Called to Divorce

freedom

I’ve been tossing around the concept of being called to divorce quite a lot lately. In all my percolating, I’ve managed to pound out these somewhat disconnected thoughts. I’m not sure how much sense they make, but they speak to my heart and whisper His reassuring love in my ears.


What does it mean to be called to divorce?

I don’t mean like being called to the mission field or called to preach to the unreached people groups.

I also do not mean that God causes sin or causes suffering. I don’t believe that God calls people to the “dark side”. But I do believe that God is sovereign and that He calls us to specific responses to the sin and suffering in our world. I do believe that He is the defender of the weak, the father to the fatherless, and the provider for our very sustenance. And I absolutely believe that when we are faithful to His calling toward a response, He is faithful to not only care for us but to lift us up to higher places than we had ever dreamed.

While I do not believe that God randomly calls people to divorce their spouse, I do believe that He most definitely calls people to respond to sin that drowns out the divine in the most sacred of human relationships, and sometimes that response is divorce. Not out of hatred or revenge, but out of love for God above all else and love for the spouse as a human being and brother/sister in Christ. Love for God and love for others should be the basis for everything we do, and sometimes love is tough and stern and stands its ground. It says, “You are in sin, and I cannot be a part of that.” It says, “If this is your choice, then I must hand you completely over to God. May He bring you to the end of yourself and grant you mercy and grace.” This is what I’m talking about when I say “called to divorce”.

The church, as an organized institution, has a way of taking all the individual acts in the world and throwing them into one of two columns, “Righteous” or “Evil”, and then they stick to it… you know, like in-concrete, by-the-book rules.

Killing – evil

Bible reading – righteous

Tattoos – evil

Attending church – righteous

Divorce – evil

We do this because we believe that God sees our world in black and white, and while there is some truth to that, there is also a flip side. How many times can you think of that God did something or commanded someone else to do something that we would deem absolutely evil?

God commanded Abraham to kill his son.

God commanded the Israelites to plunder and pillage and kill their way through the land of Canaan.

God commanded Hosea to marry an adulteress.

Jesus Himself broke one of the Ten Commandments when he “worked” on the Sabbath.

God, in fact, pre-ordained the murder of the world’s most innocent man.

God doesn’t  judge a single act as either inherently righteous or evil, because He sees the back story and His supreme, sovereign purpose. He sees the needs of those involved in the act… both the doers and the receivers. He sees the depths of their hearts. He sees the thought patterns in their minds. We humans do not see this so we have set for ourselves sure, hard rules because we cannot act in divine wisdom as God can.

But God has not left us to figure it all out on our own. He gave us the Spirit and His still small voice, if we would just listen. When our eyes are locked on His divine gaze of love, we have a direct connection to His divine wisdom. He gives us a peace that truly surpasses human understanding, and we can confidently act, even if the act is conventionally in the “evil” category.

Erika Morrisson, in her book Bandersnatch, ventures that there are words in our human languages that need to be seen from the divine side or “crossed over”.

“It seems that on the other side of Jesus, so many things and thoughts are the exact opposite of definitions already established…. Crossing over is the antidote to the systems and traditions of humankind and simply means that a word or idea or a value has made the journey from being defined by and rooted in the world to being defined by and rooted in Jesus…. Christ’s flesh is the gateway to understanding how the kingdom defines what it means to be a human living on this earth while bringing divine circumstances into the here and now…. But Jesus is not in competition with the earth’s terms; it’s not necessary for the earth’s terms to be wrong in order for Jesus’ to be right or vise versa. This isn’t an either-or ideological war, but rather a space to breathe in the free air of paradoxical both-and. What the earth offers just isn’t the whole story. The earth only has one-half of the paradox and Jesus has the other, and although they seem to contradict, I believe they are designed to live in tension to one another. Each gives its counterpart the integrity and brimming value of its full definition.”

What would it look like to cross over the word divorce? What if we looked at divorce in that free space of both-and?

