Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Divorce Has Taught Me.

(photo from Dailyinfographic.com)

Disclaimer: I've been praying about this post for a while now, and my hope is that it will encourage others. The goal of this post is to bring a light to the corruptness our world is becoming and to help us remember what Christ says about marriage and divorce.  It has taken me years to muster up the nerve to type this post, but I'm passionate about it.  Marriage is the greatest example of God's love that we have as humans, and if it goes away, what other example do we have?  I'm also afraid to do this post... part of me feels like being an advocate for marriage will make me a target by Satan.  Yes, I believe their are spiritual forces that seek to kill and destroy children of God (John 10:10).  I still have to write this though.  I have to trust that the God of the universe will protect the most valuable part of me, next to my salvation, which is my marriage.

Growing up, I never really dealt with divorce.  My grandparents were divorced, but it was when my dad was a child, and from where I came into existence, I simply had two sets of grandparents on my father's side of the family.  It never even resonated with me they were divorced until I was older.  My grandmother on my mother's side was married three times during her life.  My mother's father passed away from Leukemia when she was young, her second marriage ended in divorce, and she passed away while married to her third husband.  When I came along though, I was barely old enough to remember her not being married.  I barely even remember her getting married.  The point of all this is, while their was divorce in my family, I never had to deal with the process of it.  It was already done by the time I came around.  Ashlynn's family is another story.  Ashlynn dealt with divorce her entire life.  Her parents divorced when her and her sister were young.  Why is this?  What causes people to fall in love, make promises before God, and then to think they don't have to keep them?

It's a good thing God keeps his promises to us... if not, we'd be screwed.  I thank God that even though I fail him daily, he still loves me.

In the past two years, several people we love have chosen to get a divorce.  This is what I've learned...

Divorce has taught me that ministers can lie too... a lot.

Divorce has taught me the victim isn't always the victim.

Divorce has taught me that when God says to put your trust in Him, and not man, he meant it.  People... even the people you admire the most... will let you down (Psalm 118:8).

Divorce has taught me that pride is deadly, and ego is even deadlier.

Divorce has taught me that families can fall apart in an instant.

Divorce has taught me to fear Satan and his power.

Divorce has taught me that vows do matter, despite what others may think.  They are, in fact, a promise to God.

Divorce has taught me that regardless of the actions of the people I love, I have a right to fight for my marriage.

Divorce has taught me to set a better example for my future children.

Divorce has taught me to love my wife like Jesus loved the church...selflessly forever and always (Ephesians 5:25).

Divorce has taught me the power of healing and forgiveness that only God can give (if you allow it).  

Divorce has taught me that being a man means respecting and supporting your wife at all times.  Does God leave us when we make a mistake or do something wrong?  I can answer that... NO!

Divorce has taught me that women should submit to and respect their husbands, not because they are weak, but because they are strong in the Lord (Ephesians 5:22).

Divorce has taught me that next to Christ, my wife is my priority.  Not work.  Not play.  My wife.

Divorce has taught me to pursue my wife for the rest of our lives (She's not just a prize.  Now that you have her, you should still pursue her, date her, do nice things for her).

Now, let's talk about what marriage is for me.  Like I said, marriage is the greatest example of God's love for us here on earth.  It is my goal (and I fail daily) to love my wife like Christ loves me.  Stop and think about that.  Take a step back and comprehend how much God loves you.  If you're a Christian, then you believe this.  God died for you, right?  God was beaten nearly to death, and hung on a cross because he loves us!  It sounds so simple, so down-played.  Words can't even describe the love God has for us.

So, when we screw up, no matter how bad--Does God still love us?  Does God still support us?  Will God ever... EVER let us go?  NO!  He won't!  That's how I want to love my wife.

So, wait, let's get this straight.  Do we have to earn God's love?  Is his grace only sufficient when we do the right thing... when we look good in the spotlight?  NO!  We can't earn God's grace.  We just have it if we are a Christ Follower.  It's that simple.  No matter what we do, what we've done, God love us, we don't earn it, we simply have it.

My wife... simply has my love.  She didn't earn it... she couldn't earn it if she tried.  She can't buy it.  She can't persuade my love for her one way, or the other... she simply has my love.  Jefferson Bethke puts it best when he says, "We're often judgmental, hypocritical, and legalistic while claiming to follow a Jesus who is forgiving, authentic, and loving."  Why is pride so hard to swallow?  Why is it so hard just to let go?  I know people hurt others.  Believe me, I've been hurt so many times, but God can heal those wounds in time, if you give him the opportunity.  See, that's the funny thing with Christianity.  We're not puppets--we have the free will to do whatever we want.  But I want to say this...

If you've done something you think is horrible and you feel dirty and disgusting, God still adores you.    "You're not what you did.  You're not what someone did to you.  You are not what happened to you.  You are who Christ says you are" (Craig Groeschel).  To those who are hurting, remember this:  The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths.  These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern" (Elisabeth Kubler-Ross).

Divorce isn't always a horrible thing.  I've seen many people reclaim their life because of certain circumstances.  I'm not talking about abuse in the home or anything like that.   That's not what this post is about.  I'm talking about the fact that you don't feel love anymore is no reason to end something that you promised God.  Do we always feel close to God?  Do we always feel him near to us?  Does he still love us regardless?  I'm sure a lot of people would say, "well, you've only been married for five years... what do you know?"  Well, I don't know much, but the scripture is a lot older than I am, and God's views haven't changed.  All I'm doing is quoting what God has already written in the bible.

I think we tend to turn the bible into a genie in a bottle.  Thanks to Christina Aguilera, we know that if we "rub it the right way," we'll find a verse to justify just about anything.  I've heard so many times that the bible says if a woman commits adultery, it's okay to get a divorce (Matthew 5:32).  I mean, the bible does say that... specifically.  But, if we're going to play that game, can we ignore everything else the bible says about marriage?  NO!  If we're going to abide by one verse in the bible, we have to abide by all of them.

This is simply a matter of opinion, but I think most divorces end due to selfishness.  They want more.  They're tired of the life they've been living.  They're not happy anymore.  They want more money.  Sounds pretty selfish to me.  Remember, God's love for us is selfless.  I understand it takes two in a marriage, but the faith of a man or woman can move mountains (Matthew 21:22).  Have faith.

I could honestly go on for days.  I hope that this post inspires you to love more... no matter who it is.  If we are advocates for Christ, we have to start acting like it.  If you're in a position where you are questioning divorce, evaluate your reasoning.  Don't be a quitter.  Fight the good fight.  Remember the promise you made for God.

Vows aren't just words.  God promised to love us and be with us until the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).  Will you do the same for your spouse?

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