When I travel, I make sure I have time for breakfast, because I love waffles, and the hotel chain I like lets you make your own. When you travel as much as I do, it’s the little things that matter. Recently, I was sitting at a table eating when I overheard two ladies deep in conversation. One was saying how it was time to confront their mutual friend who was leaving her husband. As far as they knew, their friend didn’t have a Biblical reason for doing so.
My waffle was going to get cold. I put down my fork and started eavesdropping.
One lady said that yes, indeed it was time, because she hadn’t heard of any Biblical reason, even though she knew their friend’s husband couldn’t be easy to live with. He didn’t treat her that well, and it was a troubled marriage, but, and I quote, “You just don’t leave because you get tired. God hates divorce.” The other friend shook her head yes, and replied, “She needs to work it out. What about her kids?”
I shut my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew I wasn’t going to leave that breakfast area without saying something to those two women. I knew it was not my place. I knew I shouldn’t have listened to their conversation, but I couldn’t help it. We were in a public place, and they had been talking loud enough for me to hear.
I took a deep breath and said, “Excuse me, I’m so sorry. I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. I know you want what’s best for your friend, so I have to ask a question. How many times have you confronted your friend’s husband and asked if he was upholding his end of the marriage vows? You said he didn’t treat her that well, so you know she has been in a tough spot. Marriage is between two people, and it takes both of them to make it work. I’ve been there. When I thought I was literally going to emotionally die if I stayed in my marriage, the first question several Christians asked was did I have a Biblical reason for leaving?
I wish they had known all the heartache and sleepless nights and worry of whether I was doing the right thing. I wish they had known how many counselors I’d been to, and how many hours I’d cried wondering what was wrong with me—why couldn’t I make my marriage work? I can almost guarantee you that your friend’s decision didn’t come overnight, and I bet she’s been agonizing over this for a long time. Trust me, she’s worried more about her children than she has about herself. She’s probably stayed much longer than she wanted to or maybe even longer than she should. How about instead of confronting her and asking her if she had a Biblical reason for leaving, you just show up at her house and offer your love and friendship? I bet she would appreciate that a whole lot more than more questions and more admonition. Divorce is horrible. Maybe it’s her fault, but maybe it’s not, and honestly, that’s not even the point. Just love her. Just show up to her house as her friend.”
I was shaking and didn’t give them a chance to reply. I had to get out of there before I said anything else. As I walked away with my stomach in knots, and tears in my eyes, they just stared at me. I got in my rental car and drove to the airport for my flight home. The entire day I kept praying those ladies took my advice, or at the very least tried to understand what I said.
It’s been several years since I went through my divorce, and sometimes it’s still hard to say the words, “I’m divorced.” I don’t want those who haven’t experienced that kind of pain to ever give their “correction” in the name of Christianity.
Maybe I’m a little too sensitive to this issue. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. Maybe I’m just a little tired of Christians who want to find fault with others and point out the “Biblical reasons” those people are messing up. I’ve seen a few “Biblical reasons” those people are messing up as well. They are just different than my mess ups.
Maybe we should just show up for each other rather than confronting the faults in each other. No questions asked, no information of the details needed. Just show up in friendship and love and be there in times of need. I think that’s the basis of love and that’s the foundation of Christianity.
“Love one another.” — John 13:34