Divorce and Children...

Question:

My friends parents are getting a divorce. I feel really bad for her. Do you think that divorces are wrong? Can they be prevented? How can I support her now?

Questions...

 

Dear Ashley,

I apologize for the length of time it has taken me to get to your question. It is an important issue and has been very much on my heart for a long time. My life has been busy, but I have not forgotten you and your friend!

How sad for your friend and her parents. Unfortunately divorce has become a reality that so many people have to deal with and live through. It is hard on the couple; it is hard on the children. And that pain does not quickly go away – in fact, I don’t believe the scars ever completely leave. Though healing can take place, the scars often remain as reminders. This is not a bad thing, as long as one has reconciled his or her heart to God and found peace beyond the tragedy of divorce.

You ask: Is divorce wrong? My answer to you is to look at it this way: Is divorce a part of God’s plan?

Divorce is not part of the plan. It really is a terrible evil that has come into our world. God’s will for us is to have good and holy marriages. He wants our happiness. He wants to bless us with beautiful marriages and loving families.

So why doesn’t this always happen? Why do 50% of marriages today end up in divorce?

I believe the epidemic of divorce in our world comes from a distortion of the meaning and purpose of marriage. God’s plan for marriage is for a man and a woman to join together in a life-long covenant of love that is open to bringing children into this world and raising them in God’s love.

In this plan a husband and a wife are intended to make of themselves a gift to the other. This attitude of self-donation, giving themselves freely and totally to each other, is the foundation of happiness in marriage. And when God is placed at the centre of a marriage, this exchange of love and lives works – and it works beautifully.

But our society has rejected God. And even for Christians, though they believe in God, they so often find themselves buying into the lies of the world. Our society has trained people to be selfish and self-seeking. Many people have turned their hearts inward. When our hearts are turned inward we can not truly be gift to others. To be gift to others our hearts have to be turned outward in love.

Many people do not enter marriage with this understanding. And because the path of life can be very hard, and marriage is not easy, when a couple does not have this self-less understanding, and when God is not placed at the centre of their love – things fall apart. Divorce is the unhappy consequence of this.

Many good people end up in divorce. It is not because they are bad. It is because they have been lied to about life and love. It is because they have not properly understood the meaning of their life and their ability to love and the purpose of their marriage.

Can we blame them? I don’t think so. They are experiencing great personal hurt and suffering and require much compassion.

Sometimes, through love and compassion, they can be pointed back to the truth and discover the meaning and purpose of their marriage and indeed they can avoid divorce. This is God’s desire and plan. And the hope is always there. But people have free will. Sometimes the pain is very deep and they are not prepared to deal with it. In any case, they need our prayers for healing and for the discovery of the truth.

I feel for your friend. Divorce shakes a child’s world . . . no matter what age he or she is. A child’s sense of security and identity comes from the stable love of parents. There is an expression: "Parents, if you really want to show your children that you love them, then love each other first." This is because the love of a husband and wife if the foundation of a family.

When that love is on rocky ground, the children feel an instability deep within themselves. All children long for security. All children long to be carefree. When they come from a good, solid home they can be free of major concerns. They can focus on the little ups and downs that growing up presents. They can deal with problems that life sends them, because they know, in the end, they’re going to be all right. When the home is all right, life is all right!

For children who are going through, or have survived, the devastation of divorce there is little security or assurance that life will be all right. Their world is torn apart. So how can we, as friends who support and love them, help them to know that they will be all right?

First of all, we can be there for them – to listen to them. Sometimes the greatest fears are easier to address when someone is listening. Somehow, being able to verbalize our fears and pains helps us to put them in perspective.

What is that perspective? We have to remember, always, that God is bigger than any problem, trial or suffering that we have to face. God’s plan for our life will not be thwarted by human frailty. He can take all the crooked lines of our mistakes and failures and hardships, and write straight!

Secondly, we can offer friendship. Spend time together. Be a good distraction at times from the pain. Go out and have fun together. This helps people to see that life will and can go on.

Even when life is changed, there can still be good. There is always good to be found in every situation in life because God’s love never leaves us. He is always reaching out to us – blessing us, through the good times and the bad. The important thing is to not turn our hearts from God – but turn to Him through hardships. Sometimes we just need a friend at our side to remind us that God is still with us. As a friend, remember that you are God’s hands to help, ears to hear, and arms to embrace. You are the visible sign of His love!

Thirdly, we can dedicate ourselves in prayer for someone going through suffering. The spiritual support that comes through prayer can not be underestimated. Sometimes, especially when a person is closing off from the world, we can feel helpless. But we are never helpless as long as we can pray.

Prayer is the lifeline that keeps us connected to God. Sometimes a person, because they are going through trials, feels too distant from God to pray. Praying for them and with them will help them to stay connected to God. The graces that are won through prayer can help, even if we don’t see the “results” or “affects” of prayer right away. A prayer is never lost on God. There is no such thing as a wasted prayer. God hears all prayers and responds, with love, every time. His timing is perfect . . . and in His time, all things will be revealed.

There is much that can be done for a friend in need. So don’t feel helpless. A friend is a beacon of light in the darkness of hard times. A friend is a sure sign of hope, when life becomes too hard to face alone.

I encourage you in your desire to offer sincere friendship and support to your friend. God knows your heart and your desire to do good. Pray for help and He will guide you and bless your efforts.

I have thought of you and your friend often, and when I do so, I do so in prayer! Please keep me, my family and this ministry in your prayers, as well.

Thank you and God bless you.

In His Most Holy Name,
Carmen