September 27, 2013
There. I said it.
I have worn the scarlet letter “D” around my neck now for several years. It is a word I never expected attached to my name. In fact, I never believed I would ever wear the title of divorcee. When I was young, I wanted so badly to do what God wanted me to do. I wanted to be who He wanted me to be and go where He wanted me to go. I wanted it so much. I just did not know how to be still and listen and so here I am today. Divorced.
After sixteen years of marriage and five beautiful children, my marriage ended. I found myself a single mom of five with no job. After fifteen years of being a devoted stay at home mom, I had to figure out how to provide for six people on my own. My identity as wife had vanished and now become my past. The scarlet letter “D” hung so large and disgusting around my neck and it defined me.
To this day, I still do not know if I had biblical grounds for divorce. One Christian counselor told me yes while my pastor told me no. It was repeatedly shared that I no longer wanted to be married to my husband and was looking for a way out. Anyone who knew me knew that was not my heart’s desire. I felt dirty and sinful. I was cast aside. Even though in my situation I knew my children were suffering in the environment in which they were living, I could not see how I could walk away from a commitment that I had made before God so many years earlier.
The struggle of finding oneself after divorce in the church is incredibly difficult. To find healing and restoration is even more difficult. I went to church. I wanted comfort and direction. More times than I can count I left feeling discouraged and hurt from simple comments made by pastors about “divorced people.” The feelings of inadequacy grew into a pile that covered me with such weight that I could not breath at times. I would slowly attempt to dig my way out of the rubble and just as I would begin to see some light someone else was there to remind me that divorce is a sin and that it disqualified me from ministry. Again, the pile would begin to grow. The cycle continued repeatedly of the digging, climbing and clearing of the horror and humiliation by those well meaning Christians in my life.
We all have regrets. We all deal with shame and guilt. We all have sinned.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Romans 3:23
We all deserve death.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
We all suffer with moments of guilt and shame because of choices made in our past. However God loves us so incredibly much that He showed His love to us while we were still sinners.
But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8
I am now remarried and still find myself suffering from moments of guilt. At the present moment, we are going through a sermon series at our church called Solutionary. We are learning that we all need to be part of the solution of sharing the gospel. Last Sunday after church, my husband and I sat and talked about what plans God may have in store for us. Where HE would have us go next in our lives together. My husband and I both suffer from the stigma that comes from wearing the scarlet letter of Divorce. My husband used to be a pastor. My husband was once married. You cannot go too many places where you do not hear someone say, “How sad. He will never be able to minister again because he is divorced.” It is sickening but it is something that I have heard so many times that I truly reached a place where I believed it.
We both have broken pasts and are unusable. The shame of it all.
I want it known how incredibly thankful I am for my church. It is not the same church I attended when my marriage fell apart. It is only by God's grace that I found the church I currently attend. If it were not for this church, I would not have learned that I still have a purpose and God can still use my life for His glory. One of the things I have learned from my pastor is that guilt and shame are not from God. Satan is the accuser of believers. He is the source of our feelings of guilt and shame.
One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the accuser Satan, came with them. Job 1:6
Satan wants nothing more than for us to suffer with feelings of guilt and shame. He wants us to be so paralyzed by our past regrets and choices that we cannot move forward. His mission is to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life that Jesus came to give us. (John 10:10) We cannot enjoy the satisfying life if we allow ourselves to wallow in guilt and shame. When we give Christ the throne of our lives, the Holy Spirit comes to reign within our hearts. He convicts us when we sin but His goal is not to shame but instead, lead us to repent of our sin so that we may walk in obedience with God. Once we repent, God remembers our sins no more; however, Satan WILL continue to remind you!
Throughout my struggles of dealing with guilt and shame, I have had to learn how to combat the lies of Satan with the Truth of God’s word.
Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “you are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
As I have learned to focus on God’s voice and not the voice of the accuser, I am finding that His truth frees me from the burden of guilt and shame. What does His truth say about me?
He says that I am:
A child of God
But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become the children of God.
I am chosen, holy and blameless before God
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in His eyes.
I am righteous and holy
Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy.
Christ is my life and I will be revealed with Him in glory
And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole word, you will share in all His glory.
God loves me and has chosen me
We know, dear brothers and sisters, that God loves you and has chosen you to be his own people.
1 Thessalonians 1:4
I am redeemed and forgiven by the grace of Jesus Christ
He is so rich in kindness and grace that He purchased our freedom with the blood of His Son and forgave our sins.
As I continue to walk ahead in my journey with the Lord, He calls me to let go of my past and look to Him to redeem it.
But the Lord will redeem those who serve Him. No one who takes refuge in Him will be condemned.
My past happened. It is done. I cannot change what has happened. I cannot go back and make things different. We all have a past, we all have sin and we all deserve death. Thank God and His amazing grace that He remembers my sin no more! He has taken it and thrown it as far as the east is from the west.
