Divorce, marriage, and the pursuit of happiness.

The violin plays every day in my life. And not the cool fast violin. Not the one that you hear on Sherlock when they are getting close to solving a mystery or when something amazing is happening. The sad one. The forlorn one. The one from You’ve Got Mail… “The horn… The horn… It sounds so forlorn.”

It has been two weeks since my wife officially ended our relationship of a decade. I remember courting her. I remember proposing. And even though I have a terrible memory for many other things, I remember so much about us and our 10 years together. And it was like one of those MasterCard commercials. Money here. Sad face there. Tear here. Crappy day there. Ten years, more better than worse… Priceless.

And as I think. As I look in retrospect. As I digest or process the demise of what I shamefully now have to refer to as my first marriage. I think about what it has taught me. I was cooking London broil tonight on a stovetop. I had marinated it in deliciousness the day before and as I cooked I thought about the possibility of loving again. And I considered that if I ever were to get married again I’d have to refer to them as my second wife. And that sucks. 

In the movie National Treasure, Nicholas Cage is describing how his father feels about his own life. And he asks Dr Chase “have you ever said I love you? To more than one man?” “Yes.” “Well then Dr Chase, my father would describe you as a little too cavalier when it comes to love.”

And I have been. I left her for an emotional affair. And by the time I came back she was gone emotionally. We tried counseling and it worked well. But my heart hadn’t fully changed and it didn’t in time. And going through the worst time of my life has led me to acknowledge a lot of ways in which I was lacking. These are just a few…

1. Always be thankful for the woman God gave you and always protect her. Every day I ask God to forgive me for the way I treated her. He gave me someone’s heart and she gave it to me as well. She gave me HER HEART. And I trampled it. I betrayed her trust. I looked at every day as days that she could improve as a wife instead of how blessed I was to have her and how I could improve as a husband. I was way too prideful for marriage in the first place. The divorce was the most humbling thing I could have ever imagined. And it remains that way. I should have rejoiced always as Philippians 4:4 discusses. Instead of complaining about the things I felt she did wrong I should have been celebrating all the big and little things she did amazingly well, and there were so many. I should have defended her more to others and to myself. Joel 2:21 “fear not oh land, and rejoice. For the lord has done great things.”

2. Look at everyone through the eyes of God, especially her. Why do I have a spot in heaven? Why is there a mansion prepared for me? Why do I have favor before a holy god who normally would view me as repulsive because of the sin and filth that covers me? Because God only sees me through the perfection that is Jesus. Galatians 3:27 “you have put on Christ once baptized in Him.” God the Father, the perfect judge, sees me through the perfected Lord. Even God doesn’t see me through His own eyes, He sees me through His son. “For you have died and are hidden away in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 3:3. I needed to view HER through Jesus. Imagine a world in which we viewed everyone through the eyes of Jesus. Imagine instead of looking at people with contempt or disgust, we see them with love and grace. Imagine if instead of criticizing her for taking too long with her makeup, I thanked her for being my date every time. Imagine if instead of taking it for granted how she ALWAYS packed my lunches and cooked our meals, imagine if I stepped up and spent a late night taking care of the things that she always did. Imagine if I went to bed with her every single night and stayed in bed. Imagine if I saw her through Christ.

3. Apologize more. John 1:9 “if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive.” There were so many things that I could say sorry for. God there are so many things that I could sincerely apologize for. Especially after our separation. So many things that devastate me daily. So many things that trouble my heart. So many missed opportunities. So many forgotten words. So many unnecessary comments. So many looks. So many. So many. So many. Yet, where were all the apologies that could have been? Where were all the I’m sorry’s? Where were all the thank you cards or little notes to show her how truly and regrettably sorry I was. And am. I’m sorry. “Two people who are together will remember what they have done to one another. If they stay together it’s not because they have forgotten those things, it’s because they have forgiven them.”

4. Always pursue God first. Deuteronomy 4:29 “But if from there you seek the Lord your God with all your heart. You will find him.” I have rediscovered His grace and mercy through her loss of it. My own actions caused me to be so disgusted with myself that the only way to look at myself in the mirror every day was to turn it on her and be prideful about myself. I was living in so much sin while married that it completely blinded me to Him and to her. I was puffed up. I was arrogant. And for the last year of our marriage I was bitter toward her because I couldn’t stand myself. And it caused her to look at me differently after awhile. At first the looks she gave were sadness and disappointment. And then there was anger and fear. All of them completely warranted. If I had pursued God instead of all that, I would have seen her with such love that my heart would have been freed of all the sin that chained it up. I turned away from God and from her when I would have a very different ending if I had pursued both of them.

5. Say I love you. 

I could never have anticipated being in this position as a 34 year old man. I never saw my life ending this way. Fortunately this is not the end. There are more chapters that God will bring me through. “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.” ~ Steven Furtick. My life didn’t turn out the way it’s supposed to. But God can work ALL THINGS for good for those who are called according to his purpose. 

I read an article today about meaning vs happiness. And that the pursuit of happiness is actually the thing that prevents us most from experiencing it. You see. Will Smith had it wrong. It’s not the pursuit of happiness that is key to life. It’s the pursuit of joy through meaning. Meaning found in the one who has authored it. The pages of the book, the font, the pen, the numbers, the paper, the title, the chapters. None of these things give the book meaning. It is only the author that gives meaning. 

Do you want happiness? Do you wish to wake up every morning with a contented heart? Do you wish to stay married? Do you seek to bless your wife? Be thankful. Be compassionate. Be quick to forgive and quicker to ask for it. Don’t take anything for granted. Always pursue God. And always say I love you. 


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