It started with a close friend posting a message about loving yourself, and was immediately followed with a one-liner on the radio— “Grace is the combination of Faith and Love”.Read More
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As many of you know, I recently went through a sudden—and very public—divorce with my now ex-wife Morgan. With everything now finalized, I wanted to take a moment to share my story of losing everything—as well as rediscovering my passions, new relationships, and truly finding my faith as a 27-year-old. This is not an exposé on why Morgan and I got a divorce or a gossip piece to mess with her public figure. The focus of this piece will be my personal experience and what I have learned through this process.
It all started on a Friday. Just like every Friday, I was deconstructing the prior work week to finalize everything before the weekend, but this time would be very different.
About 8 months prior, Morgan and I started a company around her passion for teaching yoga and encouraging people to build a stronger core. With my background in business management and marketing, and her social media presence, this company became successful and quite profitable in a short period of time. This afforded us the opportunity to no longer rely on my six figure job and focus on advancing our business together, as well as starting other businesses in the digital fitness world. It was the perfect combination that gave me the opportunity to leave a dream marketing position in pursuit of another dream—becoming a full time entrepreneur.
Ok, back to the story, it’s Friday night and I had just taken the first step towards chasing a lifelong goal. Excitement was in the air, with an eager anticipation dreaming for our future. We already had multiple trips planned for the coming months, new business ideas were in development, and I had that startup inspiration again for the first time in a while. That’s when I got a phone call that quickly brought all my excitement crashing down.
It was the type of phone call that just starts off strange. I instantly knew something was off. There is something my wife isn't telling me; a barrier between us that wasn't there last time we spoke. The conversation continued and I realized something was seriously wrong—not just with Morgan, but with our relationship. As she was talking, my mind was running through all the potential causes of this stress and what I could do to fix it. How can I solve the problem? What do I need to change to make things better? I quickly realized there would be no simple fix to this problem when Morgan said the words “I’m no longer in love with you.”
Here is this person I had committed to spend the rest of my life with; the person who vowed to grow old with me; the person I started a company with; the person I had focused on making happy for the past 5 years; speaking words that I never thought I would hear in real life.
My immediate reaction was anger. Angry at Morgan for betraying me, angry at my friends for not intervening, and mostly angry at God for letting this happen. Just a matter of hours later, depression and sadness kicked the door down and decided to stay a while. The coming days consisted of a battle between fighting like hell for a wife who didn't want me and wondering if I could love and trust anyone ever again.
Over the next 4 days, it became clear that she had feelings for someone else. The only thing Morgan wanted from me was to forget our vow of faithfulness in good times and bad, but I wasn't ready to just throw in the towel. Regardless of anything that happened, we made a commitment, and that’s something I take very seriously.
So I found myself in the middle of a nightmare—I had left a promising career in pursuit of a dream with my wife. What I had expected to be a major highlight landed me in the deepest darkest hole I’d ever found with no exit in sight. I felt like I had just lost everything, my wife, my hope, my future, my dreams, and even my ability to love. There was a void that engulfed my entire life like I had never experienced before. I have never been more terrified, lost, or broken, believing nothing could ever fix this pain.
Something most of you don’t know is that I’m no stranger to pain and loss. As a matter of fact, a year ago I would have considered myself an expert on it. I thought I’d already experienced enough trials for a lifetime and wasn't going to have to go through any more major losses. When I was 13 years old, my dad had a seizure at work and was rushed to the hospital. That night, I overheard the doctor saying he had a severe brain tumor and there was a high probability he wouldn't make it through surgery—my dad, a man who devoted his life to serving God, was always there to support his family, and stayed active and healthy my entire life. As a 13-year-old, my dad was larger than life. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him. He was strong. He was so strong that, during one of his seizures, it took half a dozen nurses holding him down to make sure he didn't hurt himself or others. There wasn't a scenario that he couldn't handle, or a group he didn't command.
