Question: “How do you hold your head up when what is presented is different than the reality and people believe the lies?”
In a divorce, there are two sides to every story. And most of the people surrounding the couple who are going through it are only hearing one of the sides. And what I’m learning is that there is little that can be done to make sure both sides are being equally told and understood to everyone involved.
Lies and misperceptions are told. People are going to believe what they are going to believe.
All I can do is learn from it; remember this when I hear someone else’s one-sided story. Pray for discernment to know the full truth as best as I can, and to not judge the other person being discussed because I can’t right then and there ask for his side of things.
Someone recently accused me of something absolutely ridiculous and it occurred to me that she perhaps did this because of how I am being portrayed to her. It maybe lined up with who she now thinks I am. I reminded her that I’m not the kind of person to do what she just accused me of and I moved on.
But I don’t always move on. It’s harder to move on if the person who is thinking not great things about you is someone close to you.
So, as I continue to move through this life now as a divorced Christian woman – with all the stigma that is attached to that (including being told I was no longer a Christian now that I’m divorced and being asked why I hate men, among other lovely sentiments) – I look at other people’s opinions of me through a filter.
If it is a blog commenter or reader or someone I have never met, I let it fall right off of me. I’m rubber, they’re glue, kind of thing. What do they know of my heart? If they’ve never looked me in the eye, they get zero of my attention and mind space. This happened to me recently…I received an email from someone who heard me on the radio and he said he hadn’t realized how unhealed I still was. After reading that second line of the email, I literally covered it with one hand while I forwarded to a friend to read for me. She emailed back, “Delete it! He doesn’t know you at all.” So I did. Talk about freedom.
If it is someone I know but who isn’t in my inner circle, and I hear they are talking about me or they outright say cruel things to me, yes, it’s going to sting. But again, I’ve noticed that judgment comes from far away, if you think about it. Not one of the people in my inner circle who really knows my heart and loves me has spoken cruelly to me.
Let me add to this: yes, there have been a few people who I thought were in my inner circle and had my back who were utterly mean to me over the past couple years. And you know what? They’re not in my inner circle anymore. I have enough pain to deal with; I don’t need to be wearing armor around my friends. So if you have hurt me, you are out. You’ll get my respect, but you will no longer get my heart.
And I bet I don’t even have to go on to the next level of people – your inner circle – because I bet they are not the judgy ones. It’s everybody else. However, if someone you love who does know your heart comes to you with concerns, listen. It will be difficult, but do it anyway. Because they are concerned for you. Because they love you. Because they want what’s best for you.
But everyone else, you absolutely have to just surrender their words to Jesus and do whatever it takes to keep moving along. Ask God to rebuild your reputation. And ask him to surround you with people who will love you and support you. He will.
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.
One thing I have learned in my years of church ministry and I try to hold on to now, is that people will believe what they want to believe and there is no use in trying to defend yourself. God promises all over the psalms, that he will vindicate the righteous. Whether in a difficult marriage (like myself) or a forced divorce (like you), people will cast stones without knowing the whole story, without knowing your heart. Over time though, as you walk with God and stand straight in the knowledge of the depth of his love for you (and his forgiveness, mercy and grace!), people WILL eventually understand how wrong they really were. Well, some anyway. But as for relationship with you – they will have burnt that bridge. I have an imaginary label I stamp on people’s foreheads: UNSAFE. These are people who attack and vilify without remorse or concern and lose any opportunity to be close to my heart. Unfortunately, at this time, my husband also falls into that category. But God knows and sees and I have to cling to that. We forgive and move on and let God deal with the attackers as He sees fit. You are doing a great work and service as you stand tall and walk into your new life. It is not easy, I know, not from personal experience, but from walking alongside friends who have had to take that path for a variety of reasons. Keep listening to Him.
Wow! This is what I have dealt with on a daily basis for the past 5 years! I want everyone (even my enemies) to think the best of me and to know the truth. Deep down…I keep hoping that the ones that think badly or talk badly will come to me and say “oh I was wrong about you and never should have listened.” It’s difficult for me to come to the realization that THAT is probably never going to happen and it shouldn’t matter either way. I needed to read this…thank you!
I never cease to be amazed at the timing of your posts in my life! This was SO what I needed to hear today!! It is SO TRUE! One thing I have struggled with throughout this ordeal is that I feel selfish when I put boudaries in place around my heart that don’t allow people close to me to have “access” to my heart. I’ve had it drilled in my brain that if you think too much about yourself you are selfish and BAD. So, in this instance, when you have to provide your own self-defense against further hurt, you have to protect your heart so it can heal and be whole again – that is not selfish. And when people say hurtful things you CAN decide how close they are then allowed to be in your life.
This has been particularly true with my in-laws. I was SUPER CLOSE to my in-law family, And right now, they are STILL really angry with my ex. But I know that won’t always be the case, expecially since he has decided to date and remarry – and not to me. I have grieved the loss of these people in my life, because I love them dearly. BUT I’ve had to draw boudaries, because anything I say gets told to my ex. (lesson learned the hard way!)
Bottom line, this is NOT selfish. It’s healthy and right before the Lord if you are following His lead. Thanks for this post!! It was what my heart needed to hear today!