When the right choice is the painful one: My lesson through divorce

I hesitate writing this blog post.

I stare at a bright screen while sitting here in a shadowy hotel room overlooking the Snake River. I wanted to talk about this a while ago, but fear set in. A crippling fear actually that told me I’d lose most of my blog readers just as I’ve lost some friends already and even some family. And I might lose some, I realize that. But tonight, after the hardest day of my life, all I want to do is write. Regardless of perception.

About a month ago my husband and I filed for divorce.

I won’t go into the reasons, but the decision wasn’t made lightly. It wasn’t made overnight. And it came with many tears, hurtful words, and cries on bended knees. It came after wrestlings with God, anger at the world, and heart-to-heart conversations with nothingness long after the world went to sleep.

Needless to say, the decision was a right one.

And yet…

Yet I still feel the pain.


I lay here with reddened eyes that burn like fire, a stomach that twists and churns, and eyes that keep wandering to the river that my husband and I used to walk with our dog. Today I came back into town to get the rest of my things piled into a U-Haul before I make the trek back to my home state of Washington. The sadness I felt as I pulled away from the driveway for the last time was excruciating. There was my husband of four years who I deeply care for, left with an empty house, some nails on the wall where pictures once hung, and eyes full of tears. I felt awful. Yet I pushed the gas on the U-Haul and rounded the corner, reminding myself of my conviction and the answer I had received and he had received shortly after.


I have lost people through this process who disagree with divorce and who have boldly told me that Satan has his grip on me and this choice would never be of God. I’ve lost people I’ve loved with my husband mutually for four years who have decided that I must have lost my mind when this decision was made. I have lost a lovely house. Friends. Two bunnies we had to sell today. A community. A darling neighborhood with sweet neighbors. A marriage.  In-laws. My upcoming chance at motherhood through adoption. Respect of some of those around me who stand on the outside looking in.

Yet even now, through burning eyes, I want to speak to you of what I have gained.

I know one of you need it–that there’s a reason behind why I write tonight.

Sometimes, I have decided, to truly follow the plan of happiness, you have to trek through the valley of sadness.

walk through valley.jpg

You have to sometimes make a decision that breaks your heart into a million pieces. You have to sometimes lose everything to rebuild something. You have to sometimes face the world completely alone with their jeers and their snide comments and their turned backs and decide to keep walking anyway. You have to sometimes smile through the tears. You have to sometimes completely and fully trust your inner compass, even while standing in the dark and fighting the urge to flee. You have to sometimes tell your complacency to take a hike, and go forth fearlessly anyway.

The greatest pain comes right before the greatest joy.

But it can be hard to remember that.

After leaving Idaho several weeks ago, I met with my bishop at my church to get some advice and to let him in on how I was feeling. He asked hard questions and dissected what was going on and finally gave me a knowing look. He asked me if I know about the atonement.

Of course I do, I responded.

And that’s when he proceeded to tell me that too often we see Christ’s atonement as a remedy for the sinner and the lost and the ones who choose wrong. What we fail to remember though, is that Christ also felt the pains of those who follow spiritual promptings and choose to do what is right, even at the cost of persecution and great pain.


His sacrifice, he reminded me, covers the heartache that comes when choosing the right path also means choosing the rocky and thorny one–sometimes totally and utterly alone.

He knew, better than anyone else in the history of mankind as he carried out His father’s will, that the most difficult path often leads to the most beautiful destination. His choice was a difficult one, but He trusted that what was up ahead would be far greater than standing still.

It requires courage. And bravery. And honesty.

It calls out for identifying your self-worth and your purpose and your reason for coming to earth. It demands that you remember who you are in the grand scheme of things and that you can trust Heavenly Father’s plan, even when you can’t see too far ahead.

I know for a fact I can’t see too far right now. I feel incredibly blind.

Right now all I can see is the computer screen. And the river in the moonlight. And the flash of a lone TV against the wall. And that’s about it. Not even going to lie.

But I do trust a few things. I trust that the sun will rise. That Heavenly Father has my back. That I’ll keep breathing in and out and my feet will hit the floor when I wake.

And I trust that because I listened to the still-small voice, even amidst the sorrow, tomorrow will be better. And so will the day after that.

And joy will come.


I hope that you, wherever you are or whatever you are going through, will take hold of your compass and follow its arrow and trust Him while in the dark.

