When I attended DivorceCare a ways back, every person in that room – man and woman – had horrible stories to tell of their marriages, their exes, and their divorces. If someone had been an impartial third party and had been listening in, they would have gathered that all of the attenders had been married to monsters and it was a shame and we should all be pitied and lauded for being married to them for as long as we were.
But I remember thinking back then that what were the odds that all of us were the good guys? (Now, granted, the typical “victim” is probably more apt to seek out help through something like DivorceCare, but still…) Had there been another group running simultaneously in the next room of all our exes, I have a feeling we would have all looked like horrible, mean, controlling people as well.
In the past year-and-a-half of my more focused attention on the issues of difficult Christian marriages and domestic abuse and separation/divorce and how the Church handles it all, I have heard hundreds of stories of Christian-marriages-gone-wrong.
And in all that time, I can only think of three – three – where the women speaking to me implied in their story-telling that they were fifty percent to blame for the fall and ending of their marriage. Three. Out of hundreds.
But we can’t all be the 100% victims, now can we?
In the past six months, I’ve had two people lie to me about their marital/divorce circumstances (that I know of). And when I say lie I mean in that they painted the picture of their marriage to be, in one case, so much less their fault than their spouse’s, by leaving out some really important details, and in the other case, all of their spouse’s fault and none of theirs.
I have since found out that both of their stories were an inaccurate view.
But here’s the thing. All of our stories are an inaccurate view. Truly.
There are three sides to every story: yours, mine, and God’s. I can only see my side. I can only know what I feel, what I experience, what I hear. And even then, as time passes, it steals away little moments and pauses and motions and gestures and words said and words not said.
However, that doesn’t mean I should play the fool. I just found out yesterday that someone told me a story that was totally skewed from the truth, and I had believed it hook, line and sinker. Thankfully, and quite coincidentally, I stumbled upon the reality within about twelve hours of the original version, but still.
So here’s where I’m at with all this. First, I have a feeling this person actually believes her version. And I get that, I really do. But because of that, I have to guard my heart and pray for great discernment. I hear horrible stories about husbands and churches all the time, I’m sad to say, and I need to make sure I don’t just buy into everything I hear.
And yet, I can only go by what I hear. And what I hear 99% of the time is just the woman’s side of things. Because I’m not a counselor or a lawyer or a judge or a pastor, I’m not going to interview each ex-husband, each ex-church. And really, I only need to know her side of things. Because I’m just offering a listening ear, some suggestions for healing, pointing her back to Jesus, and as much grace as I can muster.
But this we should all remember: there’s always, always more to the story.