Divorce and the church are odd bed fellows.  An even odder one when you were in the pastorate for 25 years.   My divorce lent itself to sometimes strange and isolating, even judgmental responses from those within the church.   I have talked with other divorced persons, believers who have been part of a church during a divorce, and they have had similar experiences.  God, and culture, might be forcing churches to really take a hard look at their response to divorce within the confines of their own walls and, within the broader Church of Jesus Christ in general.   I have had to look at my own view of God, church, humanity, struggle and divorce.   Divorce it appears within the church is either marked as a spiritual win if you stay married, or a complete spiritual failure if you divorce.  There have been only a handful of people in my life, and within the church, who have stood beside me in this experience of divorce.  Those few that I have let into this journey have shared my pain, discoveries, listened to my irreverence, given me space when I needed it, drank wine and laughed with me, let me cry, encouraged and ultimately shared the wonder of me finding a soul connecting magical love.  I have had former congregants turn a cold shoulder to me either from not knowing what to do or say or out of judgment.  I've had some call or email and want information or to ask and say things like, "So how do you have a relationship with God now?"  My response to that absurd and absolutely NOT Biblically correct train of questioning was, "God loves me deeply and I still love him and commune with Him."  Others have asked questions that I have not answered as I am moving on and really it is not their business.  Maybe having been in the pastorate makes people feel like they have the right or a relationship with me that warrants, even  justifies either their judgment or questions.  It does not.  When getting divorced my ex husband and  I decided to not trash each other - out of respect for the other and because of our great love for our daughter and son-in- law.   It was a mutual decision to divorce and end the marriage, a decision steeped for years in the making.    It was not easy, sudden or flippantly made.  In an email from a friend from the last church we served, she stated, "I hate that people view you (and not my ex) as the bad guy."   Hmmmm, I thought, that was news to me how a joint decision makes me the bad guy.  I have had to work through letting go of what others think as I cannot control it or win - even what my ex may be saying to others after the fact.    I have found comfort in immersing myself into seeing more deeply God's love relationship with my humanity, with King David, with Abraham, with the disciple Peter and on and on - really with all of humankind.  I think when I struggle, hurt, and lack God dwells even more fully and intimately.  Grace has been a deep and rich, and at times a hard companion, but ultimately a source of freedom and joy throughout my life.  I want it to continue to mark who I am.  I am part of The Church.

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