I took a little blog break to sit with some thoughts that were shared with me about my writing. In the meantime, I’ve done some re-posts and some holiday things but here is where I’ve landed on things.
As much as I love using words to connect with other women and to help them not feel alone, the last thing I want to do is hurt anyone. So, I have taken some time to read through every one of my posts since I started the blog in 2009. I have deleted a few full posts and done some editing and re-writing of others. And, as I move forward, I am making a commitment to myself – and to you – to be more vigilant in what and how I convey my thoughts on the sensitive issues that we talk about here.
However, after asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me on this and thinking it all through, I have decided that I am not going to stop writing just because I am still in the healing process. I will have different things to share in a year than I am sharing now, but I have looked at my heart and I believe that I am not writing from an embittered place. Is there still pain in my daily life because of my circumstances? Absolutely. Do I always handle myself perfectly on this blog? Of course not; there’s always room for improvement. But I believe that God can use this time in my life to help me bring comfort to someone else in a similar situation.
I am also not going to stop writing simply because I am now a divorced woman. Several years ago, Amy Grant got a divorce. This rocked my world. I had connected with her so deeply when I had first read that she was in a difficult marriage and I remember telling myself, “If Amy Grant can stay married, so can I.” (Talk about putting some pressure on someone I didn’t even know.) And then she got a divorce. If I’m honest, I have to admit that I spent a little bit of time then thinking, “If Amy Grant can get a divorce, then why can’t I?” This is one of the concerns that has been brought to my attention. I have never told anyone to get a divorce, but some are concerned that just the fact that I am divorced may lead others to think it’s okay and to follow suit.
I understand this concern. But this is what I’ve realized. I did not get a divorce because Amy Grant got a divorce. I did not get a divorce because of any of the dozen or so couples I know in the past fifteen years who have gotten divorces. I did not get a divorce because my parents got a divorce.
I got a divorce because I went to my church leadership for help, and after fifteen months of an unsuccessful reconciliation attempt, they released me to legally separate, and then I was served a petition for dissolution of marriage. That’s why I’m divorced.
And as a woman who has walked this harder-than-hard process, I know this to be true: even as the non-initiator, this has taken more strength than anything I’ve ever had to go through, and the external motivation of “so-and-so got a divorce” never in a million years would have been powerful enough to propel me and keep me going through to the end. Someone else getting a divorce never ever could have compelled me to get a divorce.
Also, let’s say I did pull the plug on my marriage, and I stood before God at the end of my life, and he asked me why I did, it would take some nerve for me to say, “My friend got a divorce so I did too.” I can’t even imagine how God would respond to that; but I’m guessing not well.
So, dear readers… Some of you are already divorced, and what I have to offer you is a companion on this similar journey as we move toward healing and a closer relationship with God, putting our past behind us a little more every day.
But some of you are currently in very difficult marriages. And you may be just barely hanging on, and reading the words of my story, and you may be tempted to think to yourself, “Well, if Beth left, then I…”
But I didn’t. I didn’t just up and leave. So if you’re going to read my words and attempt to overlay my experiences onto your life and use my stories as justification for your choices, you can’t.
The only pattern of mine that you have any right to follow is the one where I went to my church for help and I submitted to their authority by doing what they counseled me to do.
Beyond that, I am asking you to use my words as only one small form of encouragement in your journey. I am asking you to think for yourself, to test my words against Scripture, to test your heart and your thoughts against the Word. I am asking you to be responsible for your own choices as God will hold you accountable one day for how you lived your life out, including how you lived your marriage out, regardless of what anyone else in your life says or does. And I am asking you to surround yourself with biblical counsel and fight against the temptation to isolate during your pain. You cannot get a divorce and claim it’s because I did, or because your favorite singer did, or because your best friend did whose marriage wasn’t as hard as yours in your estimation, or even because your parents did.
If you are in a hurting marriage – I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – do not just up and leave. Get help.
I don’t say any of this to be unkind or to be harsh. I know you’re hurting. Trust me, sweet ones, I know. So I say this because I care about each one of you and because it’s for your own protection.
Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm. –Proverbs 13:20- If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.