Integrity through divorce, is that possible?

As I blog on the topic of divorce, I understand that this topic will take several posts.  Please bear with me as I begin to answer a very tough question.  A question that is asked often and a question that stares us in the face because of the harsh reality of living in a fallen world.

“Do you ever advise a friend to walk away from a marriage, even as a Christian?”

To look at this question through the lens of right and wrong or justified and unjustified will not give the clarity that is desperately needed. As I have thought through and prayed about this question, I have remembered the devastating circumstances of godly individuals faced with the harsh reality of a dying marriage.  I am not too far removed from my own divorce that has left deep scars on my soul.

When is it time and when is it appropriate to advise a friend to walk away?  I do not think there is a single time or one event that will be the sign to advise someone to walk away from a marriage. There is usually a culmination of experiences, choices, and circumstances that lead to the very question I am answering.  As believers, we are to take marriage seriously.  Marriage is THE EXAMPLE to the world of the Gospel. It is a beautiful display of Jesus and the church, the bride and groom.  However, when it is a marriage of two people claiming to be followers of Jesus and the marriage is being destroyed by one’s sinful choices and hardness of heart, it is devastating.

Another question to be asked is “what is happening in my friend’s marriage that is leading me to think divorce is the only option left?”  Sometimes it is easy to be caught up in the particulars of a situation and we do not look at the real heart of the matter.  I can only use my own divorce as an example of what I mean. It is a preferred situation when the answer is black and white in scripture.  However, there are circumstances that are not so cut and dry. I found myself in the latter category. It was this reason that I leaned heavily on the principles of God’s Word and one of the particular scriptures that became my heart’s cry is found in Job.  (you are probably thinking, “Of course the scripture was in Job!”  After all, Job went through terrible life-altering events)

Let me be weighed on honest scales,
That God may know my integrity.  Job 31:6

I want to explain this verse so that you can apply the godly wisdom to unwanted circumstances. The word “weighed” means to weigh out. When we weigh something we know exactly what we are dealing with. Weighing something gives accuracy.  In this verse, Job is asking the he be weighed.  If you and I are to be weighed then we have to put everything, all of ourselves in a position of being completely known. For me, it was two years of marital counseling and 4 years of personally entrusting myself to the godly wisdom of a counselor. I deliberately put myself in a place to be weighed – completely known.

For Job, he didn’t want to be weighed on just any scale, he desired to be weighed on honest scales.  Some versions of scripture use the word “accurate”. I found the meaning of this word, honest or accurate, to drive my prayer life and reveal the motives of my heart. The word means, justice; righteous.  The scales of righteousness are not easy to step on and be weighed.  This type scale reveals MY heart not my marriage.  To be weighed on this scale one will not reveal the other person. The only person revealed is the one being weighed by honesty.  Honesty, according to God’s standards.Choosing to stand on these scales challenges our lifestyle and our choices.

We have a tendency to think that if the Bible does not directly address our circumstances then we are stuck and have no direction.  However, I believe the books of Job and Esther are perfect examples of circumstances that are not black and white and God proves His faithfulness to the individual that continually seeks the heart of God. I wrote the following in my book Identity Crisis: Moving From Crisis to Credibility,

 If integrity is one side of the coin then Psalm 26:2 is the other side. The American Standard Version says: “Examine me, O Jehovah, and prove me; Try my heart and my mind.” If we surrender to God’s scales and he weighs us then we must be at peace with how he chooses to examine our heart and mind. To be all right with one and try to manipulate the other is hypocritical. You can’t have it your way and his way. You may have already entered into this area of your crisis. You may be living out the portion of these lyrics to the song “Restored (The Grindstone Song)” by Cheri Keaggy: “I’ve been living against the grindstone, where nothing is sure but the Lord.” It is more crucial now than ever to understand and trust the Lord. There is purpose to your pain. There is reason for your heart being examined and your mind being tried.

