Fathom Mag

Published on:
January 14, 2020
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2 min.
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Some things break

How old were you when you first learned that things break? I was twenty-nine. 

Of course I’d broken things before, like the glass rabbit figurine my grandma gave me. Or my ipod. A casserole dish. And I’d seen other people breaks things, like their arm. A car. A church. 

“There has to be another way…” isn’t always loving. Isn’t always kind. Isn’t always true.
Rachel Joy Welcher

But I was twenty-nine when I first learned that unbreakable things can break. The things we were taught to hold together at all costs, ‘til death do us part. It was as if there was some metaphorical glue that Christian couples were given as a wedding present. It would hold them together. The ones who didn’t believe in divorce. The ones who were actually committed and hadn’t left a back door open to escape if things got rough. 

I didn’t realize that divorce was something that could happen to a person. That it isn’t always the result of “throwing in the towel” or “giving up.” Sometimes, it is about trusting God with the pain of the unknown. The trauma of forsakenness. It is refusing to bar the door or start a war, but signing the papers instead. 

For others, it is about escaping abuse and taking the kids with you. Doing what you never dreamed possible, because sin has broken things. Because walls are crumbling around you and you have to get out before the house caves in. 

But people told to get on my knees and beg. To put on my prettiest dress and apologize for things I hadn’t done. I was told to downplay my faith. Because although we accept that we live in a fallen, sinful world, it appears there are some things we won’t accept. Like the fact that divorce happens, even to faithful Christians.

“There has to be another way…” isn’t always loving. Isn’t always kind. Isn’t always true. I saw a crack in the windshield. Saw it start to spread, and knew that it might shatter promises I had made, and that there was nothing I could do in good faith to stop it. And I had to lean into God like I never had before. 

It’s a strange feeling, to have so little control. To watch promises you made break apart. As Christians, we rightly talk about ideals. About the biblical standard. The righteous way. And I don’t regret believing that marriage is a lifelong covenant. I don’t regret promising that. Hoping for that. I still believe what the Bible says about marriage is true and right and good. But I also know that promises can break, even when you are holding them tight.

You are not alone, beloved. I know that so many things have slipped from your hands that it begins to feel like life full of slippery covenants and broken plans. Like there is nothing steady or true. But you, most precious to God, are secure in the hands of the Almighty. For Jesus said: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)

This is steady. This is true. Some promises don’t break. 

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine and an Acquisitions Editor for Lexham Press. She earned her MLitt. from The University of St. Andrews. She is the author of two collections of poetry: Two Funerals, Then Easter and Blue Tarp, and the book, Talking Back to Purity Culture: Rediscovering Faithful Christian Sexuality (InterVarsity Press, 2020). You can follow her on Twitter @racheljwelcher.

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