God was adamant when he said, “I hate divorce.” He really, truly does HATE divorce. Divorce means that His perfect, beautiful plan, of one man loving his wife in purity and respect and one woman supporting and adoring her husband in love and respect, is completely broken. It means that women and children are abandoned. It means that families are ripped apart, and this completely grieves the heart of the Creator of all things good.

When the Pharisees came to Jesus asking him about divorce, He reminded them of God’s perfect and beautiful plan of a loving and respectful relationship between one man and one woman. Not satisfied, they wanted to know why Moses commanded they use a certificate of divorce. “Because your hearts were hard,” He answered them. Men were kicking out their wives over burnt toast, so God, through Moses, protected the women by requiring the men to make it legal with a certificate of divorce.

In the beginning of the world when God had created paradise, placing Adam and Eve into the gorgeous Garden of Eden, His plan was for constant companionship with His creation and for them to have human companionship with each other. But then… sin. That companionship with God and with each other was tainted. The consequence was their removal out of the sacred Garden. I think perhaps marriage is a metaphoric garden, created to be a form of perfect companionship. When that bond is tainted by unrepentant adultery, there is but one consequence… that is to be removed from the garden of marriage.

To allow the unrepentant adulterer to remain in the garden is to communicate that they can mix sin with divine, and that is just not true. Sin and divine are like oil and water. They cannot mix. The more sin in your system, the less room for divine, and if you continue to fill your vessel with sin over and over and over again, you lose your ability to hear the divine voice of the Spirit. Before you know it, you are living the life of an unbeliever, choosing the pleasures of the world over the glories of God.

In a lot of cases, you may not have a choice in the matter of divorce. When your spouse lives in the sin of adultery and chooses to leave you and continue on with someone else, what say do you have? It is that spouse who is separating and choosing to end the marriage. Paul addresses this in I Corinthians 7, and he answers, “Let it be so. You are not enslaved.” These words give me an unexplainable peace. It’s an acceptance of reality mixed with a freedom of permission. “It is what it is. Go. Be free.”

Perhaps in times like these, God wishes to split the one flesh, so that He might deal with the individual fleshes separately. He has discipline and consequences, and hopefully restoration, in line for the adulterer, but protection and provision in mind for the abandoned. This response to sin is a complicated mix of justice and mercy, and in all the aspects of God’s divine character, it is one hundred percent righteous and holy.

And so I proudly brand my forehead with the dreaded capital D for “divorced”. It is a proclamation to the world that I have been set free from a relationship created for divine but drowned by sin and am now infinitely protected and provided for by a God who loves me beyond my wildest imaginations. I am called to that freedom. I am called to that protection. I am called to that provision.

I am called to divorce.

 

 

photo credit

Bring on the Carmel (Hold the Chocolate)

Megadim_Cliff_Mount_Carmel_-1Ok, so the title is probably a bit misleading. This post has nothing to do with candy. Is it about Carmel though… Mount Carmel. You probably know the story… how Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a god competition. (If you don’t know the story, you can read it here.) I’ve always read/heard the story with the idea that those stupid people who worshipped Baal needed to be put into their place. But when the story teller at our children’s Sunday night Pioneer Club retold the story, I heard something else.

Think about this… The prophets of Baal set up a proper sacrifice. They had a nice pile of wood, plenty of burnable material. They chose a bull, cut it into pieces and laid it on the wood. That right there is barbeque waiting to happen. They just needed Baal to bring the matches.

Elijah, on the other hand,  built an altar of stone. He dug a ditch around it, placed wood on top, and laid the pieces of bull on top of that. The ditch is a little weird, but ok. We can cook on stone. Then he turns to some people and says, pour water over it all. They did. Then he said, “Do it again.” And then “Do it again.” Everything was soaked. There was so much water, it filled the ditch around the altar. If you remember, Smokey Bear teaches us that water puts out a good campfire, so I’m thinking it would be pretty darn hard to start a fire when everything is that wet.

So we have barbeque waiting to happen and an impossibly soggy pile of meat. Those prophets of Baal spent all.day.long crying to their God. “Please, just light the darn thing on fire. We’ve even set it all up for you. Just one tiny spark should do just fine.” They cut themselves and danced. I cannot imagine the amount of physical pain and weakness they went through to try to convince their god to just show up for the picnic.

