Monday, November 11, 2013

Controversy, stilettos, & seeing the future

I've discovered something lately....

You get a lot of feedback when you're going through a divorce.

Shocker, huh? Yeah. Lots of advice - some of which you need, some of which you want, and some of which you neither need nor want. I've learned by now to filter the advice and opinions, and have created a system of sorts for who I listen to and how serious to take the advice I do get.

Because in these sticky, complicated, messy, gray situations of life, there really aren't a lot of clear cut right and wrong answers. And if you've never been in this particular pair of shoes of mine (which I am rockin' now, by the way, and have decided are silver, open-toed and boast a stiletto heel ::wink::), well, be careful. Be cautious. Be AWARE of what you say to someone if you can't truly understand. And by all means, don't SAY you understand when you simply don't. If you actually DO understand, then that means you've been here, so at that point, by all means, bring on the advice :)

I have been SO blessed that God brought me several friends at this time in my life, some of who literally do understand, and some of who don't, but who all encourage me, love me, and give me sound advice regularly. Wow, that's priceless!! I have the people in my life I vent to and expect nothing back but sad smiley's and murmurs of compassion - perfect. I have the people in my life I vent to and receive Godly wisdom and the hard stuff advice from - perfect. I have the people in my life I vent to and receive pep talks and encouragement and "you da man" from - perfect. I have the people in my life I vent to who have been there and give me the "I remember that feeling, you're normal, don't worry, it will pass" from - perfect.

It takes a village.

But not all advice from those in your shoes is automatically good for you (or me) either. That goes back to that filter I mentioned. You need to first filter everything through God's word, and after that, through your own common sense God gave you and through your conviction experience with the Holy Spirit. Something might or might not be addressed specifically in God's word, and that's when you go to someone godlier and wiser than you, and get alone with God long enough to run it by Him.

He'll meet you, every time.

And that's where my post gets controversial.

When this divorce journey first began in February, I Googled a lot. I mean, a LOT. I drank in articles, blogs, chat forums, and online support groups like a dehydrated woman. And in some ways, I WAS very dehydrated. I was dehydrated for hope. But I was searching for it in the wrong places. Instead of bringing it all to God, I was bringing to other people, desperate for "proof" or "omens" in the success stories of other marriages being restored. I was looking for signs under every rock that this wasn't actually going to happen and that my husband would return and things would go back to normal and this would all just be a very very bad dream.

Literally under every rock.

And it almost killed me.

It actually DID kill a portion of my heart for a long time that God has recently breathed back to life. Because while I was scrambling to fix things myself and make things happen that I couldn't possibly and begging Him for a miracle, I forgot to actually seek Jesus. I didn't want Him so much as I wanted what He could perhaps do for me and change in my circumstances.

::Insert loud buzzer here::

That never works.

And one of the ways I got myself hurt was by investing time and energy into a group that were "standing for their marriages".

Don't throw rocks yet. Hear me out.

I wasn't in the right place to be in that group. Because of where my heart was, where my anxiety level had peaked, where depression knocked on my back was dangerous. Not helpful. I was still depending far too much on man at that point in my journey.

**Disclaimer - Now, in that search, I did come across a small group of ladies online who actively prayed together once a week via conference call for their marriages, and oh my goodness, that was very much a God-ordained thing and led me to a close friendship with a woman who is now divorced, and texts with me every day. God put us in each other's life for encouragement and fellowship and support, and that was NOT a mistake or accident. I am blessed that He led me to her. **

That said, however, there are many groups and blogs and support communities online that in my honest opinion, go overboard in their faith.

Don't throw rocks!! Hear me out.

That sounds harsh and bold, but think about it. Some of these groups preach a theology that basically says "if you hang on long enough and pray hard enough, God WILL restore your marriage - no matter what". They twist Scriptures to back this up and bring hope to desperate, hurting, aching souls that, like me at the time, were so eager to hear anything to support that dream that they wallowed in their pain a whole lot longer than they had to.

How damaging is that?

Because you know what? That's not always true. That's not always the case. Yes, there are a million testimonies of restored marriages and the impossible being  made possible and that is AWESOME. I am all for that. Yay God!!!

But there's also a lot that don't get restored despite the prayers and dedication and 'standing' of a wife or husband. There's just as many or more stories where the other person in the marriage DIDN'T change or didn't repent or didn't come around. Despite prayer. Despite fasting. Despite pleading and tithing and begging and bribing and waiting for years. There were women in that group who had literally been waiting decades for their "prodigal husband" to come back and he had already been remarried for years.

