Today is my son’s 17th birthday. Wow. It’s hard to believe how fast time is flying. So we have celebrated with laughter and Hershey’s Chocolate Pie. He tried out for next year’s school play and is hoping that by being his birthday, he will be lucky and land a part. We’ve enjoyed family time tonight, celebrating Tim for who he is. And my heart is full of joy.
That may be a strange introductory paragraph by someone who is going to address the subject of divorce, but I found it fitting. Because even though I am a divorced, single mom of four, we are still a family. A strange, not normal, hysterical family that dearly loves each other and know gratitude in ways that maybe those who are not divorced or widowed do not—gratitude for God’s sustaining power, Gratitude for grace. Gratitude for mercy. Gratitude for peace.
This gratitude is not nothing, because divorce is hell. It hurts in the deepest depths of my soul Biblically it is forbidden, except in a few, rare occasions and after studying and studying I still don’t fully understand what is permissible in divorce, if anything. I am a divorced mother because my husband, whom I loved dearly, committed sexual sin so heinous that to stay married would have been more devastating to my family than to divorce.
I have implored authors and minister’s that are much, much wiser than me for their assistance in understanding divorce Biblically-people like John Piper (who was unable to answer but his aide corresponded with me and provided me resources), Thabiti Anyabwile, who graciously corresponded with me and prayed for me and my family, Kathy Collard Miller (a dear friend and author whose encouragement has been tremendous) and other authors that I trust and admire. But even with their wise words and prayers, I struggled and still do struggle to get my feet underneath me on this subject of divorce.
And really, it’s not a subject to me, it’s a reality. I have longed for my husband–the one that I know, not this one that has landed in prison for his crimes. I have held my youngest girl as she has sobbed for her father. I have watched my boys grow aggravated at trying to repair something in the house for me, or try to coax the lawnmower to start and have heard them mutter in anger “If only dad were here, he’d know what to do!” I have watched my oldest grow up with an “It doesn’t matter” attitude. I have watched my checking account dwindle this week down to $33, to last me until I get paid next Friday. I have waded through bills and taxes, court fees and fines till the numbers swim in my head. And I have been lonely, lonely in the midst of being surrounded by wonderful family.
But lest you think that life has been all horrific (oh, there have been some horrific times, for sure), let me share that I have experienced God’s Grace and Mercy in ways that I don’t think I would have ever had before tragedy hit our family. He pushes me hard to keep going, and He grants me mercy when I can’t go another step. He has been the provider for this family. He has been Abba, father. I have seen Him work in my children’s lives. They are strong, resilient, yet realistic. They are close-knit to each other–we’ve become a very tight-knit family through God’s interweaving. For all of these things, thank you seems so paltry.
I remember so very little of my wedding ceremony, but I do remember that we used the traditional vows that include the phrase: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”, taken from Matthew 19:6. Those words hurt my soul, because the severing is so severe. It hurts, it’s painful. It’s like losing an arm, a leg. It’s a piece of me that is missing, that I’ll never find again.
I’m very unclear as to what the Bible says about remarriage. Sometimes I think it seems to say that remarriage is permissible, and other times I think it says that it is not. Am I destined to live the rest of my life as a single? And if so, what would God have me to do? Will this deep-seated loneliness always be present? Or will God grant me the beautiful gift of remarriage, and if so, I only want that if it is Biblical and God ordained.
O married friends, please cherish your marriage. It is a gift that could be taken from you at any time–not just through divorce, because hopefully you would guard yourselves against divorce, but also through widowhood. Cherish your marriage and teach your children what a healthy marriage is. And pray for and love your divorced friends. When one becomes divorced, particularly in a church setting, it is hard to know where to sit. Where to stand, where to serve, where to go. It is awkward, disconcerting and down right scary, particularly if you attend a church that is mostly made of married couples and families.
Married friends, remember the children of divorced parents. Particularly men—take the boys fishing. Teach them how to weed eat. They have to grow up quicker in many situations, teach them how to do car repairs without blowing themselves up. Mentor them, play ball with them. And most of all, tell them you are proud of them. Those words go a long way in building confidence in young men, and women.
On my last post about marriage that I took down, I received several comments stating that I should not have taken it down, that I did and do have something to say about marriage. Well, I do have something to say about divorce as well, so I plan to try to not second guess myself and take this down. I do want to end with this prayer of Paul’s that has come to my mind as I have written this tonight:
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.