You've made the difficult decision to divorce, and you're in shock, trying to navigate your new reality. You'd welcome a little compassion from your church body. But perhaps your experience is like that of too many Christians ... you receive obvious signals you're now considered an outlier. My good friend, Betsy Diedrick, explores this issue in her guest post, Misfit.
There was no happily ever after for you. Just a shattering. The marriage, the hopes for your future together. Two hearts that had become one, now ripped apart, bleeding. Left behind, only raw emotions, rejection, a sense of failure or guilt, financial consequences, and the kids … let’s not even go there.
So we turn to God for the solace He promises. And in His arms, He tenderly cradles us through the worst of it, leading us into His Psalms, where we gain just enough buoyancy to come up for a gulp of air. Giving us just enough confidence to venture back into His house for the comfort and encouragement we so desperately seek. Into the arms of … the polite smiles on the stiffened bodies we attempt to hug. Or worse, the cold shoulders we bump into. Because, after all, you did know that infidelity was the only reason for divorce, didn’t you?
So why do you now feel so awkward or unwanted in your Christian house
of worship that had once fit so snugly?
Something has changed. Subtly, or strikingly. The degree to which, will affect your emotions and healing. You have felt their collective verdict … guilty, guilty, guilty! Guilty on all counts of upsetting the status quo, of breaking the unspoken rules. You are different now, you don’t fit the mold of a “Christian couple.” It’s no longer two by two wandering up the plank to board the arc. Just you flying solo as you approach the threshold. As you are about to board the vessel you are quoted an appropriate Bible verse, and the door slides shut in your face. You gape in disbelief from the outside, when the first drop of rain hits your nose. At least, that’s how it feels.
The previous wounds of your divorce now have more pain heaped upon them. This new rejection is magnified because, for crying out loud, these are your people, God’s followers who were supposed to come to your aid and support. And they’ve failed you miserably.
Why? Why would they ever do that?
That answer simply, is because they can’t help themselves. Some only know self-righteousness; they are quick to judge and brilliant with just the right Bible verse to realign your behavior smack dab back into Godly thinking. Ouch! Some, you make uncomfortable. Everything felt safe and secure in church until you changed the balance. What was once stable is now rocking, especially if their marriages might be a little shaky, because let’s face it, at some point we are all vulnerable.
Wives’ radar immediately defaults to high alert for divorced females. Group-think bonds them together, keeping you at bay. Add a dash of fear and uncertainty. Could their marriage be next? Or is it that character trait of yours that has caused your downfall, the one that needs to be jerked up on the choke chain. A little dose of ostracization might help you to confess and repent.
Oh my! Sad isn’t it? Judge, jury, and executioner. And all you were looking for was some acceptance and support from the people in God’s house who had once seemed so compassionate.
Here is the lesson meant for you:
If those who have hurt you truly have a heart for God, their time will come. Be assured that He is observing and will teach them their own lessons He wants them to learn, in His timing. Unfortunately for them, His trials, as you well know, can be painful.
Nothing happens to you that God has not already filtered through His fingers. He is using your current suffering to purify you, to help you stretch and strengthen, so that one day this experience will enable you to help others in their walk. Although exceedingly painful, He is growing you, teardrop by teardrop, to be more like Him, filling your soul with compassion, and understanding, and love for others. All the things you sought but could not find in His house, because the people there have not yet suffered as you have. They cannot understand, because they may not have reached spiritual maturity.
You are different from them now. They feel it. But not different in a bad way, which is the only way they can interpret what they see in your situation. You are different in a beautiful way, because the intensity of your suffering is purifying your soul. And when you are able to heal a little more, and let your guard down just a little, you will begin to see this.
You will know it’s there when you have stopped judging and feel empathy for those in your same situation, or any plight.
As horrible as this experience has been, the divorce, your painful recovery, any ostracism you have endured, it really is a gift. You see, had you gone along in your day-to-day life, you wouldn’t have needed God as much. And when you don’t need Him, even though you can be grateful, it’s hard to grow.
Remember how He wants us to no longer be babes merely drinking milk. You were just served up a seven-course meal. It’s just going to take a little time to digest. A little more time to forgive all those who have hurt you. But after you have transitioned through this, I promise, you will look back and say, “I am different, but not defective. Through my suffering I have become even more beautiful in the eyes of God.”
And really, what else ultimately matters?
Betsy Diedrick is a professional writer living in Arlington, WA. A child of God, she writes on topics close to her heart. You can contact her at Betsydiedrick@gmail.com or find out more about her on her website: www.betsydiedrick.com .
Do you have a divorce experience to share? Have you been shamed by a church because of your divorce? There are hurting people who need to hear your story, who need to know they are not alone, and who need to be encouraged. If you are interested in sharing your story, email Linda for guidelines: Linda@LindaMKurth.com
Free Resource Downloads
12 Steps to a More Joyful Life after Divorce
30 Things to Do When You're Single
Resources for Healing from Spiritual Abuse
As long as you are hiding from your pain, you're hiding from helping other people.
Kari Oberbrunner - Author, speaker, coach.
If you're interested in sharing your story of divorce and the response of other Christians, email Linda at Linda@LindaMKurth.com for guidelines.
Linda's memoir in progressGod, the Devil and Divorce
A Transformative Journey Out of Emotional and Spiritual Abuse