You don’t have to run or take short cuts or even smile through it all.

You just have to keep moving.

And remember that the man who walked the path first walks it again right now–with you.









43 thoughts on “When the right choice is the painful one: My lesson through divorce

  1. Thanks for your boldness and constant bravery. I left t ex 12 years ago. Difficult but necessary and overdue. Hugs and prayers to you.

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. I hope you come out of it stronger, wiser, and ultimately happier. And if friends or even strangers like me online turn away, well to hell with them. Life is real, messy, hard, not pretty, and not a commercial for the church. Many people need to realize this. Lots of hugs and well wishes to you, you’re going to be ok.

  3. I am so sorry for your pain. Those who choose to distance themselves from you are the ones who lose. Remember you are loved by those who matter especially the one who feels your pain the most and will help you heal. You will be in my Prayers

      1. If this is so, then may I say that when we do what the Lord wants us to do, there is no shame. I, too, ended up getting a divorce under the direction of the Lord. It didn’t stop the painful process that I went through afterwards. But there was no shame. I knew that I was doing what the Lord wanted me to do. It was the most painful, humbling experience of my entire life. It was not one that I would ever encourage anyone else to go through. But it also proved to be the most sanctifying experience I have ever had. I grew to love and know my Savior in a way that only that sort of pain can provide. He has become my very best friend. Shame? There is no shame in doing what the Lord wants you to do.

  4. To say I’m shocked to read this is an understatement. I can’t even imagine the pain you are going through. Thank goodness for the Atonement that we can heal and grow and move forward.

  5. It just takes so much courage and energy to do what must be done when we receive personal revelation about our time here on earth and what direction to take. You recognized it. You are following the prompting. You are taking the steps to re-frame your life within the gospel.It is just plain HARD. For those who judge, have only a little peek at the whole picture or who are just without experience in the difficulties in life, Elder Oakes commented that,”… those who have not come up so hard will have to learn (these lessons) another way.” Sometimes difficulties are thrust upon us by circumstances, sometimes by choices we must make and sometimes by others. You have an inspired Bishop. I try to remember the Atonement and to grasp the power and the completeness of that reach.I can’t . But I try to remember that it covers our sorrows,afflictions,disappointments,infirmities that we suffer in this life. We can and must do the hard things that are set before us. In this way we learn from them.Of course others may not get that at all. So don’t let those outside influences wear you down! You know the truth of the matter from the Source. Period. p.s. my family has never accepted the fact I joined the Church. My husband died. His parents never accepted it either. It gets lonely because others have not experienced this. Loss is loss and there is grief. One lesson I am learning is that sadness and happiness can co-exist alongside each other. I don’t like it . But it is part of the lesson plan. Bless you.

  6. In so sorry for your loss. That sounds kind of strange but you have lost a lot. And you and your husband know what is best for you. It saddens me all the time how people are quick to judge and tell others how to live their lives. You will survive. I believe you truly have an amazing spirit and it shows through the words you’ve shared. They have certainly helped me become stronger. May you be blessed with peace and comfort as you rebuild your life.

  7. I am sorry that this is something that you have to do. God made you in his image and that alone makes you strong. Friends come and they go, for what ever reason, but there is one that will always be by your side.

  8. Prayers for you as you go through this difficult time. Thanks for your bravery in sharing this difficult valley in your life. Twenty-something years ago, before I was a member of the LDS church, I decided to divorce my husband. I was in a conservative, evangelical church that shunned divorce. I had good reasons to choose divorce (I would probably be dead if I hadn’t chosen it), but still I was ostracized and blamed for the decision. A wise Christian counselor told me, “God does hate divorce. But He values you more than he values the institution of marriage.” Those words have succored me throughout the years. I wish I could say that I have my eternal companion…but alas, not on this side of the veil. What a blessing to know that there will be chances to redeem that part of my life on the other side.

