Thursday, April 24, 2014
Despite the warm and loving support of family and friends, few truly understood what was happening to me. Deep spiritual questions plagued me. When I married, I believed that it was God’s will for me to be in this relationship for life. Was I wrong? Had I failed God? Could it be God’s will that a marriage end? What did God want of me now? There were few people with whom I could discuss such questions. I couldn’t share the yawning grief that would suddenly bloom when I stumbled on my husband’s handwriting scribbled in the margin of a book. I couldn’t explain the persistent questions about who I was without my spouse. And I couldn’t describe how I was wrangling with God and questioning my faith. The spiritual isolation was profound.It goes on like this for quite a while. It is quite moving and justifiably so. But, and this is a big but, the word "I" dominates it like the Cascades dominate the landscape of the northwest. Not to mention the fact that it never attempt to find an objective viewpoint. Ms. Call seems concerned only with herself and her feelings, never once are questions of forces greater than herself or those who share her experience considered.
Over time I met and spoke with other people of faith who were divorced, and I began to wonder if there were parts of this experience that we held in common. Were any of the spiritual struggles the same? How did divorce affect their understanding of God? Was it possible to grow spiritually through divorce? My investigation into these questions led me to research and write about divorce.
I considered the role of clergy and congregations in the process of a member’s divorce. How could congregations reach out to and embrace those going through divorce? What could clergy learn from hearing the diverse voices of those who had been down this road? They receive little seminary training for the spiritual and theological questions that arise from divorce. In my case, I learned more from speaking with those involved in divorce. Their struggles, questions and stories, along with my own experience and reflections, helped me see my role as a pastor more clearly.
As Christians we are called to balance all these matters. Yes, we have to seek our one health and happiness, but we are also simultaneously and equally duty-bound.
I understand divorce - I have even counseled friends to seek it. But any discussion of it must include both the personal and the objective. IF we make it all about us we have missed the gospel altogether.