Divorce is a brutal and unjust experience for most people. Even the most Phlegmatic among us cannot escape being affected by the suffering that ensues when his family is torn apart. For a long time, I thought men pretty much just shrugged off situations like these and went on their way, but I was wrong. It was my friend, Greg, that disproved that stereotype for me and in the end, was an example of how a true Christian lives in the face of disaster.
It all began when Greg went through a divorce in much the same manner as I had – he tried to save his marriage but was divorced against his will. Although the relationship with his wife had been difficult for a long time, he was still taken completely by surprise the day he came home and found his wife had packed up the kids and moved out. They would never be a whole family again.
Shortly thereafter, he found himself embroiled in a nasty and very costly custody battle that left him financially bankrupt. It was 2008 and the economy was tanking. Between that and being bankrupt he had to close the doors on the small business he had owned for years. He lost his house and couldn’t find a job.
Greg and I spoke often and candidly about what was happening with the challenges he experienced in trying to still, somehow, be a dad in his children’s lives. He was an emotional wreck, but despite his personal concerns, continued to be there for his kids in any way possible.
I was absolutely stunned by something he said one day as we discussed all he was going through. Just when I expected him to pour out his bitterness over all these devastating losses (as anyone in his situation would), he said that among the goals he had in trying to rebuild his life, the one that was most important to him and the one he worked toward each day – was to try to see Christ in his ex-wife. “If I can’t love her up close, I’m going to love her from afar,” he told me. And he literally had things he did on a daily basis to make this difficult task a reality. Even though they were divorced, he wanted to show his children what true love really was in the worst of circumstances.
“Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy!” Greg said. “But I’m trying.”
A Real Hero
What a miracle was taking place in Greg’s life… a miracle no one else could see. In the midst of such suffering and loss, he exemplified the meaning of Christ’s command to love our enemies and pray for those who hurt us (Mt. 5:44).
The world would call him “stupid,” but I call him “heroic.” He was an incredible example of personal strength and charity in the midst of suffering.
Is there anyone in your life who is providing you the opportunity to show this type of heroic virtue? Maybe an ex-spouse or ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who has caused you a great deal of suffering? Maybe it’s that one family member who is really hard to take? Then, there’s always that insensitive co-worker who feels compelled to make your life at work miserable. If you sit down and think about it, what can you do to see Christ in that person? What actions can you take to make that a reality in your life?
I hope Greg’s story affects you as much as it affected me. God pours out His graces on us in abundance, especially when we ask for them and we know that with God’s grace we can overcome any obstacle in our way.
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