I remember slowly hanging up the phone and then saying as I sighed deeply, “Well, it’s happened.”
The voice on the other end of the phone was an attorney, notifying me that my wife had filed for divorce.
I had lived with threats of divorce for many years; my wife had moved out of our home the weekend before. And yet even so, I was stunned by the news I was given.
Over the next several days, many different emotions and thoughts tumbled through my heart and mind. I didn’t want a divorce. I didn’t know exactly how to proceed to keep a divorce from happening. I didn’t know who to tell, or how I should tell them. I knew eventually I would need to tell the entire congregation of the church I pastored, and I had no guarantee about how the board or the people would respond. The only certainty was the pressure of preparing for and delivering next Sunday’s sermon.
Even as my mind raced a million miles a second, I knew with absolute certainty deep within my heart these truths:
- God was not surprised by this action taken by my wife.
- God was in control of my life—He had allowed this to happen for His purposes and as part of His plan for me.
- God had promised in His Word never to leave me nor forsake me—He had promised He would be right by my side every step of the way—and therefore, all things would ultimately be for my eternal benefit if I would only continue to trust Him fully.
The immediate facts of the situation created turmoil. The unchanging truth about God created peace.
Almost eight years after that attorney’s phone call in June of 1993, the divorce my wife sought was legally granted to her.
People have said to me in the years since …
“Surely you must regret the loss of your marriage.”
“Surely you must regret that you failed in your fight to save your marriage.”
“Surely you must regret that all your overtures toward reconciliation didn’t work.”
My outward response has been mostly silence. My real, inward response to such comments is, Saddened, yes; regret, no.
Yes, I am saddened that my marriage ended in divorce.
No, I do not live with an abiding sense of regret.
Because regret is rooted in unresolved guilt. I knew I had peace with God, and regret and guilt are therefore not a part of my life.
Charles F. Stanley, Finding Peace: God’s Promise of a Life Free from Regret, Anxiety, and Fear (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 96–97.