Back in 2004, right after I had left my engineering career to pursue full-time vocational ministry, I was asked to officiate the wedding of some friends of my wife and mine. We had known this couple for a number of years, knowing the wife for longer and before she had met her prospective husband. Having just been ordained that May, I was fully credentialed to perform the wedding and so I agreed.
My wife and I flew to San Francisco and drove down to Visalia where the wedding would be. We spent time with family and friends and enjoyed our time together, being invited into this very intimate and personal experience. I performed the wedding and my wife and I sang a rewritten hymn called “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” for the ceremony.
We were pleased to hear that our friends were moving to Charlotte, North Carolina, not too far from where we were in Asheville. It was even better for us as my wife was finishing up her Master’s degree in counseling from Gordon-Conwell Seminary in Charlotte and we would now have a place to stay for the weekends that my wife would have class. It would give us a chance to continue to cultivate the relationship with our friends.
A few years after my wife finished her degree, we moved from Asheville to Mechanicsville, Virginia. Our friends remained in Charlotte for some time before beginning a period of moving back and forth across the country. Their journey took them back to Connecticut, where they had met, out to California, where she was from, and down to Georgia, where his family now lived. He finished his Master’s of Divinity degree from Gordon and began pursuing a ministry job as a pastor.
Through the busyness of the past few years and all that has gone on in losing my parents, I have felt almost as if I have lived in a vacuum, oblivious to some of the events taking place around me. My mind has been so consumed with all of what I have dealt with that I have felt disconnected over and over again. These friends of ours seemed to have dropped off of my radar for a period of time. I didn’t talk with them or hear from them, not intentionally, it was just the stage of life where we were at the time.
Then one day, while perusing the news feed on Facebook, I clicked on one of their profiles, only to see the dreaded word “separated” for their relational status. I panicked. What had happened? While I had known that things were not perfect, that’s the case for all of us who are married, I did not know that things were bad enough to have lead to a separation. Not too long after that, my wife received a message from the wife that she read to me. She came down the stairs with tears in her eyes as she announced the couple’s plans for a divorce. We were devastated.
I felt so personally responsible as I had been the one to marry them. My heart was breaking for them both, knowing that it must be an incredibly difficult situation. As the months unfolded, I renewed my relationship with the husband and found out more of the story behind the dissolution of the marriage. My heart broke even more as he honestly told me about all that had happened. There were no feelings of judgment within me, just empathetic feelings of pain and hurt. I just didn’t know how things could have come to this.
Thankfully, I have maintained my relationship with the husband. In fact, I get to see him in a few weeks. I have been so overwhelmed at what God has done in his life since “the bottom dropped out” from under him. I have gained even more respect for him in how he has handled himself and how he has submitted himself to what God’s plan is for him. God has transformed him and continued to mold him into the man of God that is being and will be used for the glory of God.
Last month, my friend released a book about his experience and how God has taken him through the darkness. A few days after it came out, I ordered it for Kindle and during one of my insomnia laden nights, I finished the whole thing. Tomorrow’s post is my review of his book. I am privileged to call this man a friend and brother. He is an inspiration to me and I am grateful that our paths have crossed. His story is a reminder to me that God can take us from what seems to be the furthest reaches of His grace and bring us back into His loving arms. It’s a story that speaks not only to those who are divorced, but to anyone who has experienced the pain and anguish of living in a broken and fallen world. I would highly recommend it and encourage you to come back tomorrow to read my full review.