It all started with a pomegranate – a pomegranate and a stack of chocolate bars. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would be standing here in front of a man who was willing to turn his life upside down to take care of me and my three very young children. He handed me a stack of chocolate bars to stock my new, tiny, one-bedroom apartment fridge and a pomegranate because he said, ‘Pomegranates are fun to eat.’
My thirtieth year was not exactly what you would call ‘thirty, flirty, and thriving.’ It kicked off with a miscarriage and rounded out with the diagnosis of a variety of special needs for some of my children. Smack dab in the middle of that, I discovered my (now-ex) husband had been having an affair for about a year. When that news hit, it hit like a freight train. There I sat on the floor of my bathroom, reading the words over and over again. Tears pouring, trying to understand how this could possibly be real. Divorce was a word I never thought would be in my vocabulary and just the idea of it made me feel like I was drowning. The emotional pain of the rejection and the fear of what it meant for my future and the future of my kids was a weight heavier than my broken heart could bear.
There were days I believed it might just be the end of me, crushing me beyond what I thought I could survive. There were moments I thought I was going to just physically die from the pain of it all.
The betrayal and rejection were painful enough, but knowing how my children would suffer felt impossible to me and I was powerless to protect them from it. I was convinced there was no way anyone would want a divorced, thirty-year-old, single mother of three children and I would be alone forever. It was the end of me and the end of the life I’d been living. I thought it was the end of anything and everything good. How could there be a life after this?
The days after were filled with tears. They were filled with grief both for me and for my kids. We moved into a one-bedroom apartment. It was awful and wonderful all at the same time. ‘Where’s the rest of it?’ my kids asked as I gave them their first tour. ‘Sorry guys, that’s it,’ I responded. And yet, we were together and this little space, while small, was ours. The days were also full of long trips to therapy appointments for two of my kids. I was learning how to be a special needs mom and a single mom all at the same time, and let me tell you, the learning curve was large. The kids were learning how to live life as children of divorce, and it wasn’t an easy adjustment for any of us.
Back to the pomegranate. The woman my ex-husband had been having an affair with was engaged. That man showed up for us, took care of us, and helped us though he owed us nothing. He showed up with groceries. He showed up with moving boxes. He showed up with ice cream. And he showed up with his very own broken heart.
In a different way, he’d also lost everything. Just weeks after he had discovered the affair, he lost his home and everything he owned in a house fire. He was at the beginning, building a family and a home while anticipating a new life with a new wife. And in the span of just a few weeks, it was all gone. Our friendship grew quickly, in that desperate place we both were living. He showed up day after day, but of all the days he showed up, my favorite was by far the day he showed up with the pomegranate. Along with the pomegranate and the chocolate, he brought an entire camping trip. Yes, a camping trip, right there in the living room of my little apartment. A little bit of fun to take the sting out of what was such a painful moment for me and my little broken family.
I will never forget the looks on my kids’ faces when they saw the tent and the pretend fire in the living room. With sleeping bags and s’mores, our lonely first night in our new apartment turned into a precious memory. The man who made it happen wasn’t even there to see those looks. He set it up and stepped away, giving us our space to heal and grieve, and let me take the credit for the fun. I’d never met a man so willing to give and to give with humility, never concerned about being repaid. So I did what any reasonable girl would have done. I fell in love with him.
Just 6 short months after giving me the pomegranate, he gave me a ring and we just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. The words he said that day, as his knee hit the ground, were the best words I’ve ever heard: ‘I love you, and I love your kids. I want to spend the rest of my life with you guys.’ My oldest son walked me down the aisle and my youngest son walked him down the aisle, while my daughter threw the rose petals from her basket in front of us.
We have since added one new bundle of baby girl love, who is a daily reminder of all the light that can come out of the darkest places. My husband has faithfully provided in every way for me and my children, allowing me to care for their extra needs in a way that would have never been possible without him.
I now help other women who are going through the same thing, sharing my story and supporting them along the way. As painful as it is to talk about the hard days, I know there are others out there whose hard day is today. During those days, I didn’t believe I’d ever be okay. I know there is a woman out there feeling that way right now.
But I can tell you there is hope and there is life, even on the other side of divorce and I want to share that hope with others who are in that pit right now. There is hope and joy ahead whether you believe that or not right now. I will believe it for you on the days when you can’t.
I can believe it because I’ve seen it with my own eyes. While God was redeeming my family’s story, he was also redeeming my new husband’s heart, as he came to know God in a deeper way than he ever had before. We always joke he saved my life and I saved his soul. But really, we both know it was God who saved us both. And so you see, it was through the most painful thing I’d experienced God gave me the greatest blessing I have ever received. On the day I thought my life was ending, it was really just the beginning. Just when all hope seemed lost was actually when we both were being found and I will never again see a pomegranate and not be grateful for the unbelievable story God had written for me. And I am certain, he’s writing one for you too.”