I’m super excited to introduce my friend, Charlotte, to you today! I met Charlotte a year ago while attending the She Speaks Intensive and I adore her. She is a survivor of an abusive marriage, mother of two boys, and a resident of sunny California . . .

By Charlotte Hammer

It’s February.

When I turn on the TV, I’m bombarded by commercials that remind me that my frock is adorned with a scarlet D.

Divorced. Failed at marriage. Not wanted.

No one is going to Jared’s for me this Valentine’s Day. There is not going to be any kiss that begins with Kay. No fruit bouquet will be sent. (If any guys are reading this let me help you with this: do NOT send a fruit bouquet. Ladies, you’re welcome.)

I open my email inbox, scan the subject lines, and roll my eyes. Blog titles helpfully announce “Five Things You Can Do to Strengthen Your Marriage.” Tweets recommend praying about your marriage more than talking about it.

Helpful suggestions, I’m sure. But what I really want to say is, “Won’t everybody please just stop being married AT me?”

Valentine’s Day is paraded in front of all of us as a Photoshopped version of true love and romance. For many, this day of unrealistic expectations can be a stark reminder of how dysfunctional, troubled and possibly nonexistent your marriage is.

Marriage can be very hard when it is made-up of two people who love each other very much and want their marriage to be strong and healthy. Even marriages with God at the center have issues.

The harsh truth in our broken world is not every struggling marriage is redeemed or restored. Marriages fail and those who’ve experiences this are left thinking,  “This isn’t how I thought my life would turn out.”

The Rolling Stones had it right – we can’t always get what we want. But with God’s help, we can get what we need.

Despite desperate prayers whispered at night, when I followed all the steps to a better marriage, when I used “I” and not “you” statements and when I shunned absolutes, my marriage failed.

Happily ever after didn’t happen for me. Sometimes it just happens that way.

No amount of selflessness or prayer or submission or hanging in there will make one bit of difference.

But that is not the end of my story. Because God.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Life continues after divorce. Or the cancer diagnosis. Or the loss of someone too young to die. And while we don’t get to choose what happens to us, we can choose how we get through the hard things.

“When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2-3

I am so grateful for this. I tend to get stuck in the details of my situation. Fear and anxiety overwhelm me when I focus on circumstances.

But God has a different perspective.

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

We are to give thanks IN all circumstances not necessarily BECAUSE OF those circumstances. Some things are soul-sucking and hard. It would be impossible and a little bit weird to give thanks for those things that bring us to our knees. There is nothing about divorce to be thankful for. And I don’t believe I’m supposed to be thankful for the things that led to my divorce, the things that harmed my children and me.

What I can find to be thankful for, though, is that God keeps his promises.

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distresses. He caused the storm to be still, so that the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad because they were quiet; so he guided them to their desired haven.” Psalm 107:28-30

This is the hope I have: as I travel through the storms, God is with me and leading me to my desired haven. And it is the hope you can have for whatever storm you find yourself in.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” Lamentations 3:21-25

In this season of love, I can turn my focus from what I don’t have and what I lost, to the promises of God’s love for me right now. And while I have hope because of God’s faithfulness, visions of heart shaped piñatas labeled “I Hate Valentine’s Day” dance through my fantasies. I want to get one of those and take a good whack at it, thank you very much.

Hammer, Charlotte-1881

Charlotte Hammer is a mama to two boys living in California. She is a lover of Jesus, writer, and an encourager of women. She blogs at www.charlottehammer.com.

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