Yes, I am divorced. For coming up on a year now.
There. I finally said it. I have certainly left enough blog clues about the direction things were going in my life over the last two years or so. Still, I realized how funny-odd it was for someone like me who claims to care so much about being real and therefore vulnerable to continue to do a tango around the truth. It’s time to come clean. You might be surprised at this news, I know.
Yes, I am divorced. I never thought I would say those words and I especially never thought I would be the one who initiated the proceedings. I am and I did. Why? It’s very complicated. And I have no desire to place blame anywhere else. I will own my part of the issue. The truth is trouble had been our near-constant companion for many years…maybe the last 20 or so. I was responsible for a share of that trouble but only a share. From my perspective, the ground is certainly level when it comes to blame. Plenty of hurt was inflicted by both of us. It serves no one to continue to debate this.
We split about 18 months ago and the divorce process began soon after.
My marriage had been on the critical list, then life support for many years. It came back from the edge a couple of times in the last five years, and then finally died. We had become nothing short of toxic to each other. Hundreds of hours of counseling over the years yielded little progress in untangling two sets of horrible home-of-origin issues that probably should have never been near each other. We both worked very hard over the years to try to make things work. It just got harder and harder.
Oh, I know all the Bible passages about marriage, divorce, and remarriage. Know them? Heck, I taught them in hours and hours of classes with trademark zeal seasoned liberally with my evangelical arrogance. I plowed right over those who had troubles that didn’t fit neatly in my black-and-white theology leaving them with boatloads of graceless Bible passages in my wake. Once again, I realize I owe apologies to many for failing to allow for hurting, broken humans. I am sorry.
I believe God has invested the recent years teaching me that the human condition is incredibly complicated and almost never black and white, never simple. My new theology is not new at all…God is a God of boundless, promiscuous grace and endless forgiveness. Humans have great need of that. I have great need of that.
All that said, I, William Norman Boggs, Jr. am the one guilty of pushing my marriage over the edge. Me. I did it. I own it. I did not set out to do that, at least consciously. And I am certainly not proud of it but deeply sorry for the pain I caused to my former wife and to my kids. Guilt and shame made nearly every life-moment very miserable for me for about a year after we split. I lost family and friends, though I really had neither in either lost group as it turns out.
There were days in the last 18 months I simply and fervently begged God to end my life, to take me. I felt despair as I labeled myself an abject failure. I confessed my role in all the circumstances of the divorce and apologized to all those impacted. Though I believe God forgave me, few others did. It was hard to face those days. Pain from guilt and shame to be sure, but also a surprising sense of genuine relief washed over me. Guess I felt guilty about that, too. How spiritual of me.
I know my evangelical background intensified my feelings of guilt, shame, and despair. This divorce stuff is not supposed to happen to someone like me…a former missionary, pastor, and staunch advocate of the biblical view of marriage. Still, the Bible is full of men just like me…every one of them flawed and broken…who failed miserably and got back up. I finally accepted there’s hope here for me, one broken human male child of God. So I got back up.
“Débrouillard” is a French word I have come to like that means “someone who adapts to any situation; resourceful.” It’s a bit more cerebral way to state the traditional Marine Corps motto, “Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.” Yes, yes, and yes. At first it was my goal, now it is my reality. Adapting. I have to go on living. Gradually, I accepted God’s forgiveness and realized it was enough. One day, I decided that no matter what, I had to continue on living my life. I chose to live, for my own sake and for those who remain that love me. I know I will always walk with something akin to a life-limp because of all this. I accept that. But I have to live and live without wallowing in worthless buffalo-pucky. There are those who want me to wallow. To remain miserable. Sorry. I won’t. I can’t. I am forgiven. There are those who will tell me I can’t do this or I can’t do that. I expect it. I’ll listen and come to my own conclusions.
Today, my life is very different. I’ve adjusted to feeling that relief I mentioned above. I am thankful for relief. It has blossomed into what I can only guess is happiness…a foreign emotion for me. Duty I know. Happiness I barely recognize. I like it. Yet I’ve been told recently that wanting happiness is wrong. I value this input though ultimately, few around me know the real feel of this path because they haven’t walked it. I have to live my own life. And nothing about it is black and white.
I’ve worked at remaining connected with a few people throughout this entire time. I have long had my own personal little “elder board” consisting of a couple of men who love me enough to tell me the truth. They have been a lifeline. Thank you, Charlie. Thanks, Larry. You both have helped me get through the mess I’ve made. And you have loved and encouraged me every step of the way. What a blessing!
Today, my simple words are meant to expose this truth of my flawed life. Yes, I am divorced but I refuse to let this latest personal tragedy define me. I have made mistakes. I confess and accept responsibility for those mistakes and I am deeply sorry for the pain I’ve caused. This is all I can do. All that’s left for me now is to accept God’s grace, move forward and try to live well. I trust the truth of Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”
I will continue to love my children and grandchildren with all I am and will be as much a part of their lives as they will allow. And I will not build a wall preventing my own happiness for the future, nor will I heed walls others try to build for me. No. These walls I will confront and tear down with fervor. I know now my happiness benefits not just me but all those I love. Huh. Some will have to get to know this new happy me. It’s been awhile.
William Norman Boggs, Jr., divorced débrouillard. Yes. I am. But from today forward, I am simply me. Accept me, judge me, love me, shun me…whatever you find to do in your own heart. These are things I can’t control. I am simply me.