I decided to follow Jesus when I was fifteen years old, knowing nothing of the Christian sub-culture or what awaited me. I just knew my life had changed forever with those simple words whispered in a chapel at a local teen hangout. One of my first stops was a Christian bookstore as I needed a Bible of my own (that wasn’t Precious Moments) and some music that wasn’t Twisted Sister. (Okay, who am I kidding? That wasn’t Richard Marx.)
Enter Amy Grant. Unguarded was recommended to me and I fell in love with her. Really, there’s no other way to put it. With each collection of music that followed (Lead Me On, Heart in Motion, House of Love, Behind the Eyes, Simple Things, along with a couple hymns and Christmas albums thrown in there), I became more and more enchanted. Twenty five years and at least a dozen concerts later, and she is still my absolute favorite singer/songwriter, as real as they come.
But man, in the mid-90’s, did I ever get mad at her. You see, she hadn’t kept it a secret that her marriage was difficult, and my marriage was difficult, which endeared me to her even more. I would literally tell myself, if Amy Grant can stay married, so can I
. (Probably a tad too much pressure to put on someone I didn’t actually know.) So when news broke of her separation and subsequent divorce, I was devastated. Truly. I felt she let me down. I felt she let all of her fans down. Didn’t she know how many people were watching her life? And what the heck — she didn’t even have “biblical grounds”. No cheating, no abandonment. I was ticked. And totally sad. And, frankly, a little lost. So, wait, if
she can’t stay married, how can
I would secretly think.
Twelve years have gone by since she divorced. And in that time, I can think of at least ten other “Christian” couples that I know (either personally or from afar) who have gotten divorced without the typical biblical grounds. And each time has angered me. And each time I secretly judged. And each time I wanted to smack them around.
But here’s why. It wasn’t because I was outraged with the unrighteousness. It was because I thought to myself, I’m staying…and my situation is way worse than yours…so you should have to stay too!
Why am I telling you this? Because now that I’m on the other side of things, though I may still think that some of the divorces shouldn’t have happened, I can tell you a couple things that I know now that I didn’t know back then.
First, no one but Jesus, the husband and the wife can know the full story. No one. And because of that, only the husband and the wife will stand before God and give an account.
Secondly, no one but Jesus, the husband and the wife know the pain. And that is why no one should stand on the sidelines throwing things at us as we walk this path.
Thirdly, it’s one thing for me to speak difficult truth into the life of one of my best friends. They expect it and want it; I expect it and need it from them too. But it’s an entirely different, and inappropriate, thing for me to speak difficult truth into the life of someone I have never met (thus the refraining of sending Amy Grant a letter pleading with her to change her mind).
And lastly, it’s one thing to share your two cents before something has taken place. In fact, I remember meeting with a friend maybe ten or twelve years ago and begging her not to divorce her husband (and she didn’t). But once it’s done, it’s done. There is no point whatsoever in walking up to a wounded soul and pouring harshness into something that is desperately trying to heal.
So, yes, even five years ago, I would’ve judged me, and been mad at me, and maybe even had the gall to say unkind and unhelpful things to me. But not today…not anymore. Because I know that pain cannot be helped or healed with more pain…it can only be helped and healed with mercy, grace and an abundance of love.
If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.
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I think this is exactly the reason behind some of the harsh comments. they’re thinking–if I have to stay, you do too. And I agree with Tina, these mean people are tools in the hand of Satan, not to put to fine a point on it. Way to be brave!! Keep walking the path. I love the book cover image of the umbrella–praying that God would cover and shield you from the sinful comments of those who stand alongside and critique!
I share the Amy Grant love – especially the “Ungarded” CD (or CASSETTE! in those days;)
I have read your letters about your broken marriage, and I got the idea that I have to write you some words of encourage and comfort.
First of all Respect!!! My deepest respect for being the one you are. My respect for your brave to say things, that have to been said. You are one of the few that have the ability to be the one you are, the genuine one that doesn’t change your way to be, only because people around you change. My respect for your format to admit that life is hard, that it is no journey on a pink sky. My respect for your brave to say that Christian life is not the easy journey most people paint it to be. My deepest respect for your genuine way to be. It takes a lot of a personality to admit that you did not manage what you were supposed to (by other people).
