After being married to the same person for 17 years, I am beginning to understand why marriage is so important to God, so sacred. In a world full of disposable relationships, ghosting and unfriending have become our go-to methods of relationship management. We pick people apart; god-breathed, beautiful, and fearfully made souls, discarding and shelving them for the most arbitrary of reasons. Oftentimes we take the easy way out. To stick with someone through all of their junk is just plain hard.
Sometimes even impossible.
And when something feels impossible or even just a little too hard, we are tempted to give up.
If you have been through a divorce, please understand I am not trying to be glib or insensitive. I truly cannot put myself in your shoes or begin to understand the depth of your pain if your spouse left, or even try to grasp the full scope of reasons why you felt you had to leave.
For some of us, some times, the very best thing we can do is leave.
But for most of us…
Will there be dysfunction? Are you a human being? The answer to both of these rhetorical questions is obviously a resounding yes.
When tough times come, and they will come, as married couples we must all ask ourselves one question: is what we have built and what we are currently building worth fighting for? In other words, can we heal and move past whatever pain we currently find ourselves in?
In one of my favorite songs by U2 called “The Troubles,” Bono sings, “You think it’s easier to know your own tricks, but it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” To fully know yourself, and all of your tricks, takes the work of a lifetime. But to fully know someone else, and all of their tricks, and to even accept them in a marriage, takes two lifetimes at the same time.
Try wrapping your brain around that one.
And to fight for that, through that trickiness and dysfunction, to fight for the goodness and the hope and the potential and possibility, and the vision of all this union can be is holy work. To leave our personal Egypts, out of the bondage of self-centeredness and reach the promised destination of a good and spacious safe place is the will of God.
Because with God, even the impossible becomes miraculously possible again and again.
The question we must ask ourselves daily is, are we more committed to ourselves as individuals, or to each other as a holy union? As a team?
God hates divorce, the Bible says. But he doesn’t hate YOU. We must never confuse the two. He loves you and hates the hurt and the trauma that divorce causes. BUT he also hates the hurt, devastation, and trauma that a toxic, unhealthy, dysfunctional marriage can cause.
Don’t simply stay in an unhealthy marriage because you think you are pleasing God. You aren’t. You aren’t fooling anyone – neither God, your spouse, nor anyone else. The only person you are fooling is yourself.
Not divorcing shouldn’t be the goal. Simply staying married, but hating each other, and eking out a miserable existence together, shouldn’t be the goal.
To fight or to flee? That is the question with which we must wrestle. Both choices will take energy, work, effort, time, and money. Which will you choose? We can get very judgey when it comes to each others’ choices. But really, at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own holy unions. For others, we can offer help, support, guidance, and prayer. And we can invest all our energies into our own marriages as a living example to others. A light that shines like a beacon in this oftentimes dark world. And as a reminder to ourselves. That, even at our worst, we are worth fighting for, worth hoping for, worth believing the best for, worth laying our lives down for.
Also, it helps if we marry someone who is as stubbornly committed to us as we are to them.
And in this, we are a living example of how Jesus feels about each one of us. For this is the example that He Himself gave to us.
We are worth fighting for. We are worth dying for. We are worth loving, even when we are most unlovable.
How loving. How kind.
We love because He first loved us. Thanks be to God.