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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in the lifeboat, now what?

For those of you that know all too well the experience of facing the inevitable this blog post is for you. To gently encourage you to not fear the storm. Life falls a part and unravels. Sometimes that is by our own choices and sometimes we are shaken by life’s altering circumstances. Maybe you think you are never going to be courageous and yet you took or are taking the most courageous steps of your life. You climbed into the life boat and now feel utterly exposed. When you leave the life as you have known it and look ahead to the unknown an unimaginable fear will set in. The unraveling can be some of the most beautiful moments you will experience. How can “the tearing away” be beautiful? It is in the tearing away that God is most real. When God does the tearing it is for the sole purpose of exposing you and me in the light of His holiness and His love.

All through the Old Testament there are examples of overwhelming circumstances and the response of tearing their clothes. Why is this practice mentioned throughout scripture? What was it about tearing one’s clothes that signified deep grief or sadness? Why did they do it? The answer has everything to do with the economics of ancient days, clothing was a very valuable commodity. Nothing was mass-produced. Clothes were time-intensive and expensive, which meant that most people in those days only had a very limited wardrobe. For that reason, people who tore their clothes were showing just how upset they felt inside. By damaging one of their more important and expensive possessions, they reflected the depth of their emotional pain.
This idea was magnified when people chose to put on “sackcloth” after tearing their regular clothes. Sackcloth was a coarse and scratchy material that was very uncomfortable. Again, people put on sackcloth as a way to externally display the discomfort and pain they felt inside. (www.bible.about.com)

Some of you are reading this and the last sentence hit so close to home that you trembled: “people put on sackcloth as a way to externally display the discomfort and pain they felt inside”. Your pain is great! Your discomfort is chronic! When the soul is unraveling it is painful. There is no other way to describe it. When we make the choice to climb in the lifeboat and break free of living a life of hypocrisy and false thinking and a faulty belief system then we are being made ready for the unraveling. Just as the people of Israel would at times tear their clothes, a valued item, to express that their pain was greater than what was valued; we also are faced with the choice of tearing away what we deem valuable. A crisis always demands “the tearing away”.

However, there is a second type of tearing away. Matthew 27 gives the account of Christ’s death on the cross and there is a pivotal moment when God does the tearing. “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” This curtain separated the Holy of Holies and was only accessible by the priest once a year for the atonement of sins. (Exodus 30; I Kings 6) But on this day, the darkest day in history, God did the tearing apart. When God chooses to do the tearing it is for the purpose to bring us to Him.

When we do the tearing it will reveal our pain. When God does the tearing it is to heal our pain.

So as you sit in your “lifeboat” and you are torn away from life as you knew it and the pain of the tearing is more than you can bear; intrust yourself to the ONE who tears things for the purpose of healing and to bring us to Himself.

My dear friend, Shelly Moore, wrote and recorded the song, “Unraveling”. Her words say it all so well.

You have taken me apart at the seams
You have brought me to where I’m on my last string

I’ve looped the rabbit’s hole around the tree
Trying to ordain the life that’s best for me
All my knots were tied, my bows fell perfectly
Now I’m unraveling

I’ve heard You say
Wait for a better day
There is purpose
Even in the midst of this
And just as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow
I’ll get you through the night

Broken hearts are the disease of a broken world
Full of people who have locked away the hurt
But the Healer of it all is at His work
In our unraveling

Yes, I’ve found hope that stays around
And I’ve got peace that lets me wait this thing out
Just hold me while I await release, please>

Give Thanks (for the Unraveling)

Life falls apart. You wake up and hours later as you climb back into your bed you know a crisis hit your life and you will never be the same. You are in an emotional free fall. Your head is still spinning from the last several days and hours during which you saw your life completely change. You know you have been freefalling, and then there is a moment when you realize someone is holding you. You will not be destroyed.

Recently a friend of ours who is fighting cancer said to me, “Sometimes it is very hard to see the purpose of the unraveling and can take along time as well. For me I’ve found out God lets our life get hit with some bad stuff to see just how real we are, it’s real easy to praise and love your life when there is no problems, but how do you respond when your life falls apart. I think the unraveling can be the greatest blessing God ever gives to you”.

As I have pondered my friend’s words, I have been challenged by his words. He is seeing his own unraveling as a blessing from the Lord. What a perspective. What a declaration of God’s authority! As we enter into this time of Thanksgiving I wonder if we can truly be thankful for the unraveling. We want to count our blessings. Can we count the ones that have only come through the unraveling? Can you and I really thank the Lord for the pain that He has allowed. ? Can we say as Job said, Though He slay me, yet I will praise Him. (Job 13:15)

When crisis hits hard, the comfort found in God’s truth is like fresh air. Knowing the same El Roi who met Hagar in the desert is the God Who Sees Me . Realizing the same Jehovah-Shammah found in Ezekiel is the same God, the Lord is there. Resting in Jehovah Rapha, the Lord that heals will heal hearts—your heart and my heart. God has not changed. God cannot change. Everything else can and will change. Maybe this is one of the purposes for crisis, to begin to understand and accept change and when everything has changed and fallen apart, you find the only ONE who is unchanging desires for us to know Him.

Please pray for and encourage the Dean family. Eddie and his wife are sweet friends of our family. It is Eddie’s words I quoted in my blog post today. you can find them online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/404916262962167/

He never will let go of you! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB1NJV3rG6k

Pain’s Purpose

The moment she touched the hem of his garment, Jesus knew. He could have continued on his way and never publically acknowledged this woman. The divine healing could have only been known between the two of them and then maybe a doctor would have confirmed that she had been healed. But when you are made whole through the power of the Almighty God, people know. It cannot be hidden, it cannot be kept quiet, and it cannot go unnoticed. Even though Jarius was depending on Jesus to be quick in getting to his house and healing Jarius’ daughter—and even though nothing would stop Jesus from getting to a little girl who needed him— he still had all the time in the world to stop and give his undivided attention to a woman who had been unseen, who may by this point in her life have felt forgotten and unimportant. Don’t ever think that your crisis is less important or less traumatic. It isn’t your crisis that has God’s attention. You have his attention.

A crisis changes so much. For Nehemiah it changed his priorities. He wasn’t all that concerned with what the king would think or how he would react. He only knew that he needed to go to Jerusalem and follow the Lord’s direction. (Neh. 2) He had to leave the presence of an earthly king and be present for the use of the eternal King. For this woman in Luke 8, crisis had changed her perspective. For years she had been forced to live confined. She did not have the same freedoms as others. Had she given up? After all, no physician could help her. While a crisis has a way of changing our perspective, like this woman it was the hope of healing that gave her purpose. Hope will give purpose.

I don’t know everything this woman felt that day as she made her way to Jesus. I don’t know what your day or your past days have looked like as you make your way through the rubble your crisis has left behind. I know for me there came that day when nothing else mattered but the promise of healing— the promise of being whole—and that gave me purpose to make my way to the One who could deliver on his promise. I was not concerned with what others said. I was not concerned with what others thought. I did not let anything get in my way. On that day everything I did was on purpose, to get to the One who gave me purpose and brought purpose to my pain.

This post is an excerpt from Joy’s book, Identity Crisis: Moving from Crisis to Credibility. You can pre-order your copy at Amazon.com