A few weeks ago I was listening to music and shuffling through old nostalgic songs when I stumbled on one that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was a country song from 18 years ago or so. An entirely different time in my life when my marriage was coming unraveled and my heart was coming undone. The familiar but long forgotten melody played and I sat down on my bedroom floor and waves of old memories, feelings, thoughts- crashed over me. You know how music just does that? Takes you right back to an old place you hadn’t exactly forgotten but hadn’t thought about in a really long time? The emptiness in that time in my life was so distinct- I have never felt anything like it since, but the song brought back its echoes: the intense grief of a heart betrayed by adultery, the fear of not being enough, even the bittersweet relief of needing friends who loved me through that period- all flooded in. I sat, letting myself feel it all, partially because I wasn’t sure I could stop my heart anyway. Also because remembering felt strangely good since the truest and most beautiful part of my life came through that dark and most difficult.
My marriage ending and all that surrounded my divorce is the crucible God used to crush the hardest parts of my heart and teach me His grace. I never understood what receiving grace actually felt like until that time. Having always been an externally compliant and people pleasing kind of girl, I knew God had to save me but I wasn’t really sure from what. I mean, technically I understood it was eternal death- but I’ll be honest: it would have been really hard to explain to someone why I believed I deserved hell. I tried incredibly hard to be good. And mostly I succeeded. At least on the outside. But it was through the pain of abandonment that God began to slowly expose my sin. How my heart cared so deeply what other people thought- much more than I cared about God. How my ultimate joy came from earning approval and affirmation in my marriage and as a mom- not from worshipping my creator. How I lied often to others in small and sometimes big ways to avoid embarrassment or shame when I made a mistake or did not measure up to the standard I thought I should achieve. Piece by broken piece God was remaking my heart as He stripped away my pride and shame and fear. He used the raw and vulnerable feelings to get me to open my hands from the death grip they held on my image and my control. As I became more aware of the sin that lived deep inside me, my heart was more overwhelmed by the grace that God brought to me. I did not have to even understand this grace fully to receive it. It was just there- new mercies for me, every morning. And with every painful part of breaking and letting go, God kept steadily teaching me to trust Him. He was enough– when I never had been. He loved all of me– not just the parts I felt strong enough or good enough to show others. He would never leave me– though I had forsaken him and still will.
That collision of losing my marriage and God’s grace becoming so real wrecked my heart in the most beautiful way. It changed the way every other stressful life event has felt- and there have been others. I no longer feel abandoned and I no longer feel the need to keep up an image. But I do re experience His grace in every hard and good thing. It still crashes in and remakes my heart and I am grateful.