A true leader and the patriarch of our family, but there he was on a hospital bed fighting for his life against something he had no control over and didn't deserve. My dad lived through that surgery and continued fighting cancer for the next 9 years. During that time, he had his ups—where he was my same old dad—and his downs, where he was bed ridden for months at a time. After a long and exhausting battle, he finally went home to be with Jesus in 2011. During that battle, I was told my dad was going to die on three separate occasions before I had turned 21. This whole experience left me numb to most emotions. It was easier to avoid my feelings and shut myself off from the real world than to deal with the grief of losing someone so important.
Yet this divorce left me completely wrecked. There’s something about being betrayed by the person I placed all my hope in that broke me completely. However, at the other end of brokenness, I was finally able to find peace through my faith.
Psalm 34:18 "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who's spirits are crushed."
I can’t tell you the amount of times this Bible verse has been shared in my life with little to no effect. For the first time in my life, as a 27-year-old, it finally meant something to me. Even though I was raised in the church, I finally knew why God sent his Son to die on the cross for our sins. He is close to the broken hearted because he has been there, he can relate. He let his son go through all that pain and suffering for me and millions of other people going through similar heartbreak, so that we can go directly to God and have a one-on-one relationship. For the first time, my faith had a purpose. I never doubted if God was real, but I could finally say without a doubt that he genuinely cares, and all we have to do is accept. There was an instant peace once I had this realization. I no longer felt broken and empty—I felt whole for the first time. I had inspiration and purpose again, and an overwhelming desire to help people with what I have: a story of pain and loss but, more importantly, growth and discovery.
Losing someone after working hard and making sacrifices for them really gave me a life changing perspective. I had spent so much time pursuing my dreams at the cost of relationships that, at the end of the day, I was left with neither.
It was time for a change, time to trust people completely, time to be vulnerable about struggles, time to get in touch with my emotions and learn how to communicate them clearly, time to connect with people I normally wouldn’t, and time to authentically love others like family.
Going into a relationship with the willingness to be honest about the crap in your life, and the trust that they will accept you anyway is the best and quickest way to true community. When I lost my most intimate relationship, over a dozen deep authentic friendships began, and these friendships are on a level previously thought unattainable. I was never willing to risk potential embarrassment and share what I thought no one would ever accept. Over time that list of ‘unacceptable’ continued to grow, and continued to further me from having trusting and vulnerable relationships with people I was close to.
The thing that amazes me most about relationships is that it only takes one person to change them for better or worse. My openness has spawned relationships where honesty and vulnerability is not only accepted but encouraged, accepted, and met with love rather than judgment.
I have been seriously blessed with real friendships over the past 6 months, from rekindling relationships with people I've known for years to connecting with someone for the first time.
There’s an honor and a thankfulness associated with someone trusting you, and that’s not something I take lightly. Vulnerability breeds trust, trust inspires grace, and grace leads to lifelong relationships.
Unfortunately, it took losing my marriage to learn all of these lessons. It took being vulnerable with friends to realize I had a hard time being vulnerable with my wife. It took finding my passion to realize I stopped living passionately during my marriage. It took losing everything to realized how much I sacrificed for a selfish dream.
Was I the best husband? Not at all. I had a hard time empathizing with her feelings while ignoring my own.
Do I wish I could change things? Absolutely, I should have sought out counseling much earlier in life.
Given the chance would I do things differently? In a heartbeat. But that is not the way my story unfolded.
After fighting with the person I love for five months with no change, I finally agreed to mediation. Regardless of my commitment to marriage, and my determination to fix things, it takes two people to make relationships work.
At the end of the day, the only thing that can’t be taken away is your story. By reading this, I hope you leave a little more inspired to make every day a day you would be proud to tell your grandkids about.
Go on more adventures, take more risks, love unconditionally and without reserve, find something you’re passionate about, work hard, be brutally honest with yourself, and always, ALWAYS remember that relationships are more important than things, they are worth fighting for and protecting, because you never know when one person may make a choice that changes everything, for better or for worse.