My parents divorced when I was 15. In Malachi 2:16, we are reminded that God hates divorce (NKJV). I can totally resonate with the reasoning given, “For it covers one’s garment with violence.” Tearing apart what God has joined together is a violent thing. Violent for more than just the husband and wife. We should all hate divorce. And yet, it is a painful reality in a sinful world.
John Greco hates divorce. And he loved his wife. He tried to love her enough to stay. But she didn’t. Just before they were about to move and Greco was going to assume his dream job position as an associate pastor, his wife hits him with the brick. She was having an affair, wasn’t going to stop, and was divorcing him. He lost the two things in life he held dear, his wife and his new position in the church. Greco says this, “It’s easy to believe all things will work for good when it’s someone else’s life that’s falling apart, but when it’s your own its hard to envision a future without the daily struggle” (19).
Christians get divorced too. And it is truly devastating.
As a child of divorce, I could resonate with many of the same emotions and struggles that Greco went through. I too had trouble with my identity after divorce. Before the divorce, my family was admired by others. After the divorce, we were all just broken. Violently broken. Before the divorce, I upheld virtues such as purity and fidelity. After the divorce, I felt like I was sold a lie. It was almost like a rape to my own purity. Our family was damaged goods. My Christian parents who could do no wrong in my eyes were now. getting. divorced.
It’s a very finalizing word. A public proclamation of failure and humiliation. Many going through it do not want the divorce. And what child wants to be a product of divorced parents?
Those going through it have many questions for God. Why me? Why this? Greco reminds us, “But God doesn’t owe us an explanation” (44). Although he had to endure a divorce that he didn’t want and lose his dream job because of it, Greco warns that “there’s a thin line between innocence and victimhood” (45). He came to understand that his divorce and loss of his job were the very things that God was using for his sanctification, and this helped him to deal with the continuous pain. He puts it like this:
But if our greatest hurts are really the wounds left by life-saving surgeries intended by God to bring about something truly wonderful, we don’t have to clutch our pain so tightly. (23)
The author gives a series of “movements,” or encouragements that helped him in the process of forgiveness and healing. These were familiar to me, because I had to go through many of the same realizations as a child of divorce. They were all good, but the one most difficult for me not only as a child of divorce, but in past offences that I’ve needed to forgive was, “Be wronged to the glory of God” (65). Greco boldly says, “Walking through pain is not about justice” (65). This is a hard truth, but it is truly liberating. When I realized this, things became beautiful for me again, especially my great Savior.
Christians get divorced too. And it is horrible. Oftentimes friends, family, and church members don’t know how to help. Sometimes divorced Christians are treated like leprosy in biblical times. That’s why I really appreciate how Greco shows us how the gospel is applied in even this devastation. He shows that while God’s purpose in marriage is to make us more like his Son, God can also use our sin and our divorce to do the same. “God’s purposes are not thwarted just because my marriage ended, and they’re not thwarted because of any other hardship, heartache, or hang-up we may walk through” (77-78). The author proudly declares, “Who I am because of the gospel became the most precious thing in the world to me…This identity disarms every insecurity and doubt because it loudly declares the truth about who God is and what he has done for us” (79).
This book will help those going though a divorce, as well as those who have never been able to move past the pain of their divorce. It will also be beneficial for friends to read, as they can learn a little about what they are going through and how to offer gospel encouragement. Now I am really sorry that there isn’t a book like this for children of divorce. The brief, well-organized format of Cruciform Press books would lend well to even young readers. There are some issues and stresses that a child of divorce goes through that are different from what the spouses endure.
Broken vows hurt so much because we were created by a covenant-keeping God. It is in our DNA, per se, to operate under covenants. Thankfully, our great God keeps his promises. He is faithful and he is good. This we can cling to.