Live Stronger: Kristin Armstrong's Divorce Recovery Journey
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CBN.com HAPPILY EVER AFTER
In January 1997, Kristin Richard met Lance Armstrong, the Texas cyclist who at the time was battling testicular cancer. Kristin was working for an advertising and public relations firm in Austin, Texas, when she first met him at a press conference. She recalls he had just finished his chemotherapy.
A year after they met, Kristin and Lance were married in Santa Barbara, California. Kristin quit her public relations job, rented her house, sold her Miata, and moved to France with Lance so he could focus on cycling. While Lance went on to beat cancer and win the Tour de France five times during their marriage, Kristin became a stay-at-home mom and raised their three young children (a son and then twin daughters) in the French Riviera. What appeared to be a perfect marriage ended after five years of marriage when Lance and Kristin announced their divorce in 2003.
DIVORCE RECOVERY JOURNEY
Kristin’s divorce left her admittedly weak, confused, and disillusioned.
“Circumstances in life often take us places that we never intended to go. We visit some places of beauty, others of pain and desolation. I never imagined that divorce would be part of my life history or my family’s legacy. When people say that divorce can be more painful than death, I understand why. But like any great trial, God uses everything for good, if we allow Him to heal us,” says Kristin.
She credits her survival through divorce to her deep seated faith in God. Kristin says, “…I’m a Christian…Catholic. I’ve always been this way, but I think definitely any time you go through a season or trial in your life, your faith deepens. It’s something beautiful that comes out of a difficult time. At least, it worked that way for me. There’s no doubt about it, I wouldn’t have made it without it.
“Before I got divorced, I was personally unfamiliar with trial, or at least trial of serious, heart-wrenching proportions. I figured that life went smoothly if you tried hard, and if you messed up, or things weren't working out, you just tried harder,” says Kristin.
It wasn’t until her own life fell apart that Kristin realized how out of touch she was with herself spiritually.
“It's easy to lose sight of God when life is sweet and easy, but there is something awesome about despair, and it is the closeness of God when we are at our weakest. With my pride stripped down, and my mind open and alert, suddenly I had eyes to see and ears to hear. I learned how to stop when I didn't know the next move, instead of forging blindly ahead. I learned to ask for direction, and then heed that advice. I learned it is OK to pause, to breathe, to not know, to say nothing,” remembers Kristin.
Many people who have been through the trial of divorce often find themselves living life with an unshakable sense of unworthiness. Kristin says she was no exception, but she couldn’t allow herself to stay in such a dark place. She recalls a conversation with God on a trip to Colorado in which He answered the question that had been stumping her for two years. "You are worth fighting for. I have fought for you. You are mine." Kristin remembers it was a pinnacle faith moment for her when she realized that even, “If someone leaves you, it doesn't mean you are leave-able. If someone hurts you, it doesn't mean you are wimpy. If you have messed up big time, it doesn't mean that you are stained forever. If a relationship is broken, it doesn't mean that it will stay broken.”
THE OTHER SIDE
Kristin recovered from not only a divorce to the world’s most famous cyclist, but also a very public breakup. In fact, two years after the divorce, her famous ex-husband was engaged for a brief period to one of the most visible women in the music industry, Sheryl Crow. How did she survive? Kristin chose to make wise choices for not only herself, but also for her kids. “The path of sour bitterness, crusty resentment, and cold regret breeds generations of despair. The path of righteousness grants generations of peace, quietness, and confidence,” says Kristin. “Lance and I need to go forward honoring each other, because that’s the way that we can still show our children that love is lasting and unconditional.”
“The greatest gift of my divorce was in allowing me to create a faith-filled home in which to raise my children... For better or worse my children look to me... I carry the weight of that responsibility like a small, smooth stone in my pocket,” says Kristin.
With God as the center of her home, she can live openly with her faith. As a single mom of three, Kristin now shares her spiritual journey of recovery from divorce with others who are going through the same trial.
“I vowed that when I got to the other side that I would not forget who carried me,” says Kristin. She says her divorce recovery journal, Happily Ever After, is her thank you note to God for His faithfulness. She also hopes to write two additional books in the near future. One would be a devotional for mothers, and the other would be a book about cultivating the traits of a graceful woman. Kristin is also a freelance writer and contributing editor for Runner’s World magazine. She lives in Austin, Texas, where she and ex-husband Lance share custody of their three children – Luke, 7, and 5-year-old twins Grace and Isabelle.
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