My first marriage began two days after my twenty-first birthday. Young and in love, I ignored many of the warning signs that sometimes whispered, sometimes screamed that walking down the aisle wasn't a good idea - for me or for her. Divorce paperwork was filed within five years, and (since my ex-wife and I don't have any children together) we haven't really spoken since.
It takes two to make a marriage work, and (frequently) it takes two to cause it to fall apart. This was the case for us. Mistakes were made by each party...both of commission and omission...and those mistakes ultimately led to the demise of a covenant that was intended to last a lifetime.
When going through the separation, not once did I ever think, "How am I going to explain this decision to my future kids?" Truthfully, the idea wasn't on my radar screen. But now, happily remarried and with two amazing children, I've been wrestling regularly with how and when to tell my boys about the divorce. And, candidly, I'm scared.
I'm scared they might think "God hates divorce" means "God hates dad."
I'm scared they might question why their mom was my second choice.
I'm scared they might wonder if one day I will "divorce" them too.
I'm scared they might assume the same things about divorced people that I once did.
I'm scared they might follow in my misguided footsteps someday.
I don't want to hurt my kids, but I know that (at least in some small way) this revelation likely will. However, it's an admission that must be made at some point. I honestly have no idea what I'm going to say to them or how I'm going to say it. But, whenever they're ready (and whenever I muster up the courage), I hope to help Jeremiah and Elijah understand a few things.
1. God hates divorce. Not divorced people. In fact, it's because of God's unfailing love for us that he hates the things that were never intended to be a part of his perfect design. (John says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.")
2. The adjectives we put in front of the word 'sin' are irrelevant. In fact, the only word that matters when it comes to our sin is his grace. (2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”)
3. Patience is the cure for temptation. In fact, one of the greatest dangers in life is proceeding without praying. (Mark 14:38 says, "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”)
4. While we learn from our mistakes, God forgets them. In fact, God promises to give us a second (and third and fourth) chance to make a first impression. (Hebrews 8:12 says, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.")
5. Our imperfect past doesn't ruin God's perfect plan. In fact, the difficult lessons learned in our past often reinforce the beauty of God's plan. (Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.")
I hope and pray that my two boys will not just listen to my heart, but truly hear it. The challenge is going to be pushing through the terror (and the tears) long enough to teach.