When Love Ends in a Courtroom

Regardless of your marital status, or lack thereof, I think we can all agree that John Legend is the father of musical romance. His song All of Me, inspired by his wife, I just, there are no words. We all ache for love like that.

I have always been wired for relationships. Long-lasting, committed relationships…of all kinds; friendships, romantic relationships, family, and even career included. I’m not a “love me and leave me” kinda girl in any capacity. This has caused me problems throughout my life because I automatically want to give people all of me. I struggled with appropriate boundaries and learning who really deserved all of me. I didn’t get that it was a privilege to gain access to my heart, not a right. I also assumed that because I gave all of me to others, that meant they’d do the same. It took me a long time to realize that not everyone is wired this way, and it caused me a lot of undue anguish having to figure it out.

Not everyone wants all of me. And most people don’t give all of them. Not everyone finds a John Legend kind of love just because their heart is built for it. (At least not without some bumps along the way.) This intrinsic characteristic about me is not altogether bad, but it has not served me well in my naivety about the hearts of others. It has set me up to chase after things that leave me empty. To believe in a mirage and to place my heart in the hands of those who never wanted it to begin with, much less earned or deserved it.

Love is beautiful; but done the wrong way, it is absolutely devastating.

“To make one person the center of your world is bound to end in disaster. There are too many factors outside your control.” Alexandra Adornetto

I spent my marriage handing my heart over to someone who wasn’t equipped to cradle it; literally begging him to see what was in his hands and hold it like it meant something. It didn’t work. Once again, I set myself up unintentionally to live inside a prison of shame where the walls screamed, “You’re not worth it.” I threw myself inside that cell; my body in the cage and my heart on the other side in the hands of the warden.

A heart isn’t meant to live in the hands of someone else. Its not safe there. At least not if it’s placed in the wrong hands. Trying to love through a cage, separated from your heart with no access to the key, doesn’t work unless the other person has done the same.

John Legend’s song is so beautiful because it’s both people who are giving all of themselves. In a love like that, there are no cages. There are no wardens. There are no keys. There is only open, vulnerable hearts in the hands of two people who want to hold them and who understand the value of what they’ve been given.

Divorce is painful no matter what the circumstances are. Here lately I’ve felt a whole lot of nothing about this mess. I’m still not completely sure what it is I’m feeling. It’s nothing and it’s everything all at once.

Three days ago I sat in a courtroom, across from the man I surrendered my all to, as though he were a stranger. And in many ways he was. Stepping outside the cell long enough to see the reality of this prison I’d been living in gave me clarity and perspective I couldn’t have before. We’d been living two very different lives. I was living a John Legend love song, while he lived a whole different kind of melody. I wondered how it’s possible to go from giving someone my whole soul to now not even being able to make eye contact with him.

“The brittle bones beneath my chest cracked, piercing my heart. It was you who breathed new life into my lungs and it was you who would later syphon the life you had given so as to feed your selfish desires.” Sonya Watson

As I sat in the wooden pew, my heart beating so hard I could hear it, feeling like at any moment it might actually fall out through my butt, I realized the court room is a microcosm of what happens in a divorce.

The walls are blank, the edges are hard, the floor is cold and lifeless. The soul is gone, the warmth has disappeared and there is nothing left but the bones. The empty shell of a life you tried to create with another person, and the harsh reality that your heart wasn’t enough.

For me, it’s not simply the reality of a love ending that hurts. Its the reality of a love that never connected. A love that has never been on the same page. A love that never sang the same song and that never can. A love that doesn’t make sense, that left my heart alone and trembling on the cold, hard floor of a prison cell. A prison cell that I created.

This isn’t the love story I imagined for myself. This isn’t the kind of love they write about in love songs or show in movies. (Except Lifetime of course!) This isn’t how it was supposed to go. I was going to give my all to him and he was going to give his all to me. I was going to love all of him and he was going to love all of me. It was going to be beautiful. And even when it wasn’t beautiful, it was going to be strong and inspiring. A testament to the power of true love and commitment.

That dream has died and I am left with a courtroom. There is no warm glow of a heart wrapped in the hands of a man who cherishes it. There is no sweet melody of two souls wrapped around each other forever. And there really never was. All that’s left now is the casing of an attempt at a life together. A bleeding heart dropped onto the floor struggling to find its way back home.

I’m out of the cage and my heart is working its way back into my chest, but the process of stepping outside the prison is tedious. The nerves have all been shot and there is no feeling left. The bones are dry, the soul still shattered; but there is hope. Hope of a life on the other side. Hope of a future free from prison cells and broken, disconnected hearts. Hope of wholeness and restoration, and faith in the vow to continue on.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22