Facing trials with faith: Divorced at 21

Jan 12, 2014 by

Editor’s note: This powerful (and poignant) post left a lump in my throat. This is dedicated to all those out there whose marriage and family (or other) dreams feel currently unreachable. I hope Kenna’s sharing and testimony will strengthen you. Many thanks to Kenna for writing this essay for Mormon Women: Who We Are.

You can read more about Kenna at this Deseret News article: Open, honest, and vulnerable: one blogger’s journey. Or visit her blog at http://ileftmyheartinnz.blogspot.com/. (You’ll see that the links in this post take you to more reflections at Kenna’s blog.)

Kenna Christensen Mormon woman divorced at 21 full of faith

My name is Kenna Christensen, and at the age of 21 I was divorced.

Growing up I witnessed lasting marriages in my life. I was raised being told marriages meant forever. I went into marriage believing that no matter how hard it got, love in a marriage always persevered.

My short-lived marriage was no walk in the park. We were poor. We were learning to somehow morph two-former lives into one – values, beliefs, habits, bank accounts, you name it. I now had a permanent roommate, which took some getting used to, but despite all of that – there was not a thing in the world I wanted more than a successful, happy and lasting marriage, and there was absolutely nothing I wouldn’t have done to earn that, so when my former husband decided to throw the towel in, my whole vision of marriage, as well as my world – were completely and entirely shattered.

Looking back a year and a half later, I can confidently say that there were two specific things that got me through it: time, and knowing with every fiber of my being that God loved me, He was there for me, and He would never leave me – even if at times it would feel that He had. I was not in it alone. My Savior had felt this pain – He had felt this pain so He could help me overcome it when it was my turn to experience it. The betrayal, the agonizing confusion, the endless questions. The dismay, the disbelief, the wet pillows, and the darkest most hopeless moments. He knew this feeling, He had walked this path before, and He was prepared and waiting patiently to walk me through it now.

I needed peace; He blessed me with it. I needed to know the answers; He extended me faith so I no longer did. I needed to find forgiveness; He lent me His so I could lend it to someone else. I needed hope; and He has reminded me every day that He lives, He knows me, He loves me and God’s plan is far, far better than my own.

I am a Latter-day Saint. I believe in the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a testimony that God lives, that He loves me, and that if I live worthily – my blessings in the next life will greatly exceed my trials in this one. I know my Father in Heaven lives. I know He sent His Son to die for me, and I know that They are lovingly watching me, constantly cheering me on, and perfectly guiding my each and every footstep.

To those who have experienced divorce or currently are, whether it was your own or a loved one’s, to those of you who have been married for any length of time, to those of you who have felt the blessings of an eternal family jeopardized, whether that loss was within or without of your control: God loves you. He knows you individually. He knows your pain. Go to Him with your anger. Go to Him with your broken heart. Tell Him you can’t do it anymore. Ask Him to take your load for a little while. He will carry you. He will walk beside you. He will never leave you. Always remember and never forget that in your most hopeless moments, the moments you are lying on the bathroom floor, physically ill with absolutely no desire to go on, remember that those are the defining moments of your life, those moments God gives you in love, because only He sees who you can become.


  1. Katie Slay

    This is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m not going through a divorce but these words filled my heart. I feel the Holy Ghost every time I read anything you write. I’m grateful that one day you randomly followed me on instagram so I could follow you too. You have blessed my life and I’ve never met you face to face but I’ve already felt your sweet spirit. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  2. marsha scofield

    I could relate to this story so very well. I have gone through two divorces and both of them were devastating to me. I remember praying so hard for the Lord to take some of the pain from me so that I could smile that day and be a good mother to my 3 children. Before a finished my prayer I could feel some of the pain be lifted from my heart. There were many times when I was praying so fervently for help from my Father in Heaven and my Savior that when I finished the prayer and opened my eyes I expected to see Christ standing at the foot of my bed. Prayer, my testimony, my faith, and my family were the only thing that got me through those long, lonely nights and months. The gospel is the greatest blessing in my life, then come my children and my grandchildren. I am blessed.!!