Elisabeth – it is not my point to judge you – it is not my point to judge at all, it is not my point to say that I understand you, because I don’t. Only those who were through that Hell you have been through can understand you. My point is that I feel compassion for you, compassion in Christ, and my point is that I want to thank you, thank you for making me see even more how valuable my marriage for 30 years with the love of my life is.
Elisabeth – it is not my point to tell you some easy solutions – because there is none, but I would like to tell you one thing, you are loved, loved not because of what you have done, or what you have not done, not because of if you managed your marriage or not. You are loved because you were created by the almighty God, in his image, you are valuable enough that He died for you, and you are valuable enough that He cares for you.
Elisabeth – I assume that you would not expect to get a comment like this from a man, a man who has stay married in 30 years, a man who call his dear wife the bright light in life. But it is not my whole story. My story includes loss of a child, it includes a birth psychosis of my wife, it includes my grandson living alone with my daughter, because the father didn’t care. It includes a lot of disappointments by God, and it includes many, many disappointments from (so called) Christian people.
Elisabeth – you may think that this is just empty words from a man who can’t know how you feel, but I want to tell you that there is a God, a almighty God, a God who is in control, a God who loves you, also when you don’t feel or sense it.
Where I am right now is – God is silent, I don’t know where He is, but I trust in that He knows where I am. I trust in that He cares, that He has a plan for me, also when I can’t see a meter forward. And so He has for you.
I wish you Gods guidance on your journey.
Your brother in Christ
Elisabeth! – I had to chuckle as I read this post because I had the same thoughts when Amy Grant got divorced! As it is now ME living in a difficult marriage, I can only have empathy for her and think your comments are so true when you write, “Because I know that pain cannot be helped or healed with more pain…it can only be helped and healed with mercy, grace and an abundance of love.”
Thanks so much for sharing what I’ve thought as well. The “betrayal” of a supposed contract Amy had with her fans to hang in there. At the time I thought my marriage was fine and couldn’t believe how “easily” she was throwing it away. Now, after years of difficulty and a pending divorce, I’ve dropped my stones I’ve been throwing and realize that most of them were in my heart. I can’t have any real understanding of what they went through or what brought finally brought them to end the marriage.
One thing that I’ve thought a lot about, though, is that I have minor children and I don’t want them to know their mom had an affair. And so, while I have biblical grounds, even saying it shouts out an indictment. Look what she did! Sure, throwing it out can make me look good to the Christian community, but at what cost to the kids as adults whisper around them.
So, I’m lead to believe, or at least wonder, if there’s so much more that went on, that were it made known, would have seemed a much more “biblical decision.” But, because she knows anything she says will be recorded and available for her kids to read, perhaps she decided to take more of the blame “publically” for the sake of her kids.
I can say, I just THOUGHT I was compassionate before. The pain I’m going through now, makes me realize how much pain is alive in the church, regardless of the cause, and God has moved me to new depths of compassion and I hope, to be more like Him.
So often I read a post of yours and wonder if I wrote it. Thanks for sharing. It helps my journey…and others…as well.
I can so relate to this post and to several of the comments. I want nothing more than for my children to like and respect their father, but it hurts each time they glorify him because he isn’t here slogging through each day with us. He had an affair, he betrayed me and broke our vows repeatedly and I spent years trying to hang on. I was angry with Amy too. But now I understand. I’ve come to believe that God calls us to marriages, but sometimes in some situations He also calls us out of situations like marriages when He is no longer being glorified by it. My in-laws blame me, but they’ve lived hundreds of miles away and not seen the disgrace and humiliation my local friends saw. They’ve not seen me plodding along modelling a very poor spousal relationship for my children to mimic. It finally took a very courageous Christian counselor to look me in the eye and say “Get him out of your house and get a divorce. What is happening is not Godly nor faithful and SHOULD NOT BE TOLERATED!” But I lost most of my inheritance, I lost the only extended family I have, because I was the one who finally bit the bullet to hold someone accountable. Sigh. It was the right thing to do, but it wasn’t the easiest. Sometimes I think just being long suffering would have been easier, but then for the grace of God my children would have perhaps chosen dysfunctional relationships as well and now I hope they have the courage to not be trampled upon!
@Anon from 11-29. You might want to read “Foolproofing your life” by Jan Silvious. It helps to see that foolish, ungodly behavior we can become enablers to, which is not godly either. It’s been a life-giving book for me.