You may not have heard about Joshua and Colleen Evans' decision of divorce, but it broke my heart. It didn't break my heart because they were devastated. It broke my heart because they, like so many of us, are immersed in a world that insisted that it was the only answer to any problems.
Why is that getting ditched at the altar on your wedding day has become the greatest tragedy in the world? I've seen people and characters griping over this everywhere— in movies, books, television, heck, even in Broadway musicals. Granted, it is a disaster— I mean, you put all of this effort and planning and money into the happiest day of your life, and...
Wait. Hold it right there.
It seems like a lot of the problem with marriage is people have lost sight of what it is. We've gotten so lost in the venues and menus and dresses and themes and festivities and picture perfect memories that we've forgotten the vows.
And the sad thing is, while mostly meaning well, we've fallen into the trap of idealization and brainwashed ourselves into this mentality. We relish in all of those romcoms and Disney flicks that all end in wedding bells, and we forget that we're making a mutual commitment to someone who is flawed, with a brokenness we will try, but often fail to mend, as we ourselves are not perfect. No wedding is going to erase weaknesses or prevent hardship. It's supposed to be a beginning.
And not the beginning of "happily ever after." It marks the beginning of venturing trials and suffering together, making mutual compromises, and caring for another's well-being even more than one's own. It marks the beginning of no longer seeking joy from another human being, but instead making an everyday commitment to contribute to theirs.
If anyone is running away from marriage on the wedding day, it is because (s)he is afraid of the cost of the commitment or because (s)he is not ready to put someone else first. Thus, difficult as it is, it in a sense a blessing that they fled before that covenant! However, this has become a millennial's' worst nightmare because we have bought into the lie: "If there is no one who's in love with me, then I must be unlovable."
Have you forgotten how loved you are?
"Suffering has to come because if you look at the cross, he has got his head bending down — he wants to kiss you — and he has both hands open wide — he wants to embrace you. He has his heart opened wide to receive you." -Saint Teresa of Calcutta
Thus, neither can I, nor need I, look for a sense of worth in another human being, when one innocently died for me, despite all of the apathy and abandonment and ingratitude and bitterness I bestow on Him every day. He still loves me, and he still loves you , even as we fail Him.
He waits for us, his Church, His bride, at every moment in time.
But what if He just stopped? What if He just left his bride behind saying things that He truly has every right to say:
Loving you just hurts too much for me to bear anymore. I need a break, okay? I deserve better. You blame me for all of your problems. You act as if you are entitled to more than what I can give you, and as if everything I have done for you still isn't enough. You make your career more important; you've abandoned me in a greater love for someone or something else. You pin all of your hurts and your bitterness on me and wound me with your hurtful words. I feel lonely and underappreciated. You're so annoying with your fixtation on same that thing; could you please just move on from it? I just don't even know who you are anymore... I deserve someone whose actions prove their words. I can't take all of your lies, apathy, broken promises, resentments, and inner ugliness.
But you know He never says, nor does he even think, any of these things. Instead, He says this:
This is why divorces like Colleen's and Josh's break my heart. I know that both of their hearts are generally in the right place, and that neither one of them is utterly abusive or superficial or selfish. However, they allowed themselves to be convinced that enduring suffering together just is not worth it anymore. What happened to the vows they made, the vows that represent that devotion between us and Christ? When have we, as a Church, ever proved Christ's eternally faithful love for us to be worth it?
We never have. Yet, through His great sacrifice, He proved His love is greater than our unworthiness.
And this is what marriage should be built upon.
So if you happen to be engaged or newlywed as you read this, please consider what I have said. I hope you will be able to accept that your difficulties and trials certainly will not end, and in fact, will probably increase with marriage. This world will be no more your home than it was before. The whole point is, however, you will be facilitating one another's journeys to home.