RESURRECTION: A PARADIGM FOR POST-DIVORCE
So I received a comments on my facebook page after a recent blog and that led me to writing this blog as we near Easter. The blog had a catchy title of “Are You Over it Yet?” and if you didn’t read it, you may want to scroll down and do so before finishing this one. Simply said, many people have very little clue about divorce, believing it is something you should just get over and move on with your life. Two of the comments mentioned that after a long time married, or after forgiving your ex, there is still a sense that you don’t “get over” it. I appreciated those comments, because they affirmed the truth of the blog and the book. I share in the book about a couple of individuals who helped me during my divorce time by pointing out this very fact. Both of them had been divorced many years before I had known them, and had moved on into full and rich lives, with good marriages and good attitudes. However, as I struggled with my experience, they encouraged me with the belief that I would get through it and move on, but that one never really gets over a divorce. And so reading the comments and having those memories I thought, with Easter upon us, the resurrection of Christ can give some good insights into the post divorce process, to go one step further in the discussion of “getting over” a divorce.
So, back to Easter. Let’s consider a few key concepts of the resurrection. In the crucifixion and the events leading up to it, Jesus suffered a great deal of anguish, pain, eventual death and entombment. There were plenty around who sought to make sure He stayed dead, even guarding the tomb to prevent a deception. But on Easter Sunday morning, to everyone’s utter shock and surprise, (or in some cases, their horror and dismay), Jesus came back from the dead in the resurrection, leaving the tomb and grave clothes behind! This series of events can be a powerful image of what God can do in our lives, even if we go through the experience of divorce.
First, Jesus was tortured, beaten, attacked, mocked, left on His own, and eventually destroyed. If you've gone through a tough divorce, most of that is something you can relate to in one way or another. Oh, maybe you didn't die (probably not, you are reading this!), but you sure may have wished you could, and certainly there were things in your life that did: your marriage, your trust, your love, your hopes…lots of possibilities depending on your experience. At the very least, life as you knew it died. And those divorce papers felt like a burial shroud, covering over the years of love, the years of building a life together and the hopes for “happily ever after till death do you part.” Dead. And often the next experience is one of cold and empty darkness (hence the cover of the book), much like the cold dark tomb of Christ. Sure, you may have some around you come with fragrant spices to make things seem better, but death remains death nonetheless. And there are those who wrap us in grave clothes, stamped with the word “divorced”. There are those who serve as guards, seeking to make sure we remain in that tomb, some by always identifying us merely as a person “divorced” or who, like our ex perhaps, no longer wants us around at all. I appreciated Toni’s comment about forgiveness, even though “getting over” the divorce is a different matter…..because isn't that also part of the Easter story? Did not Jesus on the cross pray God to forgive the people who destroyed Him, too? And yet that prayer did NOT prevent the death from occurring nor cut short the experience of being laid in a tomb. Forgiveness IS important, but it doesn't change the fact that you end up divorced…..at least, not most of the time.
But Jesus’ story did not end in the tomb with the people keeping Him locked in. The power of God cannot be stopped by such trivial human efforts. Jesus broke free from the grave wrappings, the stone could not withstand the pressure of the glory inside, and Jesus got up from His grave to start life anew, a life of glory and life eternal. After a divorce, we are faced with choices. Some people seem to like the tomb….they like getting flowers or spices, they prefer the safety of entombment away from the people outside, and they spend their time dwelling on all the things that got them to the death of their marriage. But other people stagger out of their tomb, trying to piece together a new life as best they can, always carrying with them the label placed upon them of “divorced” by those who would just as soon they stay in the tomb and not trouble the contented lives of those outside. And then…
And then there are those who believe in the power of resurrection. There are those who ask God to do a work in their lives, to put flesh on the dead bones, to tear off the grave clothes and open the tomb so that they can walk into a new life with Christ. This happens at two levels for us, the first, of course, is when one chooses to give their lives to Jesus to follow Him in life, and thus receive the gift of eternal life with the promise of heaven. But it also happens when we allow God to invade the cold, dark spaces of our lives like divorce, and ask Him to bring light and life there by His glorious power. And just as miraculously as Jesus walked forth from the tomb, God can bring forth something powerful and new beyond the death of your marriage. I know this myself, I have a new wife and completely different opportunities in my life than I ever expected at the time of my divorce. And some of them are miraculous. Like the fact that a woman in
country I've never seen, and a woman I've never met….reads these blogs! And she isn't the only one! There are lots of names and countries that
keep popping up…and I don’t know most of them…but God does, and God is working
not only in my life, but in the lives of people He is touching as He works in
But… There’s always a catch, isn't there? Well, sort of. Here is the “catch.” First, if you read the Easter stories carefully, you will notice that the resurrected Jesus still had the scars in His hands, feet and side. That is the notion of not “getting over” your divorce. God can move you on, God can do great things, you can find a new life and a new joy….but the damage was done, there is no denying the scars, the experience of your divorce has changed you. Jesus’ wounds didn't hurt like they once did. They didn't bleed as they had on the cross. But the scars were there, clear reminders of the crucifixion and the price He paid for our sin. You, too will come out scarred, but remember, scars exist only from wounds that have healed. Like Christ’s wounds, their impact remains, but healed they no longer have the power to cause you pain as they once did. Oh, the healing takes time, prayer and forgiveness, and the pain may only go away slowly or twinge now and then, but God can redeem your situation and bring new life, allowing you to leave the cold dark times behind. Which brings us to the other catch. You have to walk out of the tomb. If you really want to know the power of God’s resurrection in your life, and beyond your divorce, you have to refuse to stay wrapped in the garments that bind you and break through the dark stone that would hold you back from tomorrow….no matter who or want wants to keep you trapped inside. Sometimes that entrapment is well-intentioned (or not so well-intentioned) family or friends, sometimes it may be a harassing ex. Sometimes it can be the bitterness and unforgiveness in your heart, sometimes it can be the unwillingness to let go of the past or turn to the future. Sometimes it can be the relishing the pain for the comfort others bring while you dwell in self-pity. There are other things that keep us entombed….you probably already know what they are in your life.
The question is simple: Are you willing to leave behind the things that entomb you, that you may know the resurrection power of God to bring you new life, new hope, new direction and forgiveness? The scars may go with you, but you don’t have to sit around picking at the scabs. Maybe the original question is worded wrong: maybe it isn't that we “get over” our divorces, maybe it is that we “get past” them…by the power of God. Hey, Happy Easter, Happy Resurrection Sunday, and, hopefully, Happy Resurrection Life!
TL:dr Just as the tomb could not hold Jesus, so God’s power can break the power of divorce to hold us back in life from God’s hope and redemption.