Don’t Waste Your Divorce

During this week where many families are traditionally on vacation celebrating the 4th, I suspect this post won’t be widely read. For others, though, a holiday week like this just highlights anew a very painful season of loss. If you find yourself there, I hope this post will encourage you during a hard time.

Over the last few years, I have walked with two friends in particular through the bitter betrayal of a divorce they didn’t want. I wrote a few years ago on Pariahs and our subtle way of avoiding divorcees in conservative churches because they threaten our prosperity gospel that we don’t even realize we believe. I had dinner this week with one of those friends, and she shared such wisdom with me that she had me writing notes on napkins so I wouldn’t forget.

Her burden for herself is to not waste her divorce. Does that sound odd or controversial? Our strong churches often preach on solid marriages and healthy relationships. Divorce care seems more the function of liberal churches we perceive as having a low view of the sanctity of marriage. Yet I know many godly women with a high view of the sanctity of marriage and strong convictions from Scripture on the covenant relationship between a husband and wife who find themselves there. Their high view of marriage and Scriptural convictions magnify the shame they feel! They need divorce care more than ever.

My friend’s wise advice as she journeys through the depths herself is DON’T SETTLE FOR COPING MECHANISMS. Getting a pet, turning on the news, or reading a novel can ease the loneliness and distract you from the pain. For a time. But don’t let yourself rely on such things totally. Face the truth and the seemingly overwhelming pain, friend, and walk through the middle of it. Because God can and will do much in you through this very pain! Even when we are sinned against in divorce (and we know that we too sinned in it!), God will still use this for our good.

Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50 is beautiful. Not only did God use sin and betrayal for good in Joseph’s life, he used it for good in his brothers’ lives too. They sinned grievously against Joseph, and no one should twist what I’m saying to say it’s OK that they sinned against Joseph. Yet, God used even their grievous betrayal and abandonment of their brother for good in ALL of their lives. You may see yourself as Joseph, his brothers, or some mix of the two. Regardless of who bears the brunt of responsibility for the demise of your marriage, sin dive bombed your life and left devastation in its wake. Yet God sovereignly guides the fallout and can bring unexpected and profound beauty from the ashes. Only He can do that, and it is a miracle indeed.

According to my friend who has researched this more than I, there isn’t a whole lot written from a Christian perspective on divorce. A lot is written on avoiding divorce, reconciling marriages, and enduring in a painful marriage. But not so much for the woman who loves God and wanted her marriage to be different, yet finds herself right in the middle of a painful divorce. Elisabeth Elliot includes a chapter on divorce in The Path of Loneliness, a book I love and recommend. Divorce is different from widowhood. The general difference is that widows experience grief, but divorcees experience grief AND shame. And that second piece can be toxic without a robust understanding and application of the gospel to ourselves daily.

There is a supernatural gift in divorce, a unique experience of beauty and identification with God that can rise out of the ashes of devastation in your life. When you feel most abandoned, most shamed, and most betrayed in this life, that is when the gospel can seep into your psyche in a way it never has before. Isaiah calls God the father of the fatherless. Profound abandonment becomes the doorway through which we realize the depth of His profound provision of HIMSELF for us in the place of those who have left us.

Isaiah 54:4-5

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
 be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
  and the reproach of your widowhood (or divorce) you will remember no more.  For your Maker is your husband,
 the Lord of hosts is his name;
 and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
 the God of the whole earth he is called.

Not only is God here to meet you in your abandonment, but He identifies and understands that abandonment better than any other. Hosea is a good book of the Bible to read in this season. It teaches us that God Himself understands betrayal and abandonment at a very personal level. His identification with us in the midst of betrayal is the key to the battle against bitterness and cynicism. And, oh, how those two things can rob us of hope for the future. Whatever you do, don’t give in to bitterness and cynicism. Fight them hand in hand with your Savior who understands your pain.

Others may feed the bitterness, shame, and anger in you. My friend recommends Shame Interrupted by Ed Welch. Churches can be shaming by the mere fact that you sit alone in a congregation dominated by couples and families with children. Do not waste how vulnerable you feel and how easy it now is for you identify with the poor and the hurting of the world. My friend has experienced a renewed burden for the homeless because she could actually envision herself becoming homeless. She resonated with the pain of the elderly and the disabled because she felt the same loneliness, isolation, and fear that they feel. God has used this to bless others (and bless herself as she gets involved with those in need). It distracts from the self pity that can debilitate her in such a season.

