A few reflections for anyone willing to listen :
“God hates divorce.” There is no exception to this truth. “What God has brought together, let no man separate.” It is God’s design for marriage to be a lifelong commitment, vow, covenant that weathers through the seasons of life. Sadly, though, far too often God’s desires for us and our desires for ourselves do not mirror one another. One of the most tragic examples in which we see this ring true, day in and day out, is in divorce.
As the clock struck 12, midnight, on February 27, 2014, my marriage to Stephanie officially, and legally, came to an end. The journey over these past two years to arrive to this destination brought with it trials and tribulations beyond my wildest nightmare. As if the process of two becoming one isn’t challenging enough, the splitting of that one back into two results in pain that no one should ever face. The news of divorce breaks the heart of the God I love and, with everything inside of me, I believe it should break each of our hearts as well.
As for anyone coming out of what could easily be described as the most challenging season of one’s life, one may be tempted to celebrate this chapter’s closing. And as the official closing of my marriage was approaching, the most frequently asked question of me was some variation of: “How are you going to celebrate?” My response has been, and continues to be, “Divorce is never cause for celebration.” Let us not become guilty of celebrating that which causes our God to hurt.
While this is all true, I must proclaim that there exists, still, much to rejoice and to be grateful for. To my family and friends who walked with me, cried with me, laughed with me, talked with me, I wouldn’t even know where to begin to express my gratitude, but I will simply say, “Thank you.” You were the tangible hands, arms, and shoulders that helped to hold me up at those moments when it seemed easier to fall. The way in which my loved ones came alongside me throughout these past several months will forever shine as one of the greatest highlights of this dark season of my life. So, again, I say, “Thank you.”
To my God, who as He has promised, never left nor forsook me, I owe the greatest thanks. As I followed the daily leading of God over the course of this journey, I have arrived at a place in my life where I believe that I am walking in the fullness of who God calls me to be. Only God can take that which was destroyed and became nothing and turn it into everything. My ministry, community, residence, vocation, and so much more that I hold dear, all came as a result of the cosmic shifting of my life throughout this past season.
To those who are married and considering divorce, I urge you to fight for joy. Seek God who is able to do exceedingly more than we could even imagine possible. Swallow your pride, become slow to anger, and quick to forgive. Husbands and wives, honor and love one another. Carefully consider from whom you gain insight. Seek accountability and counsel from those who are much wiser than you. I implore you, “Don’t give up.”
To those who are engaged, and/or considering marriage, know the seriousness and sacredness of this commitment. It will not be easy, and it is not the function of marriage to “make” you “happy.” If you are unhappy unmarried, you will be unhappy married. For two to become one, as God intended, each person must first be a whole One. Take this step only when that which you desire to give to the other person far outweighs that which you desire to receive from the other person. Seek counsel from those whom you love and respect, and who would honestly and directly tell you if they felt you were moving in the wrong direction and/or at an unsafe pace. If none of these people are giving you their opinion, then ask for it.
To everyone I charge us to be a people that values and upholds marriage. Encourage our friends and families to consider their vows before they make them, and to keep them after they have. Consider your own bias’ and brokenness when sharing “advice” on how someone should move forward with their marriage. Hold your friends accountable to remain faithful in their marriages. And remember that your relationship with them is not nearly as important as their relationship with their husband/wife.
While I am confident that God was not the cause of the struggles during these past couple years of my life, I am even more confident that He has used them to continue to shape my character as a man. Character is not one of those things that can be quickly nuked in a microwave, but rather slowly cooked in a crock pot. I am grateful for these experiences and look forward to the sharing of them, in any small way, being able to bring encouragement to someone desperately holding on to hope.
And so again, I urge you not to celebrate the closing of this chapter, but I also strongly suggest that you neither mourn. Instead, I ask that you rejoice for all that God is doing in my life right now, and that you wait with me in anticipation for all that God is going to do to use this situation for His purposes. Be as excited as I am as I begin this next new season of life singing a new song. I also ask that you pray with me, for Stephanie, Anaiah, and myself, that as we move forward, we do so with the God given ability to extend grace, peace, forgiveness, respect, but most importantly love to one another.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 1:16-18