Archives for June 2017

Divorce {I Am Just Sad/Mad Today}

I see the all-too-familiar message pop up on Facebook messenger. At first, I don’t look, but I can see the preview on my home screen: “I know it’s been awhile since we talked. I hope you are well. I see you and your kids on Facebook and have a favor to ask of you. I have a friend that has just divorced her husband…”

It’s right above…”Hey there Sarah!  I have a lady that I met with a few weeks ago…she has just filed for divorce and needs some support.”

I don’t open the previewed message because I’m at the pool, and I can’t open these messages in public.  Each time I read one, my heart aches and my spirit screams NO NO NO.  And while I am honored to be asked and trusted with another’s heart…I never dreamed of one day being the gal who was known for walking people through divorce. NO ONE wants to be that girl.

Yet, this who I am and where I am.  One who knows the moment when you realize…we aren’t going to make it this time. And my 10,000 prayers to God about saving this marriage evidently fell in the “nope” category. I can’t even begin to describe the level of rejection. The devastation. And it doesn’t matter whose “fault” it is – because after a few years you realize that the fault might not be evenly distributed but you both are culpable – the realization that the commitment to God and one another is being terminated in a sterile courtroom is gut wrenching.

The roles, the labels, the identities – all of it seems erased with one pound of the gavel and two scribbled signatures.

Yesterday at 10:00 am I muster the courage to open the latest plea on behalf of a well-loved friend.

And I begin to pray. For her. For me. For the friend. For my role – if any. God, how can I take what you’ve taught me and love this woman well? And if I can’t for reasons I can’t see, then nudge my no.

Through a series of events, I end up calling a friend who is also a pastor. As we talk, he says….in the past two weeks, I’ve had seven calls about infidelity and/or divorce.

SEVEN.  IN TWO WEEKS.  IN THE CHURCH.

As the pastor-friend and I talk, another friend texts, have you seen Lysa’s blog? This is an odd text. So, I open the link and glance down to read a few lines of an all-too-familiar story…

Infidelity. Divorce.

I want to scream. And cry.  Even as I type these words, tears bounce on my keyboard. I am SO MAD!

How can this happen to Lysa? I KNOW she loves Jesus. I’ve been in her presence many times. How can this happen to the sweet lady at Panera who teared up as she told me how she fears being buried all alone? How can this happen to the amazing momma and grandma who wanted so badly to be married? How can this happen to a humble and gentle spirited friend who is the most faithful woman I know?

How can this happen to me? How can this happen to you?

I don’t have any answers to how or why (except Satan). We can make a list of your transgressions and mine. We can make a list of our spouse’s sins too. We can trace childhoods gone wrong, addictions taking hold, and decisions made poorly.

All day long we can call ourselves victims (and some most certainly are).

All of these things are important. All of them help us to understand, heal, and move on.

And I am in favor of more marriage courses and retreats. I don’t want to see one more couple severed. One more family sharing weekends and every other Thursday.

divorce

But at the end of the day…Jesus.

For those who are still married, I’ve been to marriage courses and counseling. I forgave and God restored (for a season). And after collecting tons of marriage data and how-to (all good info), I know one thing: more Jesus wins every time. I know that sounds so very easy coming from my lips and so very hard for your heart, hands, and feet. I get it. Oh, how I know. But, please. Please. Please. Seek Him together. Jesus is the  “happy” in your ever after. And while there are no guarantees, you can never go wrong with more of Him.

For those who are divorced, I know you feel lost in the church. It’s awkward, huh? My pastor friend said yesterday…sometimes weekly church attendance becomes more painful than helpful. Do you know about that? Find a church that loves you well and loves others well – even if the divorcees are the elephant in the room (not a ‘true’ single, but not married). And when the pastor starts talking marriage, don’t leave or recoil, pray. You don’t want another human sitting in your shoes, right?

Crumbling marriages have existed since antiquity. I know this is NOTHING NEW under the sun. But it feels new. It feels like it’s everywhere.