If you are in this season, you likely face the temptation to hurt others the way you have been hurt. If we can’t hurt the one who has wounded us, we may hurt our children or our family/friends trying to help. Or we may just turn it on ourselves. Instead, we need a healthy, holy grief. Mourn the loss and acknowledge the devastation that has hit you. But do it hand in hand with your Savior, knowing He understands exactly what you feel and He willingly bears the pain with and for you.

I remember the moment that both of my friends moved from seeing their husband as the enemy to seeing him as a prisoner of the real enemy. That is a powerful moment! Each moved from anger and bitterness to pity and compassion for the one who had wronged them. Only the gospel can give us that perspective.

As you walk this road of betrayal and abandonment, know that, in Christ, you do not walk it utterly alone. Think of the Man of Sorrows stumbling under the weight of the cross. A man steps out of the crowd and bears the cross with or for Him. For you, the roles are reversed. It is the Man of Sorrows who is well acquainted with such grief who steps beside you to shoulder the weight of the burden with and for you. His shoulders are wide and strong, and He will never leave you.

Psalms 68:19-29  Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,     who daily bears our burdens.  Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death. 

Deuteronomy 31:6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

41 Responses to Don’t Waste Your Divorce

  1. Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 2:38 am #

    God's word encourages reconciliation and restoration. We should not settle for anything less, or make excuses for those who choose to leave a marriage. We are called to a higher standard than those who do not know the gospel.

    • Roni September 2, 2016 at 11:05 am #

      Wow pretty judgemental. Hope you never face diviorce or a spouse leaving you or your belief structure will surely crash

    • john October 17, 2016 at 5:16 am #

      I Agree with Anonymous statement and Roni and life isn’t as perfect as statements like that. I was raised in a Christian home, am a Christian. Married a Christian woman. After ten years of marriage she left me taking our son (no abuse of any kind in the marriage) She continued to be a Church leader at our Church, I waited upon the Lord for reconciliation but She still divorced me and even though I was abandoned I still was not wanting marriage to end. What would people say to this situation?

  2. thegregs July 2, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    God's word does, indeed, call for reconciliation. But what about those for whom this choice is not an option? What about those who long to be reconciled, but instead face rejection? Many who do not want divorce must still live with it.
    Please, be cautious as we call one another to this higher standard.

  3. Sarah July 2, 2012 at 3:09 am #

    i've been following this blog for a while and have yet to leave a comment. But wanted to comment on how much i really appreciated this post, not because i have gone through or imagine that i would ever go through a divorce, but because i am a child of divorce. My mother was abandoned as a young wife with 3 children when my father walked way from the Lord. I know and saw the difficulty and loneliness that she went through, not just as a single mother in general but as a divorcee in the Church. While i agree that reconciliation and restoration are something we always strive for, unfortunately sometimes we must “settle for less” as was the case in my mothers situation. My father wanted nothing to do with reconciliation and still does not. My mother did everything in her power to keep it together, but theses days with “no fault” divorces, sometimes there really is no other option. There is definitely a stigma in the Christian realm about divorce, and i find this post very refreshing. Thank you for a well written and loving view. There is Grace and forgiveness for every situation.

  4. Henna Maria July 2, 2012 at 4:43 am #

    This was a very well written post. My parents are not divorced and I am not either, so I do not have personal experience in this. However, there are godly women in my family and friends who did NOT want to divorce, but who were left by their husbands. It really really hurts, especially when you have the high, Godly standard for your marriage. Thank you for tackling such an important subject with grace and wisdom!

  5. Bee Noland July 2, 2012 at 4:52 am #

    Thank you with all my heart for writing this. I am divorced, and while it was in some ways by choice, in others it was not – I certainly didn't choose the heart-breaking situation I was in, and I would not have ever wished for my apparent fairy-tale courtship and wedding to turn into the horrible mess that it finally became. I am not without fault, and neither was he. The relevant fact is that I am here, now, and I can choose to live to the higher standard available to me in this day, this moment – or to choose every day and every moment to default to pain and anger and an ugly heart.

