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 door...it 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?
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.
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.