This morning I was sipping on my usual cup of coffee just beginning my day as consciously as I can, when I stumbled upon an article, “What the Divorced Christian Wants You to Know”.
As I read the article an old familiar road block started to take over my insides as I reflected with an agreeing nod upon my own past experience as a divorced woman. Divorce is a hard thing to experience in this life. No one that I have ever met goes into a marriage with a conscious decision to someday divorce. Most women have high hopes for love, security, sense of family, and dedication. We are created in this world with the instinct to “couple”, and I believe that instinct is in all women whether that life choice is made or not.
I remember a time when I was seeking my first ordination and my admittance to seminary. I was very passionate about seeking and serving the God I have come to love and respect. The task was not as easy as I thought it would be in light of the belief I held that everyone should have the opportunity to serve God. Much to my dismay I learned that “I was divorced” by many organizations not to mention I was a divorced “woman”. I was coming up against a double hitter of rejection there. I did eventually find a ministerial organization who took me in as a divorced woman and gave me the blessing of theological education and also ordination. An opportunity to marry my Lord in an official way was not one I took lightly divorced or not. The situation begged to answer the question, “Am I less worthy to serve God because I am divorced”? This is not just an isolated incident. Later on in life when I was seeking my Master’s Degree in Christian counseling I was also rejected by a Christian university for the same reason.
Allow me to enlighten any of you who really desire to know about divorce and the process. Not only do we not go into a marriage with the idea of divorce on our minds, but who on earth would even purposely want that grief? Divorce is a loss and a very deep grief, no matter how much we might feel we need the process at the time. A divorced woman (or any person for that matter) has been grieving all along. A marriage does not just end, it has been in a process of ending. The process of coming to the final decision of divorce is a very difficult one. Then after all is said and done there is a grief period afterward as well. We allow grief time for most losses in this world but not many recognize the grief process in divorce. We grieve not just the marriage, but connected family, future possibilities, and also our hopes and dreams we have worked hard for. It is a severing of the physical things in this world and the soulful.
I’ve said all of this to state, “please be compassionate to the divorced woman”. For heaven’s sake, accept her and empower her to continue and finish strong. If you have never experienced divorce, kudos to you! What a blessing to never have to endure the grieving and loss that divorce causes. If you can’t empower her, at least give her the benefit of the doubt. No one ever knows the inner workings of another person’s relationship. That divorced woman in front of you might have endured severe abuse. Do we really want to abuse her more by rejecting her? I hope not. Don’t deny her the ability to better herself, but in fact, give to her a hand up in this world. She does not want your pity either. Offer her your compassion instead. I know whomever she is, she will love you for it!
Rev Jenine Marie Howry
“A divorced, and remarried, empowered woman”
**Image found on www.colourbox.com