Yesterday the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, and best-selling author Lysa Terkeurst announced her intended divorce from her husband of almost 25 years. Her blog post titled: Rejection, Heartbreak, and A Faithful God tore my heart out as I read an all too familiar story of abandonment. Her husband rejected their marriage. He turned his back on vows they made and promises they whispered and a life they built.
This is more than some joe-schmo on the street announcing plans to pursue a divorce; this is a well-respected, highly successful, Christian woman and New York Times best-selling author of Uninvited, The Best Yes, Unglued, and Made to Crave. Her ministry serves thousands of women world-wide. She lives under the constant scrutiny of Christians far and wide.
I'm so thankful that Lysa is known for her transparency. For getting real about how life is hard. How life is hard, even with our great God on your side. How you can't control the actions of others, no matter how tightly your fist is clenched.
In 2015 Lysa wrote a devotional for Proverbs 31 Ministries titled: When Your Husband Has Given Up. She teaches several lessons about how to respond in the midst of a betrayal that will never be right.
Here are 3 things I believe Lysa would have us take away from her brave and painful, public admission as well as her devotional from 2015.
1. We cannot control the actions of others: Sometimes your husband gives up. Sometimes he walks away and doesn't even try. Sometimes he goes to counseling (like Lysa's husband) but he refuses to give up sinful behaviors that are grounds for "Biblical" divorce. This is not something you can change by praying enough or loving enough or begging enough. Lysa fought for her marriage. I fought for mine. But God will not force His people to make right choices. Only you can chose to make right choices for yourself.
Lysa states in her 2015 article:
"But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation and help you fix this relationship."
Sometimes they don't wake up. Sometimes you panic and they walk away as if your whole life was a series of lies that you're just now catching up to. You cannot control them. Runaway trains cannot be stopped. Sometimes you have to grasp your broken heart, jump out of the way, and let the train continue storming down the tracks to its inevitable, dangerous end.
2. Only God defines our identity: Just because you are rejected by someone you hold most dear, it does not mean that you are nobody. You feel as insignificant as possible because the person who knows you best in all the world chooses another life over you, but this does not diminish or destroy the way God sees you. You have never ceased to be God's beloved daughter. His friend. His Son died for you. You are precious to Him. You may lose your identity as a wife, but no one can ever take your identity in Christ. Let us cling even more closely to what is true and eternal.
3. The decisions we make about our marital status are between us and God: I did not choose divorce. I did everything in my power to stop it. Lysa did the same. Abandonment means to leave completely and finally. To utterly forsake and desert someone. These men have not only abandoned wives and families, but ultimately their God. As our hearts break and tear apart into tiny shreds of grief, so much more does God grieve the loss of His loved one. So much more does the sight of that man's turned back, hard heart, and deaf ear destroy the heart of our loving God. He hates rejection. He hates divorce. But God allows His people to make decisions about what is right and what is wrong. Lysa spent almost two years trying to save her marriage. She sought Godly counsel, she prayed, she grieved, and God showed her that she had done all she could. That is between Lysa and her God.
Lysa ends her 2015 article by praying for hurting friends with marriage struggles:
"I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy."
Thousands of women have responded to Lysa's Facebook post. Scanning through those heartfelt expressions, I see woman after woman who identify with the betrayal of divorce. Women who have been destroyed by the actions of others. Women who want Lysa to know she's not alone.
I want that too. I want the beautiful women inside of all of us to "rise above the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters- the One who forever calls you worthy."
Rise above friends. Pray for Lysa. Pray for your neighbor going through divorce. Embrace the woman at your church who now sits alone after years of a man by her side. No matter the reason, no matter the circumstance, that woman is hurting. She's dying inside. Bit by bit her identity is snatched up by Satan. Help her see that beautiful woman inside.
Lysa's pain has shed light on the reality of Christian divorce. See beyond stereotypes. See beyond your own idea of what's "right". See the woman rising above all of that yuck to be exactly who God made her to be. Rejoice in that friend. In the midst of all that feels wrong- rest in His arms.
Check out some of my other posts about my divorce: