The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind.
First of all, I’m pretty sure that I have found the ending to my book. I am excited to write about it. And, of course I can’t give it away here. You’ll have to buy the book (wink, wink)!
I have had a lot to process recently. Whereas before, I might have been stricken with grief or pain for weeks upon end, questioning God; fairness; my purpose or path — simply questioning the meaning of it all – I found myself digesting the circumstances, and thanking God that He allows me to live such an amazingly blessed life.
I thank God for my freedom. I am beyond blessed.
I feel like I’m on standing confidently upon neutral, solid ground. I’m open. I’m expectant. I’m hopeful. I’m happy. Holy shit, I got to sing Jason Robert Brown‘s new musical with Jason, himself, and Tony Danza two nights ago (!!!) So many blessings are being handed to me — so lovingly — by the Creator of the Universe, and I am grateful to receive them. And, in writing this, I feel like I’m turning into that Precious Moments-loving, Sunday School-teaching, scrapbooking, squeaky-clean Jesus lover that can’t stop the Christianese talk. Even the “shit” is holy!
Crank up the Christian radio station, pop open the Martinelli’s and let’s PARTY!
The truth is, God is so good. He is good, all the time. And what I’ve learned from the past three years of sheer hell is that He has never forsaken me. My husband may have left me a long time ago, but God never has, and He never will. He has been so gentle and loving; slow to anger; quick to forgive, and extends me way more grace than I ever do, myself.
My prayer is that I am growing, transforming and learning to become more like Him.
Amidst the roller coaster of the past few days, I received an email from a friend of mine.
She opened with saying that she was proud of me for not allowing my divorce to define me, and for not having turned my back on God, despite my circumstances.
I knew it was coming – the “but”. I continued reading.
My friend told me that she was not, at this time, able to “like” my blog’s Facebook page. She had thought and prayed about it, and even sought counsel from people whom she trusts. And, whereas she understands my deep love for Jesus, even despite my “rough” language, she was afraid that others may not.
She apologized, and reminded me that she is the wife of a pastor to — in my opinion — majorly conservative and ignorant people, which means she is being watched; open for criticism. In addition, she and her husband really feel like they are called to be missionaries to those people. She was sure that if they read even just the title of my blog – book – The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce, they would immediately judge us both.
She hoped I would understand, and assured me that she would support me as much as anyone, if she could.
My heart was pumping furiously in my chest when I read my sweet friend’s message, but I immediately responded in kind. Of course I understand. In fact, I am a recovering “rules and regulations” Christian, myself. I grew up thinking that if I abstained from premarital sex, my marriage would be stronger and more blessed than those who had put out, or shacked up, beforehand.
I went to a college that placed strict rules against drinking, smoking, dancing and sex (of any kind). I believed that if I used “rough” language, I’d be a horrifically bad example of Jesus’ love to others, or that what I had to say would immediately be negated because of my foul mouth. People simply wouldn’t know that I was a Christian if — or when — I drank, said “crap” (or something much worse), gyrated my pelvis to music, or went “in dark places with boys” (thanks, Mom, for that one).
I have watched couples, whom I have sat down and chastised for engaging in premarital sex, go on to have amazing, strong and loving marriages, and produce healthy, beautiful children. Once, X and I grumbled about and almost refused to go to a couple’s wedding. X was even the Best Man! Together, we believed their marriage wasn’t going to last. What horrible thinking, and how deliciously ironic! I have since apologized, and the couple quickly forgave me. Obviously, the old me was extremely ignorant and hurtful, all under the banner of Christ.
Well, look at me now! I’m divorced. I’ve been in jail. I even performed in a “strip show” on Broadway. I’ve made out with men: in private, in public, and even on an airplane. I say “fuck” sometimes. Loudly. (FUCKITY FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!!)
And I love and believe in Jesus more than I ever have in my entire life.
Christian or not — we are all covered in God’s amazing, loving, tender grace. Obviously that isn’t an invitation to live carelessly, but we don’t have to be afraid of strict judgment from the only One who truly has the right to judge us.
And so, the more I thought about my friend’s email, the more frustrated I became. I want her to not care what people might think. Of course I would never want to do or say anything to jeopardize our friendship, and I certainly don’t think that defending my flippant, hilarious, yet real use of foul language is worth the battle. Sadly, I do understand my friend’s position, even though I would have never known if she “liked” my blog page or not. I’m not keeping tabs, but maybe I should start. (Kidding.)
I realize that The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce is not for everybody. Perhaps the title is offensive, or misleading. Perhaps it alienates readers who are not Christians, or simply those who aren’t interested in reading about divorce. Most certainly the subject matter is provocative, but it is definitely not limited to Christians.
My book just might get judged for its cover, alone.
Divorce is a taboo topic, especially in the Christian community. Nobody really talks about it, except for the standard, “God hates it.” Additionally, any books out there on divorce are either ways to avoid or recover from it; extensive psychological analysis of why/how it happened; or success stories of how people patched their marriages back together because they were both willing to do the hard work.
Although I am sure those books are helpful, some of them make me want to vomit. What about the relationships that don’t survive? Can those people end up happy? How do they get through it, in a real way? Furthermore, I guarantee that anyone who has been through a marital crisis, a breakup, or a loss of any sort, has dropped an F-bomb here or there. And what about grace? Where are those stories? Where is the reality; the true expression of humanity? Those of us who are separated, divorced or going through a divorce — regardless of fault or blame — need to know we are not lepers; outcasts; alone. Especially in Christian culture.
I am quite sure that we didn’t ask, or plan, to be in the position we are in. Some are victims of cruelty, abuse, abandonment, addictions or infidelity. Some just got married too young. Some, like X, don’t know who they are or what they want, but don’t want to be alone. Some bear the weight of the scarlet letter, and don’t want to be reminded of their mistakes. Others are miserable in dead-end marriages, and just want out.
God’s grace covers us all. Nothing is irreparable. Nothing can separate us from Him. God offers reconciliation and redemption, for each individual person. How do I know this? I’ve experienced it.
I understand my friend’s feelings about her and her husband’s ministry. I am not a pastor or a theologian, but, guess what?! I have a ministry, too.
It’s called The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.
My prayer for this blog-turned-book is that people will see Jesus, even through my self-proclaimed bad behavior and language; even through my own judgment of myself and, at times, — gasp!! — other people. (Did you read the paragraph about scrapbooking and Martinelli’s? That one is sending me straight to hell.)
I realize that I will face criticism or judgment no matter what I say or do, but I’m OK with that. I’m real. I’m human. I make mistakes. My “good behavior” or glossy Christian appearance isn’t going to save me from anything. It certainly didn’t save my marriage. Clinging to God, who so fiercely loves me, is the only answer. Keeping my eyes focused on Him, and my heart aligned with His, keeps me moving forward and growing into the woman who He created me to be. That is my belief, and I will proclaim it loudly, using the voice that He has uniquely given me.
God is the only reason I have survived divorce, and divorce is but a tiny hiccup in this amazing adventure called life.