Sticks and Stones

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It happened more than a year ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

We were standing in the hallway. It was Sunday, right before church. I had paused to say hi to a group of ladies when she walked by. The minute she was out of ear shot it started…

 

“Did you hear? Her husband left her.”

“With all those kids? How on earth is she going to pay her bills?”

“I heard he…”

“Well, I heard she…”

 

I wish I could tell you I spoke up for that woman I didn’t even know, that woman who was being stoned by the church ladies’ ugly words, but I didn’t. I was in shock, and I turned and left. Actually left church. Got in my car and drove home, where I sat in my driveway for a good hour and cried my eyes out. The only thing I could think was, “I bet that’s exactly what they said about me when my husband moved out.”

 

I’ll be honest, it was one of the most hurtful moments of my life. To realize that the women I stood in worship with were capable of talking about me and my marriage that way hurt so much. I’ve always wrestled with trusting women, and that day my trust was shattered.

 

I wish I could say that was an isolated incident, but it wasn’t. I could rattle off a dozen other times my heart was squeezed by the words of women who are my sisters in Christ. Women who asked my teenage daughter if the reason her parents divorced was because one of us had an affair. Women who joked about single women only talking to their husbands because they were trying to entice him. Women who quit inviting me to join them for social events. Women who quit talking the moment I walked into the room.

 

The pain of a broken marriage is hard enough. Knowing that others are talking about you and your marriage and speculating about what happened… That’s a whole ‘nother level of hard.

 

{For the record, I was also surrounded by a whole bunch of people who loved my family with the hands and feet of Jesus during those hard days. They were what got me through. (Shout-out to my tribe!!)}

 

One of the painful parts of divorce is the telling of it. The picking up the phone and breaking the news to family and friends. Over and over and over you pick up the phone and tell the story. And the bigger your circle of people, the more times you have to have that hard conversation. Add to that a job where you invite your entire community to be a part of your life… The publicness of my divorce was something that brought shame to me for a very long time. I felt so unworthy of anything, especially being used by God. I felt disqualified. Like I had let everyone down. And for a long time, all I wanted to do was crawl in a hole and hide.

 

How do you share the darkest moments of your life when those moments are tied to precious children who are just trying to recover from their lives being ripped apart? How do you tell your whole world that “divorce” now defines you while protecting your kids from the whispers and stares from that world?

 

For me, I decided to be quiet, and when I did tell my story I was very intentional about how and where and with who. Because my kids are old enough to be on Facebook, and they read my blog, and they listen to their mom on the radio. Everything I’ve posted about my divorce, or talked about publicly, has been with their blessing. Because they deserve to not be blindsided by a social media post, or a conversation in the hall, or a friend asking them about something I said.

 

Being on the receiving end of gossip is not a fun place to be. It’s a lot more fun to be the one dishing the gossip. And I’ll confess, I’m not at all innocent when it comes to running my mouth about someone when I should shut up and pray, or bring them a casserole, or offer to babysit, or anything other than find pleasure in their pain. I am guilty. And I am ashamed of my guilt. {Father, forgive me.}

 

I’ve been on Facebook tonight. I’ve seen the posts. I’ve seen the jokes. Another public marriage has come to an end. There are kid involved. Kids who are used to mom and dad being in the spotlight for their talent, are now seeing their parents’ names in the news with words attached it like “affair” “custody” “separated” “divorce”. And it doesn’t matter how much money they make, or how many awards they’ve received, because at the end of the day there is a mom and a dad who have to try to explain to their kids why everything is about to change in a really big way. And the last thing that mom and that dad needs to spend energy on is their public image. So they are being silent, while we are making their tragedy into memes and jokes and posting them all over the internet.

 

To be honest, I hesitated in writing this, because I don’t want to talk about them at all. I don’t want to add to the noise of those who can’t quit talking about them.

 

So, let’s not talk about them and their marriage or their divorce. Let’s talk about us. No, not even us. I want to talk about me.

 

My heart hurts. First of all because I too often allow myself to get pulled in to the gossip. I make excuses for why it’s okay for me to talk about people. It’s not okay. It’s really not.

 

I’m also hurting because I do a really lousy job of loving people in the midst of their pain. I’ve been loved so well, and I want to extend that love to others, but I get so wrapped up in my own world that I don’t make time to love.

 

And I’m hurting because there’s a whole bunch of kids out there who really need the adults in their lives to step up and act like adults. It doesn’t matter who did what. Our job as parents isn’t to defend ourselves or cast blame. We can’t allow our pain to overshadow what our kids need. And what they need is for us to honor the other parent both publicly and privately.

 

These things are hard. Impossible even. But for Christ. But for the Spirit of God that lives in us. Let’s let E! New and Perez Hilton be the gossips. Let’s be different. Let’s love.

 

~Keri

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8

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2 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. This is an excellent post Kerri. I too am very familiar with this. It should not be in the church, but alas, where there are people there is….. this. The only business anyone has talking about others is to plan on how to help them be it prayer or some sort of physical help. But you just don’t see that as much as you used to. With the TV and media making this the norm how do we keep from being a victim of it or even being a culprit? It has become impossible for me to trust anyone, especially women. I also have a fear of church now that has caused some sort of “freeze” in my spirit. I’m scared to death to get involved in anything. I know the Lord has this as I have left it in His hands, but it’s so hard to see the big picture from ground level, amen? Trust that there are honest people out there. You know a few. So do I. I love LOVE your openness and honesty. These qualities make people trust you. The ones who gossip don’t matter. They just don’t. This one word has helped me a LOT in dealing with whispers and stares. “Fuggitaboudit”. lol

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  2. Divorce is so painful. No one realizes it is a lot like being widowed. The difference is the widow knows her didn’t mean to leave her by death, it wasn’t intentional. Divorce leaves you like a widow with a live corps; plus you get to know why he is leaving which rips your soul and mind in so many pieces people can’t imagine. Now I know why God hates divorce….not the people but the soul splitting pain he knows they will endure because of it. ~Gaylene B.

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