    I wish so much that my church had something like the divorce care you write about here. I am a member of a good-sized conservative evangelical congregation with several divorced women, single women, widows, the gamut – and in the eight months since my divorce, I haven't heard a single word from either of my pastors, any of the elders, any of the deacons, or any of the ladies from the women's ministry group. Nothing – no one checking on my financial situation, spiritual life, parenting challenges, living situation, not a word. I was required to tell the church leadership the reasons for my divorce (presumably so they would know who to be mad at and who to bring casseroles to), but there was no follow-up.

    As you can certainly see, I am not quite there yet when it comes to finding peace with my church's response to my pain and loss, but this is a good reminder to stop looking to my church, if my church is unable to step up to that task. God WILL provide, and he CAN direct me to people who are willing to be his hands and feet in my life.

    Thank you for writing this.

  6. Wendy July 2, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    Anonymous, I assume you either did not read my post well or do not know anyone who was abandoned by their spouse. The last thing those wounded women need is a lecture on the sanctity of marriage. My friends who were abandoned have a better perspective and stronger conviction of the sanctity of marriage than anyone I know.

  7. Wendy July 2, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    God bless you in this journey, Bee. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Luma Simms July 2, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    Wendy, this was a wonderful post, truly. I'm divorced, it was a long time ago, but my oldest is from that marriage and the consequences continue to this day. About seven years ago seeing a dearth of good and sound books on divorce I started writing “Reformation After Divorce” but that's when I fell into going after “good works” and forgetting the gospel so… Anyway, all that to say: We need some good and sound teaching on the subject, but we need it delivered with a gracious spirit…. When I was younger and it was all very fresh I clung to Isaiah 54:5-6

    “For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name, and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called. For the Lord has called you like a wife-deserted and grieved in spirit, like a wife of youth when she is cast off, says your God.”

    These verses brought such comfort to me… In the end I ended up doing the divorcing, but that's a long story. My heart goes out to your friends… this is a rough rough road, I know.

  9. Tanya July 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I was abandoned by my husband of almost 8 years just over a year ago. It was not something I chose and I offered everything to try to change his mind.
    I wholeheartedly believe in the sanctity of marriage and this is not a road I ever would've chosen for me or my two small children.
    YET…the Lord is faithful, YET…the Lord draws near, YET…the Lord satisfies all of my deepest needs and longings.
    He is ever-loving, ever-gracious, ever-compassionate. He is my hand of provision in a dry and deserted land and He fills my bruised and broken heart full to overflowing.
    This post is lovely and true. Thank you!

  10. Wendy July 2, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Tanya, I trust you will continue to see the Lord proving His faithfulness as you walk this difficult road. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    A very instructive and empathetic article. I am a Christian man who fits this description of one who possess “a high view of the sanctity of marriage and strong convictions from Scripture on the covenant relationship between a husband and wife …. (my) high view of marriage and Scriptural convictions magnify the shame….” Your counsel and insight does cut both ways. After 22 years and eight children, she walked. The last four years has been an amazing journey, strengthened faith though suffering, deeper bonds of fellowship with elders and the members of the church who have reached out to me and our children. I have learned more about commitment, covenant, and sacrificial love since the separation/divorce than all of the 30+ years as a disciple previous. God is good, wise, and always a faithful Friend and Lord. Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him. Shalom.

  12. Wendy July 2, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I'm sorry for your loss, Anonymous. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Marliss Bombardier July 3, 2012 at 1:32 am #

    The man who commented just above sent me the link to this blog post. I was separated from my husband five years ago, and I remember the sense of outrage (and shame) I had when he filed for divorce. Not for myself, but that he could autonomously choose to end our marriage and do such devastation to our children with no more than a few dollars and a flick of a pen. He came back, and we are still doing the hard work of reconciliation. Whether our marriage will ever be truly restored is yet to be seen.

    The wife of the man above and I have been friends since high school. She walked with me through the trauma of my separation. Whether my separation made her look more critically at her marriage or not, I don't know. I do know that her divorcing him was totally alien to anything I thought I knew about her. I also know that since the divorce, her husband has undergone radical repentance. I continue to pray that she, too, will see the heart changes in him and their family will be reunited.

