I remember the day my mom and dad sat my sisters and I down and told us they were getting a divorce. My younger sisters, 11 and 9, were devastated at the news. I was 15 and not so devastated. As the oldest, I had seen and heard awful things from my parents as attacks to one another. I was relieved that I would no longer have to bear the burden of being in the middle. Little did I know I would remain in the middle for years to come.
It really hit home the day my mom moved out. That was the point I realized we really were going through it. Sure, there was a massive gap between my parents when they were together, but the move made it real. They did not go through any kind of custody arrangements and my sisters and I were free to roam between the two of them as we pleased. That freedom taught my sisters and me how to manipulate situations to get what we wanted. If my mom would not give me what I wanted, I went running to my dad. If he was getting on my nerves and being too strict, I would move back in with my mom. It was fun for a while; I was able to pretty much “run my own life” because both of them just wanted to make me happy. In the end, it left me with a fear that there was no constant in my life, no safe place, no refuge.
After two years of outright madness, I broke. My sisters and I had been waiting almost a day-and-a-half for our mom to get home. I had no vehicle when at my mom’s, so we were stranded. My selfishness as a teen had me constantly living with whichever parent had no rules, and where I went, my sisters followed. I remember just crying and being so angry at everything. I wrote my mom a letter explaining that my sisters and I could no longer live with her anymore until she started behaving like a parent. Funny, at first I loved the fact of being un-parented, but the insecurities it was placing upon me had become too much. Nearly midnight, I called my dad and asked him to come get us. I explained to my sisters what we needed to do, helped them pack their things, and left in the middle of the night in agony over the fact that when mom returned, she would find an empty house.
Living with my dad was tough, but he had rules. I willed myself to obey them, because I knew it was best for my sisters and me. Dad was in an awful depression, and angry all the time. It was extremely hard not to run back to my mom, but I promised my sisters that this was where we needed to be, so to uphold that promise, I stuck it out. During this time I felt stable again, secure. My sisters seemed to feel it as well.
Now, I bet you are asking, “Well Ashley, where was God in all of this?” I am ashamed to tell you that I took God out of this equation for a very long time. I did not truly and completely surrender myself back to Him until I was married and with a child of my own. I went to church, I was active in my youth group, I did mostly right things, but I still led a double life behind the scenes. I am writing this to show you all of the unnecessary heartache I went through because I did not put my trust in Him.
As I became to mature and grow in Christ, the pieces missing to the puzzle of surviving divorce began to fall into place. Listed below are the things I accepted, and put into practice to heal the suffering. It is my prayer that these things will help you too as you heal.
If your parents are going through a divorce, or have gone through one, remember that they are devastated. Divorces decay the very core of a person and can make them into people you may not even recognize. Be patient with them; they feel as if their very identity has been ripped away, and in a sense, it has. When two people marry, they become one (Genesis 2:24) and when they are no longer one, they feel empty. Try to understand this feeling when they are not acting like themselves and remember that they are grieving and need compassion and daily prayers.
Remember to Love
Do not seek your own selfish ambitions during the divorce. I played my parents, I dug knives into their wounds, I used one against the other. They were so concerned with making sure I knew they still loved me that they would have done anything and I abused that fact. “Love is patient, and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). It is easy to get caught up in making sure your parents feel your hurt. They feel it; they have overwhelming guilt that they caused it. Love them and bear with them.
Cling to Christ
Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” Your steady home life may be in ruins, but Christ and His love is unchanging. Christ is a refuge, a safe place, a security blanket. Cling to Him by digging into his word. When feeling the weight of your broken home, read scriptures concerning His promises and love to all.
Seek Godly Fellowship
The Church family bridges the gap of loneliness. We are told to rejoice with one another, pray for one another, and carry one another’s burdens. We are told to love each other with brotherly affection, and be consistent in prayer (Romans 12:9-18).
Divorces are never easy for anyone involved, but for those who love God, all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). I can now say, ten years after my parents’ divorce, that I am a stronger person. My relationship with my dad has healed, and my mom has become my mom again, and a wonderful grandparent to my kids. Nothing will shield you entirely from the hurt but if you seek and trust in Him, God promises to carry you through in His perfect peace.
If you would like to discuss your parents’ divorce in a private manner, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you wish to keep yourself anonymous, go to www.sendemail.org and it will allow you to send your email privately. There are lots of great resources out there for young people to help cope with a divorce. A great book to take a look at is Surviving - Helping Teens find Peace on the Roller Coaster of Divorce by Joe Wells available at www.focuspress.org. I am here for you, and love you, and will be praying for you.