Just think, God can KNOW your integrity and my integrity.  This word, “know” means to find out and discern; clearly understand; to know by experience. There is so much solace in knowing that in crazy circumstances God knows what you are experiencing and He clearly understands what our heart cannot. When we encourage others to step onto the only scale that can vouch for integrity, we begin to walk a journey with that person that is acknowledging their difficult circumstances and seeking to understand. This comes through a variety of ways and one of the best ways is to support your friend to seek godly, wise counsel. Entrusting oneself to this part of the process is crucial. It is in the knowing that the fog clears and clarity is given. Becoming aware of the ugly truth and then admitting the truth can be painful.

Integrity in this context means innocent.  Is it possible to come through great devastation and the Lord see you as innocent? Yes.  However, arriving at this takes a lot of time and letting that time be God’s timing. It also requires submission to a process of godly counseling. It demands you be completely transparent with a few safe people. There is a process of being weighed.  As you are faced with how to direct your friend, please begin on the only scales that will safely deliver his/her heart and soul to a life of integrity.

“Our God is a consuming fire A burning holy flame, with glory and freedom Our God is the only righteous judge, Ruling over us with kindness and wisdom We will keep our eyes on you So we can set our hearts on you Lord, we will set our hearts on you!”

There are times that divorce is no option.  Let the process not be dictated so much by the details of the situation, although that can not be completely ignored, but allow for a process that is guided by a life of integrity.

**Please leave a comment; let’s have THIS dialogue.

(I have written in more detail in my book. It is available http://www.amazon.com/Identity-Crisis-Moving-Credibility-Morgan-ebook/dp/B00HE0Q2EC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1423669904&sr=1-1&keywords=identity+crisis+joy+anisa

Anisa-IdentityCrisis CVR

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Divorce: Balancing Truth with Grace

I was asked the following questions: “Without “bashing” the other parent, how do you answer those hard questions that children ask during/after a divorce?” and “How do you break the news to your kids that divorce is imminent?” I can identify with both of these women’s concerns. When someone is seeking the Lord with all of their heart in the midst of circumstances that they have no control one of the best options is to walk through that fire balancing truth with grace. It is one of the most beautiful gifts you can give to your children in the midst of such an ugly situation.

When you seek truth and you walk in the truth and you speak truth then you will not be “bashing” the other parent. Children only ask what they want to know. However, they do need to be given direct and truthful answers. What we are called to do is to show grace.  The hard truth will need to be spoken. It is in truth that the way is made for overwhelming grace to wash over us and begin to heal us. If we sugarcoat the truth to make ourselves comfortable and to avoid the difficult conversations then we shortchange the power of grace.

How do you know know if you are “bashing” or speaking truth? What is your motive behind why you are giving the information you are giving? It is not your responsibility to prove the pain that exists in the hearts of those under your roof. They know the pain because they feel the pain. Nor is it your obligation to prove your own pain to your children as a way to win their devotion to you. You can and must walk them through the brokenness with validation of their pain and their own experiences.

The more direct you can be when breaking the news of the divorce to your children is best.  Direct does not mean there will not be emotion.  What it does mean is you are setting a standard within your own home to not ignore the elephant in the room. You are willing and available to be fully present for the tough stuff. That conversation will be very difficult, but the focus is their pain. Depending on the ages of the children the conversations will be different and the emotional responses will vary.

Ultimately, you will need to take care of your soul and guard your heart.  No one is able to balance truth with grace unless you walk in the truth of God’s Word and allow the loving-kindness of the all knowing God to bring into the light what has been hidden in the dark. To lead your children with openness and honesty, you must first and foremost be open and honest with others that are godly and trustworthy.

As you walk in truth and experience grace, your children will begin to have the confidence to do what they see you living. In the darkest times and the ugly circumstances the greatest gift you can give your children is truth and grace. The truth of the reality you all are living and the grace to allow their emotions and the pain of their heart to be validated. Then the great opportunity is to walk with joy knowing that His grace is sufficient and He has you all in His grip. Allowing for every tear to fall understanding the Lord sees each of you and your pain is not invisible. Leading your children with understanding that only God can give purpose to the pain. Give them truth. Give them grace. Give them purpose.

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