    Blessings and hugs…

  9. Thank you for sharing! Too often divorce is a “bad word” we don’t say at church. Women or men who have been through it feel a stigma attached to them that they can’t escape. It leads to loneliness and feeling like everyone is judging you. The best advice I can offer you is don’t assume you know the thoughts in others heads. If you are going to guess what they are thinking, make it positive! Because the truth is that you never really know! So when you sit there wondering why people keep turning and staring – don’t assume it’s because they think you did something wrong, or that they even pity you. Assume they are thinking…wow she is so strong! I hope that I could be as strong as her facing my own trials! Because I’m a stranger all the way across the country, and that’s exactly what I am thinking. My favorite SIL went through a horrific divorce a few years ago and thought she would never feel peace again. It took time and healing but she is doing GREAT! She is happily remarried and enjoying a beautiful life. You’ve got this!
    And to anyone who might unfollow you because you don’t fit their picture of perfect anymore? That picture is a lie! Perfect is people who keep trying, have a good attitude and share it with others. Best of luck to you my dear!

  10. Oh, I feel your pain! The loss of what you once hoped might have been. Your painful journey isn’t over, but it will hopefully bring you to a place of greater joy, empathy, compassion, happiness and yes, love. Sending you hugs and hope, prayers for strength and new beginnings.

  11. Thank You for this post. I too struggled with my decision to divorce, mostly due to stupid comments and judgements, but I never wavered in what I knew was right both for me and for the plan that is my life. It was the hardest thing I have ever done but I wouldn’t change things. I have learned so much in the years since and found a deeper happiness. Heavenly Father does not want us to live in sadness, so while others sometimes don’t understand divorce it doesn’t mean we were wrong. It simply means they have never walked in our shoes and cannot possibly understand the range of emotions that go into the decision to divorce.

  12. Wow Kayla, it’s sad to see how far you’ll go to convince yourself that you’re in the right. Your husband did not wrong you. He did not hurt you. He loves you and still loves you and you leave out of selfishness. Did you even try to make it work? Do you even see how many lives you ruin to go chase this dream of yours? You had it all and threw it all away and call this a blessing? There is absolutely no excuse for your behavior, so stop pretending to be the pioneer travelling the difficult path. Stop pretending to be brave when you run out of fear. I used to have such respect for you, and I think your readers deserve to know false this post is.

    1. I don’t know who you are since you didn’t offer a name, but I’m sorry you’re so hurt over this. Unfortunately you know nothing of the details of my life behind closed doors. Not a thing. I refuse to offer details on what led to our decision or to list out all of my pains or all the ways we tried. It’s no one’s business and I respect him enough to never let that out. Also, bear in mind that the life you may see from the outside doesn’t always reveal hidden pains or wrongs. So never think someone has a perfect life. I’d also be careful judging the intimate details of someone’s life if I were you since you probably wouldn’t want to be judged for yours.

      1. Hi Kayla, I too had to go through a similar experience. From the outside, my marriage looked like one out of a fairy tale book. We were also in the process of adoption, but I had secretly put a hold on our file because of what was going on. But behind closed doors, I was beaten, raped and emotionally tortured. I had prayed before getting married and thought I was doing the right thing. And perhaps I was, but was he? Marriage takes two people. Nobody knows what is really going on inside a marriage but those two people and our Heavenly Father. It took over 10 years of counseling and a husband now that treats me like an angel to make sense of the six years I felt I let everyone down. I had let myself become so isolated that even my family – my closest friends – were surprised at what all was going on behind the facade. Take care of yourself, stay close to your Heavenly Father, follow His words and His leaders. You will come out stronger and will appreciate things even more after the insight you’ve gained. My mom helped me heal so much through her love and insistence that I stay active in the church. I lost her when she was just 57, and it still hurts. I’ve never been blessed with children, but I sure do take care of her grand-babies in my own way as an aunt.

      2. I think I started reading some of the comments because I liked alot of the comments of your other blog and then I came across this one and got super defensive and then I read your comment and wished there was a “like” button. =)

    2. I am so appalled on how one can judge another after kayla being so honest with her readers and most importantly herself!! What kayla has done does show bravery and also love for her readers! Kayla in many ways will help others who are going through this simular struggle! How dare you for cowardly writing this with not even your real name to throw stones at this women who has obviously struggled to make herself ! I truly believe everyone deserves true happiness and if she is seeking this who are you to say she shouldn’t? ? Miss kayla sounds brave to go forward because she knew she would have repercussions such as comments like yours to read and deal with.. although I do know she loves her readers and she feels you all deserve to know her completely! What goes on behind closed doors no one knows so let’s stop pretending you do! Kayla, thank you for your honestly and your courage for stepping out when I know many can’t do that. GOD gave us all life and his wish for us was to seek a happy life with him. You are doing this now! Go forward and please never stop blessing others with your words and encouragement to help others! Their are way to many couples who just stay because of children, or how one may feel if one had left. That is not how one should live their life.. i am happy to know you are on your way to true happiness and comments like this is the easy part, they never deserve a reply although at times I can’t stand back and see people throw daggers when they should be looking at their own lives.. God bless miss kayla may you only now receive love and happiness; )