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
When God looks at me, He does not see my sin. Instead, He sins the righteousness of Christ. He sees His child washed by the blood of the Lamb, whole and pure. If He forgives me than I must let go the feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy and acknowledge who I truly am in Him.
I have to remember that there will always be people out that who will continue to condemn me for my past but it will be my choice to tune them out and choose to listen to God’s voice instead.
Who dares accuse those who God has chosen for Himself? NO one- for God Himself has given us right standing with Himself. Who then will condemn us? NO one- for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
Unfortunately, I still run into people who make it their duty to point out my failures and regrets. However, I am learning to live for an audience of ONE! I live for the approval of God and not man. I am becoming more and more confident in my standing with Christ and I am choosing to walk with my head held high. As they condemn, I walk away and ask God to make my righteousness shine like the dawn and the justice of my cause like the noonday sun! (Psalm 37:6) I ask Him to be my defender and protector. I ask Him to cover me from the accusing words of others.
The past happened to me but I choose the impact that it will have on my future. I can choose to wear the chains of guilt and shame or I can ask God to redeem my past and use it all for His glory!
But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He calls you out of darkness into His wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
My scarlet is letter is “D,” but perhaps you have a different letter hanging around your neck. Maybe it is an “A” for adultery or addiction. Maybe it is a “G” for gossip or greed. Maybe it is a “P” for pornography or pride. An “I” for insecurity or “J” for judgmental. Regardless of your sin, regardless of the guilt, God is your only true answer.
I am divorced but I am no longer defined by the scarlet letter of shame. Instead, I choose to see myself as whole, forgiven and loved. I choose to wear the title of Child of the One true King!
July 24, 2013
We all have a story to tell. Everyone has experienced their fair share of hurt and struggles. We have all been there. What separates us from it all is how we handle our experiences and how we choose to move on. Question is…will we move on?
It is so easy when we have been hurt to hold on. We struggle to let go. We continue to tell the same sad story over and over to ANYONE who will listen. ANYONE who will tell us what we want to hear in order to feel better. We wallow around in self-pity feeling sorry for ourselves asking why it is that everyone else in the world seems happy. We become resentful and bitter. We are without hope.
Back in the day there was a song by R.E.M, Everybody Hurts that played on the radio. I am not a particular fan of the song but the words play in my head a lot when I am feeling down.
When your day is long
And the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, we’ll hang on
Don’t let yourself go
Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes
When the reality hits that you are not the only person in the history of the world to experience pain life changes. When you grab hold of the reality that trials and struggles happen not only for a reason but also to everyone…hope enters.
You see pain is pain. The pain you experience is no different from the pain that I experience. Whatever the situation we find ourselves in at the moment we think that no one else could ever understand our pain but the truth is that we are not alone. People all over the world are in the middle of their own crisis dealing with their own pain. So what do we do with that pain? What do we do with the struggles and trials we are experiencing?
I believe that struggles and trials help to develop who we are. How we handle the worst moments in our life mold us into whom we ultimately become. I believe they help to shape our character. I believe they help to grow our faith. I believe we learn from our struggles so that we can help others. I believe we exist for a purpose other than ourselves. I believe we were created for Someone else. I believe we were created for God and I believe He created each of us with a purpose.
God created us for His glory. We exist for Him alone.
For through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see- such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him.
The problem is that many do not know or understand this concept. We forget or do not know that this life is not about us. We do not exist for our own story. We exist for God’s story. We are nothing but a bunch of sinful screw-ups who struggle to live a life worthy of bringing glory to a Holy God. We do not deserve to be a part of His story but because of His merciful grace, He allows us a small part.
As a part of His story, I am of the belief that God allows struggles into our lives so that we can come to a place where we acknowledge our need for Him. A need that requires having faith in who He is and His promises. For me struggles have become the moments when I experience Him moving in my life the most. It is when I experience His presence the greatest because it is when I lean on Him the most. When I am hurting, when I am scared, when I am uncertain about life He is the One I turn to. I have learned that He is the One who will lead me out of the struggle safely. He gives us unlimited opportunities to choose Him over our own way and we often fail. He knows that we are a work in progress but allows the bad in order to accomplish His good when we trust Him. It is a testing of our faith in Him. As we go through life and struggles and acknowledge Him in our life, we begin to trust Him more through the bad times. When we begin to trust Him and surrender to His plans for our life, we bring Him glory.
Life is difficult. Life will never be perfect. Life should not be traveled alone. God created each of us with a purpose and a plan. He does have a perfect plan for us all but because of sin we get it wrong. Constantly. The good news is that no matter what is happening, whether good or bad, He is there. He is there to lead if we are willing to acknowledge. He is willing to comfort and heal if we are willing to let go. It just becomes a matter of changing our perspective and seeing our trials as His way of drawing us closer to Him. Acknowledge Him…it is a beautiful thing.
June 4, 2013
All Things New...: My Husband used to be a pastor- Part 2: All of this is for your benefit. And as God's grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will rec...
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