Ten years ago I made a big mistake.
This wasn’t a simply “uh oh” kind of mistake. I’m talking about the legendary kind. The kind of mistake that can alter your life and define who you are. The kind of mistake that I would eventually regret.
Ten years ago today, I married my ex-wife.
Six days after graduating from West Virginia University and only a few days before I would make the jump from sports to news writing, I married someone whom I thought I was in love with, but deep in my heart I knew it could never work.
We were two different people who were the extreme opposite of the other. I am outgoing and gregarious by nature. She was silent and didn’t really enjoy being around others. I wanted to go out and explore the country and world. She wanted to stay home. I knew there was something bigger than me in life. She had no interest.
Of course, relationships are going to have differences. No two people are going to be the same. Each person brings their own personality into a relationship or a marriage. What we lacked were two key ingredients in making a marriage work. We were not in it together and we did not communicate well.
When those two ingredients are missing a marriage is in trouble, and ours was in trouble from the start. We had different dreams and visions for our lives. Even more, we were horrible at communicating with one another. We were two different people who never became one family.
On that day 10 years ago, I had a suspicion this marriage would never work, yet I went through with it. The reason was that I I did not want to disappoint anyone. I did not want to disappoint this woman whom I had spent three years with and had known since junior high, and I did not want to disappoint her family. I certainly did not want to disappoint my family, many of whom I believed, at the time, wanted us to get married. (I learned years later that this was not the case). Most importantly, I did not want to disappoint myself. I felt that if I broke off the engagement and marriage I would be a failure to those whom I cared about, and it was something I could not handle at that time.
The marriage lasted less than two years. We both had our faults that led to the marriage’s end. It was not one person’s failure. We both failed. We both had a part in living into what was my biggest mistake.
Yet, I learned something from that mistake. It is what taught me grace. Because of that mistake, I learned redemption and seen how God has redeemed those years for something greater.
Back then I was not the person I am today. I was self-focused. I went to work believing I was “the next big thing” only to realize I wasn’t close to being “on deck.” I was angry and I was bitter. But, I never would have realized it had the event of 10 years ago never happened. When the marriage crumbled, I hit rock bottom personally, spiritually, financially, and emotionally.
In the experiences that took place I saw God’s hand and grace. It was the first time I really had felt God at work in my life. Sure, I had grown up in the church, but I never really felt that God really loved me. The years that followed the divorce, I learned what grace and forgiveness truly looked like. I learned what true friendship looked like. I learned what God’s love really and truly felt like.
It changed me and made me the person who I am today.
I could go into more detail about the experiences I’ve had in the last 10 years and how it led me to the church, to realize my calling, and to meet Abbi, who is my most wonderful and supportive wife, but I would be going on and on. I want to make a concluding remark.
We all have made mistakes in our lives. Some of these mistakes are small and some are big ones that still impact us. None of us have walked life on the ideal path. However, our mistakes can be opportunities to experience grace in our lives. They do not have to be “ending” moments that define our futures, but can be opportunities to experience God’s redemption and grace whether it is for the first time or the 100th time.
All it takes is our willingness to see that God truly loves us, that He has never walked away from us, and that he desires redemption for all of His children.
Our mistakes, then, our not end moments, but can be opportunities to truly experience God’s grace and redemption.
What would it look like for you to experience that today?