When I left my husband a few months ago, I lost a lot.An entire church community, friends, family, everything: gone. I gained a lot, though (but I’ll get to that in a second).
I gave my life to Christ in 2011 but in the last 2-3 years, I’ve been getting hurt a lot by God’s people. Church hasn’t felt like a safe place in a long time, I married a fraudulent Christian (he might be saved, but I’m not here to debate that really), and I was completely unaware of how far I was drifting from God until I realized I wasn’t with Him at all.
I’m angry at hypocrites and self-righteous jerks that dared look at me and say anything about what I had to do when all the while those very people were running around spreading lies and gossip about me – well, some of it was true. I did have an affair and I was divorcing my husband, but the rest of it was just ridiculous.
My children aren’t currently burning in hell, and for Pete’s sake, I did NOT leave my children – they came with me. I have not had multiple affairs, nor did I suddenly turn into a heathen who swears just because I fell in love with a new man (news flash: I’ve been swearing since I was in the 4th grade. Old habits die hard). I’m not a career homewrecker, I’m not pregnant, and I don’t do drugs. I don’t beat my children and I certainly never beat my would-be ex-husband, with or without a diaper bag (long story).
The fact of the matter is that I’m just totally disenfranchised with church, even if I miss the better parts of it, with Christians, and with fake people. When I met someone real, I was instantly drawn to him because he spoke to and nourished parts of me that were dying inside. That’s that. Facts. No drama.
But that’s not what Christian people, my old friends have said to me and about me to one another. I had two church communities and a large network of friends in ministry that nearly all turned their backs on me. All but four.
Four people, out of probably hundreds, actually reached out lovingly in support of me as a person, if not my actions. Understanding that they aren’t in my heart, that things will happen between God and I that they won’t know, and have made some incredibly profound impact on a very hardened and nearly dead heart, reminding me that God might be different.
I’ve been struck deeply by two people in the last week that have shown me grace unimaginable for a Christian in comparison to what I’ve experienced since I “fell from grace” with everyone else.
I have a best friend that has stood by me, defended me, and understood my heart better than anyone else in the world, sometimes better than me. She has covered me and shielded me, sometimes at her own expense, and treats me exactly like she did before this all happened. And as much as I love her for it, I painfully and humble admit that this is her Christlikeness. She is like Christ in that she doesn’t just love me but defends me in my sin and in my shortcomings. She sees me for more than just a series of “bad choices” but as someone who is hurting. And that invaluable to me no matter how bad it hurts to feel like God doesn’t actually hate me.
I have another friend, someone I have never physically met, but exchanged Christmas cards with and blogged with for years. He finally caught on that my name changed on my social media and, being that he’s been hurt by the church too, he can empathize a little with where I’m at with people in general. But more than that, he assured me that this doesn’t define me, that I can’t screw up God’s plan for anything because He’s bigger than I am, and His grace is different from the condemnation that’s been heaped on me as of late. He assured me that God’s not done with me and that he still believes He’s got big things planned for my future, and will use this all for glory still. And that meant everything.
It’s taken me back in my mind to a time I really believed these things, when I really knew love and grace and mercy. Before I knew church politics and drama and hypocrisy and works-based faith.
And maybe, just maybe, as much as it hurts, God is love. God is grace. And God is good in a way that’s better than His people.