I stayed in a difficult marriage (to put it mildly) for 23 years because I knew God hated divorce. When I finally had the courage to get divorced, I interpreted that as God hated me. It kind of felt like it actually. In my head I knew that wasn’t true; but in my wounded, weary and beaten up heart, that is what it felt like. Thankfully my heart eventually caught up with my head and it didn’t feel like God hated me anymore. But he does still hate divorce, and probably not for the reasons you think. The longer I am divorced the more I understand why God hates it.
God hates divorce because of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If you are not familiar with it here it is….
Diagram credit: J. Finkelstein
Divorce sends you straight to the bottom again. (Well except for the sex, even that is gone.) Trying to climb back up Maslow’s Hierarchy after divorce is a little like standing at the bottom of Mt Everest in flip flops and a tank top, carrying a vacuum cleaner and three kids. It all just seems so insurmountable.
Divorce, regardless of the reasons, catapults you into survival mode
Especially if you now find yourself a single parent. In the beginning, literally, all you can manage is breathing and going to the bathroom. Most days all you want to do is stay under the covers and sleep; hoping that when you wake up you really don’t have to work three jobs and someone has paid for a cleaning service for a year. Eventually you manage to get up off the floor only to look behind you to see the indent in the carpet on your bedroom floor; like some crime scene chalk outline of someone that died while curled up in the fetal position. (Please, just grant me a little melodrama.) Somehow you find you have slowly graduated out of this stage. Usually it’s because one of your kids is banging on the bathroom door demanding something ridiculous like food or clean clothes. You realize no one is going to do it for you. The laundry fairy and your knight in shining armor have failed to show up at the requested time. The bills and the laundry have taken over and now you will need to build a whole bill/ laundry suite addition just to contain them. You actually contemplate that as a solution for a moment before you begin to climb out of the hole of divorce despair and attempt to graduate to Maslow’s next level.
God hates divorce because it leaves you worn and weary and struggling in survival mode.
Single parents spend all of their time in the second level. All of your energy is about keeping your kids safe, cared for, clothed, and somewhat on course. Safety and stability are your entire focus; right the ship that was wrecked, whatever it takes. Survival mode is about finding enough employment to keep the house and shoes on your kids. It’s about doing whatever it takes to pay the bills. Your days are spent doing tasks that used to be shared, now it is all on you. Every grocery shop, every load of laundry, every floor mopped, every lawn mowed, every car repair, every light bulb to be changed, every home repair, every doctors appt., every school conference, every HW session, every discipline moment, every bath, bedtime, and morning meal, all you.
I know every mom makes sacrifices for their kids and deserves a standing ovation, but only single moms (and dads) know the burden, worry, and exhaustion of doing it alone and praying that what you’re doing is enough to provide for, fill the void, and set your kids up for success.
God hates divorce, because it leaves little time and energy to live with a purpose other than survival and safety.
Somehow, divorce causes your friendships to fracture too. Where once you had couple friends to socialize with and support you, now you are the odd man out. I don’t blame them. It’s awkward and a little uncomfortable. Nobody really knows what to do with you. It’s weird setting 11 places at a dinner party. Besides, lets face it, those of us that have gone through the pre, during, and post divorce events aren’t the cheeriest people to be around. We can be a little draining on our relationships that are still around. It makes a lonely situation, even lonelier. God hates divorce because it cuts a lot of chords. Chords that were in place to encourage and support you; do life together chords. And now they are gone too. God hates divorce because for a long time you just don’t have the time and energy to form new friendships or reestablish the old ones.
So If by some miracle you are able to climb up from the depths of survival mode to establish some sense of security, and maybe you even manage to develop some new relationships; you are still facing the steep accent up to regain your self esteem. On a good day it’s hard to have a healthy self esteem. After divorce, some days you need to send in the national guard followed by a counseling session with Stuart Smalley to remember that you are “Good enough, smart enough, and Doggon-it people like you”.
Divorce beats you up. It stomps on your heart and exhausts you. It makes you question your worth and your lovability. It feels like failure.
Most of your day is spent making sure you kids are thriving and helping them to reach their level of a healthy self esteem. All your effort is going to the “Good Jobs” the “You’re Greats” the “You can do anythings” for your kids. It’s hard to muster the strength to do that for yourself; especially when divorce made you feel like the exact opposite.
I think God hates that.
But I think the thing that God hates the most about divorce is that he watches those He created for a purpose and a passion lose theirs. It sidelines people that could be and should be living out their calling.The daily struggle for survival keeps single parents from achieving their potential and purpose.
It’s hard for the single mom/dad to create a “Do Over” when they are already the doer of everything.
It’s nearly impossible to muster enough emotional or physical energy to reach that top level. Nearly…
It’s taken me years, but I feel like I am finally clawing my way out of the depths of survival mode. I am beginning to dream of possibilities again; beginning to see the top of the mountain my just be in reach. If you are in the depths of survival mode, hang in there, with time and effort you will get there too. The top of the pyramid is within reach. Like anything in life, you just have to keep making forward progress. You don’t need to sprint to the top. Just take one step at a time. However long it takes, keep pushing forward. Your climb to the top is yours alone.
Don’t compare yourself to the person traveling by leaps and bounds carrying only a small back pack while you lumber one fatigued step at a time dragging all your responsibilities behind you in a duffle bag the size of a U-Haul. Climb your mountain at your pace; just keep climbing.
No one walks down the aisle thinking they will end up divorced. Life happens, addiction happens, infidelity happens. And God hates it. But maybe not for the reasons you thought. Climb on!