catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 15 :: 2005.07.29 — 2005.09.08


The death of a marriage

There was no ceremony for the death of my marriage. There was no casket in which to place the dreams and ideals I had held so close for so long. There were no mourners to shed tears with me as I said goodbye to the last of my hope. There was no ritual way of asking for forgiveness, for experiencing forgiveness, for being released from my vows. Nor was there much attention paid to the process of divorce?and all of the pain and anger and humiliation it added to the weight of my soul. There was no ceremony when my marriage was buried.

There was only pain and loss and anger and grief. It wasn?t my intent to be divorced. Almost no one gets married expecting they will get divorced. No matter what the circumstances, divorce tears through layers of trust, community and security in ways that can reshape the very core of our faith and of our sense of who we are.

In this day and age no one is immune to the impact of divorce. 50% of marriages now end in divorce. 61% of second marriages have the same end. Our parents, our brothers and sisters, our children and our friends form relationships that end in divorce. We grieve the loss of people in our lives, the loss of relationships we had come to rely on. Sometimes we even blame ourselves for the breakdown and our failure to make it all better for the ones we love. Other times we struggle with feelings of disconnection and betrayal that people and relationships aren?t what we thought they were. We mourn and grieve that the reality we knew has shattered.

And God grieves with us. Divorce is never God?s intent for our marriages. Our God calls us into relationship with God, with each other and with all of creation. Whenever any of those relationships are broken it is due to our flawed humanity and not according to God?s divine will. Marriages do break, and when they are broken, divorce is the legal and public recognition of that already broken relationship. As people who worship a God of relationship, we do not enter into divorce lightly. We realize the seriousness and the anguish of such a decision. We count the costs for ourselves and for others who will also be affected by our choices.

And after careful consideration, when the effects of continuing a marriage are found to be more destructive to our welfare than ending it, we choose divorce, the lesser of the evils in a fallen and imperfect world. We mourn and grieve that things cannot be the way God would have them be, but we also know in making that choice that we can rely upon God?s unfailing grace.

It is that grace that sustains us in our grief and it is the promise of the resurrection story that gives us hope that we too will live anew. For our God is an amazing healer and an intimate lover who does not abandon us in our need.

The losses will always be a part of us, but we are people of the good news. And that good news is that we need not grieve as those without hope. When we can claim God?s grace and forgiveness and when we can move to a place of being graceful and forgiving, then we find a healing and a wholeness we never knew before.

I have shared some of my high school poetry before and you may recall that it stunk. There is another poem I wrote in high school that I think is pretty good. I wrote it upon the breaking of a relationship?not a divorce but about the equivalent in the mind of a teenage. I wrote it but I don?t think I really lived it until years later. It goes like this:

Alone, but that?s okay
What better time and what better way
To discover myself
And the needs I possess
And here in myself
Find the faith to confess
That at times I am weak
Though I always survive
Alone but alive
And I?m totally free
Which allows me the chance
To be totally me
And in self awareness
I?m sure I will find
That half of my heartaches
Were all in my mind
And the things I have lost
Have just been misplaced
So the time I spend now
Is far from a waste
You see I?ll get to know me
And like myself too
And when that finally happens
Then I can love you.

Sometimes it is only in our loneliness that we are able to find ourselves. It is in our pain that we can heal. It is in our mourning that we find joy. In doubt that we find faith. In sickness that we are restored to health. And it is in death that we are reborn.

There are times when it all seems too much to bear. Our world falls apart. There are times when it might seem easier to surrender to the worry and the pain and the loneliness. In the death of a marriage, we experience our own dying. But the good news is that our grief is never the last word to be spoken in the stories of our lives. Our grief is never the last word to be spoken in the stories of our lives. Our grief is never the last word to be spoken in the stories of our lives. In the end, there is always a new beginning. The darkness of the tomb becomes the comfort of the womb as God continues to love and to care for us. Eventually we can dare to begin to hope and to dream once more. The gift is that after the storm there is a peace and it is a deeper and more intense peace than we have known before.

Freed from what has been, we can begin to move toward what is yet to be. Freed from our sense of brokenness we can reach out in love, compassion and hope toward others who are broken.

In John we are told that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. When we embrace God, he keeps our pilot light burning until the day when our joy can blaze again.

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