To my Christian friends,
I have been thinking lately about what I want to say and how it can be put in a way that you can hear me, that you can hear my heart.
First, let me say that I know you mean well. I truly do. I know most of you don’t intentionally say things that are hurtful or biting. Your intent is not to cause more pain… but often it does. You walk away thinking that you spoke God’s truth, but in reality, it may have been a sprinkling of salt on an open wound.
I am writing to share with you what it was like from my perspective because often if you haven’t been in this space, on this side of marriage- shocked- saddened- overwhelmed- spinning- you will not understand the pain and the stress that can often accompany this season in one’s life.
I want to start by encouraging you to be gentle.
Be soft and gentle. This is not a time to come in with theology or expressing what you believe is the “right” thing to do. They won’t be able to hear it through their pain and it can often make the person feel they are being rejected by the church or worse… by Christ.
The moments where I felt the most cared for and safe were when my family or friends would just sit and listen and affirm.
I needed listeners. I needed cheerleaders.
Ask them, “What you do you need from me right now?” A run- a prayer – a listening ear- a nice tall glass of wine. A night of not talking about it.
Ask…. and then do that.
What I didn’t need was people telling me that God would heal my marriage and bring back my husband…. nope, not helpful at all. Not one bit.
Two memories stand out.
We were at a family get together shortly after my divorce became public. A friend of the family made her way over to me. She grasped me firmly by both arms. She looked me straight in the eyes; “I heard about your divorce and I heard the Lord. He said he is going to bring your husband back. He will heal your marriage.”
Oh, God. I hope not. I gulped over the lump that had now formed in my throat. You know, that lump that seems to hold all of the emotion you can’t show and you can’t share.
I plaster my rigid half-smile on my face, said a polite ‘thank you’ and rushed off before I busted into a slobbering mess that I could not coax back inside.
You see, even though her heart was well-intentioned, she had no idea what had transpired in the past. She didn’t know the details or how I was feeling, and that kind of statement can do waaaay more damage than good, like major damage.
Unless, the good Lord himself shows up, like in person, then I urge you dear friends, don’t say it!!! Just don’t. It is not your duty or obligation. Just don’t.
Pray for the person. Cry out for them and their family. Have your friends pray for them and their family, but don’t share it with them.
The other highlight of my divorce was a parent at my children’s school. I am thankful that my ex and I get along well. I know that is not always the case, so I am incredibly grateful that we have healed enough to appreciate one another. We can see the good in each other.
As I was gathering my kiddies after Jake’s basketball game, I was chatting lightly with another mom I didn’t know super well. She made reference to ‘my husband’ in the conversion we were having. I responded to her question and lightly added, and he is my ex-husband. We are no longer married.
And then it happened… wide-eyes, gaping mouth.
“What. Are you kidding me. I mean you guys are so great together.” Yeah, we are really not, I thought to myself. But she didn’t stop there. “There is no way. I KNOW you guys are going to get back together. I know you are. You just look like you go together.” Yeah, that’s helpful. Real helpful. I did a light awkward chuckle and started scanning the field for other parents who could rescue me. I turned back to her just in time to hear,”I just know Jesus is going to heal your relationship.”
May Day!! May Day!!
I will be honest, dear friends, it’s just hard when Jesus gets pulled into this because my understanding of Jesus is that He mourns when we mourn. He weeps with us. And, yes He heals and He rescues, but that doesn’t always mean that He does that through healing a marriage and bringing two people back together.
Church friends, hear me on this, I am sooo for marriage and repairing of marriages, but sometimes… sometimes the sweetest thing God can do is walk with you through a divorce. The healing I have received on this side of my marriage- healing of my heart- my sense of self- as a person- as a woman. This- all of this healing- has been the most precious gift He could have given me.
As painful as it has been, looking back on the past five year, I am grateful to be where I am right now, and He didn’t need to restore my marriage to do that.
He heals… but do we allow him to heal in a myriad of ways?
I know this is going to be a hard letter for some to swallow, but I encourage you dear Christian friends, sit with your loved ones that are going through this hard season.
Sit with them. Come empty-handed. Empty of judgement. Empty.
Let them share with you their pain and what it is like to find themselves exactly where they are. Give them space to weep- to rage- to worry.
Empty yourself enough so that you can carry their burdens with them. Isn’t that would our God does?
He doesn’t shame. He doesn’t stand their pointing a finger, reminding you that you have failed or this is your fault. No!!! He doesn’t!! That is not what he is like.
He comes along side of us and walk with us, carrying our burdens. He says, Here dear one, let me carry you. Let me. Let me surround you with my love so that you will know- KNOW– that you are seen by your father who adores you.
Are we not to do that as a community? Are we not to love people exactly where they are?
Just love them. Love them quietly. Love them gently.