    We live in a sin-sick world, and one of the things that distresses me most is to see a judgmental attitude among Christians. One way that manifests is to look down on a divorced Christian woman (or divorced Christian man) as a failure. We are held to a higher standard, as in the first comment above. That higher standard is to love God and our neighbor, not to judge.

  14. Gabby Kempthorne July 3, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Thank you so much for this post. I am not a of divorce in any form, but this article has made me change my views on those who do divorce. It had never occurred to me (to my shame) that there was no choice given to one party of the marriage; I was guilty of judging. Praise God that he brought this to my attention! He knows what we need to grow.

    The only beef I have: there is nowhere to share it on Facebook! 🙂

    God bless your wisdom.

  15. Gabby Kempthorne July 3, 2012 at 2:03 am #

    Wait, never mind, I found where to share 🙂

  16. Pia July 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    Twenty years ago I was blindsided when my husband ran off with the secretary and left me with our infant daughter, chosing to never to see either of us again. At the time I thought it was the last place on earth I'd ever find myself. I used to say I expected it about as much as I would have expected to hear that Clinton and Saddam Hussein were having a homosexual affair – which after all the revelations since, probably would not be as shocking.

    The pain would find me at night sometimes wishing I was dead. I can't describe it except to say that it physically hurt. James Dobson says that divorce is worse than separation by death, since in divorce someone chose to leave.

    For my part, I wasted too much time wishing my ex was six feet under.

    I remember about eighteen months after the divorce, after finishing a run around Greenlake, experiencing a funny feeling in my gut. I couldn't identify it at first, but then it hit me – it was a moment of happiness. But it was gone as soon as I namd it. The happiness came againin fits and spurts, but stayed longer each time.

    I, literally, at the time was attending a propserity church. They didn't know what to do with me since I didn't fit their theology, so I was subject to what I call, “secondary abandomment.” However, and thanks be to God's provision, He provided me with five friends who for years made me and my daughter part of their family. This grace helped me to see the prosperity church not as uncaring, but disabled by their bad theology. As Kay Arthur says, “Bad teaching leads to bad behavior.”

    I spent seven years as a single mom until a man saw me and my daughter as a pretty good package deal. I know there are books and preachers out there who would put forth that I should never have remarried and/or that no man should ever have married me, but that I should have remained single the rest of my life to exemplify covenant. Honestly, to read or hear the stuff hurts. Wendy, maybe the makings of a future post on the subject?????

    Lots of time, lots of lesson learned, but I am most amazed that Jesus never let go!

    Wendy, thank you for being a friend to your two friends. God's greatest gift to me was Jesus Himself and secondarily, the five friends he gave me.

  17. Cathy July 4, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    Thank you for your heart. After seventeen years of marriage and 13 years of counseling, my Bible College graduate husband decided he would not give up his porn addiction and his abusive ways. Thank you for your sensitivity. You can't imagine the subtle rejection I have felt from Christians.

    • Jeanie September 10, 2016 at 1:39 am #

      Sounds just like my situation w Bible college husband . But the rejection from Christians was not subtle at all. Including from my own older sister.

  18. joyfulltiredmom July 4, 2012 at 5:18 am #

    This is a fantastic post! This was me 14 years ago …” I am so thankful you wrote this. My seminary trained husband listened to the dark side and refused any counseling, secular or Christian. I had no choice but to be the respondent in his divorce proceedings. I prayed for him. I pleaded with God. His heart was hardened and his free will made choices I still don't understand why. What I do know is that God was faithful to me. God provided for me in every possible manner. Today I am married to an incredible man and have a family. And I have empathy I would never have had. God hates divorce. I hate divorce. But I trusted God to make the best of a horrible situation and God has answered that prayer.

  19. joyfulltiredmom July 4, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    That was my verse for many years. I cried and clung to those verses many a day. Isn't God grand that He would write those verses for women like us!

