Divorced not Damaged

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Divorced NOT Damaged

For singles who have been divorced, it can feel like you have a scarlet “D” on your chest at all times for “Divorced.” The Christian community can often be the worst offenders of this, labeling you as “Damaged” but redeemed. Divorce was not God’s plan for any marriage, but it happens. Jesus even addresses it in Matthew 19:1-9, saying it was because of mans hardness of hearts that divorce even happens. This blog is not to debate the grounds of if a divorce is right or wrong, it is for those who are already divorced.

 


 

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I have been divorced.

It was not a marriage that lasted long and it ended with my spouse being unfaithful. The divorce was rather quick and settled within months and having no children it was easier to move on for me than others. It was hard to face my family, friends, and Church after the divorce happened. My commitment to the marriage was not reciprocated and somehow I felt punished in the church for my actions. I walked with God for years before the divorce happened, and I needed Him most after I left for good.

My parents encouraged me to go with them to church, try the singles group there and meet some friends. It took weeks to build up the courage to go into the singles class, I literally shed tears at the thought of meeting new Christian friends and how they would judge my scarlet “D.” Joining that singles group was just what I needed to get my faith back on track and be surrounded with love from friends as I built my relationship with Christ. Most people did not find my divorce to be an issue, however there were a few that judged my divorce as if it had obviously been my fault that the marriage failed.

As a follower of Christ, you are not damaged in God’s eyes. Your sins were washed away when you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, Acts 22:16. As followers of Christ our sins are taken away and even cast to the deepest sea on the ocean floor, Micah 7:19. Christ’s love covers our multitude of sins, even divorce, 1 Peter 4:8.  When others judge you because of your divorce, be strong and take refuge in Christ and His promises of Love.

Regardless if your divorce is “Biblical” or “justified” you are not innocent in a divorce. Everyone is a sinner and makes mistakes or sins before God, Romans 3:23. Those sins do not have to define who you are, but you should be vigilant not to make them again. Divorce happens. Jesus knew this in Matthew 19:1-9 and He does not want you to feel damaged, He died on the cross for our sins so that we may have life and have it more abundantly, John 10:10. I encourage you to live life abundantly after your divorce and be free from the sins of your past to enjoy the blessings in your future. Just a few short years after my divorce, I met my husband. Had I never let go of the past, I would have never been looking ahead for the blessing of being married to a Godly man.

Question Engagement

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You have been single for a few years but recently you have been dating someone and it is getting serious, real serious. You are both casually talking about building a life together and dreaming big dreams for your future. Pause. Before you start down those roads too far, remember the step between being married and dating is being engaged. Often engagement is undervalued and seen merely as a step to get a ring and reasons to start planning a big wedding day. Engagement is an important time for you both; it’s a time to solidify the little details in your relationship before the big day. But before you get engaged, you need to ask a few questions. By this point you have hopefully asked the big questions of compatibility and feel like things are going to work out. Questions about your spiritual, physical, and emotional compatibility. Right before you get engaged, now is the time to ask the small questions. 101 of them is a good start. We recommend 101 Questions to ask BEFORE you get engaged by H. Norman Wright because it forces a couple to process fully the commitment they are about to make. These questions may seem repetitive at first, but every couple we have seen go through it has learned more about themselves and their potential future partner. Christ is the foundation of a life-long relationship. With Him, all things are possible and together you will be one before Him in marriage. Take time to work out the small details before the hustle and bustle of being engaged and planning a wedding.  Your relationship will benefit tremendously by doing so.

Another Closed Door

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When my marriage of 14 years ended against my wishes, I drove to and from work, often not remembering how I got there. When I arrived home at the end of the day, I found myself staring at the television without registering what was on. I was a zombie. All I could think was, “What now? I’m alone.”

That feeling eventually dissipated but not without the comfort of Christ. I grabbed onto the promise of God stated in Deuteronomy 31:8.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;

He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

When relationships end, it’s easy to have a pity party. To relive everything said or done. To grow angry or depressed. To calculate how you need to change to guarantee you will not be alone again. Yet focusing and obsessing on all of these things can take the Believer’s focus off where it needs to be.

It may take some time to pull yourself out of the doldrums, but lingering in the darkness is not where God wants us to be. We are called to walk in His light, to be a light for His kingdom.

No matter what changes your relationship status goes through, one thing remains constant. Your relationship with Christ will never end! Be Complete in Christ! Hold fast to the promise. Your earthly relationships may change or end, but not His!

Will Marriage Fix My Sexual Desires?

