I mentioned in Part 1 that my parents divorced when I was a baby. For me, that divorce was just something that happened before I could even walk. I don’t remember any of it. I just remember life after it. My earliest memories are after both of my parents remarried. Life as I have always known it consisted of two families.
When I was 15, my mom and stepdad separated, and they divorced when I was 16. That was the divorce that rocked my world.
I lived with my mom and stepdad, as well as two of my siblings (both several years younger than me). Aside from my raging hormones and temper, I thought our house was normal and stable. I was shocked when I learned that my parents were separating and then divorcing. If ever there has been a time in my life when I felt like everything was crashing down on me, that was it. Have you ever watched a scene in a movie where everything disintegrated? Life felt like that for a long time.
The purpose of this series isn’t for me to tell you all the details of our home life. I just wanted to give you a smidgen of background.
Fast forward a few years. I was working at a summer camp, a place that God used to provide me with a great deal of comfort and solace over the years, a place where I grew closer to Him and learned about serving others.
During one of the weeks of camp, we had teenage girls in our cabin. One of them was a 15-year-old with a slight attitude. We didn’t bond right away. In fact, I don’t think we really bonded until her last night at camp.
We always had a worship service that concluded with the girls filling out commitment cards. They could commit to anything they wanted – anything from a commitment to following Christ to a commitment to clean their rooms. The choice was theirs. After the girls filled out their commitment cards, we as counselors spent a few minutes of one-on-one time with them discussing their commitments.
I don’t remember what this girl’s commitment was, but I remember her story. I remember it because her story was so incredibly similar to my story. With slow, quiet tears gliding down her cheeks, she told me about her mom and stepdad divorcing. She shared with me that all she remembered was life living with her mom and stepdad. She told me how close she was to her stepdad. She told me about slamming her bedroom door, curling into a ball on the floor, and crying her eyes out. She told me about feeling helpless, about screaming out and wanting to fix things. She felt her whole world was crumbling around her, and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
With each word she spoke, I had flashbacks to my own life. I had never heard a story so similar to my own, and I knew God had placed this girl in my life for a reason. She needed to know someone understood her pain, a pain most of the people in her life couldn’t relate to. I shared my story with her, and her eyes sparkled behind her tears. I hugged her, prayed with her, and encouraged her as much as I could in the time we had together.
Paul encouraged the Romans when he wrote to them. He told them all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). That verse came alive to me that night. I saw God working together everything for my good, for the good of the sweet girl in my cabin riddled with pain from divorce. Perhaps for the first time in my life, as I helped someone start processing her pain, I began to feel a peace about my own pain.
I only had a few minutes with the girl in my cabin. I wish there had been more time to try to encourage her, but I trust God gave us the time we needed.
Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve felt God nudging me. He has laid on my heart the hurting divorced kids out there. I’m praying about possible ministry opportunities He may have for me. God has blessed me through the hurting, and I want to be a blessing for others through their hurting.
Are there divorced kids in your life? Pray about how God would have you encourage them. As I continue this series, I’m going to try to share some ways I think you can help them, whether they’re your own kids or someone else’s.