  20. Persis July 4, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Thank you for this post. My husband, a professing Christian, walked out of our marriage 5 years ago for a non-Christian coworker. They have since married after getting their respective divorces. We were already having difficulties as each of us was looking to the other for fulfillment rather than in Christ and obviously neither one of us measured up. I didn't speak up for fear of not being a good submissive wife and lived in fear that he would leave, which ultimately happened. But God was merciful to use this to renew my love for Him and bring me to the doctrines of grace. Without understanding the sovereignty of God, there was no way I could have endured this trial. That doctrine was the key that opened the door to understanding that life is about glorifying God, not my marital happiness. I remember reading and rereading the passage in Isaiah 54 with tears.

    It's sometimes difficult for other Christians to understand the anguish, because it's not like being widowed. There is no clean break. Also with the legal system, you can't stop your spouse from divorcing you. Often without intending to be hurtful, the implication that you could have done something to prevent this is like a kick to the gut when you are down.

    I hope someone will write a book someday for Christians post-divorce. Not pop psychology but to point people to Christ as the only answer and tying this in with the sovereignty of God.

  21. Anonymous July 4, 2012 at 11:42 pm #

    Anonymous, read Isaiah 41:10-13 please. That scripture was one of many that got me through the horrific spiritual battle I felt during my divorce. Wendy is correct, I don't need a lecture from anyone, I need Jesus!!! Growing up going to church constantly, I do not remember a time in my life not knowing God. Called as a small child to fulfill the Great Commission, attending Bible College, being a virgin when I married @ 24 years old, and praying, begging, & pleading for my husband to be brought to the end of himself doesn't make a difference if the man you are married to doesn't accept Jesus love & forgiveness & walk a life sold out to the LORD. My point is it is not about works. There is ONE GREAT LOVE, Jesus <3

  22. KM July 5, 2012 at 12:23 am #

    This is a very timely and relevant post. Divorce should not be taken lightly, and it should not be wasted! Divorce can be one of those hardships that God uses for our good, if we allow him to do so. Many of the comments here reflect how a divorce can deepened someone's trust in God. Unfortunately, that is not the case for many Christian, divorced women. God is a jealous God (Ex 34:14) and He shall have no other Gods before him (Ex 20:3). Many wives have made their husbands God in their lives. For this reason, I truly believe God will ALLOW (not cause) some marriages to end.

    One of my former church members was thrown out of her martial home by her openly abusive husband. Afterwards, on several occasions, she tried to force her way back into the martial home. It didn't work. It only made him more angry. During their 4 yr separation, she constantly and diligently tried to reconcile with him. He eventually filed for divorce. She was absolutely devastated.
    She ultimately blamed God and stopped going to church. She was emotionally paralyzed to the point of not being able to take care of herself by budgeting finances or maintain employment. She began to beg. She literally stated that was unable to think or provide for herself because it's a husband's job to do those things for his wife. When Christian women in her circle talked to her about God as Provider and financial stewardship, she didn't want to hear it.

    Divorce (not limited to being separated from a spouse, but financial difficulties, loss of friends, societal/church judgement, loneliness, etc) is a hardship. Paul asked the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” (Rom 8:35) Waste is allowing divorce, whatever the circumstances, to separate us from the love of God. That's the “separation” that we should be concerned about the most! Divorce – like any other hardship a person might face can't necessarily be changed. But divorcees don't have to be destroyed by it. It doesn't have to be the end of their journey.

    I too am an abuse/divorce survivor. Someone might ask, “how exactly did you survive?” My truth is simple. Because Jesus lives I can face tomorrow; because Jesus lives I can face today with overwhelming hope, peace, and strength! Without Christ, my life simply wouldn't be worth living.

    For those who have been through divorce, God is not through with you yet! Trust God, and He will reveal to you his plans for your future.

  23. Amy Williams July 6, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    Thank-you for this…so true. As I deal with being abandoned by my second husband and trying to make sense of it all. I see where I messed up and hope to help other women keep from going through this too.

