined that I would do far better as a spouse and parent than he ever did. Now, in my mid-thirties, I plead with my 18 year old to find out who she is before she commits her life to someone else. The wounds that I had as a child, coupled with the pride built over many years and marrying young, was a horrible concoction that I mixed for myself. I met someone right out of high school and we started a family after only dating a few months. This was the perfect opportunity for me to prove to everyone what I thought I had been created for: to be better than people who had hurt me. Having more wisdom now, I can say without any shame that I was completely clueless what it took to be a wife and mother and naive to think I would not hurt anyone or be hurt in the future.
I believe, like most parents, that I did the best that I possibly could have known how to do at that time in my life. I wish that I had had a mentor or someone take me under their wing to show me how to be a Proverbs 31 wife and mom right out of the gate; but I have learned that God usually has a plan that draws you closer to Him while you learn through a process. I spent about 8 years trying to keep up the appearance that we had the perfect little family with 3 perfect little children, but this all came crashing down on me when we divorced in 2010. Again, I did not understand the pain that would follow from this, but my pride convinced me that I would be fine as long as I provided for my kids and kept moving.
The best advice that I received during this painful time was from my step-dad and he told me to make sure that I took time to heal and really reflect on what had just happened. This event in my life certainly brought me down to a place that I was not prepared for spiritually or emotionally. I halfway took his advice and acknowledged the areas that I was hurt in, but never truly sought counseling for it. Dear friends, it does not have to be divorce or postpartum depression or even a major life event or character issue that pushes you to make the decision to seek help or growth. If you want to become your best self – always be open to the option of having someone walk alongside you to help you discover what areas in your life need work.
After acknowledging the areas I was hurt in, we began a long journey of trying to co-parent with me having primary custody. I never felt like I won anything with having this title as I always went back to the fact that I was so deeply hurt through my own parents’ divorce. My children’s father and I never had much of an issue changing up the visitation or holiday schedule as we always wanted them to at least have that memory of seeing us both on major holidays. After a few months of this, the children’s father had to move 6 hours away for work reasons and I felt God nudging me to start praying for him. This is NOT easy when you go through such a painful event and still have open wounds. However, I just know that God allowed me to see myself in their eyes every time they talked about how much they missed him. You see, divorce is NEVER God’s plan. He designed the family to stand in a way that glorifies Him. I am so thankful, though, that He designed a plan of redemption and restoration for being human and being so flawed.
After wrestling with my heart and mouth for a little while, I eventually made a point to start praying out loud for their dad at bed time when I tucked them in. I remember they were initially surprised, but it quickly became normal and they became very comfortable talking to me about their feelings about the divorce and how it hurt them. During this time, make no mistake, there were things still occurring that were frustrating or hard to maneuver through. However, I truly began to heal from some of the pain I had experienced by praying for someone else. It is amazing that God always knows how to take one action or heart decision and let it have a ripple effect throughout your life. The prayers were never extravagant and sometimes you just have to start small. I would pray for his safety and protection and that God would bless him. It eventually evolved into believing that he would hear God’s voice and have a heart for his children like God has for him.
Fast forward 7 years and imagine all of the life events that my 18, 14 and 12 year old experienced during those years that he was gone. Imagine the pain that they must have felt not having both of their parents by their side through school functions and school kids being mean and saying hurtful things about them not having both parents. Now imagine how God strengthened them and showed Himself faithful to their prayers. Their dad just moved back into the same city and lives approximately 3 minutes away. He has committed to spending the time necessary to make sure they know he is not going anywhere and that he is here for them just as much as I am. He has expressed his gratitude to me for taking such good care of the kids and to my husband for being such a good step-father to them in his absence. I am blown away how God works and how if you will just trust that He is faithful, He will bring all things together for His good. We are co-parenting with the children’s father in a way that gives them security and working on a plan to have a true 50/50 split custody. If you would have told me we would be here 7 years ago, I would have laughed in your face. Sometimes you just have to set your unbelief aside and decide you are going to pray what His word says…even if you have a hard time seeing it come to pass.
I am so thankful that I heeded to the nudge I felt to pray for someone that I did not feel deserved it at the time. Through doing so, I was able to forgive him and receive forgiveness, help the kids know that it was okay to hurt and see God work a miracle in this situation that the enemy meant for harm. It also helped me forgive my own father and release the abandonment that has been imprinted on my heart for over 30 years. Life happens to each of us, just in different ways. I plead with you...if you are divorced or someone has hurt you deeply, pray for them. No harm can come from you doing so. Be prepared, though, for Him to usher in peace and a deep love for all people that you did not think you were capable of. He is a good God and wants to bring fullness of joy to your heart just like he has to ours.
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
1 Peter 3:12
The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do what is right and His ears are open to their prayers.
Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.