In January of 2001, my parents separated for the first time.
While I was away at college, twenty plus years of broken promises came to a head. I knew it was right. I knew my home wasn’t healthy. But we had spent 20 years keeping up appearances in the spotlight as a preacher’s family. Now the truth we’d hidden for so long was out.
You would think over the coming years as my parents got back together and separated several more times their divorce would have come as a relief. No more living in abuse. No more hiding. No more what ifs, but so much was lost.
The dream of the “perfect family.”
The hope of restoration.
Though divorce is “normal” today, its effects on children cannot be overlooked. Even as a young adult, I took my parent’s divorce hard. I felt lost because even though what we had wasn’t healthy, it was normal and comfortable. I felt broken and angry and hurt.
I still remember where I was standing on my Christian college campus when I thought, ”I would really like to get drunk right now, but that will get me kicked out of school. I’ll drown myself in busyness instead.” That is the only semester in my undergraduate work that I got straight A’s. Then I spent the next twenty years burying myself under projects.
Please don’t hear me saying divorce is never warranted. My parent’s divorce was needed. Our family is better now because of it.
However, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t excruciatingly hard and painful. There were times I would stand under a scalding shower just to feel pain on the outside and instead of on the inside.
If you’re going through a divorce, have gone through one, or are contemplating it, please remember your children even in the middle of your own pain. Treat them like children, even if they are adults, and use your friends or a counselor as a sounding board. Help your child process their emotions in healthy ways instead of burying them in sports, activities, work, or school. Get godly counseling for your family. And above all, cover your family in prayer through the process and afterwards.
Healing will take time, years even. Though you may move on to another relationship within a few years, the pain of your divorce will continue to affect you and your children. You don’t need to run from it, but use it as a reason to run toward God.
If you need help knowing how to pray for your blended family, check out How to Pray God’s Word for Your Blended Family, by Dorina Lazo GIlmore-Young.
In the years during the separation and divorce, I clung to Psalm 27 with all my might, especially the last two verses. I pray they help your family, too. It reads:
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalms 27:13-14 NIV
These verses reminded me in the middle of the storm and as our family sorted through the broken pieces afterward that God was still good. His plan for my life was not ruined. His purpose for our family was not thwarted.
Friend, in spite what you’ve walked through, know God is still good. His plan for your life is not ruined. His purposes for you are not thwarted. God can use your pain and for His purpose, and you will see His goodness.
Father, right now it feels like we’re surrounded by our enemies. Some days the pain and heartache feel too much to bear. Please help us to put our confidence in You and in Your goodness. Help us to wait for You knowing Your light will cut through the darkness. In Jesus’ Name, amenThe mother of three active boys, Tara L. Cole teaches communication at Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology. Tara is passionate about helping moms and their kids deepen their relationships with Jesus. She’s the author of Everyday Prayers for the School Year, and her podcast, Over A Cup, helps women connect with Jesus throughout their day. Learn more about her at www.taralcole.com. Connect with her on IG!