Several years ago, I was dealing with the fresh pain of my divorce. The wounds were still gaping, and pain was my constant companion.
One Sunday, I went to church. I was blessed that “our” church continued to love on me and support me (for the most part). What happened on this particular Sunday, however, is seared into my memory.
As I sat through the sermon, I tried to focus on the message. I tried to listen to the words, hoping they would be balm to my soul dying within me. And then it happened…
The pastor made a comment about “divorced people.”
Somehow, as the knives dug deep into my heart and tears stung my eyes, I found myself stereotyped. I was one of “those” people. I was one of the condemned. From the pastor’s wife of the church, to a complete loser. From a pillar of the church to the lowest of the sinners. From minister to disqualified and disgraced.
I walked out of the church that day more damaged than when I entered. The very place that should have embraced me, loved me, helped me return to a place of health and wholeness had turned on me, left me deeper in mire and mud than I had already been. The church had heaped condemnation upon me when I was already drowning in guilt and shame.
I have always been thankful that I had a solid foundation with my Savior. I had been raised in a Christian home and had spent my entire life seeking his face. He was already my rock. He was already my everything.
But, I began to wonder. What if I didn’t have a solid foundation? What if I had been a hurting soul trying to make sense of the devastation in my life? What if I had come to church that morning desperately seeking God, desperately needing to know that I was loved and accepted despite my divorce? What if it had been the very last straw at which I was grasping?
I would have never stepped foot in a church building again.
That’s right. If I had been someone trying God as a last resort, I would have decided in that moment that this God-thing was exactly what I thought: a bunch of hypocritical, judgmental people who called themselves Christians so that they could take my sins and failures and throw them back in my face.
In that moment, I knew that I wanted to encourage others facing the pain of divorce. I knew that I wanted to counteract the spiteful, judgmental attitudes of others. I wanted to be an extension of God’s grace and love.
This past week has been absolutely overwhelming! I wrote an article for Crosswalk, expressing my understanding of the pain anyone walking through divorce is experiencing. I expressed that God’s grace is great enough to cover all sins, including divorce. I expressed my belief that God hates divorce more because he hates to see his children hurting than because it is some great sin. I wanted every single divorced Christian to know that God’s love and grace is poured out extravagantly upon them.
As I expected, there were many emails and comments that left me in tears. So many people sharing their stories, thanking me for my words of grace and understanding. So many broken souls, sharing the release they felt. So much sadness given new hope through my words.
However, as I also expected, there were so many evil, ugly, judgmental words. Accusations of taking scripture out of context. Accusations of heretical teaching. Words of condemnation. Daggers to be stuck deep within an already hurting soul.
I have been told (many times) that I am obviously very prideful and arrogant in my stance. I have been told that I am obviously still hurting and need to let God heal my own heart. I have been told that I am looking for loopholes to match my own situation.
And, I am told that I must remain single or reconcile with my husband or risk eternal damnation.
While I am strong enough to withstand the attacks, my heart broke again for those who are not. My entire goal in writing is to encourage those dealing with the pain, to help them trust God to restore their broken hearts and lives. I want to comfort others with the comfort I have received from God himself.
There is a righteous anger burning within me! It is the very anger that Christ Jesus himself exhibited when he over-turned the tables in the temple. It is a righteous anger that wants to protect those who are perhaps not as strong in their faith as I am, not as far along in this journey. It’s an anger that cries out to share the love of God, to prevent others from turning away from the only one who can actually help them out of the pit.
I will be the first to say that I don’t have full knowledge of the scriptures this side of heaven. Perhaps one day when I meet my Savior, he will tell me the areas in which my understanding was not complete. Perhaps he will pull me aside and tell me that I misunderstood certain commands, that I failed to live up to certain areas of scripture.
God has entrusted me with a story, one that I never wanted and never dreamed would be mine. But, as long as I can point others back to the grace and love of my Savior, I will travel this journey to the best of my ability. I will use my words to encourage others, to point them to the Great I Am. I will do my best to be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to my master, prepared for every good work.
I will do my best to show the same extravagant love and grace to others that my Savior has so freely lavished upon me.