Recently an acquaintance informed me that upon learning about my situation, has started praying for me. Usually, prayer is considered a kind gesture, appreciated on any level. It struck me, kind of suddenly, how strange it feels to know that for perhaps the first time in my life, this type of prayer is not only unsolicited, but strangely not helpful, wanted, and potentially damaging. You see, this past year and a half, I know there are lots of folks out there praying “against” me. I’m walking around, while people are praying for me for something I not only don’t want, I don’t feel is God’s will for me, and, if their intercessions are more successful than mine, quite damaging as well.
It occurred to me that we may do this often, assuming that we know God’s will for others, their situations are clearly defined, and that we know exactly what God must do to right the situation. In my case I not only divorced my husband of 16 years, but am now married to a woman. Two pretty huge strikes, two large “sins”, blighting (in others’ eyes) my otherwise pretty wholesome life. When we look at someone and can clearly pick out the major sin, and then begin pleading to God on their behalf, we are assuming an awful lot. Thankfully, my previous marriage did not include ANY type of abuse. But for argument’s sake, let’s look at an example of a divorce based on that kind of situation. She divorces her husband because of abuse. A friend, family member, acquaintance, anyone who knows her (but we can safely assume probably doesn’t know anything about the situation), says she’s praying that God will reconcile the marriage, because divorce is a sin. What if this person’s prayers were successful? Could prayer work this way? I suppose the best case is that the husband suddenly became non-abusive, repentant, fixed his shit, and the wife forgave and forgot, and they get back together and live happily ever after. What if prayer worked to the point of getting them back together, but the situation didn’t resolve? What if he changed, but she could never go back because it was too traumatic? Is this really the best thing? My point is that while I agree that divorce isn’t great and should be avoided when we can, we seem to put this idea that it is NEVER right, above all else. Above safety, above health, above letting go of situations that aren’t good.
This idea that we can pray that God can fix what went wrong isn’t necessarily bad, but when you don’t know the WHY’s, it’s awfully presumptuous. I think it falls under the premise that most people take at face value: Divorce=bad, marriage=good. We always compare bad divorces to good marriages. We assume divorce equals a broken home, damaged children, pain, hatred, incomplete family, and if it could just be “fixed”, then it’s happily ever after. When we think of marriage, we picture the good kind: mom and dad are in love, loving, present, happy, growing. So when we compare these two side by side, the winner is obvious. But that isn’t always real life. Sometimes marriage can be a family that is in a never ending cycle of frustration, resentment, codependency, pain, and unhappiness. Sometimes that doesn’t go away no matter what they try. Are the kids better off just because from the outside it looks intact? What if the separation frees the 2 adults to be healthy, happy, adjusted, focused, present, and can co-parent better apart than together? Is this automatically the wrong thing? At any rate, my point is that when we assume that because it’s labeled a sin, we assume it is never a good choice for those involved.
Now going back to the reality that many people are still praying that I come to my senses, leave my choices behind and return, let’s look at the ramifications of this: I just asked my ex-husband if it was weird that people are praying we get back together. He replied with a resounding “Yes! Definitely weird!” This is an option neither of us want on any level. I think I could understand it if one or both of us were hoping for this to be an option, and requesting people pray on our behalf. This could make sense. It’s hard to come up with another situation I could think of that someone would pray for something in my life to happen that I don’t want. I’m just glad that prayer doesn’t work this way, that as long as you have enough people, you can sway “the vote” per say. What about the ensuing damage of breaking up the current family? Would that not “count” because it would be really trying to right a perceived wrong? Would the people involved not feel any pain or damage because it wouldn’t count?
The other problem with praying like this on someone’s unsolicited behalf is that it again assumes that this is obviously the best outcome for everyone and God’s will. Perhaps a more biblical prayer would be praying for the people involved and that God work in their lives how he sees fit or leaving it to God to do what’s best. I think we sometimes are so sure we know what’s best, that if we left it up to God, we would be pretty surprised. Thankfully God doesn’t have to stay inside our idea-box of what He wants or can do.
So what’s a better way? My hope is to get the prayers going in our favor. That God’s hand is seen in our situation, not only for us, but for those we affect and interact with. That we grow daily in love. That our family gets stronger each day. That our children continue to feel our love, our stability, our strength, and God’s hopes for them. That the parents continue to rock the co-parenting. A mind-blowing thought? We are living God’s will. This was in His Plan all along. That ALL things work for the good. That we are a living example of the extent of God’s grace and love. That God uses us, our family, to spread His Love, Joy, Mercy and Grace.