I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe in vows, in forever, in good times and bad. I believe in miracles, in forgiveness, in walking through the broken parts in prayer and grit and hopefulness. And I’ve lived it. I’ve walked through deep valleys, forgiven, and found redemption in the most unlikely of places by the grace of God. I believe that He can restore, even from the darkest depths.
I love stories like Lysa TerKeurst’s, a beautiful journey of restoration. But I remember her originally detailing Part A of her failing marriage in a blog post a couple of years ago. I remember wincing, reading about incredibly intimate, seemingly-private, years-long struggles with her husband’s addiction and infidelity. I hated that she’d felt obligated to share those parts with the world. But I knew why she’d had to let her conservative Christian fanbase crawl into her most tender wounds: her decision had to be justified. It must be. If not, she’d be publicly lambasted, thrown to the ground amongst a jeering crowd for choosing “the easier path”. Her choice would not “qualify” under the oh-so-black-and-white rules.
And as someone who has chosen to stay, who has walked upstream, I get it. I get the temptation to throw stones, to assume you didn’t work as hard as me; you are giving up too soon or lacking faith or not taking your vows seriously.
We compare MY hard with YOUR hard and assume we understand; that somehow it’s measurable, comparable.
Well, my marriage has been hard, too, but I stuck it out, we think. We worked through it. That’s just marriage. It’s hard work. There’s no such thing as an easy one. And it’s true. There isn’t.
But all too often, somebody else’s hard looks a lot like subtle, discreet, manipulative emotional abuse that is impossible for an outsider to detect. It looks like losing pieces of yourself, of cowering in fear, of believing the lies another spews over you and through you and into your very soul.
And you would never guess it, from the outside.
I believe in the sanctity of marriage. But I don’t believe marriage was created to be a prison, a trap, caging spouses in toxic, dysfunctional, emotionally eroding homes. Sure, I believe in accountability, but I don’t believe any of us can ever understand what’s been going on behind closed doors.
And all too often, our good intentions of wanting homes to remain unbroken, of giving men and women holy advice to dig their heels in and work harder, of referring them to Scripture and telling them we are praying for them, of unintentionally heaping guilt, we are building up concrete walls around a husband and a wife who are literally DYING inside. Spiritually, emotionally, physically losing their lives and their faith in a good, loving Father.
Friends, I believe in the holiness of marriage. There is great purpose in it. The hard parts are the best parts for many of us because they refine and mold us into more Christlike humans. I long for everyone to thrive as a whole, complete nuclear family. And I absolutely believe in and wholeheartedly hate the enemy who continues to infiltrate them both.
But I also believe God’s grace and redemption that are big enough to cover any and every other sin is big enough to cover divorce, too. And those two beliefs are not mutually exclusive. And if God can have grace for us, can’t we have grace for each other?
Nobody wants to give permission. We’re all scared to say it’s OK. We don’t want anyone to get the idea that they can just walk away when it’s hard. Because we know, inevitably, it will be.
But sometimes hard is not just hard. It’s debilitating, soul-crushing, heartbreaking, life-taking. It’s one person desperately struggling just to survive, while another is kicking and stomping and sucking the life out of them day after day after day.
But can we all just agree on this: Jesus is enough.
Jesus is enough to restore a marriage. Jesus is enough to restore a divorce. Jesus is enough to repair deep wounds. Jesus is enough to heal heartbreak. Jesus is enough to make us whole again. Jesus is enough to fill our emptiness, to forgive us, to give us new life. Even after death. Even after the death of a marriage.
Our desire is always for restoration. We hope for that, of course. But if not, know this, my friend: God is still for you.
He was for you in your marriage and he’s still for you. He’s for your soul, for your heart, for your life, for your eternity.
There’s redemption in marriage, of course. But I’m going to say what nobody else wants to: there is redemption in divorce, too.
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