Kristin Armstrong on Surviving Divorce
After 32 years of marriage to her high school sweetheart, the unthinkable happened to Diane. "If somebody on the day of my wedding would have ever told me that I would ever be divorced, I would have told them that they were absolutely out-of-their-mind crazy," she says. Watch the video above to see Diane's story.
Kristin Armstrong, who was married to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong for five years, knows all too well how difficult it can be to move forward after divorce. Having quit her job to move to France with her husband and raise their three kids, Kristin felt like she gave up her independence and lost part of herself in the relationship. Though their separation was amicable, the first year after the divorce was not easy for Kristin. Now she's written a book called Happily Ever After, chronicling that year and how she was finally able to move on.
Rachael: "How did you fight to save your marriage - what were the steps that you went through?"
Kristin: "We did counseling, and we had a trial separation and got back together. We just tried everything that we could to make it work and it just didn't happen in the end."
Rachael: "What did you learn through the process of the divorce and moving forward afterward?"
Kristin: "I think I learned a lot about love. I think I learned a lot about the fact that love is unconditional. Whether you're in a marriage or in a relationship with somebody or out, that's not something that just goes away. If you can dig through the issues of forgiveness and moving on and preserving your identity, you can get to a place where love is still there."
Rachael: "How do you help people go from rock bottom to optimism?"
Kristin: "I think when you are rock bottom you don't really realize the choices that you have. You're in a place in your life where you're not feeling very powerful and yet you have an opportunity to make all kinds of really powerful choices. How do I want to be, what do I want my life to look like? So at a time when you feel the least prepared is when you really have a lot of opportunity ... So much of your identity is based on your relationships - if you're a mother, if you're a wife - all these ways we define ourselves. So when we have a shift it's really important that we're aware that, yes, we grieve that shift but we have to go forward and step into the next phase of our identity."
Rachael: "How are you and Lance co-parenting? How is that working?"
Kristin: "It's very important to not forget that love is unconditional. I was so afraid of failing at that and having this divorce show my children that that's not the case and ruining how they look at love. And now showing them that love can remain even though circumstances change, love is unconditional, that is huge to me. So going forward with Lance and maintaining a relationship that is based on love and respect and truth, those things tell my kids that even though my parents split up, it doesn't take their definition of love and ruin it.
That was huge for me, to get past the feeling of failure. It's important for them, and he and I need that too. We need to know that love is unconditional or otherwise you're left broken and that's not good enough."
Diane has one final question for Kristin: "What does the future hold? Does it get easier?"
Kristin: "For me now, it's been three years. It gets easier with each year because then you're not thinking 'last year at this time I was doing this.' You're looking forward."
An excerpt from Happily Ever After: Walking with Peace and Courage Through a Year of Divorce by Kristin Armstrong
(Posted with permission of Hachette Book Group USA)
AN END MARKS A NEW BEGINNING
This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. - EXODUS 12:2
This year will be epic for you-momentous in so many ways. You will see both ends of the spectrum of good days and bad days, and you will learn to treasure the simplicity and grace of middle ground.
As much as it may not feel like your year right now, maintain an open mind. The Lord is already at work behind the scenes, transforming your life and you. He is making you into the woman He had in mind when He created you. Prepare to continually be at a crossroad, as many choices are in front of you. Every day, many times a day, you will make decisions that determine the rest of your story. You can choose healing or resentment, freedom or unforgiveness, love or closure, joy or despair.
Each choice, made faithfully, leads to more choices. Eventually you will be surprised to find yourself healed, whole, and happily living your brand-new life. It's okay if you think that sounds crazy or impossible, because in 2003 I thought the same thing. God loves to laugh at the impossible, and soon enough, you'll be laughing too.
CHOOSING YOUR PATH
The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. - ISAIAH 32:17
The poet Robert Frost describes in his well-known poem "The Road Not Taken" two roads diverging in the woods and the timeless dilemma of choosing which path to take.
You are at this juncture. You stand on the threshold of a decision with implications of eternal magnitude. The road splits here-choose the path of righteousness and live in the light, or choose the path of rationalization and remain in the dark. It is imperative that you recognize the significance of a clean and complete healing and choose your path accordingly.
This choice not only affects you, but it can also shape the legacy you leave for your children and grandchildren. The path of sour bitterness, crusty resentment, and cold regret breeds generations of despair. The path of righteousness grants generations of peace, quietness, and confidence. You won't find the right path by default; the choice is deliberate. Which path leads to the kind of life you desire for yourself and those you love? Choose wisely.
PERSEVERING WITH GOD
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. - 2 CORINTHIANS 4:8-9
"That which does not kill you only makes you stronger." "God never gives you more than you can bear."
These are some worldly equivalents of the above Scripture from 2 Corinthians. When I first read those verses, I certainly felt pressed, perplexed, persecuted, abandoned, and struck down. I wanted to wallow in those feelings. I was angry at God. I had a very bad case of, "Why me?" Why not me?
Throughout history, the strongest faith journeys have had seasons of pain and adversity. With Christ as our pinnacle example, we can say with confidence that it is impossible to be of great faith and not endure suffering. Hard times are inescapable. Now, how we react to hard times is indeed another matter. We can look away from God in anger and unbelief, and if we choose to remain this way, be crushed, in despair, abandoned, and destroyed. Or we can look to God, and know beyond our understanding that He is at the core of our testing, and that Jesus alone lights a path to the other side.
Copyright, (C) 2007 by Kristin Armstrong
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