So, this is probably one of the most personal blog postings I’ve ever written; time to be bare.
I come from a family with divorced parents and while I’ll not bore you with the details of being a problem-child due to my grief, suffice it to say that this event characterized much of my formative years. The reason that I bring this up is because I think that in Christian circles, it’s tempting to regard such topics with latex gloves on; that is, we talk about messy situations in sterile terms and I don’t think it’s always helpful. On occasion, such as now, it’s ok to look at the thing for what it is.
I talked with my father on the phone this afternoon and he disclosed to me some of the “behind the scenes” goings on in his personal life from around the time of his divorce from my mom. This was hard. I’ve heard most of it before because my dad has always been remarkably honest with me, but this was difficult to hear now because it was the first time that I had ever approached the issue as a Christian leader. I called him, you see. I told him that I was struggling with this idea of divorce and how to approach it as a Christian with influence. Not because I'm having problems with my marriage, though I'd be lying if I said that the word has never come up in the heat of argument, but because the topic was weighing heavy on my mind. So my question to him was essentially “What did the church do that was effective/ineffective in your life when you were the one who was doing wrong that allowed you to continue to grow in your faith? How should Christian leaders treat divorcees?”
His words cut me deep because they were raw and honest. I’m a well adjusted adult now, but somewhere deep down, there is a little boy who still grieves the loss of a life once cherished. What was incredible was how he was able to talk to me in a way that allowed me to talk the answer out of myself.
It seems simple, but the one thing that he communicated that was vital to his spiritual life at the time was a small congregation that he was a part of for a short time and a few Christian men in his life that gave him room to continue to draw near Christ. In his words:
“I never wanted to leave God. I knew I was doing wrong, but the choice had been made.”
Amidst a flurry of emotions and confusing feelings, this space created by a few men who verbally acknowledged their disagreement with his choices and yet showed grace anyway, made all the difference.
For some odd reason, I had a hard time holding it together during this phone call. I’ve long since forgiven both of my parents for the divorce and yet in discussing God’s grace in that context, I couldn't help but tear up.
As Christians and especially as Christians with sway, we need to lead with this: Christ loved the lost. Christ died for the confused who didn’t know what they were doing. And if Christ did that for them, I need to do that also. I need to crucify that part of me that is hurt from my parent’s divorce and thus wants to hold back grace. I need to shower forgiveness and give people room to continue to work out their faith while they work out their lives.
This is a blog for me. Mostly. But I think there’s a message here for all Christians; a challenge to show Christ in messy and painful situations. In this way, we join Jesus’ martyrdom for the Kingdom; we die to ourselves and our personal issues in order to shine the light of the Kingdom of forgiveness; the Kingdom of love; the Kingdom of God.