I remember the first time I heard a friend’s parents were divorcing. I must have been seven at the time, and I didn’t understand. Was that possible? I mean people were allowed to do that? It didn’t seem right. More than that, it seemed wrong.
Growing up I didn’t know my biological dad, and my mom married my stepdad when I was four, so I remember little before him. They had a fine marriage, but there were always issues. Even as a kid I was aware of that. Money, church, friends, attitudes, other attractions, the chore of children—these things weighed on my parents. I thought their marriage was over at times, but then they’d come back together again—until the time they didn’t.
I remember the moment my stepdad told me that he’d filed divorce papers. My parent’s divorce wasn’t unexpected, but my heart ached all the same. He’d been waiting to tell me because I’d had a lot on my mind. You see, I’d been planning my own wedding. And the day he chose to tell me was my wedding day. Yes, my wedding day. He didn’t want me to be surprised that when I returned from my honeymoon, he’d be living someplace else.
I can picture your dropped jaw . . . and I felt the same shock and disbelief as I drove away with my new husband. I was eighteen years old and newly married, but something still felt wrong about my parents getting a divorce. I felt like a hurt kid inside.
Another truth is that after divorce, things never seem “right” again. Seeing my mom without my dad at home was weird. To have to go to two Christmases and two Thanksgivings was weird, as well. Affections are split, and it’s the most unnatural thing in the world.
Speaking of truths, no matter how old you are, the divorce still seems partly your fault. I had very rocky teen years and caused my parents stress. During my junior year of high school when my mom wondered if she should get her own apartment, I told her I thought she should. Even though my input had very little effect on their decision, the guilt is still there. It’ll always be there. I always feel that if I’d been a better kid, it would have been easier for my parents to work it out (even though as someone who’s been married for twenty-three years, I know that their decision was their decision).
Yes, during my growing up years, many parents divorced, but the statistics don’t matter. Having my parents make that choice hurt. I would hurt the same if I was the only one on the planet or if it was common (like it was). Just because a million other kids were feeling the same pain didn’t lessen it for me.
The truth about being a child of divorce is that it hurts no matter how old you are. This is not how God created things. A commitment is a commitment, especially one made before God.I’ve been thinking about this lately because if my generation has anything in common, it is our universal exposure to divorce—not only with our parents, but in our marriages. If you’re alive today, divorce has had a profound effect on you financially, emotionally, morally, and spiritually. Our lives are different because of what happened in our country’s marriages.
And where does that leave us? As people who understand the pain and struggle, our job is to help strengthen marriages—those around us and our own. Sure, you might think your friend has a good excuse for divorce, but don’t encourage it. Encourage forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation. Pray. Pray hard.
Pray for the couples out there, and pray for their children. We’ve seen enough hurting kids grow into hurting adults.
And if you’re considering a divorce yourself, I beg you to reconsider. The grass is not greener. Happiness is not found in someone else. Love can be rekindled.
The best thing you can do for yourself and for your children is to give your marriage a second chance. Don’t think that walking away from your commitment will come without consequences. Don’t think you’re not going to break your children’s hearts.
If you don’t want to try again, take your hurt and pain to God. Tell Him that the love is gone and seek His help. Love can sprout where you think only dead, dry ground exists. God can do miracles, and He wants to start in your heart.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. Isaiah 61:1-3,7 (NIV)
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 (NIV)
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1 (KJV)