When you are going through a divorce, sometimes it feels as though you are on the outside, looking in. Many of my clients talk about the pain of feeling like an outsider, as though everyone around them is in a happy marriage. If they attend a church, they often feel like an intruder, as though they no longer have a right to be there. This painful experience speaks to the heart of the shame that comes with divorce – the sense of being a failure, of not measuring up, of not being good enough.
This seems to be particularly true for my Christian clients. For some reason, marriage has become a sort of litmus test for being a true follower of Christ. I find this to be both troubling and sadly ironic, since the truth is that everyone has stumbled and fallen in one way or another. It may just be easier to hide other transgressions from others, and from one’s self.
I am reminded that Jesus consistently sought out those individuals whom society had placed in the margins – the sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, women and children, the poor, the lame, the blind. In the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector who climbed a tree in order to see Jesus walk by, the evidence is clear that Jesus seeks out the outsiders. Despite the crowd’s efforts to block his view, Zacchaeus found a way to overcome those obstacles and Jesus responded by actively seeking him out.
It is clearly evident that the times when we feel the least worthy of love and acceptance, the least able to receive this from others, or give it to ourselves, are the opportunities for God’s grace to enter in and fill in the gaps.