  24. Danielle Nicole Adkins July 8, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    Sometimes some cases aren't clear cut. I grew up in a Christian home my whole life and and my ex from 9yrs on…he was abusive our entire marriage. I tried to leave one time, was admonished by a pastor to stay, go to dinner w/ him and see the preacher Sunday for counseling :/and next time…left, came home…thanks to another pastors encouragement …each time the abuse was worse and worse and none of these pastors would get their heads out of the sand and REALLY help! When I lost my first baby at his hands..I began to set money aside and plan, while I went to marriage counseling alone :(AND the last night I was with him he had a knife to my throat and said id be the next Nicole brown Simpson …thats no way to live a Christian life! And I couldn't bear the thought of leaving, being tied to a person like that my whole life…I wanted a second chance at it all. I knew in my heart, as conniving as he was in dealing w/the preachers I could never again, go home, trust him or ly next to him w/o fear that he wouldn't kill me. So I divorced him. Made new friends at a new church and met a REAL CHRISTAN MAN 🙂

  25. David August 6, 2012 at 3:46 am #

    My Christian wife filed for divorce shortly after our 28th anniversary, in the face of our pastor's and our Christian marriage counselor's advice that she did not have biblical grounds to divorce but that I did); the divorce was final a few months after our 29th anniversary; three days before what would have been our 30th anniversary, she got engaged to a twice-divorced Christian man whom she met online less than a month after our divorce was final and whom she met in person only 3-4 months before the engagement. While our four children (two teens still at home) seem to have generally “handled” these upheavals fairly well, their lives — both now and, worse, from here on — have been torn. They will be torn further if/when the remarriage occurs and she moves, with my special needs daughter, 400 miles away from me and my youngest son.

    I have two primary reactions to Wendy's post and the various reply posts. First, I agree wholeheartedly with Wendy's friend's desire not to waste her divorce, but to use it as an opportunity to grow much more dependent on God and more mature in my trust in Him. Scripture, friends, the DivorceCare program, family, my pastor, online resources, etc. have all been instrumental in helping me toward those goals. I have yet to reach “the moment . . . that [I] move[] from seeing [my wife] as the enemy to seeing [her] as a prisoner of the real enemy,” “from anger and bitterness to pity and compassion for the one who ha[s] wronged [me]” — at least not long-term. But I'm getting there, in fits and starts — and Wendy's post is another big help.

    Second, in a very important sense, I'm not seeing ENOUGH stigma associated with (unbiblical) divorce in the church. To my knowledge, there have been no consequences for her in Christian circles. (How perverse is it that Wendy's non-initiating friends who were willing to reconcile have been stigmatized, but an initiating spouse without biblical grounds has not been?) She has visited numerous churches in our area without anyone encouraging her to reconcile. Her Christian Facebook friends continue to praise her spirituality in response to her various posts and to congratulate her on her new relationship. Old friends and mentors have unanimously acknowledged the folly of the divorce and the new relationship, but have also unanimously declined to attempt to intervene, believing that she would not listen. Likely she would not, but does that mean mature, respected Christians shouldn't even try?

    Pardon my frustration. Don't let it detract from my appreciation for Wendy's post and her friends' hard won wisdom.

  26. Wendy August 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    David, thank you for sharing! I'm sorry for your loss and the abandonment you've felt by believing friends over this.

  27. Suzanne Youngblood August 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm #

    I can especially identify with your comment that divorcees experience grief AND shame. I was divorced almost two years ago after years of repeated and continual sexual adultery by my husband. I didn't want the divorce, but through the entire trial I've rested in God's sovereignty and tried to learn, grown and respond in a Christlike manner. But honestly, many Christians have not made the journey easier. Before my divorce, I would hear Christians say things like this:

    – There are always two sides to every story. We may never know what really happened.
    – If he cheated, I bet it was because she wasn’t meeting his needs. Otherwise, why would a man cheat?
    – I feel awkward talking about divorce. There are so many different views on the topic. So I'll stick to discussing superficial topics when I see this person at church instead of asking how they're doing.

    Those comments stuck with me and came to mind many times as I was struggling through my divorce. I have felt both shunned and judged in so many situations. Thank you for reminding us divorcees not to avoid dealing with the real issues we face. And thank you for also reminding those around us to apply a heaping measure of grace to the situation and remember that it's always easy (but dangerous) to judge when you don't know the details and/or you've never been through a similar trial yourself. I find much comfort in Ecclesiastes 3:11 – “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.”

  28. Anonymous November 12, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Please pray my husband comes home.

  29. Anonymous January 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

    David, I know this is much later and you may not read this. I am so sorry for your situation…I have a special-needs sister and my heart just goes out to you. I don't know what we would have done had my family not clung together.

