I had this moment last week where I had full realization that I am now one of those people, you know, divorced. I never thought I would be here. I never thought it would be me, but divorce is a state that results from things outside of our full control. Just as my marriage covenant was the product of two people and the joining of two lives for what was supposed to be as long as we both shall live, divorce was half the outcome of things beyond my control and desire. I entered into holy matrimony fully committed, and honestly fully in love. I was hopeful and happy, but both of those are transitional states and often contextually charged based upon where we find ourselves at a given time in our lives. While I do not intend to make my blog about life post-divorce, I felt this prophetic duty to explore its spiritual implications as least this one time.
There was a time when I would have dismissed William Shatner’s quote as overly dramatic, but now it resonates with me, and I suspect a great many other people. Something died in me and along the way as my marriage dissolved. I felt a piece that was once vital and full of life shrivel up, never to be again. I mourned it deeply. I felt it dramatically. I watched as it turned my life upside down, and did the very same for my young, innocent son. His pain amplified my own. I felt helpless and hurt, neither of which I enjoy. In the Book of Malachi it is written, “For I hate divorce, says the LORD” (Malachi 2:16 NRS). I get that. I hate it too, because it is the death of something crafted in love and sealed before God, yet in its wake is this suffering the likes of which I have never known. I think God articulates this hatred of something that causes suffering, and yet is careful not to say God hates those who are divorced. If anything, I think God mourns with us, and reaches out to love us more tangibly where human love has failed. Divorce is a tragedy, and the victims of it are numerous. I experienced the judgment that comes with its status, even though I divorced for the acceptable reason Jesus himself gave. While I now feel liberated from the sin that destroyed, I still experience this overwhelming sense of loss, of what was and now what will never be.
I still perform holy matrimony, and love such a blessed position in the Church. I still smile at the bride and groom. I still wish them the very best from the bottom of my heart, and pray that their marriage survives in a culture where the statistics are against such a triumph of relationship. I still believe in lifelong marriage. I still trust that two people can put aside their selfishness and overcome sinfulness to be more together than they were apart for the glory of God and the good of the community in which they reside as a family. I still preach the necessity of love, respect, and trust for a marriage to last. But now I am aware that we can find ourselves on the other side of that sacred covenant, separate and damaged. My love and that life together were wrenched from my hands, pulled from my heart. I am here, and finding new wholeness. Despite my state of divorce, God is ever-present and just as committed to me as before. Having seen me through the most desperate time of my life, I can say with great conviction that I am more committed now to God. Before we place a stigma on someone who finds themselves in this strange state of divorce, as someone who never thought she’d be here and never wanted to be, I can honestly and authentically say that it is not a good and joyful thing. But God redeems all things, and this fractured state does not need another spouse, another marriage to be made whole. It just needs the healing love of God. One of the most tangible means of that love are the people who do not judge me or convict me, but instead embrace me with a willingness to look beyond my marital status and see the child of God trying to go forth into this new reality to find grace. While my divorce is the complete and radical severance of a close connected relationship, my existence now is a testimony of God taking the broken and redeeming it for the good of the Kingdom. May it be so, for me and all those who find themselves here in divorce.