When it was Elijah’s turn, he prayed a simple prayer. “You are God. Answer me, Lord, so these people will know that you are the one and only God, and that you are turning their hearts back to you.” Immediately, the entire soggy mess burst into flames. The fire burnt up the meat, the wood, the stones, the soil, and dried up all the water in the ditch. Now I was under the impression that stone and dirt don’t burn, but this time, it did. If that’s not proof that He is real, then I don’t know what is.

How many times, though, do I prepare my sacrifice, and line up my dominoes perfectly, then pray to my “gods” to make things happen? I set it all up, and then I look to my husband or to my kids or to my friends or my ego or my “set your goals and achieve your dreams”ness… or whatever to make it all happen. I get so worked up, trying everything to get the attention of these gods. I mean, come on!!! It’s a barbeque waiting to happen; just bring the darn matches already! And all I get is crickets.

And God is there the whole time, waiting for me to just stop.

I don’t have to set anything up for God. I can bring Him the absolute most impossible, and it doesn’t phase Him one single bit. He simply reaches down from heaven and proves that He is real and that He can be trusted.

God is real.

He can be trusted.

He is a master of the impossible.

 

*photo credit

When Dream Houses Implode

dreamhouse

Sometimes, it feels like God thinks my life is one big joke, as if I am but a doll in his drama filled dollhouse. I can see Him sitting up there with his two buddies, Jesus and H.G…. “Hey guys, watch this!” He snickers. Then he knocks me down the dollhouse stairs or pulls a wad of hair from my head or yanks my arm off. The threesome all laugh wickedly, then rush out of the room to play something else, leaving me lying there in a battered heap at the foot of my dream house stairway.

I thought this pink dream house was going to be everything I wanted. It was perfect. My Ken doll was perfect. Our little kid dolls were perfect. Our pink convertible was perfect. My walk in closet full of flashy outfits was perfect.

But now, the shutters are hanging loose. The front door is stuck in a half open position. We’ve lost the potted flowers that sit on the front steps. Someone has scribbled on every single floor of the house with green crayon. The beautiful portrait stickers have been peeled from the walls, leaving only ragged white scum. My perfect Ken doll now wears a permanent Sharpied frown. My little girl dolls are sporting that ugly plastic-doll-hair-stuck-straight-up look. My little boy dolls hang their faces, decorated with Sharpie freckles, out the broken window pane of the upstairs bedroom. The rows and rows of sparkling outfits hanging in the closet just collect dust, because they were made for a skinnier, sexier version of me… a version I will never be again. And me… I lay battered at the bottom of my dream house stairway, wondering how I got there.

How does everything you’ve ever wanted in life suddenly blow up in your face? Doesn’t the dream house please God? Doesn’t He want us to be content… to love the home He’s given… to love the family He’s given… to throw ourselves into that dream house with all our hearts? Doesn’t He like it when we embrace the role of wife, mother, and homemaker? I thought that’s what pleased Him.

But now, as I lay at the bottom of my dream house stairway, I hear Him say…

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.”

“What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

“Brenda, Brenda, ‘you are anxious and troubled about many things. But one thing is necessary.’ To sit at my feet.”

And the truth sinks in slowly, but warmly. I have worshipped my dream house. I have made Ken my god. I have made the kid dolls my joy. I have made my sparkling outfits my security. I lay battered at the bottom of the stairs because this dream house has let me down. I lay here because Ken is not my god, these kid dolls are not my joy, and these outfits… these skinny, little outfits… they are not my security. They have all let me down. They have not been to me what I’ve needed when I’ve needed it most.

I poured my love and my trust into them, but they could not bear it. My love and my trust is God-shaped, not doll shaped or house shaped or skinny shaped. Nothing else can receive my love and my trust except my God, because only He can be trusted, and only He can return that love in pure and steadfast volumes.

