Dealing with parents' divorce

my parents' divorce Taught Me More about Love Than The Time They Were Together

I learned that love doesn't always mean being together.

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My parents have been divorced for about seven years. Most times when people hear that your parents are divorced, they say "I'm sorry" or "Oh, that sucks." The truth is, I'm not sorry. My parents' divorce has helped me learn how different types of love work.

The first type of love is enduring love, which is a love that has developed over time. This type of love is the love my parents have for each other. They met when they were 13, got married when they were 25, had me when they were 37, and got divorced when they were 46. Throughout all those years, their love changed from teenage crush to "love of my life" to family of three and then to friends.

In high school their relationship was on and off, hot and cold, good and bad. Still, something inside of them kept bringing them back to each other. Their relationship grew stronger through college, and then they got married. They were married for 12 years before they had me. Throughout their lives, they changed with each other. Eventually, what they wanted just didn't fit well together anymore. My parents still love each other and care about each other, but they're just not meant to be married, and that's OK.

The second type of love is a platonic, familial, love. Since I was born, my parents always wanted me to push myself to become the best version of me I could be, and neither of them stopped being there for me when they divorced. They support me in my decisions and everything I do. My parents acknowledge my achievements, as well as help to move me in the right direction after failure.

I remember my mom would read bedtime stories to me every night until I fell asleep. I would always ask her to read one more, and she always did. In addition to her selfless giving, my mom has been there for me through every failure, mistake, learning experience, success, sport and so on. There has never been a single day when I have doubted the love she has for me.

My dad is always looking out for me and looking for opportunities that he believes I can succeed in. He pushes me to go the extra mile and always encourages me to try my absolute best. We don't get along often, but I know he always has my best intentions at heart.

The third type of love is self-love. My parents taught me self-love from a young age. I believe that it is important to understand that love does not always need to come from another person. Sometimes it just needs to come from you. They taught me how to be independent, think for myself rather than simply doing what everyone else is doing and to know that I am strong on my own.

Finally, and most importantly, is selfless, unconditional love. I am aware that it is rare for divorced parents to get along with each other, let alone be friends. The reason that my parents' relationship with each other is still standing is because of their ability to put the quality of my life above theirs. I'm proud of them for sitting next to each other at my sporting events. I'm glad that they have never stuck me in the middle or fought over me. They have never stopped showering me with unconditional love and support, and for that, I am so very thankful.

Yes, it would be nice to have a mom and dad who loved each other in such a way that they wanted no one else. It would be nice to go on family vacations and be able to talk about my day at dinner with both of them. Life doesn't always give us nice, and people who love each other aren't always meant to be together. We have to do the best we can with what we have, and that has to be enough.

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Dear Softball

Thank you softball.

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Dear Softball,

I fell in love with you when I was just three years old, and honestly I've never looked back. Had you told my three-year-old self that I'd still be playing at 21 years old however, I'm not sure that I would ever have believed you. Growing up in the small town of Delhi, playing baseball with the boys was what I lived for. I'd spend countless hours in my backyard throwing and hitting by myself just so I could keep up with the boys on the field. It was when I switched to softball however, my life truly changed. You have made the past 18 years extremely difficult to say the least, but these years have shaped my life and truly made me who I am today.

My parents have made so many sacrifices because of you. I have never met two people who are more hard-working than they are. They have spent countless hours, working overtime, continuously saving up, just to allow me to follow my hopes and dreams. Because of you, softball, my relationship with my parents is so strong, and we have countless memories that we will never forget. You helped my parents to not only be my number one fans on the field, but also in life, and for that I am beyond grateful. You have brought me the greatest support system I could have ever asked for.

There have been so many moments I have missed out on throughout the duration of high school and college because of you. I've missed family reunions and dinners, weddings, concerts, and events, but at the end of the day you have given me more opportunities than most could ever dream of. There were times I dreaded going to practice with you because it meant I missed out on some pretty cool things with my friends. You also forced me to leave events early quite often because I would have to be up early for a game the next day. Looking back on it all now, I wouldn't trade any of my time spent with you for the world.

So many doors were opened because of you. So many laughs, so many tears, so many friendships, so many opportunities. You've given me the opportunities to play for so many different teams and organizations: Delhi, WBS Twins, Brantford Bobcats, Mississauga Tigers, Vaughan Vikings, Toronto Fastpitch, Bytown Belles, Whitby Eagles, to name just a few. You have given me the opportunity to not only represent my hometown, but my province with Team Ontario, and my country with Team Canada as well. This was my biggest dream come true.

Finally, you opened a door for a college education and scholarship to play you at the highest level. Specifically speaking, my college career with you has been the most difficult four years of my life, but it has been incredibly worth it. There are moments where I sit back and wonder if playing you was really worth all of the blood, sweat, hard work and tears, but holding up the horizon league trophy this year made that evidently clear; you were worth it, without a doubt. You allowed for me to experience something most people don't; an NCAA regional. Working hard beside 20 girls has taught me to believe in something and work for something much bigger than myself. You have taught me to be a great teammate, to set a good example, and to always lead with my heart in absolutely everything I do; this is something I will carry with me in life. With opening the door to college, you have allowed me to discover myself and what I want in life. So for these specific things and so so many more, I thank you.

