My goodness! It was been a crazy five months here. I have much that I’d like to update you about — the Father has been so faithful and I have many bits of gratitude to report. His provision has left me a bit too busy to write recently, however something happened this week that I cannot ignore. My mission and calling make it impossible for me not to chime in on a matter that has rocked the Christian blogging world.
Lysa TerKeurst, founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, announced last Tuesday that she will be seeking a divorce from her husband. She explained that over the past 18 months, he has persisted in carrying on a relationship with a woman he met online despite her willingness to forgive him and their attempts at intense marital counseling. She wrote:
When I first found out about Art’s infidelity 18 months ago, I made the decision not to divorce him. I had just finished fasting and praying for 28 days and really felt led by the Lord that I was to love Art in my reaction to this shocking news and trust God for every step moving forward. I was still committed to doing everything I could think of to make our story one of restoration, even in the face of the worst kind of betrayal imaginable. I prayed continually. I sought counsel from family and other wise friends. And Art and I even made repeated trips across the country together for intensive counseling especially designed for marriages in crisis. But sadly, though I have repeatedly forgiven and accepted him back, he has continued to abuse substances, be unfaithful, and refused to be truthful to me and our family.
I believe I have the capacity to love Art and to forgive him, but his steadfast refusal to end the infidelity has led me to make the hardest decision of my life. After much prayer and consultation with wise, biblically-minded people, I have decided that Art has abandoned our marriage. Yet, the Lord has been so faithful to help me at every step of this very painful journey and has now assured me I’ve done all I can do.
You can read her full post here. When I read Lysa’s words on Tuesday, they brought back intense and painful memories of the months I spent at home with my husband after finding out about his infidelity. I had visions of intense conversations about forgiveness and the fact that Jesus offers a clean slate. I remembered how I would feel encouraged after these conversations only to find a day later that he had lied to me and met her again. The hours that I spent locked in the bathroom with the shower running to try to hide my sobbing from my babies came rushing back to me. Memories of the days I took them to the park and smiled and pretended that life was normal while my mind was a constant battlefield of anxiety waltzed past me again. The pain — the intense, gut wrenching pain that I fought through in an attempt to save the marriage I had intended to last a lifetime — it all came back and my heart broke again.
My heart broke for Lysa because I know what she is going through but also because I knew what was coming. Lysa has lived a very public life in ministry. Proverbs 31 Ministries has been reaching and encouraging women in their walk with the Lord in a big way. But Christians don’t play nice when it comes to divorce. I knew the self-righteous comments would come flooding in. And I was right. This week I have seen several camps of women emerge in Facebook, Instagram, and blog comments. I’d like to take a moment to address these camps and Lysa as well.
The Been There, Done That, God Saved My Marriage Crowd
Hi, ladies. It’s nice to meet you. We’re all kindred spirits in that we know the pain of discovering our husbands are being unfaithful. You know the hole that develops in your chest and the feeling of your entire world crumbling around you. You also know the still small voice of Jesus who urges you to forgive and show His mercy and grace. You understand the hours spent on your knees pleading that God would save your marriage. But your husband’s heart changed and ours’ did not. I don’t know why. Only God knows.
When I was struggling through those beginning days of my battle, your stories brought me great courage and comfort. I am glad that you are there. Your stories are so important because there are marriages that can and will be saved if the offended party is willing to forgive. That is a beautiful thing!
The problem is that some of you take the stance that all marriages can be saved and you just have to be willing to wait as long as it takes. I respectfully disagree. Is God able to save all marriages? Absolutely. Will He? No. You see, He doesn’t do things the way we think He should. He is God and He doesn’t have to be safe to be good. He gave us free will and He doesn’t force us to make right choices. He does however, make good in the lives of His beloved, even from the nasty mess that others create.
Lysa and I fought hard for our marriages, just as you did. But just as you knew your husbands better than anyone else, we knew our husbands. We knew the depth of their addictions and at some point Jesus released us from the fight. I can remember very clearly when in the midst of a sobbing petition to Jesus, He spoke to my heart in way that was different than before and there was finally a peace. Instead of the gentle reminder to praise Him in the storm, instead of the admonition to be strong and courageous, there was suddenly this:
“You have been my grace to him, but you are done. I will continue to pursue him, but I won’t allow him to hurt you like this anymore. It is not loving to allow him to think this behavior is okay. Draw the line and be ready to walk away. Don’t be afraid — I will be walking with you even as I am chasing after him.”
God saved your marriage but there are so many Christian women who fight just as hard as you did and still end up removing their wedding rings and signing on the dotted line. They are not less than you. Jesus does not approve of your fight over their fight. He simply intends to use them and bring good from their story in a different way. As I have said before, it took far less faith to believe that God could save my marriage than it did to believe that He didn’t have to save my marriage to still be good. I would suggest that instead of publicly judging Lysa because her story has a different ending, you thank Jesus that He didn’t ask you to walk the road of single motherhood and abandonment. Your story is valuable but it is not better.
The “God Hates Divorce!” Crowd
To the Christians who have never walked this road at all and simply want to tune out Lysa and her ministry forever while screaming, “God hates divorce!” I have this to say: God loves His daughters more than He hates divorce. He hates to watch the gas lighting and the emotional abuse that comes with a situation like this. He is not okay with watching his beloved daughter’s heart ripped from her chest and beaten beyond recognition. He doesn’t want her sons to grow up believing that it is okay to treat the incredible gift of a spouse in this way. When you react this way to divorce, you drive hurting people away from the church. God cares about souls more than He cares about marriage and I believe you will find that to be true when we stand before the judgement seat of Christ.
The Grace-Filled Supporters
This is a group who has never walked the road that Lysa is walking but they are fully aware that their marriages could go the same way — but for the grace of God. They are genuinely praying for both Lysa and her husband. Thank you, friends. You are a blessing and balm. May God bless you and protect you.
And Finally, A Word to Lysa
I am well aware that you may never read these words and we will likely never meet in person, but I believe that when we reach Home, our hearts will recognize each other. You have been almost constantly in my thoughts and prayers this week. When I started walking this road over six years ago, I was terrified of what it would be like to be a divorced woman who also claimed Christ. I scoured the internet for stories of women who had been through divorce and come out living victorious Christian lives, but they were no where to be found. So I determined that when my heart was ready, I would start this blog and hopefully be a light to the woman who was fighting for her marriage but coming to the realization that reconciliation was not going to happen. I have been discouraged that there are so many Christian mommy blogs who have multiple contributors but no representation from a single mother. I want these women to be able to find hope!
And here you are. You already have the platform. You already have the voice. They are going to try to make you feel like less but hold tight to the promises, friend. You are beautiful and brave and He is going to use even this. He is going to use even this in a BIG way and I am going to be over here praying my heart out and cheering you on.
Remember this — Love gets the final word. When you are crying yourself to sleep or holding a weeping child — remember. When you are angry and confused or feel like you don’t even have the energy to get up and get dressed — remember. When you are questioning everything or attempting to figure out the legal mess — don’t forget. You have fought for your marriage and now you join a new fight. We are in a battle to help the church understand our stories and the stories of the thousands of brothers and sisters like us. There is a Joy in even this journey. You are loved. Fight on, my friend!