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1.14.2013

THE RAIN BIRD



When I was a kid there was a bird whose call my grandfather said always indicated rain was coming.  I dubbed it the rain bird from that moment on.  I still hear it today and my grandfather was correct, usually rain follows its call the next day.   I heard a bird of sorts today, a reminder of the storminess that divorce wants to bring, even after life tries to go on.

"How is it on that side of divorce?", came the question over the phone today from someone I've known for 30 years.  There was both a hint of unsaid judging and curiosity in his question.  He was a few months past his own divorce, but seemed bound by dogma, law, guilt, bitterness, and the general wandering in the desert that is associated with the end of a marriage. 

I knew he wouldn't care for my response.  It didn't jive with his black car driving very conservative way of having been raised that tended to want to make laws the ruler of grace.  "Well, you won't like my answer", I said deciding that I could be no less than truthful even if it meant walking away with a bit of flesh wounds to my heart.  "Actually, it is far better for me this side than before."  I braced myself for a bit of fundamentalism missing the grace in his comeback.  And, it came.

"How can you have a relationship with Christ doing what you did?" came the next question.  I smiled and sadly shook my head inside as I listened to him.  How do I address the real issue that seems to be the underlying cause of his conflict - grace, understanding more fully God's grace.  I knew that to change someones view of God is virtually impossible solely in a conversation with words on the phone.  Seeing grace is a journey, not an event. 

"Pete, how do you know what I did or that I did anything?  You don't know my situation, my heart or my 25 year marriage", came my response in as gentle of a way as I knew how.  Again I was faced with people's assumptions or almost gripping need to have a wrong party and a right party.  It had to be categorized.  It had to fit into a box of pre-conceived ideas we have about marriage that are sometimes colored by skewed views of God.  Then we dump on those skewed God views that as humans we despise rules but love to be the enforcers of them on others.  We are the rule police at times!

"More than that though, how could you have gotten re-married?", came the next question tagged on the end of the last one.  I took a deep breath, asking God to give me grace, to show Pete what grace felt like though my heart wearied of yet again another encounter of the divorced/grace kind.    

"I don't have all the answers Pete.  I don't know if my circumstance or situation is just like yours.  I do know this - God is far more full of grace than you or I can even imagine.  His goal is not to punish, to withhold, to retribute till the cows come home to drive the lesson in.  His one desire is to love.  To restore.  To heal.  There is nothing that can separate me from that love - nothing.  God doesn't have a set of scenarios that those things are available for and a set that they are not.  He doesn't say I will only forgive and heal if you are a victim, but not if you are a perpetrator of hurt on yourself or others.  He loves PEOPLE.  I don't have to convince you of the journey I had to take and continue to be on to find that out about God.  I don't have to justify to you why I am divorced because to do so reverts things back to the law.  And I cannot, no matter what I tell you, convince you of my standing with God as a divorced and remarried person.  You Pete, have to find that God of grace that your view of law and rules is not allowing you to see. Whether you are at fault in the divorce, partially or not at fault at all doesn't matter.  God's grace is there.  Pain is pain whether you caused it or received it innocently from someone else.  That's where the God of grace dwells."

I urged him to throw away some of what he "knew" about God and start with just the fact that God loves us and has more grace than we can understand.  Grace flies directly in the face of our humanness that's why we have to look for it.  It doesn't come easy.  Nor does it come easy to believe God is full of it for us. 

He shared his hurt of the church abandoning him during the divorce.  That was a fact I had most definitely garnered from my own experience as well.  I tried to encourage him that many a divorced person have told me that same thing.  I wondered if he caught what I was trying to indirectly point out; the thing he hated about the church during his divorce (abandonment/judgement) is just what he dealt to me today. 

I tried to encourage him that time's passage heals part of the intensity of what he was experiencing.  God's grace though covers all the rest.

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