That's fine for them if that's their decision. I applaud that and support them. It's admirable in many circumstances and in many ways.

I didn't feel led to commit to that type of stand, and had to leave that environment because it was hurting me more than helping me.

And when I started asking questions and backing off a little and doubting my "stand", I got talked down to. Accused, basically. Dissed, essentially. Because I was "giving up". I was failing, not strong enough to stand for my marriage no matter what.

Talk about salt in a wound.

It got me thinking. Was I wrong for not dedicating myself to that same kind of "stand"? WAS I failing somehow in my faith by not staying in it all hardcore when I had been abandoned? What was black and white here? Where was the line between doormat and stander? Where was the line between living your faith and denying reality/losing your mind?

So gray.

But here's my final revelation on the point, and I will "stand" by it all day long:

I believe, firmly, with my whole heart now, that God calls some women (and men) to stand for their marriages. And others He does not.

Because here's the key factor - HE SEES THE FUTURE.

He knows in advance which spouse will return and which ones won't. He knows what deserted/abandoned heart needs to take that position and which ones don't. He knows which wounds will heal in that circumstance and environment and which ones will get infected.

In other words, it's a case by case basis. If God knows so-and-so's husband is never going to return, never going to repent, never going to make that heart change and get his life right, and is going to remarry and start a family elsewhere, then why on earth would God call her to stand for that marriage and hope and pray and wait by the window for the rest of her life?

That's not how God operates.

Proverbs 13:12 " A hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life."

Bottom line - if He puts that commitment to stand in your heart, it's for a specific reason. And if you are walking with God and thriving in Him and bringing Jesus into every area of your life, daily - and it's still not there - then that's also for a specific reason.

No judgment. No condemnation. No "this is the only way to do this" type statements.

Because there shouldn't be, and there's not.

And don't get me started on those who have strong opinions one way or another on whether or not it's okay to date or see other people while you are separated, or after you are recently divorced, or whatever. Again - let them make those decisions with God, because His opinion is the only one they need to be worried about anyway. Trust me, they have enough on their plate without having to think in advance about all those prickly possibilities and make commitments they won't know yet if they can carry out.

The worst thing you can do to a broken heart or a wounded soul is give it a brochure of rules.

If you want to help someone going through a divorce, please - put the rocks down. And then hand them a Kleenex and a piece of chocolate.

I like Dove & Twix :)

So, what do you think about all of this? I want an honest discussion, with no rock throwing, on my revelation/theory about standing for marriage. Whether you are in this situation or not, please chime in and let's get some debate going potentially. I'm very open to all opinions because ignoring these topics only make them worse.


  1. This is beautiful. I'm single, never married so I'm not in the position to really say anything. I know what we are told and I also know that things aren't that simple. If I'm remembering correctly the Bible doesn't give a list of what is divorce-able kindof like it doesn't say no drinking it says not be drunk. I think that's because He wants us to seek Him with all our hearts like you are saying.
    It takes so much courage not only to follow The Lord and take your own path with your marraige but also to come and speak about it honestly and eloquently. God has something great for you

  2. I have so many thoughts. So, so many. I will refrain from sharing them all because I refuse to hog the comments. LOL!
    I applaud you for how bold you've gotten about this. You are amazing, Betsy! What I really believe is that above all He longs for our hearts. He wants us filled with Himself, expressing Himself, becoming more one with Him day by day. And honestly? In the short time that I've known you, I see Him accomplishing this in your life--using something that many will be opinionated about. While I've never been divorced I have friends who have been, or are going through one. I learned early on to see beyond the simplistic legalities we think we understand in the Bible and dig deeper. Because "deeper" is always there with God. You just have to knock and it will be opened to you. He is doing incredible things in you because you seek His face. I, for one, cannot wait to see it unfold...

  3. Hello! I'm a new follower through email and blogger! Thank you so much!
    Annette of

  4. What you said. Every. Single. Word. My goodness I wish I'd been able to read what you wrote 8 years ago when I was going through my own divorce. I clung on and clung on. I liked to think it was pregnancy hormones that made me so stubborn but it wasn't. I truly believed if I *stood* long enough he would rush back into my arms.

    Eventually I realised that, even if he did, he wasn't the man I thought I'd married and I deserved so much better.

