For over fifteen years, I have been quietly living a horror story underneath the reality that I showed the world.  As the final chapter is currently being written, I have felt a nudging and a releasing to share that story with others for one reason and one reason only:

{He} comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. –I Corinthians 1:4-

The painfulness of this story, along with the shame and controversy it has carried, had pushed me underground for so very long, and yet I believed one day I would be able to reach out to others and proclaim that they are not alone and that there is hope.

My story is of a broken marriage.  If I were not a believer, I would not have felt the need to keep it to myself all those years, but because we as followers of Christ sometimes do not know how to handle each other’s pain, let alone with overflowing grace, I kept for the most part silent.

So, I’ve been sharing my story, mainly to a specific and focused audience…for the most part, I was writing to believers of Jesus.  I was writing, basically, to the Church.  To people who claim to know, follow and love God.  I wanted the quiet, hurting women to feel understood, and I wanted those who have no idea what it feels like to hopefully catch an empathetic glimpse.

Now, I went into this predicting there would be some backlash.  I went into this knowing that some might not understand.  Some might have differing opinions.  Some might think I was wrong and maybe even let me know.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the cruelty and harshness from other self-proclaimed Christians.  Here are just some of the words that my fellow brothers and sisters wrote to me and about me:

“The statement: A Christian marriage unraveling is a contradiction. A Christian marriage would never unravel. Someone needs an exact definition of Christian.”

 “Your influence on women to ignore scripture in order to pursue self is not an influence that is in concert with God’s spirit.”

“I hope the writer does not plan to remarry, if so she will be committing adultery.”

“How can you hate men?”

“Aren’t you supposed to be a light for the world?”

“What is wrong with you?”

“You are a heartless woman.”

As you might imagine, these bitter and disturbing words have been rolling around in my mind and heart this week, and I’ve had to fight against any of them taking root.  My faith was questioned.  My values were questioned.  My sanity was questioned.  My future choices were questioned.  I was chastised, condemned and appraised by strangers who read about two thousand words of my life story.

Now, my knee-jerk reaction was to plaster this verse on my blog and walk away for a while:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” –Matthew 7:1-

And even though I was able to find innumerable verses that sound just like that one, another rattled in my head that I just couldn’t shake:

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?” –I Corinthians 5:12-

You are supposed to judge me, so it seems.  I am supposed to judge you.  We are not supposed to judge those who don’t call themselves believers, because God will be their judge, but we are to judge each other.

How I wish that weren’t the case, trust me.  But it makes sense if you think about it.  We are supposed to guard ourselves from false teaching and protect each other from going astray and hurting each other.  How can we do that for each other if we do not, from time to time, speak those difficult words of judgment?

However, with the Spirit reminding me of that Truth does come another point.  There is a reason why I was so very hurt by those jagged, haunting words from my spiritual family.  

Because they were mean.  

Scripture speaks of a principle that I do not believe was practiced when these hateful words were typed at me:

“Speak the truth in love.” –Ephesians 4:15-

Telling me, from behind your computer, knowing you’ll more than likely never have to look me in the eye, that I am heartless is not a truth veiled in love.  Telling me that there’s a good chance I’m not a Christian if my marriage is ending is not allowing your gentle spirit to be evident to all with the remembrance that our Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).  A dear friend wrote as a response to a commenter, “Don’t write anything to this dear sister that you wouldn’t say to her face, with Jesus standing there listening. Because he is. For his sake, be nice.”  

I am not asking for apologies for the cutting words.  I am not expecting them.  In fact, I am assuming that the people who wrote those words feel quite justified in their stances and in their presentations and are probably about to shoot off a response to these words as well.  

But I have two final thoughts to the writers of such unkindnesses, who call themselves Christians.  

First, you must be in such pain.  There must be something in your own life, some past abuse, some unresolved forgiveness, some bitterness that has grown deep down, that you would write such a thing to a stranger without thinking twice.  And for that, I am so sorry.  I am sorry if the Church is who hurt you.  I am sorry if another Christian hurt you.  I am sorry if something has a hold of you and you can’t break free.  You were my enemies this week and I prayed for you.  I am praying for your freedom, and for a softening of your spirit and a healing of your soul.

But secondly, I have a plea.  It was words like yours that kept me silent and imprisoned for so long.  If you know someone who is hurting and if their circumstances don’t fit into your black and white views of God and Scripture and how life is supposed to work, please, please do not speak harshly to them.  You may not realize this, dear reader and commenter, but this week with your pointed words, you kicked me, very hard, while I was down.  I can walk away and not take on your wounds as my own because I do not know you personally.

But I am begging you, that if all you have to say is filled with ice cold judgment, please keep it to yourself.  Because remember, Jesus is right there, listening and beckoning you to be gentle with the ones he loves.

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