Divorce. A word that is almost treated like a curse word in many churches. A word that often feels like an unwanted label on the one who wears it. A word that is avoided in conversation and a cause for shame.
I got divorced.
I still hate saying it, but there it is. I was a divorced woman. I wore the scarlet D on my chest. I felt the weight of it as I went about my daily life. It made me feel ashamed. The world seems to categorize people into three groups: Single (never been married), Divorced, or Widowed. The D word that seems to be in the first few sentences that everyone uses to describe you. It comes with the notion that either something about you is unlovable, you did something wrong or you took marriage lightly.
Raise your hand if you have ever heard, “God hates divorce.” Ok, so I can’t actually see your hands, but my guess would be many of you would have raised them. Now raise your hand if you heard it as just that phrase, by itself, without its surrounding text. Still most of you I am guessing. This is one of those verses that is often spoken out of context. The phrase itself is true-God hates divorce, but the message that is often sent with it is distorted.
Before I go any further, I am going to share something I wrote a few years back. This was taken from a journal I kept through my journey. I wrote it on February 12, 2015, three months after my husband at the time had left.
God, how do I hear from you about something I know you hate? How do you and I make decisions about something I know you hate? I don’t know how to pray, how to hear, how to be still and feel directed in a direction you hate. I need truth that speaks louder than the lies I hear. I need your discernment to know what is truth and what is lies…Help me stop being afraid to seek you in this.
I wrote this as a confused woman. I had grown up believing that divorce was never an option. I had heard over and over how God “hated divorce”. Then I found myself in a season of life that was quite unexpected. I was in a situation in which divorce seemed to be inevitable and the best way to take take care of my children was to move forward through the process willingly. Please hear my heart-I do not take divorce lightly and am not encouraging it to be an easy decision. After months of trying to save my marriage and praying over and over for him to come home, fully believing he would, and enduring the pain of rejection over and over, I heard God tell me to start letting go. I didn’t talk about my business in detail openly and there were very few people who knew the whole story; that is still true to this day. Because of this, I worried what people would think of me. I felt like I was writing failure across my forehead and quitter on my back. Worst of all, I was scared to pray about it because I was worried what God would think of me for “choosing divorce” even though I didn’t choose this. I look back on this and feel sad for the woman who wrote that entry above; not because of what happened, but because she thought there was anything in the world she couldn’t pray about; thought there was anything in the world that could change the way God saw her.
I held this for far too long. In some ways, I still do. While I did stop feeling so ashamed, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had failed in someway. I couldn’t get it out of my head that this was somehow breaking God’s law. I didn’t understand why this idea that divorce was a sin was such a common theme relayed to people going through what I was experiencing. I felt like an unneeded weight was being added to the burden I was already trying to carry. Divorce is hard enough on the person who has to eventually choose to let go without the heaviness of guilt piled on top. When it is said that God hates divorce in Malachi, it is part of an admonition to young priests who, at the time, were marrying and then tossing their wives aside heartlessly. They were not taking the covenant seriously. “God hates divorce” was not written to convince scared, hurt, and unloved spouses to hold on to a covenant that has already been broken. God hates divorce because it hurts the people He created and loves. He hates it because He loves us. God hates divorce for your sake and for the pain it causes because He loves you and He never desires pain for you. He was with me through my divorce, loving me intensely all the while. He didn’t look at me and see a scarlet D. He looked at me and saw His hurting child and carried me through.
This phrase from Malachi 2 should not be the verse that is most readily tied to the hurt and pain that comes with divorce. To the one going through a divorce they didn’t choose, (or any hard time that leaves you needing TRUTH), let me show you some verses you should let run through your mind rather than a verse taken so far out of context:
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:17-18
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
This is his steady message throughout Scripture. He cares. He is with you. He loves you.
My name is Ashley. I once got divorced. I am no less valuable or worthy because of it. If you have been through a storm, YOU are no less valuable or worthy.