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Vows. Huh. What Are They Good For?

With all my posts the last few weeks you are all getting to know more about Dr. Shay. I am sharing this journey through my divorce with you because I know I’m not the only one to have gone through it and won’t be the last. Sharing the struggles helps us to feel that we aren’t alone even if we are reading and typing across cyberspace. And writing can be very therapeutic. Rather than keep a journal, I do my writing on the website and in my books.

I went to church services Wednesday evening. I admit I haven’t gone to church since the ex left back at the end of April. If I’m totally honest I would have to say that I stayed away for a couple of reasons:

1) Feeling like the “church” and certain members have turned their backs on me, citing verse after verse about how it’s my duty to stay in the marriage and minister to my husband, that divorce isn’t acceptable except in cases of infidelity (I remind these folks that ex cheated on my TWICE!), that Christian marriages are all about sacrifice, blah blah blah.

2) I miss the Sunday  morning services. But I won’t go to that since ex and his whole family are there. Call me a chicken, it’s okay. I’ll admit it. I don’t want to run into any of them. I don’t want to see the looks of pity and judgment on the faces of the church folks. “Oh, look at her. Poor thing just wasn’t cut out to be a Christian wife.”

3) Part of me was (and still is to some extent) angry at God for not stopping this from happening. I know, it’s not fair to blame him but I feel better about doing that than blaming myself, you know? And He understands that I don’t truly mean it. And people have their own free will to do as they please. So my ex leaving was his choice and it’s not fair to blame anyone else but I’m only human and far from perfect.

It was nice to worship and hear the message Wednesday night. Have you ever heard a sermon and wondered if the pastor was somehow speaking only to you? Well, this was the case last week. The message was about vows and how they can be made for all the wrong reasons. Nate, the youth pastor, was doing a piece from I Samuel where Saul made a harsh vow, saying that his army was to eat nothing until he had his vengeance. Not a very good plan if you are at war. Soldiers can’t fight without food. But he was angry and selfish and thought making that vow would somehow push his men to seek vengeance.

Nate is so good at taking these passages and making them relevant to the modern world, which is what most of us seek when it comes to church. It’s one thing to read and understand the Bible in historical context but it’s a more difficult thing to take a book that is a couple thousand years old and still find truth and meaning for life today. Nate asked how many of us had ever made a vow after suffering a loss. The first thing he mentioned was divorce. Well, my ears pricked up, wondering where he was going with the message. He said his folks divorced and he made a vow that he would never get divorced. “Sounds reasonable”, I said to myself. Why would that be considered a bad vow to make? Well, Nate went on to explain how that vow altered his relationships with women. He sought the PERFECT woman so that he would not be able to find fault with her so that he wouldn’t be tempted to get divorced. As soon as a girlfriend showed any sort of fault or imperfection he thought he couldn’t live with, he would dump her and move on.

So his vow to never get divorced turned into something twisted and ugly that made it impossible for any woman to meet that perfect vision he had in his head.

Which is EXACTLY what my husband thought about me.

He had asked God to send him this particular woman with all of these wonderful qualities. Well, when I couldn’t hold a candle to that woman of his dreams, he began to resent me and pull away. And he pulled away from my family, which hurt almost worse than his treatment of me.

Nate’s ultimate message is that making vows out of fear or selfishness is the wrong kind of vow to make. He said “Instead of making a vow never to get divorced, the better vow to make is to say ‘I vow to love and honor and cherish my wife, to be the best, most Godly husband I can be'”. Much better, yes? It takes the pressure off the wife to be perfect. As long as the husband doesn’t put too much pressure on himself to be perfect because that will only cause anxiety and self-loathing.

He mentioned that there were other vows people make that can be harmful. If you come from an alcoholic family, you may vow to n ever drink a drop of alcohol. Which isn’t bad in and of itself. What’s bad is that people like that often judge others harshly if they do drink. And that’s where the vow you made can be more harmful than helpful.

This sermon spoke to me since I have been saying things like “I’m never getting married again” or “I’m so done with men”. Just the mere thought of dating makes me want to hurl. I never believed in love at first site. I wasn’t a chick flick kinda girl (I’m still not) and knew that a true relationship took time and effort. I had plenty of boyfriends before the ex but nothing hit me quite like he did. I gave this man absolutely everything: mind, body, soul. I adored him and would have died for him.

Only that wasn’t good enough. Despite all my good qualities, he couldn’t ignore the bad. And believe me, I have them. I’m not perfect and hold no illusions that I’m even close. I am chock full of crap that isn’t pretty or nice. But aren’t we all like that? And isn’t the whole definition of unconditional love supposed to be loving someone even WITH all of those bad qualities?

I guess I’m going to have to watch myself and not make any of those vows out of fear of getting hurt again. Because that’s what it’s all about. “If I never get married, I will never set myself up for a letdown ever again.” I just hope that the next guy realizes that he is going to have to be uber patient with me. It’s going to take a long time to breach the walls that have been erected around Dr. Shay’s heart.

9 Comments on “Vows. Huh. What Are They Good For?”

  1. Sherry Isaac June 2, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Shay, commitment is two-sided, and when one side walks away, the contract is broken by default. You are the way God made you… human. Imperfections and all.

  2. Sheilagh Lee June 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    hugs. The contract was broken by him not you and you have every right to grieve. You have the right to be loved by someone who excepts you just the way you are the good and the bad. No one is perfect and you tried as hard as you could where was his trying? his commitment? Be patient with yourself. I hope someday soon someone comes along whom God sent to you who is a better match for you and will treat you like the jewel you are.

  3. A.M. Donovan June 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    Happy that you are starting on the long road to healing from this. There is a very old saying ” God likes to make liars out of never”. It will take time, but you will get your life put back together and probalbly be happier with the result. From what I understand, the old “Till death do us part” was established at a time when people were lucky to live until 35-40.

    • shayfabbro June 2, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      LOL I guess I am being too impatient and wanting this whole thing to just be over already. The emotions sometimes seem to come out of left field and wham me upside the head. I’m tired of the crying and the doubting and I KNOW that I have to go through all of it but it still sucks anyway 🙂

  4. Patricia Caviglia June 2, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    This reply is a little haphazard but here goes:

    Recognizing someone’s flaws does not give anyone the right to disrespect them by breaking promises. And where was your ex’s integrity and self-respect when he cheated on you?

    Believe me, I understand your need for closure. I wanted to throw myself a party when my divorce finally became official in January of 2011. My ex dragged it out with claims that each of the four lawyers he consulted didn’t know what they were doing. In the end, he didn’t even use a lawyer. Oh, the lies…

    Sounds like you know that every divorcee, whether they want the divorce or not, goes through the same emotions, asks the same questions, comes to the same conclusions and reverses the same “never” vows at some point. Here’s my latest conclusion: the next man in my life is going to respect, understand, accept, and love me the way I am. I will not change who I am for someone else to love me. I will not compromise myself for someone else to love me. And I refuse to have my flaws tolerated. I am who I am. I’m the only one who is forced to live with me and I love myself the way I am. People who don’t like me will stay away, and those who do, will want to get closer.

    Shay, Keep your head high, shoulders back and smile through as much of the crap as you can. I wish the next man in your life is going to respect, understand, accept and love you just the way you are.

    • shayfabbro June 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

      *HUGS* Thanks for sharing all of that with me 🙂 Your words made me feel ever so much better!

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