There is no word in the English language with stronger effect than the “D” Word, which is divorce. How many forms have you filled out that ask for your marital status, as if it makes any difference?
This post is the second in a series about domestic violence. The first post, Have You Hit Your Wife Today?, is my first writing about abuse in my marriage. This post on divorce continues where that one ended.
I was married for eight and one half years when I left my husband. He left me with four children twice before, once when they were under school age, and again just months earlier, when three of them were in school. (There are three and a half years between oldest and youngest.)
Divorce was not an option. My marriage vows were the last thing I wanted to break. I said them before God, and did not expect to have them broken for me. I left my husband, taking the children with me, for fear of our safety. I mistakenly thought living with my in-laws meant we were safe.
Strangely that was not the case. For some reason he felt safe enough there to be more violent than ever. Perhaps he thought his parents would fix him or take responsibility for his behavior. They did nothing. Nothing aside from telling me I needed to leave.
I packed my children into a taxi which I paid for myself, with only their clothes and the clothes on my back. That taxi took us in the middle of the night to another state. The children shared a room in my relative’s home. I slept under the dining room table. It was a fearful time.
I got a restraining order. My mother paid her lawyer (who graciously waived half the fee) to file for a separation and custody of the children. My ex lied to the judge about hitting me. He had to wait a year to file for divorce because of the separation. But he did.
When the divorce document came to my lawyer… I remember clearly starting to sign it, pausing and asking if I had to. Of course not, he said. I didn’t. Years later I sent to the court for a copy of the divorce, just so I’d know if I was in fact divorced.
God hates divorce. It is not his ideal plan for any married person to break that union. But it happens. God does not hate the divorced person. In our culture we have persisted in stigmatizing divorced persons. I have never understood why those who remarry can leave that stigma behind, while those who don’t continue to live with it.
Being divorced means you aren’t part of a couple any longer. You aren’t married. You can be called Mrs. or Mr. just the same, but you aren’t married. Or you can go by Ms. or Mr. but you aren’t single. You are divorced. And if you have children you become a single parent, which is almost as bad as the big D.
Single parenting is harder than divorce, but it doesn’t last as long. By the time the kids are grown you may have been widowed, so being a single parent of adult children or grandparent is not so stigmatizing. When you don’t think about it.
That’s the down side. What’s the rest of the story?
Here’s what I think after coming to terms with this mess of twenty-seven years ago, when the process of being divorced began. Divorce itself is no more a product of my sin than blindness or a lame leg. It is a circumstance in which I find myself, which God has allowed for whatever reason.
My responsibility is not to change the stigma or the circumstance, but to learn to trust God in it. Period.
Too simplistic? Read your Bible. God used many sinners. He condemned the sin, not the sinner. His Son, Jesus Christ, paid for the sin when He died on the Cross. All of it. Even messy divorce.
Never in the Bible do you read of a sinner being punished for their circumstances by not having a relationship with God or serving Him. Jesus did not deny sinners access to Him. He didn’t reject Peter for denying Him. He used Peter. After he denied Jesus.
And lest you think that I think that all divorced persons are given special treatment and never sin any more, no, I do not think that. What I do think is this. It is extremely difficult to live in any circumstance in life in which personal relationship(s) have been severed. That includes being orphaned, losing a parent, losing a child, losing a spouse, losing a fiancee, and being divorced.
There is no human relationship which can fill that void. Remarriage does not (I don’t think). Adoption does not. Having another child does not. There is only One Who can fill that void, and our relationship with Him is of primary importance, no matter the circumstance.
Learn to trust God. Trust His Word. Read it. Memorize it. Pray. Pour out your heart to God. Surround yourself with people who do these things. Align yourself with a good church which is centered on the Word of God.
That takes me to the next thought, which will be for the next post. It’s about church.
There is nothing new here. I am simply repeating what I have heard from others and finally learned to be true. God is faithful. He never changes. He loves us. He wants to care for us if we put down our baggage and let Him.
I wish there was a word to replace the “D” Word, to remove the stigma. Perhaps that is grace. But whatever you call it, it is found in the Person and work of Almighty God, our Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Now the Lord of peace himself give you peace always by all means. The Lord be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16