DIVORCE! Most people assume it’s a marital divorce. For me it was both, a marital divorce and a divorce from my church community. The biggest failure of my life (so far), was justification for the Holy Spirit to abandon me. My divorce was clear cause for Gods disappointment but in reality there is always cause for God to separate from me. God chooses to overlook our corrupt state at every moment of our existence but the denials and prideful delusions are always in our subconscious, tracking every good behavior and making sure all the “shoulds” are covered. Until the divorce left me completely naked, I used “being a good Christian” to make myself acceptable to God.
I remember feeling so much shame and pain that on many occasions I awoke at night overwhelmed with grief. I never took my marriage vows lightly, and I was not taking the divorce lightly. I knew I had failed. I let my friends down, I let myself down. I knew that I was now going against everything I believed and built my life around. All my friends at the time were from within the church. They were the center of my social life. Their approval and acceptance was of such high priority, I often took my real family for granted. My Christian family was also lost in the divorce. My separation from the church community was similar to my marital divorce in that both parties shared some degree of guilt for the failure.
This is not an attempt to justify divorce. Tragedies cannot be justified, they occur and they cause great pain. My failed marriage was a symptom of a much deeper sin. It was the final stage in a “disease” that I had lived with all my life. My inability to have healthy relationships plagued me long before I met and married my ex-wife. The divorce was conclusive evidence that my emotional problems were serious enough to interfere with my life in ways so profound that I ended up scarring another human being for the rest of her life. Expecting me to maintain or recognize a healthy relationship was like asking the paralyzed man to walk. Emotional problems often go unseen but are as real and crippling as physical problems.
Everything I believed was now suspect. My belief system or social support system no longer provided the security that I so desperately needed. Most encounters with the members of my church were awkward. On many occasions I was accused of thoughts and intentions that were not true and on other occasions I was simply ignored. The public approval I was always so dependant on evaporated. The veiled criticisms and judgments finally took their toll and I made the next logical conclusion. I divorced my community. It was not out of fear. I made a sober choice to find an environment where I could slowly heal and find compassion. Ironically, it was to be outside the church. By what I was taught and by all I was experiencing I assumed that Jesus no longer wanted me around. I interpreted the rejections and criticisms from my Christian friends as rejections from God. I can remember the exact moment I said “If this is being a Christian then I will no longer follow you.” I was wrong.
The Holy Spirit was already waiting for me “outside” my comfort zone. Each time I pushed God away he would come back. Never once did I feel like God was punishing me. The immense fallout of my divorce was never interpreted as God’s wrath. Consequences for my decisions are not punishment, they are realities of life. Once I realized I was wrong about the nature of God’s love, I was forced to see my problems being generated from within. God’s punishment never occurred so where was all this pain from? It was me. I believe with all my heart that emotional injuries need to be handled with the same patience and compassion as physical handicaps. I believe that fear of change is a sin because it does not allow us to establish real intimacy with others and it makes us judgmental. If I am afraid of change how can I keep moving closer to God? Sin is so profound that it is beyond our natural abilities to truly understand. This is why God’s love is beyond our abilities to define. It’s clear to me that I am not completely healed. None of us are. I still have reservations about a full return to church. The personal relationships I lost are scars that keep me hesitant of making a complete return yet it is the personal relationships which still live that keep me missing church. I don’t understand the process but in my heart I know all of this has a purpose.
I am the cripple that Jesus let walk. I am the adulteress that should have been stoned. The security I now have about the love of God is the foundation that I need to honestly look at myself. Our wrongfulness and our wrongs are what bring us together and to God. There is no place left to go except to face the truth about ourselves and surrender to God. Jesus is compassionate and ethical in how he relates to his crippled children. We are not put here to hide; we are here to choose life.