I read something this morning that was berating self righteous Christians.
I think we all have a visual, perhaps a specific person even, of what a self righteous Christian looks and sounds like.
The gist of the article I read was concerning the way Christians treated other Christians who were not making the right decision. Specifically divorce.
For me the definition of a Christian is one who believes in Christ. One who follows His lead. And as a Christ follower our main job is to help others find their way to Christ. It is our duty to keep our friends and loved ones on track. It is to consistently love another human enough to want what is best for them. It is not to KNOW what is best for them.When you claim to know what is best for another human being you have crossed the line into self-righteous Christanville.
The first argument given from a Christian standpoint is God hates divorce. And is that really what a newly divorcing person needs to hear? Do you think they don’t know that? It’s the very thing they are struggling with. But what the well intentioned friend forgets is that He hates divorce, not the people who get divorced. Of course God hates divorce. What is there to like about the division of families, the loss of a love that was supposed to last forever? In a divorce there is pain, hate, sorrow, loss, disappointment, anger, fear, self loathing, blame, insecurity. Our God does not want that for his children.
I know that these friends are coming from a good place. Their intentions are to help, to make it better. And maybe there is a smidge of hope that what they say will be the kick in the butt needed to steer the divorcing back on the path of staying married. (Who doesn’t want to save a marriage?)
But, when a person is going through divorce they pretty much feel bad a lot of the time. They are watching their children go through pain. They are watching their spouse go through pain. They are watching their family go through pain. They are watching their home being divided. They are filled with fear concerning the changes they are facing. Where will they live, how will they support themselves, will anyone else love them, will they ever love again, will their children be okay?
I am divorced. I asked for the divorce. Most of my friends would call themselves Christians. But none of them called me. My phone number never changed. My ex told them HIS side of the story. Not a single one called me to find out my side. Not a single one realized that it takes two to make a marriage work and it takes two for a marriage to fail. My fear of judgement wouldn’t allow me to call them. I felt bad enough, I didn’t want to risk listening to friends tell me how wrong I was. They certainly must have believed I was wrong or they would have called right?
Absolutely NONE of the friends I had while married are my friends today. They are all still friends with my ex. I feel the loss of my marriage. And it is compounded with the loss of friendships. Friendships built over years, over coffee, over playdates, over vacations together, over confidences shared, over laughter, over tears.
There is a saying regarding walking a mile in someones shoes is the only way to know what goes on in their lives. And no one lived in my house. No one walked in my shoes. No one knew. At the time it felt like no one cared. But as I look back now I realize they were scared too. Divorce is a scary word. I get it. I see how hard it is for friends to adjust to this change too. They are feeling fear, pain and loss as well.
I think it should not ever be a matter of choosing sides. It should never be a matter of what happened.
And don’t misunderstand here. I am not saying my friends chose incorrectly. He did wrong, I did wrong. Our marriage failed because of TWO people.
What I am saying is my friends chose. It’s not that they didn’t give me the chance to voice my side. It’s that they didn’t offer comfort. It still hurts. It’s not a blame I still carry, it’s sorrow for friends lost.
Unfortunately we live in a world where divorce is all too common. I do wish it weren’t true. I envy the people who have marriages that are thirty, forty and fifty years strong. I wish I could have given that gift to my children. I say that so you don’t think I am pro divorce. I am not pro divorce, I am just divorced. I encourage struggling couples to work it out. Divorce is not easy. It sucks. Even when it is for the best.
So why am I telling you all this?
I hope the next time a friend is divorcing we won’t call to get the juicy gossip. We won’t call to jump on the band wagon against the ‘guilty party’. I hope we don’t call to tell them to work it out. I hope we don’t ask if they are sure they did all they could to save the marriage. I hope we can still think of them as our friends. I hope we will remember that we have not walked in their shoes. I hope we will remember that two people are hurting and I hope we will just call to offer support. I hope that as friends we know about this pain well before it gets to the divorce point.
God loves us all. He makes it sound so easy. Reality is, loving all people is the hardest challenge that I, as a Christian, face.
The decision to divorce is not made in a day. Or a week or a month. Generally, the decision has been building and by the time it is made public there’s not much chance of fixing it. So don’t try and fix it.
Just be there. Just love us.