    Regarding the unfairness of people stigmatizing you and not her…it sounds like you are parts of 2 extremely different groups. Perhaps yours is on the…stricter side, and I hope there have been many to encourage and pray with you and not assume/ judge. Perhaps your wife is visiting churches that don't call people to holiness (given how many pastors marry couples with no questions about their living together, etc., we know those churches exist). Or perhaps she does not divulge her situation of being separated, and if she visits only 1-2 times they don't feel at liberty to ask questions.

    The other thing I've noticed–with less-serious situations–is that Christians do sadly rush to blame the victim. Sometimes they are sweet and well meaning, but they want to do things like read verses to someone on harmony/ unity, when that person has been rudely rejected and excluded by others. OTHERS need that Scripture read to them, but I think it's just easier not to deal with the culprits because those in willful sin can be less-than-pleasant when called on it. So it's easier to encourage the more pleasant person to just be okay with everything and “play nice.”

    Sadly, I think this plays out in divorce situations (since it even plays out in abuse situations, where someone can be convicted of rape of a minor and, if he's a church member, people still waffle around that “We don't really know what happened.” Ridiculous).

    If her Christian FB friends are “prais[ing] her spirituality,” then probably either they do not understand the situation (which seems odd, that they wouldn't have asked more questions), or they are very immature Christians–perhaps not Christians at all! This may sound harsh, but God DOES call us to holiness. He DOES call us to rebuke and exhortation. It's very, very easy to post verses and “God has been so good I'm too blessed to be stressed!” It's difficult to say to a friend, “I'm concerned that you may be divorcing Bill on unbiblical grounds; could we talk?” These friends are not fulfilling their Christian duty. At the very least, if she is in unrepentant sin, they should resist posting dishonest positivity and simply let her posts pass without comment.

  30. Anonymous January 4, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    I am so sorry that Christians have apparently been rubbing salt in what is already a terrible wound. Kudos to you for sticking by your children and raising them faithfully. I will pray, as God brings it to mind, that He will be near to you in your brokenheartedness. God LOVES us. No matter what others may do, He LOVES US.
    I hope you find a group of Christian friends that reflects this truth, too. Take care.

  31. momof7 February 12, 2013 at 12:20 am #

    I have been reading Leslie Vernick's book “Emotionally Destructive Relationships”. She outlines three things to do when someone is trying to tear you down via any kind of abuse: speak up, stand up, and step back. Unfortunately, I can now see that I must step back. I am very upset that my husband has chosen this path.
    We have seven children, five together. We have been married for 10 years. Our problems did not start until after his mother came into our lives and moved closer. As he became more depressed and distant I became more angry. Even after I stopped responding in anger, however, he has continued to be emotionally abusive, verbally abusive, and at times sexually abusive.
    I have always wanted to marry once and stay married. I have done everything I can think of to try and save this marriage (prayer, counseling, mentors, changing churches, finding small groups, being nice, being mean, being quiet, being loud, ignoring him, giving into him, buying him books, finding him counseling, finding him mentors, etc.). This article does not speak to me… it yells to me! There is only so much I can do, but the more I push the more I feel God telling me I am prolonging the inevitable.

    Thank you for putting a positive spin on divorce for those of us who don't really have a choice. I feel more at peace and realize even more that I cannot change him – he has to want to change himself.

  32. Anonymous April 1, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    I so appreciate you tackling this topic. I have two very close friends who have experienced this. One of the saddest things of all (and one that has made me very angry) is that in the middle of their worst nightmares, when they found themselves abandoned by their husbands, they were also abandoned by the church and almost all of their “christian” friends.

    One of them is now much older with grown children and the grace God has lavished on her is indescribable. She rose from the ashes with a knowledge of and intimacy with God that is remarkable. She is a flawed person, but her insight and love for others is pretty much unrivaled to anyone I've ever met.

    The other went into a downwards spiral and crisis of faith that she is still recovering from. She has healed much from the grief and shame of the divorce (and years of physical and emotional abuse leading up to it), but the betrayal and abandonment she experienced at the hands of the Church is something she is still hugely struggling with even many years later.