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“But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry,
for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
– 1 Corinthians 7:9

Marriage is more than a fix for sexual desires.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses marriage to the married, single, widowed and divorced adults. In light of the above passage, how can any person choose to be single with such a burning sinful desire of passion? Are singles strong enough to control their sexual desires?

Prominent speakers have suggested that to be single is in effect an open sin as it is nearly impossible to abstain from impure thoughts while single. The fallacy in this opinion is that married persons do not have such thoughts, which is clearly not the case. Divorces are often caused by infidelity originating from sinful thoughts. Marriage does not fix sin, only being Complete in Christ can help fight against sin nature.

God’s Word instructs us to be strong and bold. Sexual desires are controlled–but only with God at the center of a relationship. As a relationship develops, it is not always easy. But God will reward the couple who chooses to wait. Self-control seems to be a major part of the conversation happening in 1 Corinthians 7 as Paul wishes people to be single like himself but realizes that many are too weak to do so.

This goes along with the same conversation for singles with “the gift of singleness” spoken of in verse 7 of the same chapter. The idea is that no person is strong enough to control their sexual desires and if there were such a person, they would truly have this “gift” of singleness. Yet, control is not what we, as sinners, as humans, have.

We, at Table for One, believe marriage is more than a way to fix a sexual urge. It’s a lifetime commitment. It’s a sacred relationship centered on Christ. It is not just a way to correct sin, Christ died for our sins on the cross and rose again defeating the grave and overcoming this world. Therefore we need to value marriage for what it is, a covenant between two people and God until eternity.

In this conversation, Paul is almost suggesting with a bit of sarcasm or frustration that as a last resort, the very weak should just get married if they can’t control themselves. Paul is writing with all seriousness that marriage is important and has its place, but above all, is serving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, and mind.

Marriage should be a calling to bond with another person, not a tool to fix sin.

Marriage isn’t the Finish Line

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The big day is here! Here comes the bride all dressed in white. The groom dressed to the nines in his rented tux stands fidgeting at the front to begin a ceremony that moves even the hardest of hearts to tears. Then comes the reception including a toast from the father of bride of just how proud he is that his little girl found a man, almost implicating that a secret achievement has been unlocked allowing the happy couple to continue in the game of life, side-by-side.

Singles. Get. It.

At the same time you are happy for another couple. Everyone is celebrating a monumental achievement in the lives of your friends. But in fact, is marriage the finish line? Singles often are looking to the next milestone or marker in life. At some point, it starts to feel like the only milestone left is marriage.

But the reality? It is not the finish line of achievement.

For married couples the next bombardment of expectation is kids. And while having a pet or three helped for a while, the next finish line of life is having a baby. Once that is crossed and no less than a day after the first child, there are questions of when the next baby will arrive. After baby two, the next quiz is will there be three. Have four, and comments of birth control fill the air. Then there is college for the kids, jobs for the young adults, and future weddings! The cycle starts all over again.

Here is the point.

The finish line is defined by a relationship, just not the one you may have thought or felt from your surrounding friends and family.

Being Complete in Christ is the only relationship that will leave you complete. All other relationships build off of that relationship and running a good race is defined by it. Keeping the faith and living for God is grounded in a relationship with Christ.

Singles, always keep in mind your life not measured by this world, but by following the One who paid our sins in full–Jesus–so we can live life more abundantly.

Want to Divorce-Proof Your Marriage?

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Singles you may or may not be married some day. At Table for One Ministries, we often include in our blogs the idea of being Complete in Christ for singles. But being Complete in Christ is not just for singles. It is for all adults. If you one day are called to marriage, remember this tip to help divorce proof your marriage:

Be Complete in Christ!

That’s right. Being Complete in Christ and not in a relationship with another person is a big key to helping your potential marriage be affair-proof for a few reasons:

Christ will be the head of your marriage

 

  • So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Col 2:10) (NIV)

 

  • Having Christ in the driver’s seat for major decisions and day-to-day tasks means your marriage will always have the right driver.

Communication will be better

 

  • A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Prov 10:1)(NIV)

 

  • Following God’s plan for you life will include things like prayer and devotion. You can and will apply those habits to your relationship with your spouse, resulting in conversation that is open, honest, and transparent.

Priorities will be clearer

 

  • …and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. (Mark 10:8) (NIV)

 

  • Shared priorities in a joint marriage means everyone is going the same direction as far as finances, relationships, and life goals.

