Divorce from the outside looking in is one of those things that can make you feel like a third grader on the playground having to choose between your two best friends who currently are no longer friends. It can sometimes feel as tough on the support system as those who are actually going through. It tickles me who many people are still “feeling some kind of way” (as the youth say) about my divorce when I’m so far gone from that. I recognize that the side effects can strangely sometimes linger longer with the support system than the two parties actually involved who took the time to be healed.
Having been on both sides of the fence, as the one who was divorced, and seeing it in the lives of too many family and friends, one thing I’m beginning to accept is you don’t have to choose. Yes, divorce can be painful. Yes, it can be messy. Yes, there is usually one primary person who is the cause, and a list of other supporting actors playing major roles or bit parts. Yes, it can cause a great divide, but it doesn’t have to, and if it does, it doesn’t have to cause a divide forever. Now, I’m not talking about this being an overnight fix, or necessarily remaining besties with the person who broke the heart, or broke the covenant with the other, and instantly inviting them (and their new boos) all over for tapas and frappe. I’m not even saying you have to be friends at all, but you do have to extend forgiveness and the love of Christ to your fellow sister or brother, and through a very prayerful and purposeful healing process each person involved in the throes of divorce can come out better (even the onlookers). After all, one day you could find yourself on that side of the fence and it’s even lonelier when you’re literally alone.
I remember my now, four-year divorce, and a few persons that I loved, was there for and thought loved me that I’ve still not heard from to this day. I just recently relinquished the thought of one day my phone would ring with explanation of their exodus from my world as if I’d done something wrong. After time continued to pass and still no word from them my mind would sometimes think of one of my favorite songs, “Mr. Telephone Man, there’s something wrong with my line.” Lol! Regardless of whether it’s the person who left or was left, it’s specifically at the time of separation and divorce that people need to know that they are loved, cared for and most of all prayed for, whether you agree with their actions or not. (I’m not speaking to instances regarding abuse or harm of life.) You don’t have to choose. In God’s timing you can offer the same measure of grace and forgiveness wherever needed knowing it costs you nothing. As life goes on and roles expand to the different parties dating or remarrying others, or as relationships shift and situations causing them to come together come about you still don’t have to choose. If you desire it, the Lord will show you a way to be who you are supposed to be for both in a way that is not awkward, inauthentic or uncomfortable. Your part in each parties life might be starkly different, but don’t rule out the possibility of having some role. Remember, divorce is not a country. You don’t have to pledge your allegiance.
At a function I witnessed a great divide come together. A central figure was the cause of uniting a previously married couple and their new spouses under one roof for an extended period of time. As an onlooker, who was connected to all parties involved, I was scared when I first spotted them (they use to be a force with which to be reckoned). Then, I was a bit hesitant to fully embrace the first wife (although my heart was doing the cabbage patch at the site of her). I didn’t want to make the current wife, whom I love, feel bad because I also love the first wife. Then it happened. They had the audacity to ask me to take a picture of them, hugged all up like BFFs. I don’t know how long they’ve even been this way, but it was evident this wasn’t new to them. Now, don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, think that their path to this picture had been smooth, or that they sit by the fireplace roasting mallows and sipping warm cider. Their transition to this point of sincere civility was about as smooth as Florida alligator skin. But through time, prayer, distance, healing, and probably good ol’ growing up there they were in the middle of us all taking pictures together, with their spouses, and with us. So the challenge then shifted to us, the onlookers, whispers and gawkers, who had not seen this coming, but had to quickly adjust to the fact that clearly it had already come. What better testimony is there for life to go on and all those involved catch up with what God was up to all along. It would have been a tragedy for those of us on the outside to be holding on to leftover anger, opinions and “wouldas, couldas and shouldas” when clearly the parties involved were way past that point. They told us that day with no words spoken that we didn’t have to choose. They also told us in unspoken words that they were mature enough to know that neither parties involved had the right to ask any of us to choose, especially since we didn’t have to.
Regardless of who did what to whom, why and for how long, God never chooses. He loves us just as we are on our way to better than we’ve ever been. When it comes to divorce the same especially so. God did the choosing and He chose us all. You don’t have to choose.