Thank you for never failing to be my stress relief from school. Thank you for never ever failing to be a fresh breath in world full of chaos. Thank you for being one of the main reasons that my family is so close. Thank you for teaching me to work hard. Thank you for giving me some of the greatest role models in life. Thank you for teaching me that it's okay to fail sometimes. Thank you for introducing me some of my best friends. Thank you for allowing me to represent my town, my school, my province and my country. Thank you for loving me, even on the days where I hated and wanted to give up on you. Thank you for allowing me to discover who I truly am. Thank you giving me some of the greatest memories. Thank you for allowing 18 years of dedication to end in a win. Thank you for allowing me to hang up my cleats with a ring on my finger. Thank you for placing the people in my life that have built me into who I am today. Thank you for changing my life. Thank you, softball, for everything.

Yours Truly,

Courtney Gilbert

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My Life Has Not Been The Same Since I Met My Father

He showed me angels, and told me I could put my weapons down because I've got protectors.

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I rang in 2019 with sexual sin and instead of being convicted, I felt condemnation (see previous blog post). This, coupled with isolation and watching my fellow seniors have future plans while I didn't have any for post-undergrad, caused me to be in a dark place from January to the first week of April. I honestly didn't want to live anymore, convinced there was no point to my life. Three months, 1 week, and 3 days later, I went on my first A Life Retreat from April 11th to the 14th.

We arrived at the retreat site on the 11th at night so I was just expectant for the next day, but I was trying not to be excited because I didn't want to be brokenhearted if Jesus passed me by. On the 12th, during the last session for the day, many of my peers were getting delivered. I was praying for their deliverance while hoping for my encounter with Christ. However, something shifted in me and I became jealous. I remember thinking I wish I had some demons in me so that God will finally pay me some attention (we could unpack another day so this post isn't 5 pages long). I began to doubt God, I stopped praying and was looking around with a cynical smile on my face.

After the leadership team dismissed us, I went to sit down, angry and dejected. Someone asked me if I was okay. I lied, answering yes. Another person asked me; I lied again. A third person asked, and I finally told the truth saying, "no, but it's whatever". She asked if she could pray for me and I said, "you can do what you want but it's not going to change anything". I reasoned, if God won't show up for me when I prayed for myself, why would He show up when someone else does. With persistence, she began to pray for me, but I wasn't paying attention. I was just thinking she will be done soon and go her way.

She didn't end quickly so I began hearing the words of her prayer. She was saying, "God loves you." I was chuckling, thinking yeah, right. As she continued to pray those sweet words over me, telling me what God was saying and thinking about me, I began to speak out loud what was in mind, telling her that she was lying. After some back and forth, some A Life leaders came over and began to pray for me and after a good fight, deliverance took place. I became free from the stronghold of the spirit of doubt.

The next day, I was hypersensitive to the voice of God. At the beginning of the first session, I heard Him tell me to put my shield down and what I saw behind it was incredible. I had detached a part of myself that was much younger than the current me and I would transfer all the blame of my past onto her. Everything I hated about myself I put on her (this younger version of me). God told me I was supposed to unite with her, but I didn't want to. I told myself I was shielding her to protect her, but actually, I was trying to hide her in order to hate myself less or to avoid judgment. I couldn't move forward until we became one. After another deliverance session in which I was able to forgive myself and reconcile all parts of me, I felt empty, but in a good way. While on break for the day, I remember thanking God for freeing me and asking Him to fill me back up.

Throughout the last session on the 13th, He showed up and showed out for His little girl. I saw multiple visions of how much God loves me. I don't really have an intimate relationship with my natural father so what happened that night was pivotal in my life.

In my first vision, while I was praising and worshipping Him, God told me to rest my head on His shoulder while He told me how much He loves me.

Then He told me to lay my head on his lap and at this point, I'm crying because He's also telling me how He feels about me and how beautiful I am.

He showed me angels, multitudes, and told me I could put my weapons away because I've got protectors and defenders.

He told me that they had always been there even when I could not see them and He did all this while hugging me.

There was so much more that God told me and showed me, but I'm focusing on these few because it tackled the daddy issues and brother issues I had.

My life has literally not been the same ever since April 13th, 2019. I don't even know how to put into words how my life has been, how I have felt, how much love I have in my life. I just want everyone else in the world to feel what I feel, to know what I know, to encounter WHO I encountered. I also want to thank the A Life leadership team. Just in case any of you are reading this, "thank you. I can only imagine the amount of time you had to spend in your secret place with The Most High so that you were able to war for me, and the other A Lifers with Him in the open. May our Father replenish and reward you for being dedicated to people to see them saved and FREE. I love you all."

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