    3. Dear Disappointed….
      It sounds like you’ve appointed yourself judge and jury! Maybe your judgement comes from your own pain….I hope that’s the case, because our own buried pain can sometimes cause us to lash out at others who dare to do what we wish we could have the courage to do. Whatever your reason, posting on here, unless you somehow know everything that went on behind closed doors, is inappropriate. I hope you find peace, and can find it in your heart to wish Kayla the best as she moves on with her life.

  13. The scriptures tell us “Judge not, that ye be not judged”. None of us know the whole story & it isn’t our business anyway. It takes a lot of courage to leave, something I didn’t have so I applaud you. Your bishop is wise, as many of them are, so forgive yourself & know that there are many of us sending love & prayers.

  14. Thank you for sharing! I’ve been andfeelyourpassion! But by you sharing, you help others to not feel so alone or so wrong in what we are doing to be “right”.
    God bless you on your journey. The sun will get brighter IF you choose to let it in!

  15. I have struggled with accepting my father’s choice to divorce my mother after 45 years of marriage. I struggled to understand how he could be so unfeeling and selfish. You have helped me see that he was hurting too not just my mom. He was trying to find a way to be happy and a way out of the marriage but didn’t know how to without all of the judgment, anger and resentment so often associated with divorce. You have reminded me that He and my mom are what the Lord cares about the most not the marriage. You have opened up to me the possibility that my Dad made a correct choice to divorce my mom despite the fallout. Thank you.

  16. Once upon a time, in a similar situation, this poem by Mary Oliver spoke volumes to my heart. Maybe it will help you. The Journey

    One day you finally knew
    what you had to do, and began,
    though the voices around you
    kept shouting
    their bad advice–
    though the whole house
    began to tremble
    and you felt the old tug
    at your ankles.
    ‘Mend my life!’
    each voice cried.
    But you didn’t stop.
    You knew what you had to do,
    though the wind pried
    with its stiff fingers
    at the very foundations,
    though their melancholy
    was terrible.
    It was already late
    enough, and a wild night,
    and the road full of fallen
    branches and stones.
    But little by little,
    as you left their voices behind,
    the stars began to burn
    through the sheets of clouds,
    and there was a new voice
    which you slowly
    recognised as your own,
    that kept you company
    as you strode deeper and deeper
    into the world,
    determined to do
    the only thing you could do–
    determined to save
    the only life you could save.

    Mary Oliver

  17. Words are hard to come by. I will miss your radiant smile. Both your hearts will mend, in time and with the help of the Savior and those who love you, you will become stronger. I love you and pray for the best of things for you both. You will become and a sparkling diamond that has been in the refiners fire.

  18. I do not know what you’re going through or how you are feeling but as I read this post, a passage came into mind. Matt 28:20 and I know this talks about the great commission and how God is with us but I see it also as an assurance that in whatever condition or circumstance we find ourselves that God is always with us. Also Isaiah 41:10 talks about us not being afraid that God is our God and he will strengthen us.

    I just want to tell you that I know we care so much about these things, losing friends and loved ones but in the end none of these compare to having peace.

    Toward the last part of your post, I started smiling and I said to myself that I’m glad you trust God through it all.

    I pray God continually gives you strength to go through each day.
    People say “in the end it’ll be fine and if not not fine then it’s not the end” but I want to tell you that because you have God, the end will be better than how it started.

    Thank you for sharing this with us and I’m sorry about what you’re going through

  19. I am sorry to see you go, and I am sorry to see my family blaming and shaming you publicly when we don’t know what happened behind closed doors. That is no way to mend a relationship.
    May you both find happiness and healing.

