I got divorced a little over ten years ago.
I have developed a permanence view of marriage since then.
I am remarried. I am also lead minister at a small church.
So, imagine the conflict I have had to work through over these ten years. This blog entry will trace my journey through this process.
100% my fault. I do not speak for my ex-wife and her actions. I have to deal with my side of the divorce and conclude and admit my sin in divorcing. I take full responsibility.
Footloose And Fancy Free
Although I have been a minister and called myself a Christian my attitude and character after my separation seemed to reveal otherwise. Flesh and the pursuit of self-gratification was the rule of my existence. Was I a false convert and the divorce just unmasked what was there all along? I don’t know. Even to this day I don’t know. I am ashamed of my behavior and character during this time.
The Heavy Hand
The first several years I did not feel the weight of my sin. I did feel the consequences. I missed my kids terribly. Terribly. Although I had joint custody and saw them regularly, I missed them. This is the travesty of my life. I went on with life and pursued things that made me happy. I was shunned, talked about, lied about, and avoided by many in the community and by some friends. Although this did hurt, I did not care that much. It was nothing compared to the heavy hand of God that was to come. After about five to seven years, around 2013-2016 I felt the heavy hand of God upon me.
It was around this time that I come to mostly adopt a permanent view of marriage. Look it up. Anyway, after years of anger, deflecting my responsibility, I came face to face with the sin of my divorce. I was melted. The closest I can come to describing this season in my life was in Isaiah 6, when the prophet said he was “undone”. I felt that I was disintegrating from the inside out. It was as if the sky was falling with the black, thick judgement of God and I had no shelter. I have never felt more exposed, bare, guilty, and helpless in my life. There was no justification, excuse, or hiding place.
I understand Psalm 40 now. I can internalize it and feel it with every fiber of my being. Salvation is in Christ alone. He saved me from a “HORRIBLE pit, out of the MIRY clay.” (emphasis mine) My hope, my satisfaction, my confidence is in Jesus. To think of the blackness, the guilt, the sin that I felt before was all laid on Christ at the Cross is too much for me to fathom. Pilgrim’s Progress became a dear book to me at this time. I was saved. Was this my initial conversion or a renewal? I don’t know. I tend to think the former.
What To Do Now? Part 1: My life
I find myself married, ministering at a church and with a full family. I know it is sin to divorce again. Marriage is to be held in honor, to reflect Christ’s relationship with His church. It is permanent. My children are to be raised in covenant relationship with God in view. They are to be preached to by the marriage relationship with my wife. Old things are passed away and I am a new creature in Christ. I must then walk in the newness of life.
What has changed marriage 2.0 for me is the perspective I have in marriage. A Biblical perspective. Marriage is not about my happiness or fulfillment. It is not centered around me and my feelings. Marriage is first a covenant before God that reflects His redemptive covenant with humanity. As such, it is God centered and sacred. The duties in my marriage reflect Christ’s character toward the church. This perspective has been new, has been powerful in my life.
My marriage and family are the most important thing to me. I seek to provide for them, teach them, comfort them, and build a life for them. I am called to sacrifice and love them as Christ loved the church. It is in doing this that true satisfaction and joy can be found.
What To Do Now? Part 2: Ministry
While knowing what to do with my family and my life was pretty simple, the calling to ministry was not so simple. Honestly, I just wanted to fade away and never be in ministry again. I kind of did do that. My employment was that of a chaplain so completely stepping out of the ministry, at least at this time, was impossible. I thought just attending a church and helping out in the least noticeable way possible was the best. For over five years this is what I tried to do. I took myself out of the pulpit. To this day, I firmly believe that after a divorce a minister should not be in the pulpit for some time. Its takes time for this kind of thing to fully play out.
After years I was asked by a minister to fill in for him. For almost a year I ministered almost every week in the Pastor’s absence. It felt good to be back doing what I was called to do. I was welcomed and received. After the church changed hands (long story) I started a little church. About a year or two into the church came the time of the great conviction mentioned above. I wanted out. I felt inadequate, unqualified, and unworthy. I prayed earnestly for a replacement. I talked with people to come and take over. Nothing. I had talked with my congregation about my divorce upon starting the church. Of course, I took the scripture in Timothy as meaning that an elder cannot have more than one wife (at a time) as the meaning. I still do, but not enthusiastically.
Now at the time of writing this, I have more peace about preaching. I am looking and willing for my replacement to show up at any time. Glory to God either way.
To Those That Do Not Respect Me
I am a prideful person. I get fighting mad over principles. Humans in our fallen state can justify anything in our mind. So, when I was disrespected by so many people I was naturally fighting mad. They have not walked in my shoes, they do not understand my situation. Blah, blah, blah. I deserve disrespect, avoidance, shunning, and hell. To those that disrespect me. You have a right to, and you can. If it were not for the grace of God in Christ I would be in hell. My confidence is not in the flesh, nor my past victories. My focus is not on my failures or vices. My confidence is not swayed by a cloud of detractors. My hope and confidence is in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Stay married. It is serious as the covenant of marriage is before God. Also, divorce’s effects last long. It is not done in just a month or a year. It’s years of repair and repentance. God is faithful and brings new life. God restores the lean, destroying years after a divorce. Repent while God draws you to repentance. Repentance is much more layered and substantial than you think.
This blog is about my experience. I understand that everyone has various circumstances. In the event of abuse, infidelity, and abandonment each person should 1. Consider the scriptures and come to a conclusion that allows no guilty conscience. 2. Get good sound advice for someone other than a short-sighted “yes” friend. 3. Protect yourself and your child.
I believe a person that is divorced can minister again. It will not be easy, and their name is compromised. I know there will be those that say otherwise. I understand where they are coming from and do not disagree. However, for me, the weight of scripture seems to be on the side of restoration. Perhaps a congregational vote would be in order. My people know about my divorce. They love me and accept me. I love them and accept them. If the congregation where I serve does not believe in a divorced pastor then I would not be serving them.
Where To Go From Here
As I age (41) my perspective is changing. I think about my life winding down. I think about death. As such my priorities and different. My family matters greatly to me. My wife and my children are my life. I want to fulfill the end of the cross by producing good works. Works of love and in accordance with sound Christian doctrine. The glory and gain of this world does not appeal to me. I do not want my name in lights. I do not want to be a celebrity in any form. I want to write, teach and help people as the servant of Christ. Until I die. Glory to God alone.