My parents divorced when I three. I obviously don’t remember it, although I claim to have a memory of my father packing a moving truck and driving away. My mom says I wasn’t even home that day – the day he physically moved out – and that I have fabricated that memory.
He left in late winter/early spring. Until I received biblical counseling in my mid-thirties, I was physically ill every February – March. My body remembered my little three-year old grief and reacted accordingly.
In high school, my dad and step-mom moved. They had been living about ninety minutes from us. They looked at a house fifteen minutes from where my brother and I lived with our mother and her parents. We were thrilled at the possibilities of having them finally close enough where we could have our own rooms, visit them mid-week, have them at all of our events.
But they moved an hour away. Until then, we had been required to spend every Friday night with them. High school introduced so many activities that those Friday nights became fewer and farther between.
My brother has been divorced. My paternal grandparents divorced. Both of my brothers-in-law divorced. My husband’s parents divorced when he was six or seven – he can’t remember.
We have a legacy of divorce in our family, and it is something Keith and I have said from the beginning is not an option for us. Period.
I wish I could tell you that my parents’ divorce doesn’t have consequences today. I am soon to be 42 years old, I have been married over 14 years, I have a seven year old.
I think about it almost every day.
I think about it every time I need help: who do I call first. Who I called last. Who has spent the most time with our child.
I think about it when my mom struggles: what would have happened if my father hadn’t left.
I think about it when my son asks when he’s going to get a step-mom. (that was actually a funny conversation…)
I think about it when my brother refuses to come down for a visit: trying to balance who you visit when is stressful.
I think about it when I see the gross discrepancies in lifestyle between my father and mother.
I think about it during family events when everyone is together: it’s so awkward. Part of me wants to shout, “It’s been over 35 years; we need to all get over it!” while part of me wants to shout, “You are all so stinking selfish and you ruined our childhood and it’s crept into our adult lives!”
I know that God is sovereign. I know that Jesus redeems everything. I know that bitterness and anger and sadness and dishonoring my parents is the exact opposite of how I am commanded to act as a daughter of the King.
And yet…we live in this fallen world. Among fallen people. The effects of divorce are far-reaching. Modern psychology, counselors, television, even pastors will tell you that your happiness is paramount – that God wants you to be happy. But divorce will wreck your children. Research shows that even thirty years after their parents’ divorce, “children” suffer. I can attest first hand to this.
God has been gracious with me; I am educated, I am healthy, our marriage is healthy. However, I sometimes feel as if I am being punished for the sins of my parents, which is what God’s Word says can happen.
If your marriage is in trouble, get biblical counseling. If your spouse won’t go, you go. Don’t let your children suffer in either a troubled marriage or a lifetime of living with divorced parents.
If you are divorced, this is not a criticism, or something to shame you. I have seen so little written from adult children of divorce, however, and I want there to be strong marriages in the church. I want you to know that if you are divorced, and you have children, you need to be exceptionally intentional in leading them to Christ. I struggle daily with picturing God as a loving Father who gives good gifts, because I have little earthly concept of that. And I can’t possibly be alone.
(I halfway joke that someday I am going to get my PhD, and my dissertation is going to be on adult women who were children of divorce and their perceptions of God the Father.)
If you are like me, and are a grown up “child” of divorce…well…you aren’t alone. Take comfort in that. And you, too, might need some biblical counseling.
God is a God of redemption, love, and mercy. He has shown immense amounts of all of these to me and my little family. He can do that for you, too. He hates divorce, because it tears apart the very fabric of the family – the very seams of society. But He is loving and merciful, even then. Cling to Him, no matter which part of the divorced family you fall into. He will not fail you (even if you find that incredibly unbelievably hard to fathom).