February 14, 2013

From Hell to Heaven: Giving Love a Second Chance

By Kendra
Introduced by Amy

Kendra and I were both Art Ed majors at college, and we were hired by the school to teach a beginning art class for college students.  Teaching with Kendra was a breeze: she was easy-going and kind, and we worked easily together.  I didn't know at the time, but she was going through some really rough stuff.  Several times, I did notice that she seemed lost in her thoughts and distant...but she hid her trouble well.  It wasn't until later, at our graduation, I noticed on the grad program that her last name was different.  I wondered what had happened and if she was alright...but, I didn't want to pry, plus, it was not a good time for questions, with family and friends all around.  It was so fun to see her again and take pictures in our caps and gowns.  After that day, I kept worrying about my friend, but didn't know if she wanted to talk about what had happened.  

Fast forward about a year and a half.  I was teaching art at a jr. high and high school, hugely pregnant, and hugely worried.  I loved my job, but soon realized that I was too overwhelmed to manage a sub during my maternity leave then continue teaching after I had a baby (which turned out to be SO good, cause Hayden was not an easy baby).  However I didn't want to leave my school in the lurch.  I'd been praying about the situation for a while, then one day Kendra came to my mind.  I contacted her, not knowing if she had a teaching job already or even if she lived in Idaho any more.  And, miracle: she had a job, but wanted a different one, and she lived close enough to make it work!  She interviewed, was hired, and saved me!  While I was packing my stuff in the classroom, she came to set up.  Then, I asked her about her divorce.  She told me her story, and I was so relieved to know that, in the end, my friend was so happy!  She deserves it.  I asked her to share this with you, knowing that you would feel inspired too.

This may seem like a strange post for Valentines day, but we all know that true love is much more than roses and chocolate (though they're nice!).  Healthy, real-life love is not perfect, it takes effort from both sides, compromise, and patience...but it can be wonderful, fulfilling, and amazing--and real love is always worth whatever effort and patience it takes to find and then keep. 

So, if you hate Valentines day (because you have been hurt and now feel like love is a lost cause) this story is for you.   Or, if you're celebrating this day with the one you love--this story is for you, too!  I know it made me appreciate the love that I have, and I hugged my husband, Patrick, a little tighter after reading this.  And for those who are single and full of hope for love in your future, read this...Kendra's road was SO hard, but like she found: real love is worth the journey!

Thank you Kendra for opening your heart to us.
-Amy

I’m divorced. 

It used to be my scarlet letter, a brand that I thought everyone could see the minute they met me. That’s the funny thing about guilt; it lingers for a long time until one day you decide it isn't worth keeping around. 

I can testify that love and time truly does heal broken hearts. In my mind, the completion of my divorce marked the beginning of a life sentence of guilt and shame. I knew everyone was secretly thinking the worst about me and I didn't blame them. I was a failure. I had failed at keeping my marriage together and making my husband love me. I could physically feel the pain and heartache. I still remember crying to a point where I felt hollowed out, empty, devoid of life, a miserable shell. 

There was a point in my engagement where I knew what I was doing was wrong. However, pride would not allow me to go through the humiliation of calling off a wedding. I’d heard of people making marriages work all the time; I convinced myself that we would do just that. I smiled and drowned myself in flowers, lace, and tulle to muffle out the sickness and nagging doubt. My wedding was beautiful, everything I’d dreamed it to be. We married in an LDS temple. If you don’t know, Mormons take marriage very seriously. To sum it up simply, civil marriages are performed for time only, meaning the couple is together for their time on this earth ("Till death do us part"). However, our belief is that temple marriages are for time and eternity and families can be together forever. It’s a very permanent, serious, and sacred thing. 

There was a point in our honeymoon that I remember distinctly. I looked at him and realized I had marriage a stranger. If I was a good writer I would be able to succinctly describe to you the emptiness and loneliness of that marriage. To sum it up it in one word: silence. I feel I should capitalize that word. It felt like a proper noun. I think the loudest silences are those that are filled with everything that has been said—said wrong, said thousands of times. It happens when fighting becomes the condition rather than the exception and the only option is a silent retreat. Silence happens when voices are hoarse, trust breaks down, and communication dies. Our neighbors could never look me in the eye. I knew our relationship was sick. I was depressed, on the verge of suicidal. We met with bishops and counselors. I prayed, cried, prayed, and cried. I did what was right for me: I stepped out. 

