Monday, April 24, 2017

Well-Meaning People Can Reignite the Trauma

I received a phone call last week.

The call was from a church friend from long ago that I haven't talked to in about a year. They have an incredible story of marriage--how they and their spouse were separated for 2 years and then got back together by the grace of God. It's awesome and I love their testimony. However, sometimes when someone has an amazing story, they believe it can happen to everyone. And I would love it if that were true! But I don't think it is, since we are all different people in different situations with free will.

The call was disturbing because my friend led with "God told me to call you." And subsequently went into my divorce situation.

I have avoided this friend during the last year mostly because I knew they would try to pressure me out of divorce, and, when you are going through that, you are already in such a painful, agonizing place that you cannot take opposition. There is already so much opposition--from yourself, your former spouse, kids, friends, family, etc. You feel you have to justify yourself, even to yourself, so much. It's horrible. I was presented with two very bad options and I picked the one I thought was best. And it was a terrible, agonizing choice. In the meantime, you are trying to manage your own emotions, what your kids are going through, plus hold down a job (or 2), manage logistics of custody, paperwork, the usual things like doctor's appointments, playdates, school, childcare, and so much more. There are no more resources to manage anything else. If I didn't have a person who offered tangible support, I couldn't associate with them. I just wasn't able to.

So when they called I was happy to hear from them.

Until they told me how I was going to miss God's best, how there would be a price to pay for divorce, etc.

I asked what exactly they were trying to say? Don't divorce? How exactly does one reconcile with a spouse that left his kids and moved to another state, despite his being very, very wealthy (now) and being able to find some way to live here? Are you claiming that the institution of marriage is more important than a safe world where me and my children aren't being emotionally and psychologically harmed?

Don't give up on him, they said.

Ok. So if he miraculously turns into an amazing God-fearing person who moves back here and shows me how he can be here for his kids and he turns around in an incredible way, then sure. Maybe I'll consider it. If I can get past the trauma I experience just seeing his face and hearing his voice.

You are married forever in heaven, they said. You can NEVER break the bond, no matter what happens on earth.

Do you know what this phone call did? It sent me spinning. I'm in a good place after many, many, many difficult and upsetting months. And it sent me right back to the beginning. The self-doubt, the pain, the trauma--it's as if I was reliving it all. And I wondered, is this from God? I want to be sensitive to what God has for me. I want to do the right thing. Is there even a nugget of truth in there that I needed to hear? I felt wounded and pained yet again.

I called my mom. If anyone is going to tell me I made a mistake and God wants me to stay married, it would be her. She is a "crazy Christian lady" as I like to call her. Which means she's about as conservative as it comes on the Christian spectrum. But she loves Jesus. And she knows God. So I asked her what I should do/learn/understand.

I had told this person that God gave me peace about my decision. I was afraid God would be mad at me, so I didn't talk to him for awhile. And, when I came back and sought him, I was shocked at how loving and gentle his response was. Maybe I made the wrong choice, maybe not. But his message to me was that he loved me no matter what.

My mom reminded me that there is no condemnation in God. A person with a prophetic gift needs to work under the authority of someone. Plus, if this person hasn't been a part of this process with me and hasn't seen it or gone through it with me, they really have very little they can say. She reminded me what I've already known and seen in my own life: God is gentle. The Holy Spirit is gentle and loving. The enemy (as she said) knows when I'm in a good place and how to throw me off. And that's what it felt like.

And here's my advice to well-meaning people: if you aren't part of the end, please don't make judgements. If you must know, ask. If you want to support and love and help to hold me up during this horrific and painful time (for me and the kids), I need it. But the way to do that is not to tell me things that will make me feel really horrible again. To get to this point, someone has agonized and agonized and agonized over the decision. They have not taken it lightly (usually). They only got here with extreme pain and torture over the idea. Especially if they were always taught that the institution of marriage is more important than the people in it. It isn't helpful to hear how divorce is terrible and will make your life awful. You already know. You are already there. You don't need more people tearing you down.

And, if you don't know the whole story, PLEASE do not guess it. I stayed and tried to work on it and prayed and tried and prayed and tried for a decade. I stayed for 12 years through all kinds of mistreatment. And, when I finally ended it, I'm the bad guy? Not the person who did bad things for 12 years? Why aren't you calling him? Why are you telling me? I implore you to not use faith as a reason either. It can help, but mostly it serves to hurt.

I can apply this to so many things: divorce, coming out as gay, determining that you are transgender. All these things are demonized by Christians and are traumatic to come to terms with. So, please do not judge. Do not use faith to hurt people who are already in pain. Thank you.