You will be drawn close together

 

  • Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. (Heb. 13:4) (NIV)

 

  • Keeping your completeness in Christ will keep you away from the sinful desires this world has to offer. Chase after Christ rather than finding completeness in sin.

All of these are easier said than done, however when both people enter into a union where they are a whole person prior to marriage, they are complete in the one who made them not the one who married them.

Singles, we have all seen couples who marry and still lack happiness and chase other things of the world. It is our belief that you should be Complete; no, not because it will help you be married, but because it is God’s plan for your life.

Being Mom Through Divorce

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Divorce is nasty.

Talk to anyone who is going through or has survived a divorced and unanimously they will say, even in the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. When children are involved in divorce, the stakes and emotions are even higher. From the day one spouse says the words “I want a divorce”, life and the marriage relationship will never return to the place it once was with unbroken trust.

Mothers are by nature the ones who nurture and care for others, being the solid foundation of the home for all family members. Maybe you are a mom reading this going through divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that led to this day, there are steps as a Christ follower that a mother should take even in the challenge of a divorce.

 

Fight for Your Marriage

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

Emotions overrun reality with every communication that happens with your spouse. The one who once used words to show you love, uses them to tear you down. While your marriage will be shaped by the actions taken, it can be saved by the One who has saved you. In the midst of the storm do not retaliate harsh words with even harsher ones. Be just as vigilant in loving the one you chose to marry as the day you said “I do.” Just as Christ forgave you for your sins and offered salvation through eternal life, you can offer forgiveness in the difficult times.

 

Children Hear our Words

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” – James 3:1-12

Words can be weapons. It is vital to your relationship with your children to take the high road and control conversations around your children. Let your words be ones that honor God and ones you will not regret. When the conversation becomes intense, steer your words toward love and deflect the conversation until little ears are not in hearing range. It will be hard. Nothing in divorce is easy, but you will be demonstrating to your children Christ’s love in the hardest of circumstances.

 

Your Ex-Spouses Salvation Matters

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Ask yourself this question: do I want to see my ex in heaven? To a believer, this question should be a centering moment in how you proceed in your divorce and your life. Remember the reality of your present state in this world. The emotions are high, your anger may be running over, the circumstances may be out of control. However, as a Christ follower, you should still keep the Gospel in the forefront of your conversation and mind. Don’t “Jesus juke” to be spiteful, but let your actions be ones that draw people to God rather than turn from him. Your actions a Christian applies to your ex just as much as the believers who stand beside you in difficult times.

Dating by the Numbers

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There are over 54 million single people in the U.S. Let’s take a look at dating by the numbers.

— 50% of New York state adults are unmarried, making it the best state for single people.

— 48% of singles say they have Googled someone before the first date.  

— 2% of men and 9% of women have found a relationship in a bar.

— 40 million Americans have tried online dating.

— 80% of men will date someone 5 years younger.

— 48% of breakups in on-line relationships happen via e-mail.

— 15 minutes is the average amount of time it takes to make a first impression on a man. For a woman it takes an hour.

— 12% is the chance a guy will call, if he hasn’t called in the first 24 hrs..

*Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc.

 

Knowing some of these should also encourage you as you look to date someone. The statistics of so few people finding someone for a relationship in a bar is yet again evidence that clubbing and drinking do not equal relationships. Also, men, it seems to take less time to decide whether to continue pursuing a woman than time needed for a woman to decide on her interest in a man. So, men, give her time to “get there” if she is interested!

So what do you think?

