We had some friends over for supper the other night. We are in the beginning stages of getting to know one another. They are members of the local church, and all around good people. We were sharing about our past history. Awkward questions ensued.
“So why doesn’t G’s family want anything to do with you guys? What went wrong there? Why is G no longer at the farm?”
The answer: divorce, and his remarriage to me.
I briefly laid out the story with a minimum of details, because let’s face it, there’s nothing commendable about sharing all the details of family drama with everyone.
This dear new friend of mine, who was really trying to be gracious and kind responded with “Yes, people just need to have more grace for divorced people. I mean, we’re not supposed to get divorced, but we need to have grace and love for those who have been divorced.”
Dear reader, please don’t ever say that to someone who is divorced. I know you might think you’re being supportive and kind. However what you are really revealing is your subliminal belief that because you yourself are still married to your first partner, or have been widowed and remarried, or never married at all, that you are somehow superior to the divorced population. That grace over your life is not as needed as it is over the life of your divorced friend.
And who can blame you. If you have been brought up in the church, this is what you have been taught, overtly or otherwise. Divorced people are right up there with the adulterers, alcoholics, drug addicts, and the LGBTQ community. We are less than you. Not as holy as you. We have somehow failed at life, and we will always be marked by this label of “divorced”. I was exactly the same before I walked through my own divorce and realized that those people who I once thought were less than me, were in fact, just like me. No better, no worse.
When you are talking with your divorced friends and you wish to speak of grace, remember who you are. You are a broken human being, messed up in your own special way. You may be happily married to your first love, and that’s wonderful! You may have a tremendous relationship with your extended family, and your children, and that’s great. But that does not make you better than your friend. In fact, I am willing to bet that that divorced friend of yours has learned life lessons from walking that dark road, that you may never have the privilege of learning. They may in fact be more holy than you, kinder, more gracious, nearer to the heart of God, in tune with suffering and full of compassion; despite their divorce, or drug use, or sexual orientation. Do not pity the divorced. Do not elevate yourself above them. For the wisest and kindest people in history have walked through such pain and have come out better people on the other side.
The divorced person needs grace, just like the happily married woman who has her life together. The married person is no better, and no worse than the divorced. The straight person is no better, and no worse than the gay person. The clean person is no better, and no worse than the drug addict. We are all on the same playing field when it comes to how God views us.
There is something to be said for the person who can look at another broken human, no matter what the circumstance, and say “There but for the grace of God, go I.”
We are all messy humans in need of the redemptive blood of Jesus. Let’s not forget that.