My pastor says it’s pointless to judge people because 1) People have reasons—which you don’t know—for doing what they do, 2) You have plenty of your own crap to deal with, and 3) No one cares about your judgments anyway. I’ll be honest with you: judging others was something I struggled with for years because I was pretty sure I knew better than most people what they ought to be doing. It’s like Claire, the mom from Modern Family, said: “I know I can’t run [my daughter’s] life for her, but if she would let me, I’d be so good at it!” Into my early twenties, I had a judgment for everything, partly because being a Christian made me feel superior, partly because I was raised to have confidence in myself, and partly because I am human.
Last Friday would’ve been my fifth wedding anniversary, but now it’s a day that reminds me why I have no business judging others. When certain people heard of my separation and divorce, they became rigidly judgmental. Some wanted me to know that divorce is a sin. Others wanted me to know that it’s fine if my heart was so hardened I had to divorce, but that I could never remarry because that would be a sin. Once I was told that divorce wasn’t actually possible for a Christian. Someone else said that since we are attracted to the same type of person repeatedly, divorcing my first husband would only lead to divorcing second, third, and subsequent husbands. All I can say is thank God for my church and the grace I found in it. The leader of my Divorce Care group, a woman I deeply respect and love, was the first person to literally hold my hand as I cried and tell me she understood. As much as I appreciated the prayers and encouraging words of my friends and family, and I really did, the gift of being looked in the eye, understood, and shown grace was something that reached my soul.
It seems to me that God needs those of us who have been divorced, gone bankrupt, been hooked on this or that addiction, lost children, lost faith, lost dignity, and whatever else. He needs the women who got pregnant before they got married and the men who found someone else after they got married. He needs the ones who were bitter, lustful, abusive, brokenhearted. He needs people who can, like my Divorce Care leader, look his babies in the eye and say, “I get it. I lived that story too,” and comfort them in a way that mirrors his comforting of us. One of my favorite traits of my Divorce Care leader is that she is 100% shockproof. There is nothing you can say to this woman that raises her eyebrows in disgust or horror. You can tell her the worst things you’ve said and done, and she says things like, “Yeah, we tend to do that, don’t we?” The grace she has shown me, and so many others, is the very face of God. You can’t tell me God doesn’t use her story—the good, the bad, and the ugly in it—to reach his children.
I no longer assign blame for my divorce; it doesn’t matter. Anne Lamott says, “There are three things you can’t change: the past, the truth, and other people.” Divorce is a part of my past, and that’s that. Did I miss the will of God? Don’t know; don’t care. (Although I do not at all regret my first marriage.) Would things be different if I had done this or that instead? Don’t know; don’t care. This is what I do know and care about: nothing I have ever done, including divorce, has caused God not to love me anymore. Nothing I have ever done has changed God’s promise of protection, healing, and grace in my life. Nothing I have ever done has made God scrap his plans for me. I made mistakes in my marriage, and I live with the knowledge of having caused my ex-husband pain. But I do not have to live with guilt or shame. I am saved. I am a part of God’s plan for humanity. And he makes all things new. All things. New.