“Victory begins when you are willing to run by faith, trusting that He will lead the way.”
When a marriage ends in divorce, there are no winners. No matter how amicable things are, someone, somewhere ends up being hurt by something that is either said, done or unintentionally willed against the other party. It is not possible for two people to spend any length of intimate time together, share things that a man and wife do, and walk away from that time unscathed. Bring children into the mix, and the wake of devastation increases exponentially, causing normally rational adults to act in ways they would otherwise not act, all ‘for the sake of the children.’ The shame of it all is everyone suffers damage – everyone.
After preparing half the night for what promised to be an epic battle at court this week, I felt ill at ease. I thought these feelings were my typical issues with self-doubt creeping back in; I had prepared well, and had sufficient documentation to present a balanced argument for the points I planned to present. As I finished with my outline for each of the three planned motions, I could no longer contain the overwhelming dread I had been feeling. I called the one person I knew who could balance my rocking canoe and help me calm the waters before I set off to court. As usual, she listened to my concerns for what might happen, my lacking abilities, and all my doubts. And in perfect step she surrounded me with Gospel Truth – and reminded me that this battle was already decided, I was merely walking it out that morning to completion; she reminded me that God had wonderfully gifted me with the ability to speak eloquently and remain on task and that He would be with me that morning, as He always was; and most importantly, she told me God loved my children more than I did, and that He would not allow harm to come to them…those were the words I held on to as we hung up and I got dressed.
What I found at court when I arrived was as I had expected – he had support in his sister and brother at his side. I did not come unarmed, as three great friends joined me as well. The process began as it typically does – Family Relations – where he usually disagrees to all I present, and then we are sent to an awaiting Judge in a courtroom. Two cases were heard before ours, and as I half-heartedly listened to those cases, I found it difficult to quiet my spirit. The atmosphere there is so negative, even hostile at times, to breathe in the air seems almost toxic. I closed my eyes trying to focus myself, trying to replay my plan again in my head – anything to disconnect me from where I was yet again…and then it was time.
We both approached our respective tables, took our oaths, stated our names and sat down. I began my initial motion, and immediately the Judge questioned my direction. I was thrown, seeing instantly that I’d made a tactical error – that what I’d considered an ‘order’ from the previous Judge was in fact listed in my notes as a recommendation, and thus not subject to a contempt order. I felt childlike and stupid in that moment, and my mind raced as I tried to recover – I could feel ‘their eyes’ burning the back of my head, taunting me. The Judge ruled against my next point, and while not critical, again I received it as a blow.
We moved on to the most important of the three issues at hand, and I tried to regain my stride. I spoke off-script, and while most points were mentioned, I was far less succinct as I am capable of being. He was offered a chance to rebut, and his words were void of truth and hurtful. I hurriedly made my notes, sure to catch key phrases to use in my retort. Almost directly on cue, he began to cry – again – and I found myself not anguished over his emotions but disgusted by his display yet again. I quickly brought us back to task, and felt I finished strong.
As the Judge began his summation, his initial words led me to feel he was not going to rule in my favor. I remember shaking my head and immediately thinking what would the next move be, as this would be completely unacceptable. But as the Judge continued, he did in fact, rule in my favor. A few more formalities, and I was up and out of the room. And once again, as soon as I made it out the doors, I was sobbing – the stress of holding it together had completely overwhelmed me – and my friend grabbed me into her arms, apparently in an effort to shield me from them as they exited.
The physical and emotional toll these court days take on me I find difficult to express. That was yesterday, and mentally I was garbage for the rest of the day. But when you are a single mom, you do not have the luxury to mentally check out, for any length of time. I try as much as possible to shield my children from what transpires during these days – because football, chess club, dinner, Click the Mouse, soccer, going to a friend’s house, going to the park, getting to their job, selling fundraising tickets, PPT meetings…all of these things happen whether court goes well or not.
So today, as I lay in the bed for most of the day, reflecting on what happened yesterday and where we go from here, I realized there was no winner in court. We all lose…we all lose. Until such a time when we can communicate together and parent these children without the law having to intervene. Until we can BOTH have parenting time with these children and not disparage the other parent. Until these children are not hurt by our supposed ‘grown-up’ actions…both of ours. Until ALL the people in these children’s lives get on the same page about what is in the best interest for them, and work to that end.
What I know is this: I cannot control him or his actions. But I am responsible for me and my actions. And that means I can still continue to be the example – to my children, and to him and his family. It cost me nothing to be who I already am, so that is no sacrifice. To sacrifice, I need to take an additional step. I have the benefit of Jesus Christ, and because of that, I am required to do more. So I will be seeking God’s face on how He wants me to do more, to take additional steps to make this work. Because doing what I’ve already done isn’t getting it – it’s merely wearing me out – and that will accomplish nothing in the end.