And I wish I had a good word for you. A solution. A call to action. Anything. I can’t tell you how much I want to organize a march or a nonprofit or whatever to stop this madness – a place where you and I can be mutually encouraged by one another’s faith (Romans 1:12)  And who knows…I might:)

But for today, I can offer you, Jesus. In the midst of this heartbreaking news. In the midst of the division of property and custody. In the midst of the loneliness and heartache. In the uncertainty and the suffering. In the rebuilding and the reliving…

He will never leave you nor forsake you – even if it feels like He has. Trust Him. He hasn’t. (Deuteronomy 31: 6-8; Hebrews 13:5)

Circumstances change with the wind, but Jesus was, and is, and is to come. (Revelation 1:8)

Trust Him. Send me the Facebook message. We can and will walk this out together, friend, for HE IS FAITHFUL. You are not “too much” or “too much drama.” You are hurting and flailing. Together, we will cast our cares on Him every moment of every day because we know: He loves us.

 

A Grace Place {Welcome Weariness, Worry, Wavering, and Wonder}

I’ve been absent from this space for a few months.

I could give you reason after reason…I’m busy; I’m redefining my purpose; I’m redesigning this space; the experts tell me I need a niche, and I don’t have one; I don’t want to add to the noise that is “the Internet.” So many (all true) reasons.

But, when I dig deeper, I know these aren’t the REAL reasons.

The truth is…

Words won’t come.

In the past, I’ve been in Walmart, and the idea for a post comes from nowhere, pouring through my fingers as quickly as they’ll move.

Or at the park. Or at school. Or driving in the car. The Spirit said write, and I wrote.

So, I wonder why the words disappeared. Why I don’t feel His nudges. It’s like losing a piece of my person when I am not writing.

Have you ever felt that? You know God is “out there,” but He doesn’t feel personal to you? Perhaps you’ve just found Jesus, and you’re looking around at other followers thinking…Am I supposed to feel that? Be like that? Or maybe you’re like me. You’ve followed him for years, known His presence. And now you feel he’s distant, quiet.

It’s scary, huh? We know he will never leave us or forsake us. We know we are loved.

Right?

But, the doubt creeps in. We look at our lives and begin to think…I am not good enough. Why would He use a sinner like me to share His heart? He’s gone quiet because I am not who He thinks I should be. On bended knee, we ask Him if this is true.  Have the words gone because I am no longer worthy of them? And if I’m not, why? What is “the thing” that’s keeping us distant, Lord?

Or perhaps I’ve gotten too caught up in all the rules and regulations of writing. When you’re in writing groups and when you’re taking writing courses, the weight of the world rests on your words (or so it seems). Platforms and word counts and book ideas swirl from the writer/blogging Facebook groups as I look on thinking…I just want to write words that encourage the hearts of those who visit my space. I just want to take the gift of writing and serve others with words and prayers.

I am not looking for a “grand” platform, but a grace place.  A space on the web that accepts and welcomes readers and conversations. A safe place to share and pray. A place where there’s no outsider; no one too sinful (aren’t we all?) or too “far gone.” A URL filled with grace and truth.  A place where doubt is welcome and acceptance apparent.

GRACE PLACE

As Paul said when writing to the church in Rome:

For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. (ESV)

For I long to visit you so I can bring you some spiritual gift that will help you grow strong in the Lord. When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. (NLT)

I so want to be there to deliver God’s gift in person and watch you grow stronger right before my eyes! But don’t think I’m not expecting to get something out of this, too! You have as much to give me as I do to you. (MSG)

That’s how I feel. I may never know you in person, but I want to love and serve you well, reader, friend. And I want to learn from you too!

And if you’re not a Jesus follower, I hope you’ll stick around and read. We have much to learn from you too.

I welcome your weariness, worry, wavering, and wonder.

And I pray that the words are back. I’ve missed them.