How to Find God’s Shining Light After a Divorce
It was Fall 2006 and we were standing in a small Kentucky church, a small group of us joining hands in prayer. Then music played and we began raising our hands to the sky to sing and whisper more prayers.
The pastor strapped on his acoustic guitar and started strumming. “Great is your faithfulness, oh God,” he sang. “You wrestle with the sinner’s restless heart.”
In a few moments we all stood on our toes and shouted the chorus: “Your grace is enough!” We didn’t need anything more than God’s grace.
But that wasn’t quite accurate. At least my actions didn’t reflect it.
I was basically new to the faith, especially the charismatic stuff. I’d grown up Lutheran, sitting in a rock-hard wooden pew every week with stained-glass windows surrounding me. Our family started every meal with the exact same prayer: “come Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let your gifts to us be blessed. Amen.” We sang songs from a hymnal, not a projector screen, and acoustic guitars were for Pearl Jam, organs were for church. Our hymns were wordy and used dated language (“thy,” “thee,” “dwell”). But not in the Kentucky church.
So I thought I finally got it. I raised my hands up high and sang another chorus. “Your grace is enough, fooooor me!” But half of me wondered if God was folding his arms and saying “yeah, right.”
On my drive home after church I put in a CD by a band my church friends introduced me to: Hillsong. There was one song in particular that I played over and over. The chorus was simple, just four words to God in a refrain:
“All I need is you.”
I belted it out. But not at stoplights – I didn’t want to be that guy.
My life quickly turned after I discovered God’s grace in that Kentucky church. I’d been living a reckless life dipped in debauchery, and I found myself in a deep depression. But God slowly showed me how to stop hating myself and start loving others. He even helped me transition from a vile woman chaser to a fully-committed boyfriend in Spring 2007. God’s grace led me to marry that same woman in 2009, and all along I’d say a person as vile and selfish as me didn’t deserve any of it. But that was little more than hot air, because when my marriage crumbled to the point of divorce this past year, I was singing a different tune.
Is This a Bunch of Hot Air?
I can’t lie, I’ve spent several hours on this blog post already. Writing-rewriting, writing-rewriting. Delete, delete, delete.
Early on I made a rule that I wouldn’t write, “sorry guys, haven’t updated this thing in seven months, but you know, life’s been busy.” Because, why should you care? And chances are that why I hadn’t been writing.
When I started blogging a few years ago my excitement went through the roof. I remember sitting inside a coffee shop alongside my wife, checking the comments and responses to one of my first blogs. My jubilation overflowed until I clamored that I finally found what I wanted to do with my life: Blog.
But take a look at my blog nowadays and I think this makes my fourth post in 2016 and we’re in September. I want to say, “sorry guys, been real busy around here,” but that just isn’t the reason.
One problem is, my blog is about fear and faith, and my tagline is “life is tough, let’s face it,” but like the worship songs, is this just lip service? Now that I’ve been drug through the mud of a divorce, am I facing it?
This has varied with time. Some days, yes. Some days, no. Some days I’m praising God for a master plan that I don’t yet understand. Other days I’m faking it, hoping I’ll make it. And, yes, there are days I don’t even fake it: life sucks and this whole thing is a hot, steaming pile of crap.
(Those days are few, by the way, but they’re there.) (And sorry for the illustration, but that’s pretty accurate for what I feel.)
So I hope to get back to weekly blogs again someday. If you weren’t around for that, I was posting one every Monday, like clockwork, and it felt great. But for now I’m trying to accept I’m like a sick dog – I might have to sleep this one off for a little.
Plus, it’s also extremely tough writing a blog about my faith when something so integral to me has fallen apart. I am having to knock over misconceptions about God and learn new things about him from the ground up. And I thank God my faith remains, because at times it has wavered.
Why We Sing
Just last night I plugged in Hillsong’s ‘All I Need Is You,’ which I hadn’t heard in ages. It was a good reminder, and it made me want to return to songs with this sentiment.
We sing worship songs not just as an expression of where we are in our faith, but where we should be. Otherwise the lyrics would only be “your grace should be enough for me,” and “All I need is you, but I feel I need all sorts of other stuff, too. Can I have that?”
So it’s undeniably true that I need to set my sights on God’s grace being all I need.
And though my wife and I had some really good times, it has been really hard to remember them. That’s another reason it’s been hard to worship God. But after much grieving, overall I relate the divorce to an oil puddle. Meaning, it’s pollution and bad, and would never have happened without human involvement, but when the sun hits it just right, it’s somehow beautiful.
Which serves as a reminder that all I need is God’s shining light.