My parents knew little of what was taking place and my heart swells with love when I think of how they stepped up, their hearts breaking as well, to help me in my time of crisis. There is a special place in heaven for my parents. Going home was like a breath of fresh air. 

I am not going to pretend that it wasn't the worst time in my life. However, I knew that my Savior loved me beyond my understanding. I was his daughter and he would take care of me. I know that if He had told me to stay and work it out, it would have worked. He has the power to heal broken and sometimes seemingly irreparable things, but in the case of my marriage it wasn't to be. 

I left my ex-husband NEVER wanting to get married again. I would be happy being alone and never having someone hurt me like that again. I was bitter towards men. Bitter for having hopes, dreams, wishes, thoughts smashed and destroyed by someone that I thought loved me. Bitter for becoming a tool not a wife. Bitter for all the promises of blissful marriage that I'd been promised that I'd never had a glimpse of. Simply, I was a big hateful mess. 

My Savior knows me well. It wasn't a week after I moved into a new apartment that I met a boy at a church activity. I remember that first night he wouldn't stop staring at me from across the gym. I need a friend badly and he seemed to be up for the job. I word vomited all over that poor man. All my secrets, fears, and dirty laundry, all the terrible, awful things I thought about myself were flung into his face. I dared him to stay around; I encouraged him to run away. That angelic man stayed. He and Heavenly Father worked together to help me make sense of the whole mess. He reminded me of what hope was. He helped soften my heart to feel love again. I stopped living with the “what if” and started living with the “what now?” I decided to stop hating myself. 

Every night since that first talk I have thanked Heavenly Father for him and I plan on doing so for the rest of eternity. 

Love can surprise us all. The people in our lives are there for a reason. You may not have a significant other, but take joy in having a friend or family member that cares. Dave was my best friend before I ever saw him in a romantic light. Falling in love surprised us both. 

We got married little over a year ago in the Idaho Falls Temple. When I was told that together we were creating an eternal family, I have never been so happy. I am not going to say that I didn’t have a few qualms about getting married for the second time. But imaging my life without Dave was scarier than anything I’d experienced before. I have not been disappointed. Our marriage is a blessing. Every day we laugh. Every day we say “I love you” and mean it. Every day he reminds me how special I am to him. And my favorite part is the talking, there is no foreboding silences. We plan a future. That may not seem like that big of a deal, but when your only experience with marriage is trying to get through the day without a fight, it’s refreshing to know that you have a definite future with someone. There are no doubts. 



I’m head over heels in love with my husband. He is wonderful, kind, and caring. He listens. He doesn’t judge. He loves me unconditionally. And when he looks at me, I know that to him I am worth more than the greatest treasures in the world. There is not an ounce of disapproval from him. Everyone deserves to be looked at this way. 



I have always felt weird saying that I am grateful for my divorce, but I’m not sure I would appreciate the intricate details of an amazing marriage without having gone through hell. When I look at what Dave and I have, the heartache to get to this point seems completely worth it. There is always pain in life. Divorce hurts. As do other sufferings. I made some wrong choices. I felt a lot of hurt. I felt hopeless, worthless, and miserable. However, there is always hope. There is always someone who loves you and willing to show you the way. I learned to love myself, to find strength, to pray and listen, and to trust more fully. Be thankful for where you are in your journey and for those in your life that love you. 

Today I am completely whole.

-Kendra



4 comments:

  1. I bawled my face off when I read this. This is some hard stuff to talk about, but you were SO brave to tell your story. Thank you Kendra for being willing to share! HOORAY for love!

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  2. Kendra, This is amazingly open, honest and hopeful. Thank you for sharing this. You're a beautiful writer.

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  3. Kendra, thank you so much for sharing this. I think there are lots of girls who are going through a similar experience and need a great example like you to give them hope. I really can relate to what you said about having to go through hell to really appreciate the good man you have in your life now. Thank you again for being brave enough to share this piece of your life with us.

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  4. I've had a few friends recently go through divorce. I dont know all the story, and I wondered. But they are happy now.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Rachel@ R&R Workshop: randrworkshop.blogspot.com

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