After he walked away I of course responded with great maturity. “What a d*ck,” I huffed indignantly to one of my bridesmaids.
I was 24, with no idea that in four years my marriage would crumble and that I would have a very different perspective on my wedding guest’s warning.
To be clear, I was not a girl who put marriage on a pedestal. I was in no rush to get to the altar. And I had what I consider to be realistic expectations of the enterprise. I figured part of it would be great and part of it would suck, but if I’m honest I don’t think I ever anticipated I’d be going through the Big D.
Until I did.
I’m not going to go into the specific ‘whys’ of my marriage breakup. I hope it suffices to say that it’s undoubtedly the greatest failure of my life. CS Lewis likened divorce to having your legs cut off. I don’t know about that, but it was all a blur of pain, confusion, doubt and guilt. It was also sadly a time of rejection by certain Christian friends.
A few months after we separated and word of our split had started to spread, I made a somewhat naïve choice to attend a friend’s wedding. I barely kept it together during the ceremony and had just grabbed a drink at the reception, when a Christian colleague approached me and said: “Naomi, you’re making Jesus cry.”
I questioned her timing more than her sentiment. Nine years later I still feel the sting of her public rebuke. Way to rub salt in my open amputated leg wounds. I felt like the scarlet D on my chest had cast a pall over my friends’ celebrations and I wanted nothing more than to disappear. When I told a friend about the encounter, she said: “I think you’re about to learn very quickly how much some value their principles over people.”
She was right. I lost some friends. And when I moved to London and started making new friends, I found it difficult to explain why I wasn’t even remotely interested in dating, marriage etc. As we’ve seen recently on threads, these are all popular topics! I thought maybe I should write a ‘top ten signs your new twenty-something Christian friend is going through a divorce and isn’t ready to talk about it’ article. But I was afraid of being a downer. So I wrote this depressing post instead.
Because it happens. Things fall apart. I think that a willingness to face this fact is what prompted my out of town wedding guest’s words of advice. Looking back, I wish I’d taken them more seriously, humbly and graciously. After all, statistics seem to show that just as many Christian marriages end in divorce as other-than-Christian marriages.
And I do think maybe that does make Jesus cry… but I cling to the hope that he’s been weeping with me in my pain. And with so many others.
I confess every time I hear wedding bells now, I automatically think of the words of Leonard Cohen:
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.
One last thing. I wouldn’t wish the agony of divorce on anyone: Christian, not-a-Christian, twenty-something, thirty-something, any-something. But if you’re out there and you’re going through it, I pray to God you have an empathetic friend or family member you can be vulnerable about it with. If not, you can contact me – I’m cracked, too, but the glue of grace is holding.
(Image via Creation Swap)