Why is it improper to tell someone what they should truly be doing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
In continuing this series, I want to remind everyone that this is not saying anything about the intentions of people who say these things. When they are said, I fully think they are normally said with good intentions. However, they are usually not a salve to the pain of a person going through divorce, but if anything, they can actually make it worse.
So what is intended by this?
Someone can say that now that the person is single again, they can focus on that relationship with God. Didn’t Paul say he wished that everyone was as he is with the ability to be single? Isn’t this a great time to get one-on-one with God then and work on that walk with Him? What more could you desire?
Why it’s wrong:
First off, this doesn’t apply really to divorced people. Everyone needs to work on their relationship with God. Married people, single people who have never married, widowed people, and divorced people all need to work on their relationship with God. For some reason, the divorced person is being singled out this time.
Part of the problem is that it can often come with the idea that if the divorced person desires anything else, such as a new relationship, then they have the improper focus. They need to turn to God. How could they want anything else?
Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work like that. Go look at the Garden of Eden. If anyone had the chance for a one-on-one relationship with God, it was Adam. No sin in the world. Adam was free.
And yet it was not good. He was alone.
Wait. Wasn’t God there with him? How could he be alone?
You know, it might be a bit dangerous here, but I think if God says it’s not good, I’m just going to agree with Him. God decided man needed something else. Man needed an earthly companion.
And some of us who are divorced long for that companion again too. Of course, you could point to pure sexual desire, and that’s certainly a part of it, but there’s something else too. I miss driving and having her by my side and especially if it was rough weather, she was an extra set of eyes for me. I hate going to bed at night and realizing I’m sleeping alone. I hate not having someone there who is watching me play games or who I can turn on YouTube videos and laugh with. I hate how many jokes I used to have with her that made me laugh now only bring me pain.
It would be a lie to say I don’t miss the physical aspects of our relationship, but it would be just as much a lie to say that’s all that I miss. It’s okay to say that you miss the physical aspects of interaction with another human body. We’re Christians after all, not Gnostics. We don’t see the body as a bad thing.
We can often look at the Psalms and see how the Psalmist says he desires nothing but God. Should that really be literal language? The Psalmist doesn’t desire to sleep when he goes to bed at night? He doesn’t have a longing for food? He doesn’t have a desire to go to the bathroom? Of course, the Psalmist is speaking in hyperbolic terms.
A divorced person should readily agree there. The desire for God should be greater than all other desires, but it’s foolish to say that those other desires don’t exist. For a divorced person, they have had many of these good benefits of a unique relationship ripped from them without their consent and are floundering wondering what their future holds.
When we hear we need to work on our relationship with God, we often think that all our other desires are being treated like they don’t matter. They do. It is not saying they have to be fulfilled, though that is desirable for many, but they can be there. Now there are some divorced people who have no desire for a new relationship, and that’s fine, but many do.
Sometimes, there can also be a hidden accusation here and this depends on the situation. It can be implied, “If God had been your main relationship, this wouldn’t have been taken away from you.” At those times, it can also look like God is the one who took away the person’s beloved.
This definitely does not help a divorced person. I said in my first post on this to imagine saying something like this to a Christian couple trying to conceive a child. What would be gained by telling them that instead of focusing on a child, they need to work on their relationship with God? Would you want to imply the reason they are not having success in achieving pregnancy is because they are not focused enough on God?
This adds to the problem by saying the divorced person is the one directly responsible for their own suffering. They neglected God and God let them have it by taking away the person they loved. I doubt many people would come out and directly say it this way, but that is the way it can come across.
So now let’s talk about what to say instead.
Last time, I said to be the love of God to the person instead of telling them about it and I think the same applies here. Be that person who walks with the one who is suffering. Want them to work on their relationship with God? Often to do a book study with them on a book of the Bible or maybe a good Christian book on recovering from divorce.
This is also why groups like DivorceCare are so helpful. People who are going through divorce can meet with others who are doing the same. We can all share our sufferings and questions together and yes, have a lot of laughs as well as we form friendships together.
If a person wants a new relationship, that’s also not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a natural desire for many of us to not want to be alone. There’s no need to just automatically pour cold water on the idea. Now you can talk with them and ask them how ready they are and give them your assessment, but be fair and listen to them. If they express desires, don’t get after them for it. Just listen to them about it.
Everyone needs to work on their relationship with God. Saying it to someone going through divorce can often leave them with guilt and can be very uncaring. Lead by example. Show how you are working on your relationship and guide the person in their walk with God.
Be Jesus to them instead of just talking about Him with them.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)