#LOVEWINS? The Attempt to Silence Truth

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No doubt you have seen the hashtag #LoveWins attached to many a Facebook status and tweet. At first glance you might assume that it is just another way to celebrate the SCOTUS decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states. You may interpret it as declaring love wins because now you are free to love whomever you please, but we have always been free to love everyone. However, to truly love anyone, you must understand the meaning and nature of love, but that is the subject of another blog.
Today we are going to talk about the not so subtle message that the hashtag #LoveWins really communicates. It is the same tactic that has been so effective in shutting down opposition to anyone who opposes the redefining of the institution of marriage. You see if love wins then hate lost, or at least that is what we are suppose to believe. As a society we have been given only two options from those who support same-sex marriage. You can either choose love and support same-sex marriage, or you are a hater and a bigot. There is no middle ground, or at least that is what we are led to believe.
It is an effective way to shut down the debate, because for most, there is an aversion to being labeled as a hater and a bigot, so one remains quiet. What is worse, and very dangerous, is that many Christian have begun to believe the lie that to oppose this issue or any other viewpoint that is counter to the Bible is equal to hatred.
As one meme I saw yesterday stated, “It is God’s job to convict, it is my job to love.” Even though the individual facts of the statement are true, the subtle message of those who posted it was “Shut up! Don’t tell me I am wrong. That is God’s job, you are just suppose to love me.”
But there is a real problem with that kind of logic. Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14; the example of every prophet and apostle tell us that we must speak Biblical truth. We cannot be worried about how the message of the cross will be received. We are to speak. God will use the words we speak to convict, and yes, we are called to love. Love like no one has ever seen before! Love enough to face name-calling, disparaging remarks and jail time, and even death if necessary. Love enough to tell someone they are wrong. Remember the story of John the Baptist? He spoke out in defense of marriage and was thrown in jail, and eventually beheaded.
Need more convincing? Did Jesus hate the Pharisees when he pointed out their arrogance? Did he hate the woman caught in adultery when he told her “Go and sin no more?” When a parent corrects a child, is that an act of hate or love?
I want to be perfectly clear, disagreeing with someone does not equal hate. Telling someone that their lifestyle is not part of God’s design, and that He wants so much better for them is not hate. Standing up for God’s design for marriage is not hate.
God designed marriage to be an example of the gospel to the world. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church Marriage is the vehicle through which mankind was meant to populate the earth with loving children supported by a man and a woman. In order for marriage to fulfill its purpose, it must remain as God designed.
With this understanding, drawn from Biblical truth, I ask you to love like very few are willing to love. Love the truth of God’s Word. When the world tells you to sit down and shut up, love enough to speak the truth. Love enough to cry with and support those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Love enough to listen to our LBGT friends and invite them into your lives. Love those who are like you and those who are not. Love those who agree with you and those who don’t.
Love, but don’t be silent, because that is not love at all.

A Profile of Singles: Engaged Singles

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A Deeper look at Engaged Singles

At Table for One Ministries we are passionate about reaching singles of all ages and backgrounds. In this series of blogs we are looking at the “profile” of each type of single adult. While these are not all encompassing, they are meant to help singles and those who lead singles understand each type of single adult better or in a different light. We WELCOME feedback and additions to these profiles as we grow our ministry!

Characteristics of this Group

Engaged singles are single. Many times once a couple gets engaged, singles are quick to move on and let the married adult world deal with their needs. Statistics show most couples on their wedding day have known each other for more than three years and were engaged on average for 15 months. Eighty-eight percent of engaged couples end up married with an average attendance at their wedding of 155 people. For those who are engaged, it’s sometimes hard to find a place to fit in. Married adults are in their future, but some may live alone or separately leading up to the wedding, while other couples may live together through their engagement.

Ministry Needs in this Group

Often engaged singles feel as if they do not fit in anywhere. They are in this state of limbo until they are married. Single friends may have parted ways with them, but married adults are still waiting for it to be official to have the engaged couple participate in class events. Engaged singles need counselors available to do premarital sessions in preparation for their marriage. More importantly, a support network is needed for those who decide to break off an engagement and return back to the singles group. This event is always hard on both engaged persons, so the church needs to be ready to respond.

Communication Strategies for this Group

Engaged singles want to know where to find support. It could be support through counseling or support through social interaction. The challenge for Christian organizations is when couples are living together prior to marriage. Often the church will turn away people due to their sinful actions, but the church should not turn away couples in need of direction. Turning them away will only communicate to them that the State should fix their problem instead of the church. Communicating to this group that the Gospel will provide a foundation hopefully moves them to take action to draw closer to God.

Strategy for Reaching this Group

Each engaged couple is different, but they can decide together if moving to a newlywed class is right for them before the wedding day. Our ministry simply encourages them to not be so eager to start a new life together that they forget the people currently in their lives. Engaged singles should stay involved with their current peer groups through their engagement and after their marriage. Singles are very supportive of their engaged friends because most of them desire the same for themselves. To reach this group an organization must have a plan in place for singles to move into married adult groups. This could be a newly married class or a premarital counseling group that meets during the week. The focus is on connecting people to the church and realizing that they are single and some of them may not end up married. Singles ministry needs to be there for single adults through all their life stages, including being engaged.

Resources

Eggerichs, Emerson. Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004.

Harvey, David. When sinners say “I Do”: Discovering the power of the Gospel for marriage. Wapwallopen: Shepherd Press, 2007.

Wright, H, Norman. 101 Questions to ask before you get engaged. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers, 2004.

What do you think?

Do you agree with this profile of single adults who have never been married? What resources or information would you add?