(warning: long and heavy post)
(warning: long and heavy post)
I hadn’t thought about it much until this week. . .. . but this is the 20th anniversary of an event that changed my life forever. It still affects the way I go about pretty much everything in my life. I played it off for years like it was no big deal, and it didn’t affect me. But, that just exacerbated everything and brought me to a place of brokenness about 10 years ago where I realized my whole life was being affected by it.
I’m talking about my parent’s divorce. I’m not here to slam my mom or my dad. My dad passed away a few years ago, and my mom still lives where I grew up, is the best mom in history and she’s climbing the charts of “greatest Grandmother ever”. I don’t wish to defame either of them or “blame” them for anything that has happened in my life.
But, I do wish to shed some perspective on the whole issue of divorce and our culture’s attitude towards it. One of the reasons why I’m thinking about it these days is that in my line of work, many people come to the church seeking advice on divorce. Many of them are looking for a “pass” from the church to allow them to proceed with their intentions of divorce. How ironic that they would come to me? :) But, it happens regularly, and they’re usually not thrilled with what I have to say.
I also have had at least 5 couples who are close friends of Jody’s and mine, who have been divorced in the last few years. All of these folks were married the same year as we were, or more recently. Just for perspective, this year is our 10th anniversary. That’s not very long. For some reason, that really bugs me. I was at a few of their weddings. . . I did the music,. . . :) It’s just heart-breaking and maddening.
Basically, here’s my view on divorce. Divorce forever alters the lives of many people. The spouses to be sure, but the children are harmed, extended family are harmed, and the future children of all of those people as well.
Here’s some of the affects divorce has had on me:
1) I don’t do really well with authoritative male leadership. Again, I’m not “blaming” anyone for this. I’m responsible for my actions. But, there’s a wound in my heart that makes me very wary of men in leadership in my life. I can’t really handle it when older men yell at me or authoritatively instruct me. I’ve actually had to leave a job over some of these issues.
2) I have an approval complex at times. My punk rock side truly does not care what people think about me on a large scale, . .but in basic conversations and interactions I often interact to seek the approval of others. I’m definitely not the only one, and divorce is not the only thing that causes this. . . . but it is there in my life, and I think it started when I didn’t have a lot of early affirmation of my male-hood (word?) or strength.
3) I have a very low tolerance and/or quick fuse for people that are pursuing divorce or are mis-treating their family. (this is probably obvious right now :) )
There are many more. . you’re probably a little uncomfortable at my closet cleaning. . .but you can see how some of those things have made my current roles in life a little tough at times :).
Before jumping to conclusions, let me say as well. . there was no abuse in my family. Also, after the divorce both my mom and dad did an amazing job at maintaining our relationships and staying close. After speaking with many people who have gone through the same thing, I can truly say I was blessed with how the circumstances played out after the divorce. No question on that. . . . .
But, the fact remains that God hates divorce for a reason, and even a civil, congenial, agreeable divorce is a heart-wrenching, life-changing, sinful affair.
Why am I writing this today? Well, there are a few reasons. I want to give praise to God that he has brought me through all of this, and I’m currently a blessed man with a beautiful wife, great kids, and a victorious life. I don’t dwell on these issues often, and God has given me many victories and has kept me from many vices that others who go through a divorce have fallen into. God is faithful where man is not. And, there’s no doubt that the Gospel is big enough to heal wounds from divorce, as it is big enough to heal all wounds.
This is true, and even though my life has been negatively affected, God has actually used the divorce as the greatest means of sanctification in my life. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without it. As Jesus pursues me, he often uses issues that arose from the divorce as the pathway to spiritual change in my life. I’m grateful for this, Romans 8:28 is true, and this has all worked together for good in my life.
The other reason I write is to encourage you to persevere in marriage. If you’re single, I encourage you to get married and work for the good of your spouse. Divorce is something everyone at least has a fleeting thought about in marriage, . . this is nothing less than spiritual attack. But, humble yourself and know that the best path is the pain and dying to self that accompanies a healthy marriage, and not the pain, sin, and life-shattering consequences of divorce. Don’t do it! Stay married, and stay humble. And, please don’t come to church and ask me to sign off on your divorce!
Ok, I’m totally kidding right there. :) There are some times where, biblically, divorce is permitted,. . . but even then it is after many attempts at reconciliation, many attempts at forgiveness, and many, many overtures to restore the relationship. If this is what should happen before a biblical divorce; than it is truly a scandal how quickly we allow unbiblical divorces to take place all the time in the church.
If you’re divorced, I’m not here to discourage you or “pile on” with what you’ve gone through. Again, the Gospel is big enough for you and me to find forgiveness and restoration. Please hear me say that. I don’t want to add to your hurt by writing this.
My hope is to sober us all up a bit on divorce, and come against our culture’s easy, no fault divorce ethic. It has ruined many lives, it is killing our culture,. . .and much, much, more importantly, it grieves the heart of God and hurts His church.
I hope you hear my heart on this.
It’s been 20 years. . . Divorce is terrible, and we should think of it as such; God is good, and He has been doubly good to me.