One of the hardest things to go through as a believer, is a divorce. I have gone through it, and I feel for any Christian who faces this challenge. If you are dealing with divorce, or are close to someone who is, I hope that you will find some comfort in my words.
I was just a kid when I got married, just barely 19. I was in college and going through a season of personal independence. I was working, going to school, meeting lots of new people, and was dating quite a bit. I met a guy that was a few years older than me. He was handsome and strong. He was a football star through high school and college. He had a good job, and my parents were crazy about him.
There were warning signs that we had different values. We had only dated for few months when we got married. If we would have been more patient, and prolonged dating for a year, I’m certain we would have ended the engagement altogether. But hind sight is 20/20, and these are the kinds of life experiences, that bring us wisdom. My parents asked him not to drink and drive with me in his car. The very first time we had a date, he did drink and drive, even when he had promised not to. It didn’t seem like any big deal for him to tell a little fib. I didn’t know it, but that was a hint, of bigger problems beneath the surface.
I can look at my part in this, and I have to ask, what kind of message was I sending out? I had a relationship with God, and I knew His word. In spite of that, I was not spending enough time talking to God, and listening to His answers. An older Christian would have steered me out of this lifelong commitment, if I would have confided in one. But I didn’t. I tried to be the kind of girl he would be proud to have on his arm, and was open to liking, all of the things that he thought were important. I had not been true to who I was. In the end, I had to take a hard stand against many of the things he liked.
I covered for bad behavior, and hid it from my parents before we married. It wasn’t until some time later, that I realized, we did not agree on what it meant to be saved. The differences in our lives grew into a huge chasm. I was in a bad marriage that continued to get worse. I found myself hiding much more, over the next five years. My husband was physically harming me. Every night was filled with arguing, often he was drinking and there was violence. I felt that the vows of our marriage had somehow been broken. I could not prove it, and was in a dilemma about what to do. I lived in shame, fear, and despair. I was humiliated to be married to someone who treated me so badly, and I really didn’t want anyone to know about it.
At that dark hour, when the war was raging about me, I fell on the Rock, who is Jesus! God was speaking to me. For several years I stayed and tried to hold tight. I sensed that it was a period of God’s grace. As I was in the crossfire, and under the full assault of the enemy, I heard the Great Commander, change His orders. The Holy Spirit who had been my refuge, told me to leave my husband. In obedience to what the Lord instructed, I divorced my husband after 5 years.
I felt the full force of the condemnation of the church, and the charges of others who were offended with my actions. There were times, when I didn’t know if I would make it through. The enemy pressed hard against me, and I had to take on each attack, as the battle escalated. There were people in all walks of my life, who said cruel things to me, and about me, in the name of religion. One woman loudly screamed at me at the end of a full church service, telling me that if I divorced, God would never use me again. A Christian woman I worked with, told me that everyone knew how immoral divorced women were. A family member told me, that now I was nothing more than a “slut!” The pastor of the church I was attending, told many of the people who attended the church, not to have anything to do with me.
I had been faithful to God when I was single, and I was a faithful wife. I cannot begin to express how disappointed I was, that this marriage did not work out. It was a failure, and I felt frail and vulnerable. It was disheartening that people who I had thought so much of, pounced upon me with such malice. Again, God spoke in sovereign power into my spirit. He said, “No matter what you hear, not matter how much you think of someone, even if it is a preacher…you listen to Me, and do what I tell you to do. You answer to me. You belong to me, and I do not condemn you!” And that’s just what I did.
A few years after my divorce, one of my friends told me about a series of conversations, she had with a woman at work. She had talked repeatedly about a man, she had an affair with. The woman told her, this was not the man’s first affair, and about many of the details of their relationship. My friend was perplexed, because she was saved, and did not encourage these conversations. But the woman continued to bring up this topic, as though she could not help herself. She talked about this man being married, and that they laughed when they were together, about how he was going to go home and beat his wife! Finally, my friend had heard all she could stand. She asked her who the man was. She recognized his name, because he was my ex-husband! When my friend told her, “His ex-wife is one of my very best friends!” the woman was stunned, and never spoke about it again. I was thankful that God had revealed this truth to me. It brought resolution to my heart and soul.
If I hadn’t turned to God, and listened to His voice, I could still be in that situation today. What if I would have done what others had pressured me to do? What if I hadn’t lived through the abuse? In all honesty, I had grieved throughout the marriage. When I divorced my husband, I never looked back. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.
I realize that those who give advice from the church, must be careful about what they say. They are responsible to God for the advice they give. I have looked up loads of scripture about marriage & divorce. I know that God allows divorce, and Moses instructed, that when a man divorced his wife, he was to give her a divorce decree. The evangelical church sees unfaithfulness and continued immorality as biblical reasons to get divorced. Today most churches see physical abuse, as a biblical reason to leave as well (thank goodness). But there are lots of “grey areas,” in life. What about the person who is married to someone with a serious drug addiction? Or is an alcoholic? Or who has decided to live a homosexual lifestyle? What if they are living in fear? What if there is immortality going on, but the faithful partner cannot prove it? What are they supposed to do?
My advice is this, listen to God my friend. He is walking there with you. He knows the past, present and the future. Draw near to someone who has common sense, and will be praying for you. If your church is condemning, go somewhere else. If you are living in fear, or you and your children are being abused—get out of there!
God is the voice of reason, that is calling to us, guiding us through the darkness. When God calls, on us to support someone during these times, we need to be mindful, that God is benevolent and forgiving. We need the forgiveness He offers to us. That person you are holding up, may be hanging on by a thread. So speak words of kindness to them. It’s hard to go through a divorce. Give them hope, and shine the light that Christ has entrusted to you. Be that brother or sister that they need. Encourage them. And trust God to help them, because He loves them so much!