Hope After Divorce

My dear friend Katie Ganshert is celebrating the release of her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, with a blog hop. But this isn’t just any blog hop. Rather than talking about her book, she’s invited bloggers to share stories about a time in their lives when the Lord brought beauty from pain. Because I’m eager to support Katie, I agreed to bare my soul and revisit one of the darkest chapters of my life. Just as the characters in her moving story experience hope after heartache, I, too, reaped wildflowers after my winter.

• • •

July 17, 1984 began much like any other day, but as is the case most days, things happened that made it memorable. On this particular Tuesday, the Prime Minister of France, Pierre Mauroy, resigned; the Soviets launched their seventh manned flight, Soyuz T-12, to the space station Salyut 7; and I turned twenty-five.

I’m one of those people who looks forward to birthdays, so when my husband of four years didn’t give me a card or gift at breakfast, I was disappointed. When he didn’t even wish me happy birthday, I told myself that was because he had a special surprise and was waiting until we got home from work that night to give it to me.

He had a surprise all right, one that rocked my world.

We returned home and ate the dinner I prepared, and yet he still said nothing to acknowledge my birthday. Another hour or so went by before I decided to ask him if he remembered what day it was. I expected him to be shocked and offer a heartfelt apology. Instead, I was the one who was shocked.

He told me he remembered what day it was but that he didn’t have a gift for me. He went on to say that he didn’t love me anymore and wanted a divorce.

The next months were tough. I learned about his infidelity. My church excommunicated me. Fellow believers who didn’t know all the facts said hurtful things, passing judgment on me, even though I’d been a faithful wife. And if all this wasn’t enough, I found out that he remarried his first wife just ten days after our divorce was final.

I’ve never felt as alone as I did during those dark days. I doubted myself as a wife, as a woman, as a witness for Christ. I was young and took to heart the admonishment of mature believers who treated me as though I’d committed an unforgivable sin. I felt certain no man would ever want me again, certainly not a godly one.

Not once did I believe the Lord abandoned me, though. In fact, there were days I felt like He was the only one who understood, who cared, and who loved me unconditionally.

In one of my lowest lows, when the world seemed a very harsh place, I imagined the Lord standing at the other end of the long hallway in my apartment building. I could almost see Him. And what I saw brought tears to my eyes.

The Lord didn’t turn His back on me or shake a finger at me. He smiled and opened His arms wide. In my mind’s eye, I ran as fast as I could into His embrace. He hadn’t forsaken me. He’d forgiven me. His love for me wasn’t something that could be tossed aside the way I’d been. It was a constant then, just as it is today.

Two and a half years passed. During that time I found a new church home, one with an active singles group that welcomed divorced members. I made some wonderful friends there, including a tall teacher who was a longtime bachelor. He asked me out, and I accepted, although I was sure this pure, godly man would want nothing more to do with me once he learned about my past. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.

Gwynly and I were married in that church on December 19, 1987. We’ll celebrate our twenty-fifth anniversary this year. Ours isn’t a perfect marriage, but it’s a happy one. From my winter came a bumper crop of wildflowers.

Image from iStockphoto

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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35 Responses to Hope After Divorce

  1. Donna Pyle says:

    Keli, your bumper crop of wildflowers is beautiful, indeed. I’m sorry that you experienced the pain of divorce and rejection. It cuts deep. But no one can measure how high, long, wide, or deep the love of Christ is for us. Woo Hoo! What an amazing picture God gave you of Jesus’ open arms welcoming you. Thank you for sharing your story here to offer hope and wildflowers to others. Hugs!

  2. Oh Keli, this makes me tear up! What a horrible day and thing he did. 😦 I’m so sorry…yet the amazing relationship you and Gwynly have is so special. Thank you for sharing your story!

  3. Keli, this brought tears to my eyes, first because of what happened, second because of the way you were treated and then tears of joy because of how much you learned about God’s consuming love and finding love in a long time bachelor! This will touch so many lives! The fragrance of those wildflowers in your life are wafting through my computer! Beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing this with everyone! HUGS!!

  4. joannebischof says:

    Your story spoke to me in so many ways.I too have experienced some incredibly dark days and my heart goes out to you during that season. I just want to say how happy I am that you knew God was with you during that dark time and that He had a beautiful plan for your life. Congratulations on 25 wonderful years with your sweet man!

  5. Keli – I’m sitting here in tears in front of my computer. The way you described God….that He doesn’t turn away from us. That He is there when nobody else is. That He understands and sees the truth when others can’t. That He embraces us and calls us beloved….

    And now here you are – with your Gwynly. Wildflowers indeed.

    Thank you for being so vulnerable. For being so willing to share. I know God will bless MANY through these words.

  6. wendypainemiller says:

    This makes all the endearing things you’ve revealed in the past about you & Gwynly that much more special! Keli, what can I say? I love you, woman–through and through!
    ~ Wendy

  7. juliejarnagin says:

    Wow, Keli. What a powerful story from a beautiful woman of God.

  8. Sherrinda says:

    Keli, it is when the winter is the roughest that the bumper crop is the biggest. Our past experiences is what shapes us into Christ’s likeness…and boy, you look just like HIM! Thank you for sharing your heart and the beauty within. God has indeed blessed you with the fragrance of wildflowers! What a beautiful profusion of color you are!

