Three Truths I'm Clinging To (while waiting on the annulment process)
While it has been a little over 2 months since my divorce was finalized, it still like it happened ages ago. That same week I turned in a lot of paperwork to begin the process for an annulment.
While annulments are specific to only Catholics, I think they can often get a bad rap and can be confusing for folks to understand (both Catholic and non-Catholic alike).
While a divorce is a civil judicial act that legally ends a marriage, an annulment is an ecclesiastical (fancy word for church) determination where what was believed to be a valid sacramental, Catholic marriage is declared to never have been a marriage in the first place.
So really what that means is the day a couple got married, it looked like a marriage took place and it appeared they both had the proper intent and will to live these vows. However, in a thorough investigation, there can be found reasons and/or circumstances that can prove a marriage never really happened (making it null) at all.
Never really having known anyone growing up who was divorced or went through the annulment process, I wasn't really sure what to expect going through it myself.
It is mostly paperwork where one of the parties answers questions and tells the story leading up to and during the marriage. Witnesses are also submitted who share their own written statements. Think of it like a church court case.
After a case is submitted, you basically just wait, which is where I am right now. I am waiting for the Church to investigate and look into my unique situation. Annulments can take up to a year and sometimes they go a little longer or a little shorter. But I am in no rush. I am kind of grateful for the length of time it takes because it gives me more built in time to continue to work on myself and do my healing work.
As I worked on my annulment paperwork over the past winter months, I found myself clinging to the same truths over and over again. Wherever you are in life we all need some truth to cling to. If you're in a hard season of life that seems painful or waiting or scary or growing or changing-I think these truths are good for all of us wherever we are on the journey of life.
So here are the truths that I'm clinging to as I wait on the annulment process.
1. I'm believing that God is enough.
In April, I went to a day of formation for youth ministers. It was glorious. The priest leading it shared some words of St. Francis of Assisi that I had never heard before: "God, You alone are enough for me." It has stayed with me since then. I often find myself saying those words aloud as I'm driving or reminding myself when I am having one of those no-good-terribly-awful days.
God alone is enough. I really wish I could have learned this awhile back and not in such a painful way, but starting to believe these words to my core is changing me in the middle of everything.
And for that I can be grateful.
2. I'm believing God's plan is bigger and better than what I can see right now.
There are days I hate the reality I am in, days I want to be like Job's friends and not like Job so much.
Right now I am going through my favorite gospel, John. The other night I was reading the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I had such a new, fresh personal insight to this miracle. I used to always focus on the part where Martha chews Jesus out, "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died!" How many times since and even more before my divorce did I ask God why.
I never realized the answer is in the rest of the story.
When Lazarus was dying, and the messengers came to ask Jesus to come and heal him, Jesus already knew he was going to let his friend die. He knew he was going to use Lazarus's death to work such a miracle that faith in God would be ignited all over the countryside. Jesus knew this terrible tragedy would be used for a greater good, for the ultimate glory of the Father. And Martha and Mary would not be able to understand this until later.
I cannot tell you how hard I cried (more like sobbed) thinking about this in relation to me, that God could use the pain of a divorce for a greater good and would even use it to glorify the Father.
I guess that is the power of radical grace and mercy at work.
3. I'm believing God doesn't take me to the desert to leave me there.
My all-time favorite book of the Bible is Exodus. I never get tired of reading and thinking about how much the story of Israel is my story too.
Like the Israelites, God doesn't take us to the desert to leave us there. He uses it to purify and strengthen us. God used those 40 years in the desert to break Egypt out of Israel's heart. And he uses the desert in our lives to break us of our control, pride, and teach us how much we need Him.
It is not God's nature to bail on us. When He takes us to places of suffering or pain, it is to use it for our good and His glory. His plans are good, His ways are perfect.
The wandering years ended for Israel. And the desert for us is just a temporary place as well.
Whatever your present looks like, I hope you have lasting truths you're clinging to.