Confessions Pt. 2

In my last post, I talked about how Drew and I almost filed for divorce this year (more on that HERE). To recap just a little, the reason we didn’t was because we opened up to people and let them speak in to our lives. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do—admit to people that I was struggling and hurting in an area that had been so good for so long. I’ve got to be honest: my pride thought we had that whole marriage thing on lock. (Just a reminder that the second pride creeps in, even things you were great at will become a struggle). Because I was stuck in my own pride, I was terrified to even bring up what we were going through to someone else.

Anytime I have fear or anxiety about something I always try to evaluate the why behind the emotions. When we were in that season, it was hard to pinpoint why I had such a fear of opening up to people about what Drew and I were dealing with. Even as he sat down with his mentor and a leader in our church, I was filled with anxiety about what that would mean. I was worried we would be shunned. I was worried we would be looked down upon. I was worried we would have to awkwardly take a step down from ministry and have people around us whisper about why we weren’t serving anymore. I was worried that even though people said, “This is a safe place,” that it wouldn’t be, not really. I worried about all these things because they had already happened to me in the past, and they happen to a lot of us every single day.

We talk about being raw and real in our church communities and how a church should be a no judgement zone but when we’re faced with something that goes beyond the daily struggles, how do we react? I’ve noticed a pattern in a lot of church culture where we tend to overdramatize problems while simultaneously emphasizing perfection. We preach that we have to come to each other with our problems and be honest about our struggles, but what we really mean is, “You need to get over your problems and quickly because you’re following Jesus, so you should be above reproach.” That’s exactly what happened to us. We came to friends and trusted advisors in our life and were met with opinions like, “You need to go to counseling,” or “Let’s all stop and pray together,” or “We need to just take you guys through freedom ministry.”[1]

Now, don’t get me wrong, all of those are great things. I’m a fan of counseling, prayer, and freedom—yes and amen. However, reiterating something that people already know is incredibly unproductive and frustrating to that individual. Every time we were met with that kind of feedback, I wanted to respond, “Yea, no shit. But ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO ME?” We opened up, we were vulnerable, and instead of being met with grace and love, we were met with all the ways that we needed to be fixed because we were so broken.

Honestly, that only made our situation worse. When I look back at that season, it’s shocking what little we were actually fighting about. What really escalated problems was not our fighting or our discord. What escalated our problems were people’s reactions when we talked about it. Divorce is such a four-letter word in the church that if you even suggest you’re toying with the idea, people start screaming, “INTERVENTION!!!” It’s unproductive. Sometimes people don’t need your advice or your wisdom, sometimes they just need to talk. Sometimes when people are going through struggles, the sky isn’t actually falling, they’re just people. Sometimes people are people. We fight. We get angry. We get confused. None of those things mean we’re walking away from the Lord or possessed by demons.

Sometimes we’re just people.

Drew and I were just people. We were just people who started arguing (passionately arguing, like all things in my life). I’m sure counseling, freedom ministry, and two thousand books and courses on marriage would have been just fine, but it wasn’t what we needed. What we really needed was someone to look us in the eye, laugh with us, and help us realize that the enemy was trying to create a problem that didn’t even exist. Thank God that’s exactly what happened. Drew opened up to a mentor and he laughed, telling Drew all the stories of he and his wife going through the exactsame struggles. It was so incredibly comforting to know that we weren’t horrible, we weren’t demon possessed, we didn’t need an intervention—we were just human. Everything broke that day. Our giant marital struggles completely fell apart when we realized we didn’t actually have any giant marital struggles. The talk of divorce stopped when we opened up about it and realized we didn’t really want to live life without each other.

Here’s my point in all of this; people are people. Sure, the goal is to be perfect like Jesus, but until we get there we cannot demand something from someone that they’re not ready to handle. Perfection is the bar that Jesus set. It’s a goal, but there’s an entire process of dying to flesh that has to accompany that.

How much more freedom would people walk in if we stopped telling them about how broken they were and started reminding them of how much freedom they have access to? Somebody, somewhere, someday, is going to share some vulnerable things with you. If you don’t know how to respond, just listen. If you don’t know what to say, ask the Holy Spirit. People are the greatest treasure on earth, and we have to do better handling them.

[1] While Freedom ministry looks different for many people, in this context it’s the process of healing spiritual roots and removing any demonic oppression present in a believer.