Disclaimer: I am no expert on this topic. Divorce affects every one of us. In this post, I'm simply telling my story.
My friend got a divorce. Now she doesn't go to my church anymore. One more thing in her life that no longer fits. I miss her. Even though we attended the same church, we don't live in the same town and our kids don't attend the same school. Almost every Sunday, we'd see one another, compare cowboy boots and catch up on our lives. Now we don't.
Like many women, she never saw her divorce coming. She hardly knew what to do with the reality that her marriage became incompatible. A good Christian girl almost her whole life, she felt completely ill-equipped to handle the divorce.
I'm not writing this post to tell you how the church handled her divorce wrong. Like any human institution, the church got some things right and other times exhibited poor communication. The circumstances surrounding my friend's decision to leave our church aren't my story to tell. Suffice it to say, she no longer felt comfortable there, met someone new and they are visiting other churches.
Divorce is messy. I'd like to punch it in the throat. It's no wonder God hates it.
“I hate divorce,” says the God of Israel. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says, “I hate the violent dismembering of the ‘one flesh’ of marriage.” So watch yourselves. Don’t let your guard down. Don’t cheat. (Malachi 2:16 Message)
Now, I know divorce is necessary in this fallen world. There are times divorce is for the best. Still, I'm bothered at how it becomes this "elephant in the room" no one knows how to talk about.
I had coffee with a friend recently, a new divorcee. She shared how it even affects her everyday conversations. Say, for example, someone starts telling you about their upcoming vacation plans to visit the Grand Canyon. You went to the Grand Canyon a few years back but it was with him. You're faced with a dilemma. Do you talk about the trip you took when you were still a family? Especially if there are kids involved, aren't you still a semblance of a family? Is it going to seem weird to mention the trip? Who makes the rules?
What do you do about church? In most cases, one or both of the couple leave their church. Are we doing the right thing by letting them go so easily? Couldn't we learn some valuable lessons as we see a redemptive work happen in their lives? At the very least, isn't it worth having a hard conversation or two?
The main reason for today's post is to offer a word to my friend.
I'm for you. Our Father held you and caught every tear you cried as you grieved over the death of your marriage. I see your great heart for Jesus and I can't wait to see the redemptive work He will continue to do in your life. For He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. You're still my friend. You're still His daughter.
One final thing. I often wonder what the church can do to be more proactive in building healthy marriages. Are we providing a safe place to be honest about our partnerships? Do we offer small groups, date nights, couple's retreats and other activities to give couples a chance to invest in their relationship? If there's mental illness, abuse or abandonment involved, do we partner with the proper professionals in the community to get these marriages the help they need? Our enemy desperately wants our marriages. Even when divorce is the right decision, it leaves broken relationships. The church must do a better job at defeating our enemy when he goes after our families.