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.