Divorcing other Christians

24 Aug

Philippians 1:10, “That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.”

 

I have been corresponding with two women who used to be married to pastors.  Both have been fairly open on social media about their situations and the ensuing pain of being abandoned.  I imagine that would apply to any abandonment, whether or not the husband had been a pastor.

 

Since I don’t have firsthand knowledge of marital divorce, from either my family of birth or the one we formed when we married, I will leave that topic to people more expert than me.  But I do want to deal with the topic of Christians “divorcing” each other, whether within a blood relationship (for example, a mother and her children) or within the church (people who used to be good friends). 

 

Of course, it is much easier to survive these “divorces,” which is just a word I am using for any estrangement.  A marital divorce involves people moving to new homes, children being moved back and forth between parents, and many other events that challenge everyone logistically, as well as tear at their emotions.  A “divorce” between a parent and her children usually just heightens the tension in the home.  Rarely are children asked to leave.  Mostly, they are just raised with a wall of silence or the feeling that they can never live up to the high standard the parent has for them.

 

Likewise, in the church, a “divorce” between former friends usually just means choosing to walk down a different hallway when you see members of that family coming or the confusion of never quite knowing what you did wrong, if the rift happens suddenly and without words being exchanged.

 

I once had a person I considered to be my best friend abruptly “divorce” me without ever explaining why.  She tried, but nothing made sense because, basically, everything she loved about me one day made her angry at me the next.  I knew I hadn’t changed from a lovable person to a monster overnight, so I had about six months of anguish over what had happened.  This former friend pretty much never talked to me anymore, after the initial conversation.

 

God is so faithful and good and He taught me a lot in this situation.  I think it is all applicable to other relationships, too (with the possible exception of an actual marital divorce).

 

The main idea is, friendship is a voluntary state and someone who no longer wants to be a friend cannot be talked back into it by logic.  You simply have to let that person go.

 

If you try to change to please someone who used to like you as you are but is now angered by everything she ever liked about you, you will only find you are becoming someone else.  If you have been real with this person in the past, not hypocritical, and if you find that what you revealed to her about yourself is now being thrown back at you in anger, it hurts.  But it is not the worst thing that could happen.  The worst thing is to try to change yourself to be someone you are not, in order to win the favor of a person who can’t be won over anyway.  God loves you the way you are.  Be the person you are.

 

Walk away with dignity from relationships where someone who used to be a friend has said they don’t want to know you anymore.  Let that person know you still love her, but don’t stay nearby, expecting things to go back to the way they were.  Move on and spend time with the people who truly love you. 

 

Live quietly, with dignity, in any family situations where the other person has expressed disapproval of you.  Since that person is family, try as much as you can to have some form of actual relationship, even if that person is only capable of a very small bit of it.  That is better than nothing, in most cases.

 

For marital estrangements, I won’t offer advice.  I am not qualified.

 

And remember, the Bible tells us of the great hope we have in Christ.  The secular world has a saying that is not half bad:  “The best revenge is to live well.”  I would modify that to say “keep your eyes on Jesus, the only One who will never, ever disappoint us.”  Don’t call it revenge, call it life in Christ.  And move forward to find it!

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