Woman sitting with her head in her hands on a park bench
Relationships

The Stigma of Being a Divorced Christian Woman

I’m a Christian and I am divorced. I’m not proud of this marital status, but I am tired of standing in shame of it. I’ll be honest, I used to judge divorced people: “Why don’t they just try harder?” “They shouldn’t look for a quick out like divorce.” “Love means working through the difficult times.” And then I got married and realized how hard it actually is.

I do wish more marriages would stay together. There is such beauty in a loving, committed relationship and it seems they are becoming fewer and fewer. Just because I was unable to keep my marriage together, does not mean I think it is okay for every marriage to end in divorce. What I do know is that, even if you love and you try, it does not mean things are going to work. Divorce is not easy; it is painful and dirty and not a choice couples come to lightly. Okay, some Hollywood starlets might, but in the real world, for me, it was substantially more difficult. And it continues to be difficult.

There is so much stigma and opinion out there about divorce, I feel like carrying around placards telling people what I am actually going through. Here’s where I’m at and what I need right now.

I’m re-learning how to live.

I am no longer a spring chicken. I just spent years learning to live and share life with another person. Now my world is flipped upside down and I again have to re-learn life; I’m learning everything from the simple how to cook for one to the more complex how to be a single, available woman. I’m learning how to navigate living alone and having no one to share my day to day with. I’m learning how to exist in a social context with this new label of being a divorcee — the when and how to allow that into conversation and the ensuing questions that come after that.

I’m hurting.

If marriage is unifying two people together as one flesh, what would the undoing of this feel like? I had a friend bring to mind the searing pain of tearing flesh. It is extreme, but it feels accurate. Divorce is ugly, messy, confusing and hurtful. I have been rejected by someone who joined their life with mine, came to know me intimately, and promised to love me forever. That hurts more than I can explain with words. I don’t want to be trapped in the hurt, but I also don’t want to minimize it.

I talk to God about divorce more than you do.

Trust me on this. While others are concerned about the three “camps” Christians are allowed to fall into in order to get divorced, I’m concerned about my relationship with God. While others have memorized what Jesus said about divorce, I’ve agonized over it. I’ve spent many tearful and prayerful nights petitioning God, asking why, pleading my case, making excuses, and repenting. What came out of that is the realization God cares more about my heart than he does my theological perspective.

Help me grieve.

It is helpful to have friendly reminders to celebrate my freedom from the toxic relationship I was in. It is helpful to laugh and breathe sighs of relief, but sometimes I need to grieve. Sometimes I’m standing at the grocery store, holding a loaf of garlic bread and breaking down in tears simply because that’s what my husband made for me in his caring moments. Those simple memories sneak up out of the blue and are vicious reminders of loss. I need a safe place to take that grieving, share the hurt, and not be alone.

Pray with me not for me.

On the topic of faith, come together with me in prayer. I don’t need people to further separate from me to “pray for” my situation, as if they can fix it. I need others to come beside me as brothers and sisters in Christ who remind me of God’s unfailing love. Come together with me to glorify God in my absolute weakness and inability to make it through this painful experience on my own strength. Be an extension of God’s love as someone who has fully received it. I am experiencing the bitterness of rejection and a broken heart; I need to be reminded that God never takes away His love from me.

 


Photo by (flickr CC): Tuan Le

 

Kona