People often believe that divorce releases them from all responsibility. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Anyone who has done an uncontested divorce knows that this isn’t the easy way out. It’s the most responsible thing I have ever done. We want to get things done so that we can move on with our lives. I discovered something in this that no one will understand. Some of your greatest blessings become possible through goodbyes. People try to scare you away from what they don’t want you to validate with the truth. It uncovers their lack. That explains why people flip everything and derail productive conversations. We don’t have marital problems. We have unresolved issues from childhood. If what we have in front of us is ego instead of hope, we will self-destruct in the face of what promotes us into healing. The greatest challenge any of us face is cutting through what is false within us. I believe in the adage that “everything is real, but not everyone is true.”
I walked away from evangelical church culture in 2017 because I needed to know what is real in places that aren’t true. I started a personal campaign to prove the faithfulness of God in my desolation. I didn’t understand the constant opposition that never resolves among believers. I wrote a blog post six months ago about how I know when God is speaking to me. I named it “Blizzard of Venom” after the way people treat me when I inexplicably know things I shouldn’t. It is the nature of God’s character to reveal the truth in gracious ways. Truth not tempered by grace is the reality of hell. It traumatizes us further if we aren’t ready to receive it. To say this much is enough to set people off because of what they need to believe. About a year ago, the Holy Spirit nudged me and revealed that one of my favorite friends was going to hurt me profoundly. The future of my relationship with them would be bound up in my ability to recover damages.
Well, that pissed me off immediately. I thought, “Great, here we go again. It’s always about what I have to do so that no one else will have to be bothered for anything.” The greatest crimes against humanity demand an apology for the revelation of truth. A year later, I am humbled by what happened that crushed my soul into oblivion. That is an example of pre-emptive grace. I had a means of recovery before a mortal wounding. I survived but only because another friend lifted my head when I was drowning in sorrow. The damages I had to recover most were within me. This person isn’t speaking to me and is actively avoiding me. I never recognized my power until people showed me what is unspoken. I know this isn’t over.
The so-called “God’s plan” that people try to justify their plans is not about giving you what you want on your terms. The same people who keep pushing this nonsense also thought that Trump was a manifestation of Jesus. It’s not even about making them look crazy or stupid. God reveals the truth, even if that means letting you flaunt your disgrace publicly because you won’t let go of a fantasy. By their logic, God is a sadistic bastard that is out to get them more than anyone else. If you are paying attention, this becomes very obvious while they are over-spiritualizing every event. They aren’t allowed to challenge anything at all. So they must make it all look like the ideal life because it’s the only option they think they have. You won’t recognize just how toxic it all is until you are on the other side of everything you wanted, as well. I tested the formula for success. It went nowhere, created no end of chaos, and ultimately caused a stalemate. I get it now. They were trying to avoid the same judgment they were pulling down on themselves. It is a civil war that projects a false reality, confusion, and frustration.
Grace flows down. It doesn’t come by force and can’t be blocked or redirected. It’s also not a license to be “sinful.” It is the freedom to live without having to worry about what will bring judgment. The irony is that there is no formula for life that excuses you from mistreatment. You will go crazy if you try to validate that delusion.
A few weeks ago, I took a road trip to celebrate a 30th wedding anniversary with a life-long friend. My friend’s mother is a 78-year-old grandmother. I wasn’t sure she remembered me or understood everything around her. I had just finished a clinical externship for entry-level nursing several weeks before. Someone said, in my training, that the reason older people are quiet is that we perceive them as senile. They have much to say but don’t feel that anyone is listening. I am used to people sharing personal things with me when they feel comfortable. I sensed that she was checking the waters around me. That sweet, little old lady imparted some wisdom to me that I already knew. It is still developing several weeks later. She told me that God answers to how men mistreat you in a relationship. I have seen this play out in ways that most won’t accept because it’s embarrassing to them. Since then, I have also processed how this is true of anyone in our relationships. People want to talk about how being a good wife brings God’s favor. No one wants to talk about the ways His favor may come. They don’t want to hear that He may release you from your desires because of His merciful response to hidden abuse. He doesn’t expect you to work harder, but smarter. If that is never enough for a man that dishonors you in private, God will release you from marriage. Sometimes, He breaks your heart to save your soul. Discipline is not always painful. We have convinced ourselves that it should be hard. Punishment is difficult, not self-discipline. We don’t know the difference because of how we twist reality to fit our false narratives.
God allows us the opportunity to dodge the bullets lodged at our hearts because we invest ourselves fully. There will always be people who take advantage of what they can see because it is self-evident. That’s low effort and is frustrating every time some coward uses it to excuse themselves. Getting the job you want is not favor. Getting the relationship you want is not favor. These things may be good, but they may not be what’s best for you long-term. You’ll miss a lot of subtle undertows if you feel sorry for yourself.
This Summer feels like payback for last Summer. However, it wouldn’t have changed an inch if I had refused to engage and see things beyond pain. No relationship is worth the trouble if nothing is allowed to engage beyond appeasing someone’s false self. If I had gotten what I wanted this year, I would have been working instead of having the time and space to have a proper Summer. Sometimes, the ending we expect becomes something completely different. I believe the beginning tells the story of the end, but we get to choose how things develop beyond a false narrative.