Thursday, February 16, 2012

On Your Own Terms

My name change has finally gone through at work. I didn't want to announce anything until my e-mail and other accounts had been changed (a slow and painful process, thanks to outsourcing). Now I have a new name plate, a new badge, and new business cards on the way, and I feel like a new woman! My co-workers have added to the chorus of encouragement and support about the change. It's nice.

Last week, in response to my name update on Facebook, an old friend confided that her marriage is falling apart. She's going through much the same experience I did. My heart hurt for her, and I was overwhelmed with things I wanted to tell her. In all seriousness, I could fill a book with advice and hope for hurting, bewildered, abandoned women, and maybe someday I will. In the meantime, I may start blogging about it more regularly. I don't know the demographics of my readership, but even if these things don't apply to you, maybe you can use them to help or relate to someone else.

All that to say, my very positive name change has reinforced something I realized on day one: when you're going through a divorce, or any life-changing crisis that requires a lot of hard decisions, you have to do it on your own terms. This is so important. I'm not saying you should act carelessly or selfishly. I'm not advising against seeking wise counsel, or for doing it all on your own. I'm talking about the gray areas. The timing of things. The choices only you can make for yourself. With every step of my divorce, I waited, I talked to trusted friends, I prayed, I figured out what I could handle, and then I did what was right for me at that time. It wasn't always what others wanted me to do, when they wanted me to do it, but I have no regrets. It was a faith-enriching, confidence-building experience like no other. In keeping with that process, going back to my old name has been a happy and empowering occasion. People have congratulated me, and it's actually felt like the right response. It wouldn't have back then. Divorce, in itself, will never be something to celebrate, but a positive fresh start and reclaiming your identity is. In this case, I didn't have my name taken from me. I thought it all through and chose to give it back. That makes all the difference.

So many times over the last year and a half, I've thought I knew how people would respond to my situation. I've expected people to shun me, tsk-tsk me, assume that I casually tossed my marriage out like yesterday's garbage. With few exceptions, the exact opposite has happened. Even acquaintances and new friends have assumed all the correct things, have embraced and encouraged me. Every time it happens, my heart heals a little bit more. I still bear a lot of shame for being a divorced Christian woman, no matter how many Biblical grounds I had. But the shame is melting away, a little at a time.

I wrote this passage out for myself to claim it over my year. Over my life. I encourage you to claim it for yourself too.

words for the new year


  1. A) I love that passage. Another friend of mine who had to go through divorce was encouraged by that same passage.

    B) Your handwriting is exquisite! I'm so jealous. :)

    C) Even though I'm gratefully not in the divorced Christian woman demographic, I am in the Christian demographic, which makes you family. And when one member of our family experiences something, we all feel the effects of it and in doing so, I think it's awesome to be able to read/hear about how stuff affects one another so we can -- in general -- be better sisters and brothers to each other, know one another more fully and encourage each other through the tough times. After all, we'll be spending eternity together!

    That being said, I fully appreciate hearing whatever you write here about your life and your struggles and victories. You are a good writer and I love your honesty and transparency. I am blessed to know you better.

  2. Love you, Brenda! Love that passage.

  3. You are such a strong woman! I love that about you! BTW, reading that passage from Zephaniah just gave me chills!

  4. That passage is beautiful! And I'm so glad that what began as a really painful journey has proven to be something that showed you how truly the majority of people around you really care :).

  5. Thanks for the kind words, everyone. :) I felt very vulnerable putting this out there, so the encouragement means a lot!