He does not demand love, because He is a selfish love hog. He commands my love, because He knows my heart, my needs, the very depths of my being, and He longs to be…

my shield

my fortress

my hope

my joy

my strength

my rock

my refuge

my deliverer

my light

my salvation

my song

my security

my helper

my resting place

my steadfast love

the upholder of my life

…my God.

Because nothing else and no one else can be all that for me.

 

When a Blogger Gets Vulnerable About Blogging

forgivenI kinda feel like an idiot admitting this out loud.

I don’t know if I can do this blogging thing. I began this blog with a nice, steady line of five dead blogs behind me. I tend to pour myself into a project and then wane off. I guess it’s just what I do. Start and never finish.

But I guess I feel like this blog is different. It’s not just any old blog filled with randomness that occasionally hits the mom blog world in a buzz for a few days (or years as the busy bag craze did). This is me. This is my passion. It’s what I’ve done (unknowingly) all my life.

Think deep. Write. Reach out to those who need some deepness. Hide from the crowd, but single out one person whom I can inspire.

I want to be this, live this, on a large scale. I want to impact a scattered community across the world.

I want to be what I write. I want to write what I am. And I want what I write to inspire women everywhere to love who they are.

Then why would I slack off? Why would both quantity and quality go downhill so fast on a project I embrace with my whole heart?

The same reason I have yet to reach my health goals. The same reason I reach for frozen pizza at times. The same reason I drive a dented, starting to rust minivan. The same reason I just now looked at my clock and sighed.

The reality of the moment screams louder than dreams and ambitions.

Kids wake up too early. Breakfast needs served. Morning chores need done. School needs taught. Preschoolers have melt downs. Morning snack time is demanded by little hungry bellies who woke up too soon and ate breakfast too early. More school needs taught.

Lunch needs served. Someone spills their water all over the schoolbooks. More school needs taught. Kids need non-school attention. The dishes need done. The laundry needs rotated. There’s ants crawling under the dining room table. Close friends and family need to be called, texted, chatted with. Kids fight.

Dinner needs cooked. Husband works late. Dinner needs served. Dinner needs cleaned up. Kids need prepped for bed. Bills need paid. There’s not enough money to go around. Brain free relaxation with the husband is beyond needed. Sleep calls your name.

Where does passion and life ambition fit in there?

(Yes, I know. We could talk about finding passion in the calling to motherhood. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.)

We’re trying to get our finances in order right now… you know, the good ol’ student loans, groceries, fuel, everyday needs, mortgage stuff. It’s quite apparent that, without a raise in income, it’s just not going to work.

Christmas this year will be significantly less materially than the past ones (not a bad thing, by any means). But that means most gifts will be homemade. T.I.M.E

I’ve been searching for ways to bring in an income. That’s another thing on the plate. Gotta research. Gotta do the actual work. Gotta market. T.I.M.E.

Well why not just make money blogging? The top, number one reason is: I never want the goal of this blog to be for financial gain. If it happens, that’s fine. But that’s not its purpose. But also, making money off blogging (especially with this type of blog) takes many months, sometimes years. That’s not soon enough.

So if I’ve got the everyday realities of existence and motherhood… plus Christmas gifts to make… plus income to create… how does my piddly little “impact the world” dream even begin to matter? In the right now, it doesn’t even fit.

There are so many women out there who run tremendous blogs and shout “you can too!” There are a bagzillion ebooks on the steps to successful blogging with promises of great success. But I’m here to say…

In the daily realities of life, blogging is just a computer sitting on a desk. In the daily realities of life, dreams are just lofty thoughts in the sky.

And this… this is why I wonder if I should even be blogging.

