DM on his first wedding day (2006)
None of my immediate family experienced divorce. We were a sheltered family system–i.e. from grandparents down to first cousins. Divorce had not visited its devastation directly upon us.
That was until my marriage was shot in the head on December 12, 2012.
I was raised that marriage was forever. Divorce was not an option. We were called to work things out whatever the problems including adultery and infidelity. I even expressed this willingness to forgive before I knew my (now ex) wife was cheating on me.
My world had no category for people without empathy. It did not register that people could lie in such treacherous ways. I could not fathom a world where intimate lovers–who were once one in soul–could wound the other in such deep ways and without any true remorse but only contempt for their victim’s feelings.
This was not the world I inhabited.
My family did not behave that way…
…until one (now former) member did.
A man of my word and my vows, I could not understand how people could live with themselves with no regard to keeping their own words and solemn vows. I assumed if one saw how one failed to live up to one’s vows that the natural course of action was to try to make it up to the person wronged. It never occurred to me that some people do not value personal integrity as much as I do.
And loyalty was something I valued at a premium (and still do).
So, the label of “divorced” was the pinnacle of shame for me, at least initially. It denoted disloyalty. I was forever branded as a vow-breaker.
It never occurred to me in my innocence that such a branding could take place against my will and contrary to my protests. Divorce was something that happened to other people. Not me!
The category of spouses cheated on and unilaterally discarded like refuse was not a category I had in my mind…
…until it happened to me.
My divorce was a lesson in empathy and an eye-opening experience in discovering some of the depths when it comes to human depravity. I will never view the world the way I once did.
And that is good.
It was time to put away my childish understandings of this world (see I Corinthians 13:11). I am a spiritual man after all.
Today, I realize one can be divorced and the poster-child for fidelity. God’s a divorcee after all (see Jeremiah 3:8 and my post).
I now can empathize in new ways for husbands and wives who were abandoned by their spouses. This experience taught me in painful ways the hard truth that we do not have the power to keep our marriages together. It forced me to see that we are powerless over another’s choices to choose sin over godliness. Therefore, I also learned to no longer buy “The Shared Responsibility Lie.“
I learned that I live in a world where people do not value personal integrity and are willing to break solemn vows in order to pursue the sinful pleasures of the moment. Human depravity is real; and so is evil (Deut. 22:22).
In my final lesson, I came to an understanding that divorce is sometimes the better of the bad options left on the table for a faithful spouse. God hates adultery more than divorce, after all! (See post here).
“Divorced” is now a scar I proudly bear–sometimes more than others to be honest. It proclaims that I survived. It says I am a pastor who understands the deep pain others experience in a world full of marriages broken by adulterous sin and evil.
But more than that, I stand as a testimony that life exists on the other side. God did not abandon me but used this crucible of suffering to temper me into a fine-pointed, weapon with which to pierce the darkness of this world.