  20. Thanks for your comments. I have a daughter who was married to a wonderful man, that we will always love as a son. They were married for seventeen years and have three children, 17, 14 & 10. They were sealed in the San Diego temple.
    At first the news was a complete shock to us as parents. They had been going through counseling for a year before they went ahead with their decision. At first I was so hurt by this choice they were both making. After all, they were sealed in the Temple. Now I’m sure the Lord will sort that out. I have come to understand that what goes on behind closed doors and in the hearts of individuals is between two people and the Lord. I can only contunue to love each of them unconditionally. And pray always for them. They’ve worked things out for the children, by living close and sharing their time and love with them.
    Thanks again

  21. “No matter which choices we make–no matter what choices those around us make–we are in the palm of his hand. We are his children. Divorced, abused, heartbroken, lost, angry or abandoned–we’re his children. And we’ll make it.”

    That is a quote of yours from one of your previous blog posts on your friend’s divorce. You are right. God does love you, and through him you will both be okay.

  22. I had a similar experience when my husband and I had to say no to an adoption several years ago. It was the hardest and most painful decision and many did not understand or believe that the Lord told us that this was not our child to adopt. Many of the same things were said to us in this case as was said to you about the divorce. There were family relationships that were forever changed by this. But I am stronger and the Lord has shown me in several ways the plan he has for my husband and I instead. I wish I could say that the pain is completely gone, but there are still times I mourn the loss of being able to adopt that child, but the Lord always reassures me that I am exactly where I need to be and he is exactly where he needs to be and I allow the succoring once again to heal my heart knowing that I followed Him instead of all the other voices. Peace will always come when you follow the Lord.

  23. My heart aches for you today. We share the same faith and I hear myself in your words. I went thru a divorce about 8 yrs ago and it was some the very hardest days of my life. How, after 5 long hard years could i walk away, take my children away. But it was the right thing to do. There were days i questioned myself, but always, ALWAYS, i could look back to those quiet moments when the spirit spoke to my heart and know i did the right thing. Hold to your faith. Cling to the Savior. As one who has walked a similar path let me say, there truly is joy and peace ahead. Hang in there. Much love from your sister in the faith.

  24. I am so sorry for what you’re going through, and I hope that you can find peace through this process. It’s too bad that it takes such difficult circumstances to figure out what friends and acquaintances are really going to be there for us, and which ones are worth keeping around.

  25. You are a very brave woman and even more so for sharing your hard times with your readers. Divorce is tough. My mother did it after 35 excruciating years and, as hard as it was for her, she could not have been happier… after the sorrow. She only wishes she did it sooner. I wish I could share a coffee with you and reassure your decision, despite the controversy it has raised between you and some of your friends/family who feel negatively against it. God sure as hell loves you way more than their perception of right/wrong. I hope you will be surrounded by people who support you and your path towards a greater unitedness with God and will be able to be His hands and words which hold you.

  26. My heart aches for you and your husband as you begin on this difficult journey. I have been an avid reader and supporter in prayer for several years. That will not change now. I look forward to reading as you continue through life. You are a wonderful writer, insightful spiritual being, and genuine person. You let others in to a part of yourself that many would not. I commend you and will pray for peace and guidance during the coming days.

  27. Dear Kayla,
    I was really sad when I first heard about what was happening. I want you to know how much I love you and always will, no matter what happens. I will always be your niece, you will always be my aunt. You are a very special and very talented daughter of God. I really look up to you, being a writer myself. Your post reminded me of this years youth theme, press forward, 2 Nephi: 31:20. “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” I want you to know that I will pray for you. Keep pressing forward on the straight and narrow path Kayla, and cling to the iron rod.
    Your forever loving niece, Bethany

  28. Oh, Kayla, I’m so sorry. I don’t know you except through your blog, and you certainly don’t know me. But my heart aches for you and the pain you’ve gone through and the pain you’ll still face. I pray you’ll have peace and comfort and assurance of the Lord’s love and that He’ll get you through this. Your concerns are His concerns–that is the nature of the Atonement.


  29. Kayla, I was thinking about you today, and wondering how you’re doing on your new road. I haven’t seen any posts since this one, so I was concerned. Hope all is well…I know how tough the first few months after a divorce can be, and hope you’re finding joy.

  30. Loved this post. I remember the day I knew I needed to get divorced. It was like God poured peace and courage and strength into my soul. Enough to help me do the hard things I needed to do. And then he poured hope, immeasurable hope, telling me that there was light and joy and love ahead of me. It was in the top 5 most clear answers that I’ve received to prayers. Thank you for sharing.

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