(If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it here. Stay tuned for further installments. Thanks!)
You May Lose Great Friends And It Won't Be Your Fault
It's sad but true. For many reasons. And each of them will hurt and bring the sting of your divorce back around all over again.
Remember when your friends started getting married and you were still single? All of a sudden you became aware of subtle changes in those relationships. It was a bit bewildering, wasn't it? Well, many times that same kind of thing happens when a divorce occurs. Suddenly, no one knows how to proceed in a relationship with the one who has gotten a divorce. Especially if they have not walked the road of divorce themselves. As difficult as it may be, we have to give those people room to be uncomfortable as they try to figure out to how to proceed. Once they realize that we are willing to give grace for their mistakes or discomfort or whathaveyou, and they are willing to give us grace to grieve and rage and be incredibly sad, then things will get better.
On the other hand, you may get ignored or shunned. And hurtful as it is, we need to give people room to make the choice of dropping their relationship with us altogether. Their actions may be out of a sense of loyalty to your former spouse. Perhaps family solidarity comes into play (this not a Biblical response when sin is involved, but then again we cannot expect non-believers to respond Biblically). Some forego continuing the relationship with you out of a sense of self-preservation. You may find that some relationships, once valuable, need to be discontinued because it wreaks havoc with your other relationships or just surviving from one day to the next.
Of course, when you mix in the added twist of who takes the side of whom, things get exponentially harder. Not taking sides affirms the offender and offends the one who has been betrayed. Taking sides always feels like a betrayal to someone. Especially to the spouse that has been wronged and/or doesn't want the divorce. Always to the spouse that has been wronged. When there is a clear victim and others side with the victimizer, for whatever reason, drop them. DROP THEM LIKE THEY'RE HOT BABY. There is never EVER a good reason to side with the one who has betrayed the other spouse. EVER. I have heard all the arguments and I emphatically restate my position:
THERE IS NEVER A GOOD REASON TO SIDE WITH THE BETRAYER. EVER.
Not from a Biblical standpoint. When proper, Biblical repentance is shown by the betrayer, then the situation warrants a different set of actions to take place. Relationships can possibly be renewed on that basis. But not until that happens.
You may argue that rarely is it one person's fault that a divorce has taken place. It does happen. Many times there are clear victims. Many times one partner just opts out of the relationship, even admitting that the divorce is not the fault of the other.
That is not to say that there aren't things each wouldn't change about the marriage if they could. There are things I would have done differently, for sure.
You May Lose Great Friends And It Will Be Your Fault
This has hit home to me more recently and I am still dealing with the chagrin I feel surrounding the occurrence. Some one that I hold in very high esteem recently made a decision that I felt would cause the end of our friendship. Instead of asking the person directly, I pulled on the vest of betrayal and cried foul. You read that correctly: I took on the burden of feeling like my friend was siding with my former husband when that was not his intention at all. It is difficult to not allow divorce to color how we view each person and each situation we come across. But we must try. I think this is what is meant by not allowing divorce to define us.
My friend could have continued in the same vein of anger and hurt in response to my reactions of hurt and anger. Which would have allowed me to feel justified in further hurt and hurtful responses. And on and on it could have gone. Instead, my friend showed me graciousness and tried to help me understand his position. This reminded me to put aside emotion and see things from his point of view. In the end, our views differed regarding the initial decision made by my friend, but we remain friends because we put aside the emotion of the situation long enough to try to understand one another. May I suggest that this may be a more difficult task for women whom God created to be relational? Some see that as a negative aspect to our beings, but it doesn't have to be when we allow the Holy Spirit to transform and renew us day by day.
On a Side Note
Personally, for a long time, I held onto relationships that I should have let go gracefully. I felt as though I was losing so much through the divorce already, that I couldn't bear losing more relationships, so I hung on to them too long. Now that I have had time to reflect I see that it just isn't possible to keep close relationships that do not support us (as Christians) or do not hold a Biblical worldview. I don't mean we should shun non-believers; we should still love them as Christ would. But we, as Christians, have to remain a peculiar people - set apart from the world so that He can be glorified. Some relationships don't allow us to do that and we have to view them differently.
It behooves each of us to be gracious in navigating through the after effects of divorce. Give as much grace as you would like to be shown.
Counting it all joy,