  3. helen easton

    Kenna, my niece has just sent this beautiful message of yours on to me. I’m LDS have for past 24. Yrs and although not divorced, my husband of 49 yrs past on 4 yrs ago. I would like to show your message to sisters in my ward that have been and still are in the same position as you have been and how your very insipiring message could help them. I love this Gospel, I know that my Heavenly Father and. Jesus Christ my Savior lives. You are special in my niece Arlene Tompkins live, she talks about you often may be between the two of us we can get her back into the gospel. I still live in South Africa but it does not prevent me from trying. Thank you and God bless you. Helen

  4. Alan

    Thank you for all that you have shared. And thank you for your honesty and openness.

  5. Bethany

    It is a hard thing for people who have not been in a similar position to understand that it takes 2 to make a marriage work, but only 1 person to make a divorce happen.

    You can want to be married with everything you’ve got, and be working your heart out to be a good spouse, and to have a great marriage . . . . but if your spouse doesn’t want to be married anymore there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it.

    I am sorry that you had to find this out the hard way. However I am happy that you had the Savior and the gospel to help you thru this tough time. Like my Mom always says This too shall pass!!

  6. Ben

    Thank you. Going through a very difficult time. I’m not inclined to share details in a public forum but this was important for me to hear right now.

  7. Marty Ccollins

    My heart goes out to you sis. Christensen, for your husband to give up on his commitment at such a tender age underlines to me how unprepared for marriage some of these boys are, more should be done to raise these boys better. I see the same kind of thing happening in our stake (in Australia) wonderful young sisters so well prepared for life and marriage as part of it having to choose from boys(not men yet) who have hardly given a preparatory thought to this wonderful institution of marriage. I pray that you will find a brother who is willing to work with heavenly Father to make a success of married life. They are out there although oftimes they are “hidden” because they are fulfilling a calling or home teaching or helping out an elderly widow all this instead of prancing around from ward to ward or admiring themselves in a gym somewhere.

    Hope that this helps
    Marty Collins.

  8. Marie

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. I, too have felt the pain of divorce, though I am much older than you. I struggled to find peace and the feeling that I would “make it”. It has been 13 years now. I still struggle some days, but I KNOW my Heavenly Father loves me and everything will work out in the eternities. You are a brave and beautiful woman, and this experience will only make you stronger!

  9. Autumn Excell

    Kenna, I got to see your message because my dear, loving, and supporting Mom sent it to me via E-mail. I too am a young, recently, divorced woman that has a beautiful, loving, highly energetic, 3 almost 4 year old son. I love him to pieces and have had to keep my life, and emotions in check especially in front of him. I have had multiple times that I have wanted to “throw in the towel” myself on the whole divorce because it got very dark, and hard for me as well. It really tore me down especially since I was down visiting family with my son when I discovered an email that my ex-husband sent me. I was in tears and couldn’t sleep that night. I finally turned to my bishop, and the Lord to help me find comfort, peace, and love. Though it took me about 17 months to get my divorce finalized I don’t think I would ever go back to him for anything because looking back I know there is nothing there for me to feel loved, or like I mean anything. I as well as you are looking for a new adventure in life that makes me hope and pray that I will find the right guy for me in the near future.
    From one divorced young mother to you ….. I hope and pray that you and I will be blessed for what we stand for in still being a member of Christ’s true church!

  10. Claire

    Thank you so much for this! My divorce was finalized two weeks before my 21st birthday. I sometimes feel very alone in this. I know people who are divorced, but I felt so broken to be divorced at the ripe old age of 20. I too, can say that it was the hardest, most painful, heart-wrenching thing that I have ever been through, but a year later, I am still here and still standing. My strength comes from a God who is bigger than all the anger, hurt, and lonely that I feel.

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