“Why me, God?”
“What am I going to do now?”
Perhaps you have asked these questions if you have had to face your parents’ impending divorce. You had to face this situation unwillingly. In such moments, you may try to find comfort and make sense of everything. You try to take things into your own hands to solve the situation. Perhaps you ended up being more confused and hurt than before. What hope can there be for a child of divorce then?
MAKING SENSE OF WHAT HAPPENED
Some of you might be wondering what divorce is all about and why your parents would want to go through such a process. You might have seen it coming, or had no idea until the news hit you. Many questions run through your mind as you try to understand the whole situation while dealing with your emotions.
You might blame yourself for perhaps unwittingly contributing to the divorce of your parents. Or you might be so annoyed with what is happening at home that you start to shut everyone out of your life, as you do not know how to handle this whole situation. At times, you feel like you are losing your mind and fears start to creep in, together with uncertainty about the future. Will you start to question even the love your parents have for you from now on? Who will you ‘belong’ to now? If there is one, do you feel angry or resentful toward the party that caused the divorce? Bitterness might also start to find its way into your life as you experience a major shift in life and experience changes.
A few weeks ago, 21-year-old Genevieve shared with me about her life before and after her parents’ divorce. She recalled that life had been difficult for her since she was a young child. “I struggled to understand why my parents were screaming at each other every night, and throwing things at one another.” Her mum and herself had to go through abuse and violence from her dad due to the vices that he was engaged in. “Even though I hated everything he had done to us, I still loved him,” Genevieve continued.
“EVEN THOUGH I HATED EVERYTHING HE HAD DONE TO US, I STILL LOVED HIM”
She went through a phase of abandonment by her parents after the divorce, as her mother had to be the sole breadwinner and she was left in the care of her grandparents. She lost a fatherly figure in her life and was bullied when she was 11. Life started to spiral downward for her and she had no one to turn to. Soon, negativity filled her life and she grew cold to the world around her and found relief through self-harm.
On the other hand, you might not feel much affected by the divorce of your parents. Joey, also 21 years old, shared with me that it was only when she was much older that she understood the divorce of her parents. She says, “There was not much bitterness or unforgiveness in my life as the love from my parents toward me remain unchanged”. She has faint memories of family moments and it was only in her JC (Junior College) days that the idea of being in a broken family hit her.
When God pursues you and you respond, everything can change. Genevieve had two friends who did not give up in inviting her to church. Finally, she relented and she said yes to attending a church’s Christmas drama production. After hearing about the gospel, she finally felt truly loved as she learned of the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross and His love for us. Her life changed after accepting Christ into her life. Darkness was overshadowed by the light of Jesus. Slowly, her life began to be filled with light, purpose, joy and peace. She excelled in her studies and is now an assistant small group leader in her church.
For Joey, by the grace of God, the divorce of her parents actually brought her mum and herself to Christ. Her mum had been struggling with depression and “just wanted to know more about Christ” as she went through a job change. In the end, her mum’s new colleagues brought her mum to Christ and she started becoming healed of her brokenness. For Joey herself, it was her primary school classmates who influence her and helped her draw near to God and finally accept Christ.
GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE
I went through a divorce in my late twenties and it hit me real hard. It was a rollercoaster ride of emotions and there are just no words to describe them fully. I experienced disappointment, bitterness, shame, confusion, sadness, helplessness, anguish, and rejection. This tangled ball of emotions came my way and I could not fend them off. Just like how you might be feeling some of these emotions, your mum or dad might also be feeling this way too. Give them and yourself space and time to work through this tangled ball of emotions. It is actually fine and normal to feel this way.
It took me a year and a half of wandering in the wilderness to finally understand and accept that God is in control of my life. I had never expected to be walking this journey as my ex-husband and I were both Christians, rooted in God’s family. I believe your parents did not set out with this path in mind at the start too. None of us are perfect and we live in a fallen world. We make mistakes and we learn from them. However, we can take heart that no matter what happens, nothing can change God’s love for us or the fact that we are all His beloved children (John 1:12).
I clearly remember the days when overwhelming emotions and negativity choked me. Instead of leaning on God and allowing Him into my troubled world, I pushed Him far away and tried to solve everything by myself. I lost my appetite for food, suffered from insomnia, and resorted to self-harm to keep myself afloat and alive. This went on for many months and I broke the hearts of many friends and of God too. Yet, He picked me up and healed me when I allowed Him to.
INSTEAD OF LEANING ON GOD AND ALLOWING HIM INTO MY TROUBLED WORLD, I PUSHED HIM FAR AWAY AND TRIED TO SOLVE EVERYTHING BY MYSELF.
With time, I learned to surrender and lean on God. I cried out to God for help as He will always be close to those who are brokenhearted and His healing will be upon them. (Ps 34:18; 147:3). I experienced this first-hand as various forms of comfort would be made available to me whenever I felt overwhelmed.
Remember that our God is bigger than all that we face and our fears. He is our refuge and our strength! Take time to grieve for your loss and let reality sink in. Be truthful to your emotions. Most importantly, find friends who will act for your good no matter what and surround yourself with a close group within the Christian community. That was how Genevieve, Joey and myself got back on our feet and emerged victorious from our ordeal.
HOPE IN THE MIDST OF HOPELESSNESS
Just as God has forgiven us, it is also our duty to forgive others (Matt 6:14–15). Genevieve has learned to forgive others and allow others to love her. Joey hopes that she will be able to comfort those who are hurting in this area through her story. As for myself, I am no longer hurt and broken. I know that there is hope for me and children of divorce because we can place our hope in God, both now and forevermore (Ps 131:3).