  9. Erica Vetsch says:

    I’m so glad God heals and renews. I ache for that young you, so hurt and then ill-treated by those who should’ve loved you most. The harshness of that winter makes the wildflowers of today all the more beautiful.
    Love you, girl!

  10. Oh, Keli. Your story is heartwrenching. And that makes it all the more beautiful what the Lord has brought into your life. The light of God is so much brighter after such darkness, isn’t it? Love you!

  11. elizabethmthompson says:

    Keli, What a powerful story of God’s love and healing power. I’m always amazed at what God can do with our brokenness. He’s certainly created beauty from the ashes of your loss.

  12. Casey Herringshaw says:

    Oh my, Keli! God did indeed bless you abundantly! And seeing now the great love you have for your husband and daughter, I know you continually live in the spring of those flowers!

  13. Teri Metts says:

    Powerful testimony, Keli, one I’m sure the Lord has already used and will continue to use to help others like you who’ve gone through a painful divorce. He’s so good that way, transforming our pain into something that brings Him glory and encourages others.

  14. What a beautiful example of wildflowers after winter! Thank you for being willing to share your story, Keli. Love this statement, “His love for me wasn’t something that could be tossed aside the way I’d been.” God’s love is unconditional and constant!

    Congratulations on your 25 years of marriage to Gwynly! Hugs & Blessings!

  15. Loree Huebner says:

    Wow! What a powerful story. I too was married briefly before I married Eric. I just think we were too young. God took me in another direction. Wild Flowers indeed…

  16. Keli, Thank you so much for being brave and sharing this story. I love that God blessed you with someone who recognizes the treasure that you are.

  17. jennifermmajor says:

    You and my mom need to get together. She went through similar circumstances. It’s amazing to me that the *church* excommunicated you, why not twist the knife in deeper? Grrr. Joy comes in the morning, and flowers come in spring. Happy 25 years!

  18. Beauty from ashes, my dear friend. As you know, I experienced the same blessing through divorce. Thanks for sharing your heart and soul.

  19. My first reaction was to send a hug, Keli, but on second thought I want to give you a thumbs up for overcoming a hurtful experience and rising above it. You are such a precious gift to me and I salute you for dealing with a hand that fate tossed you in such an honorable way. You know I had a lot to deal with losing my Dad and then four months later our daughter to cancer. What I learned after the shock and sorrow abated was not to fight fate. It doesn’t help. I turned her death around and now help others who face cancer or other horrific disease. My writer friends were my rock and I know it’s because they never gave up on me that I did survive and came out stronger. Now I find creative ways to survive disappointments and challenges. I suppose it was three years after our daughter died when I was diagnosed with cancer that cemented this thought. I was lucky and survived. I have made and given away 37 quilts in Kellie’s name and know it has given joy to those who’ve received them. I also give my shoulder to anyone who needs one to lean on. It’s what’s given me the strength to rise above the darkness.

    Bless you and your darling Gwynly. You are definitely a shining light in my life. 🙂

  20. Carol says:

    Oh, how we see through the glass darkly at times! I’d like to know why life deals such blows… but stories like yours (and my son’s is similar) reinforce that whatever happens, God remains faithful and brings us through the darkness to a new and better place. I can’t bear to think of where we’d be today without the strength derived from God’s mercy/grace/sustenance/provision/love!!!

  21. heatherdaygilbert says:

    So sad that the church excommunicated YOU! I can imagine that could’ve done as much damage as the announcement your husband wanted a divorce on your b-day. So glad you didn’t let that make you bitter against the church and against God. It’s so hard, those times in our lives when God is all we have to hold onto. But in retrospect, those are some of the sweetest times of fellowship with our Father. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Keli!

  22. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    Keli, now I have you and your husband Gwynly even closer in my heart. I am divorced , too, now in a new relationship, but both of us not planning to get married again.

    I started my first marriage with joy and love and hopes. I gave up my job , my country and falmily in Germany, my plans here, to live in my ex-husbands home-country , Peru. 7 years in Peru turned into a hell of a life and a hell of a marriage, due to circumstances none of us had wanted and foreseen, and due to my ex husband locking me in and abandoning me , forcing me over a year to take sleeping pills so he could be daily with someone else, when I mostly needed him.
    It took me years of getting back into something you can call a normal life, and some more years to trust people again, to trust a man and love again, and it took meeting my actual boyfriend to be able to say “I have found the love of my life”.

    From the first exchange of thoughts with you, Keli, I know that you are a very special, deep, strong and wonderful person, and so must be your husband, and I wish you and him the same happiness and joy and love I feel now. xxx

  23. Atta girl!! Lemonade from lemons!

    I too experienced a divorce at a young age, but my first marriage only lasted about ten months. I knew I wanted out from the honeymoon on. I discovered that the man I married was not only a drug addict, but a drug dealer as well and he was very good at hiding it from me and his family. Needless to say, I was the one who ended it and I’m so thankful I did.

    I was single for 13 years after that. When I was 39 birthday my current husband proposed and we have been married for over 9 years now. Good things come to those who wait and never lose faith.

    Thanks for sharing you lovely story, Keli!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  24. Thank you for opening up your soul and being vulnerable. Your love for Jesus, and His love for you, shines through your words and brightens my heart as I read them. Your story shows the amazing faithfulness of a compassionate Father.

  25. Cheryl McKay says:

    Thanks for your bravery in sharing your story, Keli. Love the description of the vision you had of the Lord in the hall. Very cool.

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