The following is an excerpt from the new release, Fractured Into Wholeness, available on Amazon in print and ebook formats.
I hope my transparency about what was going on in my life stirs some conversations in the church: How do we deal with divorce? More than that, how do we deal with a myriad of challenges? How do we deal with the things that fracture people’s lives? How do we deal with the issues that tear apart relationships?
None of those questions have easy answers. If they did, I’m pretty sure someone would have figured it out and packaged it by now. But relationships and individual growth are not programmable or predictable.
The relationships we build and the conversations we have matter. We need to get to know each other. We need to notice people and invest in them. We need to let them into our lives, too. It’s risky, and it takes time. Conversations can be ongoing and casual, and they can also be difficult and uncomfortable. It’s easy to just pass by each other instead of sitting face to face. We can easily get into a habit of playing a game of tag, where we only make quick connections with the people familiar to us. Perhaps we prefer dodgeball, as we avoid the people we don’t like.
As time passed, I found myself in a multitude of conversations about why we aren’t better at talking about things in church. Why do we feel we have to hide things? Why are we hesitant to approach someone and ask questions that might be uncomfortable?
I’ve wondered some of these same things, but more conversations are going on than we might know. We assume no one is saying the tough stuff to someone who needs to hear it. But often, either that person is rejecting what’s being said, or people are reaching out in private. That’s not to say we should assume someone else is doing the hard stuff, or that we are off the hook. If we think someone should be reaching out, maybe we’re that someone.
We need to keep in touch with people, so that we know them well and notice the signs of inconsistencies in their lives. If we distance ourselves and have superficial contact, we don’t know enough to be helpful to one another. Still, we have to realize we can’t know everything. And because we can’t know everything, there’s another relationship that has to always take precedence: it’s the one we have with God.
One of the very best things you can do for the people around you is consistently strive to be spiritually healthy. When you are, other sorts of health will follow. On the other hand, when you are spiritually unhealthy, health in other areas tends to deteriorate, including emotional and relational health. Church involvement does not predict spiritual health. I know plenty of people involved in church who are not spiritually healthy. Of course, we’re all in process, but too many people don’t care or notice that they’ve hit a plateau and refuse to grow and change.
Becoming spiritually healthy is a continual process. There’s no one-time goal you can reach and camp under. There’s no star sticker trophy you earn, then stop. When my ex announced he wanted a divorce, I was in a spiritually healthy place, and I knew it was important to stay on that track. Every decision I made was somehow grounded in that desire to stay healthy. I was sensitive to avoid what would make me feel good temporarily but could hinder continued growth. I had to pursue what was best and right and true. Making those decisions was not easy sometimes. I chose poorly at times, especially with my attitude. Those inner choices might not be visible to others, but they determine what spills out later.