This is the first part of a very long letter I wrote with Rob's agreement and blessing addressed to members of the church (different church groups and even different denominations) who have been less than compassionate, tactful, or helpful. In fact, they have inflicted greater pain than we were already experiencing.
After sending this to them, I posted it on Facebook. I have found that most people desire to help, and very few truly intend to hurt, but unless they've experienced a separation or divorce, they don't know how. They simply don't understand. It is easy to defend the instituation of marraige and forget there are hurting individuals involved.
I have chosen to share this on my blog not as a way to bash the church but simply as a way to inform, to educate...to give perspective from this side of the "fail" line.
I have tried to say very little about mine and Rob’s separation. Frankly, I don’t think it is anyone else’s business. The reason I have chosen to talk about it now is because I’m really pretty angry about a few things, and I want to address them. Some of you are getting this email because you are one I am angry at, and frankly, it’s easier to write one big email than to write a dozen or more, and some of you are getting it because I believe your hearts are humble enough to hear this, learn from it, and use it to love others. Plus, I have no patience whatsoever for adults who are so cowardly that they ask my children why Rob isn’t home or hasn’t moved home yet or what we are doing to fix things but don’t have the courage to email, call, or text either of us.
Let’s start with that last part.
First, DO NOT ask our children why we separated in the beginning, why we are still separated, or if things are getting better. Besides the fact that is just flat irresponsible, surely you realize we have done everything in our power to protect them from the issues leading to this, from the necessary conversations about the ugly and painful things that have gotten us here, and all discussion of salvaging the marriage. Why would you ask them? You may ask them how they are, how they are feeling, how their day/week is. Don’t be surprised if they are upbeat most of the time. We have all found we are doing well, feeling positive, and healing…except when we have to deal with people who are critical or overly sad “for us”. You may ask how you can pray for them. DO NOT ask about the marriage or mine and Rob’s relationship. If you want to know, have the courage to ask us. If we choose not to answer questions, trust we have a reason.
Besides adults having the bad judgment to ask our children, I am stunned at the people calling/emailing friends of ours to find out what others know.
Folks, four people knew what was going on within our home. FOUR! Those four knew because a) I trusted them, b) we knew they wouldn’t tell anyone else. Therefore, unless you know one of those four people, anyone you talk to is just as shocked as you are and guessing at what in the world happened as much as you are and that is how lies and fairy tales are created, and if you are talking to those four people, they won’t tell you anything anyway. That is how friendship works.
Despite the logic of this—and the sheer simplicity of it, I have been stunned by the number of people who are calling this person or that person trying to get information because we aren’t saying anything. I am shocked at how gossip is defended as concern. If you want to know how we are or what is going on or why we are doing something, call/email/text Rob or me. Do not talk to friends of ours. If we talk to them, it’s because we expect them to keep it confidential. Do not put them in a position to lie to you or break our trust.
If you ask us and we say we are fine, believe it. If you ask us and we say nothing, maybe it’s because we don’t want to tell you. Really, it’s that simple, and it is our right not to tell everyone everything. And don’t use this, “Then how will we know how to pray?” How about pray, “God, heal whatever is hurting them. Defend them against the enemy. Give them wisdom. Build this marriage and give them a deep and abiding love for each other and the courage to face the onslaught of the enemy”? Do you really need anything more than that? No, you don’t, and I’ll tell you why.
There is only one person either of us have sought help from in the last 19 years—yes, 19, like since the first week we were married, and I realized things were not okay and it wasn’t just marriage shock—that has not put human interpretation and human “fix” on it. One pastor at Church on the Rock North actually heard us and responded to us without giving us a lecture on law, judging, or telling us the many ways we were failing. Sadly, he left the next week for Israel, so we were not able to work with him. I often wonder if we had, would things be different? It doesn’t matter, though, since he did leave and we are where we are. The simple fact is we don’t need human filters or human fixes. We need God’s answers and His healing, and that isn’t always what YOU expect it to be.
If you haven’t gotten offended and deleted this yet, let’s move on.