    I still have to remind myself, so many years later, that almost every single one of our troubles are made to be shared with God. And when we do that and ask for His help to understand and accept what He has in store for us, it's so much easier to live our lives with a smile on our face.

    Your strength is an inspiration.

  5. Forgive me if this posts twice:

    This is such a sensitive subject and I pray that my comments will be accepted as gentle and tender hearted as that is how they are intended.

    I find the issue of divorce particularly in Christian circles a little unsettling. I am coming from the angle of: what is marriage? Is it not a promise between two people before God 'till death do us part? Is it not for better or for worse? Shouldn't our promises be solid, be kept?

    I know that every day, everywhere men and women are breaking their spouses hearts and it should not be this way! Men are supposed to lead and love like Christ loved his church and women are supposed to be to coming alongside their husbands. Clearly not all men are treating their wives like the precious jewels that they are and arguably not all women are honoring and respecting their husbands either. I know this. This grieves me.

    But I'm afraid some married people are quick to get out if a troubled marriage as soon as the going gets tough-- as soon as they are convinced they deserve better.

    I am not divorced but I am a sinner saved by grace. I do not deserve anything good!

    People do change, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse- but that's in there, that's part of the promise to love and honor your spouse no matter what.

    I do not believe that God will mend every marriage. But I do believe he will bless those who are obedient to him and his word. So the husband who left may not return or the wife who cheated may not repent but the spouse who stood for what is right-- and did not succumb to the misguided notion that they deserve better-- will be blessed by God. He will not forsake them!

    And what a powerful witnessing opportunity this can be to others. Anyone-- believer or unbeliever-- can leave their spouse. But when a believer puts her foot down and acknowledges yes, I've been wronged, but this is not God's fault and I will not do as the world does and go against the marriage promise I made before him. I will not act as though marriage is something that can be reversed.

    Despite the harsh happenings and evil-doings all around me that are beyond control, I can control what I do and I can choose to do what is right.

    And there may never be a point that your marriage returns to "normal"-- you may never again share the same bed with your spouse for instance--but you are still upholding your vows, you are still doing what you can to honor God with your marriage.

    I believe that God will work miracles into the lives of his obedient servants in ways we can't even imagine. They will not be alone in this.

    I believe this position-- although scary and uncertain and almost unheard of-- can speak volumes to the estranged spouse, to the children involved and to the world.

    My heart and prayers are with you and your family, Betsy! <3

  6. I am so sorry, Betsy! I had no clue you are going through this! I am single, so I don't know about the difficulties of marriage from personal experience. But I can say how terribly sorry I am! And I do know that, while divorce was never God's perfect intentions for marriage, I do know He doesn't condemn His hurting children when they are placed into a situation that is beyond their control. I feel simply terrible for you. God loves you and will always keep you. If you let Him, He can shine through you and maybe use this to touch someone else's heart for good. Praying for yah!

  7. As a Christian woman who is currently separated from her husband and the divorce will be coming sometime after the holidays; I can strongly relate to your pain. I recently wrote on Facebook: "Let's stop judging, and start loving." It may sound cheesy, but it's very true. I have found myself with myriad emotions throughout the last 3 months. Again, it may sound trite, but I encourage you to seek God's wisdom and remember that all human advice is just that human; thus, it is probably flawed in some way. The Bible is the only truly perfect book with advice for all types of situations. God is perfect. I do not know why women like you and me are going through these difficult times. I have no answers for the really tough questions. Some days, all I can do is sing "Jesus Loves Me," and that is enough to make it to the next moment. I have learned to watch out for legalism in any advice I ask for or receive, whether I asked for it or not. Christ's sacrifice on the cross eliminated the need for legalism. The New Testament is about freedom. I'm taking each day literally minute by minute, and trying to remind myself that Jesus is the Only Perfect Man I'll ever know! I also remind myself that I am the Daughter of the King, and although it's tough to admit, I really don't need validation from Anyone else. I'm sad. I cry. I feel anger. I want revenge. I want to scream and throw stuff. I feel peace. I feel loved by the Lover of my soul. I feel a glimpse of hope for the future. To use the cliche, it is like a roller coaster. I just keep praying and studying the Scriptures. I memorize verses and sing hymns and modern worship songs to myself. I wait to hear the sweet voice of my Savior for I know He truly loves me unconditionally.