Question (from a blog reader): “How can I claim to be a Christian and live a lie like this? I know my marriage is valuable to God but if the covenant is broken and I’m staying because it’s easier (would be hard on my kids, my husband would blame me, financially we’re unable to separate), how honoring is that to God?”
Sweet one, there are about a thousand big and little questions in that question. And my heart breaks for you.
My marriage hit a sweet spot awhile back. Three things had culminated all around the same time: a friend lost her husband at the hands of a drunk driver; 9/11 crashed into our collective existence; and my family moved into my sweet little dream house in my sweet little dream neighborhood. Everything felt fragile and full and I felt blessed and like we had turned a corner and that everything was going to be okay. That we were going to be okay. I even gave a talk at Hearts-at-Home and shared about our difficult marriage journey but how God had healed us and things were better and it was good. And I believed every word that I spoke and I believed every feeling of peace and joy and hope that I felt.
And then something happened – frankly, I don’t even remember what that something was because so many somethings have blended together over the years – but something happened that shattered my pretty little life (once again) and I realized that we hadn’t healed, we hadn’t been doing better, that my life had been a lie.
And yet, I went on to keep pretending that for about another eight years or so.
And so you ask, how can I claim to be a Christian and live a lie like this? How is this honoring to God?
I would say this to you. You are not living a lie. You are completely aware of your marriage circumstances, of your marriage reality. You are not living in denial. You are not covering up. You are not hiding from the truth. You can be a Christian and still be living in the circumstances that you’re living in. More women than we know are doing it. It’s not ideal, and it’s horribly sad, but you are not living a lie.
And I would also say this to you. Though the Bible lays out most of how we should live to be considered honoring to God, there are some areas that are pretty darn grey. And this is one of them. He never says we must get divorced when the marriage covenant is broken; he says we can. So that leaves the decision up to us. Up to you.
And if you are choosing to stay married for those pretty important reasons – it would be difficult on your children, your husband would blame you, you’re not at a place to able to handle it financially – that is you making an honest assessment of your situation and making a choice to stay.
Now, if you can’t stay and still honor God in your attitudes and words (and trust me, I know how excruciatingly difficult that can be), you’ll need to look at that.
But if you can choose to stay – as you have – and still be respectful as you would be to a stranger, and you can take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and you can take care of your children physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and you can be honest with yourself and with a close support circle, and you are working on yourself (counseling, a support group, a Bible study, reading, etc.), then you, sweet one, are honoring God with your life even in your very difficult circumstances.
That’s not lying. That’s not being dishonoring. That’s being brave. That’s being strong. That’s doing what you need to do in the midst of your trial. That’s walking the hard road of being a follower of Christ, and he is walking every step with you. And he will make it clear if and when the road needs to take a turn. And he will provide you with the strength that you’ll need then to make those hard choices. So keep walking.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.