If not our own parents, it’s our uncle, aunt, grandparents or best friend’s parents. Divorce affects us directly or indirectly in almost every sphere of our lives.
In the last few years I’ve encountered more than a few Christian women whose parents divorced late in life—after 25-plus years of marriage. These young women are left disoriented and discouraged. Their messages often say things like:
If they couldn’t make this work, if it was all a lie—why should I bother to get married?
I thought Christian marriage was supposed to work out. They’ve showed me this isn’t true.
I don’t think I ever want to get married after what I’ve seen. I can’t do this to my kids.
Sometimes the parents think waiting to separate until their kids are grown will “protect” them (when it is often just as traumatic). Other times there is deep betrayal, unfaithfulness or neglect that led to the divorce. Even in separations that are mostly civil, the aftershock affects fully grown women (and men) much more than many parents realize.
This post is an encouragement to young women who feel like giving up on marriage. I have experienced, through the pain of those close to me, some of the same disappointment you hold in your heart. But I have also seen God craft a beautiful story from the ashes of divorce. Here are three things to remember as you process this with the Lord.
1. Your parents’ choices do not dictate your future.
Women who grew up in Christian homes struggle immensely with parents who “couldn’t make it work” because marriage is a picture of the gospel. When marriage is undermined, it begs the question: Do God’s ways really work?
Here’s the truth: God’s ways work when we obey them. When one or both people in a marriage do not submit to God’s design for marriage, refuse to give up their selfish desires or live in pride, the marriage cannot reflect God’s perfect intent. God also gives each of us a free will to obey or disobey His leading. All divorce is the product of one or both parties using their free will to choose self over Christ.
But this decision does not have to be your future. Your parents’ choices do not dictate what will occur in your future marriage! As one of my readers put it, “My parents’ marriage showed me everything I didn’t want in my own relationship someday, and through Christ, I know I can have something different.” Her faith is inspiring. Christ will build something beautiful with two people who are dedicated to Him personally, not just in name.
2. Unity in marriage is completely possible.
Unity in marriage is not about following certain gender roles. It’s about following Christ. Over and over again in Ephesians—the book that talks extensively about love and respect in marriage—the church is commanded to love one another as Christ loved them. When we love as Christ loved us, we expect to sacrifice for one another. This kind of selflessness results in unity.
Unity happens not when we try to bend another person to our will, but when our wills are bent to God. My husband and I had almost nothing in common when we met. We made the choice to be together against all odds. And it is our love for Jesus (along with constant communication) that keeps us in unity.
3. Your story can minister to many.
The pain you’ve experienced puts you in a unique place to minister to other children of divorce. It also equips you with a perspective on marriage you can bring to your future relationship.
God often uses our deepest pain point to bring light and healing to others. Rather than give up on your future, hand it over to your Redeemer. He didn’t just redeem your soul; He wants to redeem your whole story. He will make something beautiful from loss.
Remember this: You are not responsible for your parents failing to “make things work.” You can take the broken pieces and submit them to the God who works wonders, the God who unifies, the God who creates beautiful things with something as simple as a word.