  33. Anonymous July 4, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

    It will be a year divorced at the end of July but I only found out about it the end of January. He was a man of God he brought me back to the LORD. And now he's the one who fell victim to Satan my heart breaks for him who he is now is not who I married. He has committed adultery and divorced me I don't feel that I'm bibliclally released. O pray for him more than o pray For myself.

  34. Anonymous January 27, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

    My heart breaks when I read these comments as I feel the pain in so many of their hearts. I have Christain friends who have been abandoned and betrayed by their professing christain spouces. For some strange reason, it even effects my own marraige because I feel badly for both. I feel badly for the abandoned spouse and also for the deceived spouse who got involved in adultery or whatever.
    My marraige has suffered as I have feared in my own heart that I too might be tempted to leave, or that something terrible could lead my husband astray. I would like advise on how to deal with this. I do not feel protected by Christ when I hear about other people's divorces in the church. I feel vulnerable and I may stay away from a brother or sister in Christ who is divorced because of the fears it raises in me. I don't know why I react like this. At the same time as I am fearful, I also want to know everything about the divorce as I can because I want to avoid it so much. I don't understand my reaction at all, but wish I didn't feel so threatened in my own marraige and life by just hearing about those who have suffered divorce.

  35. Alicia Qualls February 28, 2014 at 3:45 am #

    I agree I got married to a man who I thought was perfect for me. We got married May 25,2013 I was 29 and he was 31 I gave him my virginity then almost 3 months later he calla me from work and tells me he needs space. He packed all his things and left. Not once did he try to contact me like he said he would. We were supposed to work things out. I begged him to stay but he still walked out my door. March 13, 2014 we will finalize our divorce. I have never had my heart ripped out like what he did to me. Yes Iwas tge one to file the divorce but I waited for him for 3 months to come back and he never did.

  36. Tayana October 31, 2016 at 10:22 am #

    I was with my ex for 3 years, he cheated on me so we split, before he left me, we were planing to get married in the future, I loved him so much but I became tired of him lying to me every time he opens his mouth, I went into search for help in the internet, I tried many different spells from almost every place locally as well as online and none of them worked, I almost gave up hope because I thought i will never see my lover again forever, one day i saw some testimony about this powerful spell caster Mr Robinson i emailed him and i asked him to help me bring back my lover and he did A Lover Spell for me And after some days, my lover returned back to me I’d like to say that i got a positive result from(robinson.buckler@ (yahoo). com) ever since i used his love spell, my lover have learned to appreciate me more and more day by day, and he doesn’t take me for granted,

  37. G November 10, 2016 at 7:27 am #

    Thank you for writing this article and for all the comments too.

    Unless God intervenes I am about to become a victim of a divorce that I do not want. As a Christian man I believe completely in the biblical principles of marriage, I have sought counselling on my own as my wife refused, I have done hours of soul searching and repentance to no avail. After 10 years of marriage she tells me that she has never loved me and this was a mistake from the beginning.

    In my country there is no such thing as “no fault” divorce and so she has grossly exaggerated things to make me look abusive – something that she did successfully to end her first marriage and gain support from her local church. Even I got taken in by what she said about her ex, now that I am in the same situation I see things a little differently. I guess I naively thought that loving her and her children was a good thing.

    My point here is that divorce is messy and complicated and I think often the reason that Christians don’t get involved or just sit on some high judgement is they don’t really know what to say or do. Some of my friends have been honest enough to say “I don’t know what to do or say!” that is so much better sometimes than trite “Christianese” answers. Christians are human, sometimes in our attempt to help people we get decieved or we just get it wrong for example helping one partner more than the other. Grace is something that we all need to hang on to even more so when we are helping the hurting. If you do not know how to respond then just pray – one of my greatest encouragements is to hear that people are praying for my wife, our children and I. Better prayer than judgement.

    I am holding on to 1Peter 2:15 -16 at the moment and I hope this encourages others in my situation.

  38. Christi Horton February 21, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    This was absolutely beautifully written and such a great help. I pray for all who have faced this situation (as I am currently in and standing for reconciliation), that they will seek the face of God in the midst of this. I know it is by nothing more than His amazing grace that I have grown in this situation and now see it as one of the most blessed moments of my life. It is in the midst of this, I learned God to be not just a God of my salvation, but an intimate God who is concerned with every aspect of my life.