 

*photo credit (recycling a photo from a previous post because there’s no time for a new one)

Music Monday, er… Tuesday: Just Be Me

just be meLaura StoryJust Be Me

(listen on Spotify or Godtube)

I’ve been doing all that I can
To hold it all together, piece by piece
I’ve been feeling like a failure
Trying to be braver
Than I could ever be
It’s just not me

So be my hero, be my comfort
Be my peace
Cause I can be broken
I can be needy, Lord I need you now
To be, be my God
So I can just believe

I’ve been living like an orphan
Trying to belong here
But it’s just not my home
I’ve been holding on so tightly
To all the things that I think
Will satisfy my soul
But I’m letting go

So be my father, my mighty warrior
Be my king
Cause I can be scattered, forever shattered
Lord I need you now to be
Be my God so I can just be me

Cause I was lost
In this dark world
Till I was finally found in you
So now I’m needing, desperately pleading
Oh Lord be all to me

So be my Savior, be my lifeline
Won’t you be my everything?
Cause I’m so tired
Of trying to be someone
I was never meant to be
Be my God, please
Be my God so I can just be me
So I can just be me
I can just be me

 

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” And so we try. We try to be strong. We try to be brave. We try to find a solution. We try to work the plan. We try to smile. We try not to be needy.

And we fail. We stumble. We fall. We crumble under it all.

“I just can’t do it anymore, God!”

“You were never meant to, my Love. I am your God. Let me be strong and brave. Let me work out my plan. Let me be God. And you just be you – who I created you to be. Trust. Rest.”

When life gives you lemons, hand them to God.

Give the lemons to God

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:6,7).

________________________________________________________________

In the conservative circle in which I grew up, contemporary Christian music was not allowed. After marrying, I began to listen to a CCM radio station. Much of my spiritual growth since then can be attributed to the many CCM artists and the songs they write. There is truth in those words and power in their music.

If music means as much to you as it does to me, you might want to check out Spotify. This music program allows you to search for particular songs and save them to playlists, allowing you to listen to your music whenever you wish. Best yet, it’s free. (It will require you to download their music program to your computer, but I promise it will not download any junk.) You can find all the songs highlighted in Music Mondays at the Recovered Identity Spotify playlist.

 

*photo credits: savannah, lemons

How the Search for Myself is Changing Our Parenting

mykidletsThat night as I held my new born baby for the first time, I never dreamed parenting would be so complicated. What’s so hard about feeding a baby, changing diapers, and teaching a child to obey?

I found the baby and toddler years to be fairly easy. Exhausting, but not complicated. You teach the child to eat well, sleep well, play well, and listen well.

Then it hit… those preschool years when they’re three and four. And suddenly, they’re not typical toddlers anymore. They’re their very own bundle of person with their own desires, own feelings, own will, and own mind. And by golly, they’re going to use them to their greatest benefit. This is where things got a little shakey for me.

How do you validate your child’s own personality, feelings, and will, while teaching the important concept of authority? Especially when you’re so adverse to the very word: authority. Quite honestly, I still hate the word.

I floundered along as each of my four children passed through this stage. I doubted. I hesitated. I second guessed. Sometimes I was strict. Sometimes lenient. But mostly just so darn confused. I guess I thought if I could just manage to make it through that stage, the next one would be easier.

I know. I laugh at myself too. There’s no such thing as parenting getting easier. But I think there just might be such a thing as parenting getting smarter and kinder.

With my husband’s help, I’ve spent several month evaluating my parenting. Why the doubt and aversions?

And you know what I found? The worst part of my entire childhood was that I had no personal identity. I obeyed because my mom said to. If I didn’t, bad things happened. My mother’s parenting was about conformity and control. I’m sure she meant well and did the best she knew how, but it’s not what I wanted for my kids.

Turns out I was opposed to various parenting methods, because I felt so many of them focused solely on conformity and not on guiding your child into finding and loving the person they were created to be while mastering respect and responsibility.

As I’ve learned to love who I am, I’ve realized that my children are incredible creatures of tremendous powers and abilities. Who am I to steal that from them?

parenting

I began to realize that parenting isn’t about “authority”; it’s about education. It’s not about rules and consequences; It’s about presentation, repetition, and practice. We are teachers, not dictators.

We teach them life skills (respect and responsibility) the same way we would teach them motor skills or educational skills. We present the lesson through our conversations, our activities, and by example. Then we rinse and repeat a thousand times, and practice, practice, practice. Cause that’s how the human brain learns.

These days, my husband and I travel a new parenting journey together. We punish hardly ever and teach mostly always. And our home is happier because of it.