Glennon Doyle Melton announced earlier this month that she is leaving her husband.
I admire her vulnerability in sharing about her marriage and her decision to leave. I thought about making this “A Letter to Glennon About Her Divorce.” But I’m not. Because this post isn’t about her.
It’s about me.
You see, Glennon closed her announcement with a very wise request: “Sometimes, when people make decisions about marriage, it evokes strong feelings in others. If my news does that to you today, please look inside and get curious about whether those feelings have more to do with you and your life than they do about me and mine.”
You could say her announcement “evoked strong feelings in me.” (I mean, if a full blown panic attack counts as “strong feelings.”) I realize I do not know every detail of Glennon’s journey, and I also know I shouldn’t project my life and marriage experience onto hers.
But likewise, I must be careful to not project her experience (and subsequent conclusions) onto mine.
My marriage isn’t an easy one. I see couples who appear to LOVE BEING MARRIED. I just don’t feel like that. Perfect example: one year, on her 10th wedding anniversary, a friend posted a picture online from their wedding and wrote, “If I had known then what I know now, I would’ve run down that aisle!”
I thought, “Holy crap, what a horrible thing to say.”
Then I realized she meant she would’ve run down the aisle TOWARD HIM.
In that moment, my mind instinctively pictured the bride running down the aisle and OUT OF THE CHURCH.
See what I’m saying here?
You guys, my husband is a GOOD MAN. But, if I had known 13+ years ago how hard this would be, how much ongoing work it would require – I wouldn’t have done it. I understand I may be the only one who feels like this. But I suspect I’m not.
Has it been ALL hard work and ZERO enjoyment? Of course not. (Although that’s what the voice in my head will try to tell me.) But do I always feel like, “I LOVE BEING MARRIED!”? I’m sorry, but no. I LOVE reading books. I LOVE taking naps. I LOVE eating brownies.
I don’t always LOVE being married. I AM married. And the two don’t always go together. I don’t always feel like I fit here. And being married certainly doesn’t always foster my own peace. Glennon describes a still, small voice that guides her. Well, mine regularly says, “It’s not supposed to be this hard.” It whispers promises of freedom and escape. It beckons to me in the name of self-trust and self-peace and self-love.
If you read her announcement, then perhaps you understand how Glennon’s words resonated so deeply with me. Why her words evoked strong feelings in me. She said so many things I feel on a regular basis.
I was completely undone.
That still, small voice continued ringing in my ear long after I finished reading Glennon’s post. All evening, my head and my heart drummed, “God loves you more than He loves marriage. You have Jesus. Nothing can separate you from God’s love. Even divorce.“
And you guys, I had a full blown panic attack. Because I very sincerely believe each of those statements are TRUE. Those statements do not contradict Scripture.
But I also very sincerely believe that the enemy was using that truth AGAINST ME.
Because do you know what ELSE can never separate me from God’s love?
When my marriage feels like such hard work, riddled with misunderstandings, unmet expectations, and hurt feelings (“It’s not supposed to be this hard!”), I can often feel overlooked by God. I tried to follow Him and His ways, and I still ended up in a marriage that seems to require more than I have to offer. SO NOW WHAT.
And then I feel alone. Like I’m completely on my own in this thing. Distanced from my husband in any meaningful way, and separated from the God who was supposed to keep it from being this hard.
But who in the world said it’s not supposed to be this hard? And just because I feel isolated from God doesn’t mean I am. And YES my marriage requires more than I have to offer. Because I wasn’t meant to come into this thing in my own strength. And neither was my husband.
“God loves us far more than any institution God made for us [marriage].”
This is a true statement.
And so dangerous out of the greater context of God’s love for me.
Because YES He loves me more than my marriage. But He can so greatly live His love out, to, and in me by walking me THROUGH my marriage.
And when I don’t feel like I fit here? You guys, God is reminding me that He made marriage big enough to HANDLE THAT. You don’t get smaller. Your marriage gets bigger. Marriage stretches. It grows. And you stretch. And you grow. And YES IT’S PAINFUL. But some of life’s most glorious gifts are borne through pain and stretching.
So, indeed, NOW WHAT.
My first “now what” is to refuse to trust the “still, small voice” outside of the context of what else is true. Fear is not the boss of me. And that little voice in my head? ALSO NOT THE BOSS OF ME. It may not be popular, but GOD is the boss of me. (And in Him, also TRUTH and LOVE.) So, I will seek to recognize God’s voice through prayer and His Word. Because He is trustworthy. And because He loves me even more than I am capable of loving myself.
Now what #2: Back to marriage counseling for Matt and me. Because it’s worth it. WE are worth it.
Now what #3: Let’s address that issue of “if I had known 13 years ago… I wouldn’t have gotten married.” Here’s the thing. Thirteen years ago I had NO IDEA what marriage would actually require of me. And I THANK GOD I DIDN’T. Because I would’ve missed the GIFT of the tears turned to laughter, the stretching and breaking and growing and healing. The miracle of making it through – over and over again. NOW WHAT I KNOW: marriage requires more than I can give because marriage is BIGGER THAN ME. It’s bigger than us. It’s bigger than always loving being in it. It’s bigger than sometimes wishing you weren’t.