Sunday, August 8, 2010

What to do for a friend whose parents are divorcing

And now for a "How to Help" post - from my precious friend Megan at SortaCrunchy. Don't let the title of her blog fool you. She left Sorta behind long ago! If you blog, you probably are BFFs with some ladies you've never met. Megan was my first blog friend. I always forget that I have never actually hugged her neck because we email every day and have shared much. She is the anti-Missy in so many ways - which is one of the reasons I adore her so completely.

My parents divorced when I was 19 - and I had zero friends like the ones she describes - this post is dear to my heart.


It was, by far, the worst Easter Sunday in the history of my family.

My parents had driven down from Oklahoma to central Texas to spend the Easter weekend with us. It was never unusual for there to be tension between my parents. Though that tension had always bubbled at the surface, this weekend was far more intense than most. My husband and sister and I tried to make the best of it, tried to run interference and make peace and purse our lips and ignore the absolute disaster that was brewing.

Before they left town, my dad took me to HEB to pick up a few groceries. That was four years ago last April, and the details are still crisp in my mind. I can remember standing next to my father amongst bags of potato chips and canisters of Pringles. He put his arm around my shoulder and said, “Megan, I want you to know that no matter what happens in the next few weeks, no matter what is said or what is done, I want you to know I love you very much.”

My stomach exploded with anxiety. I swallowed hard and gently pressed for details, but he wouldn’t say anything else.

A few weeks later, just days prior to my parents’ 32nd wedding anniversary, my dad filed for divorce.

I was twenty-eight years old.

* * * * *

Books line the shelves of libraries and bookstores for children whose parents are divorcing. There are children’s books explaining the process, books that gently hold the hands of kids whose worlds are being dismantled. Magazine articles offer counsel to parents and talk shows hosts have long featured experts on childhood offering expert advice on the matter.

Would you like to know what I found for adult children whose parents are divorcing?

I’m not sure what is out there now, but in 2006, there was big. fat. nothing.

And in that void of expert advice, God provided. He provided me with a circle of amazing friends who rallied around me and held my hand as my world was dismantled. As I sit and write and reach back to that devastating season of my life, I’m overcome with gratefulness for the support of my friends.

What did their amazing support look like?

1) They prayed.

Absolutely, unequivocally, the most important and powerful thing my friends did was pray. They prayed with me and they prayed over me. They prayed Scripture and they prayed from their hearts. My parents divorce devastated me, and there is no doubt that the faithful prayer of my friends allowed me to experience security and peace through our Savior.

2) They told me their stories.

A heartbreaking majority of my friends have divorced parents. With compassion and empathy, they offered me their own stories. Some had parents who divorced when they were tiny toddlers, others when they were young adults. Regardless of the timing, it was comforting to hear how my friends were able to heal from the divorce of their parents.

3) They let me grieve.

When your parents divorce when you are a grown-up, it can be oddly isolating. It is reasonable and expected for children to fall apart when parents split up, but an grown child should be able to hold it together, right? Not me. Even though my parents had been hurtling towards a split since I was a child, the reality of it crushed my spirit. My friends let me fully, completely be real with my grief. They comforted me while I sobbed, and never once insinuated that I needed to be a grown-up about the pain I was feeling.

4) They anticipated the hard stuff.

The first Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years season post-parental-divorce was horrible. Who to see? And when? How to balance it all without hurting anyone’s feelings? My friends showed up with tons of support and been-there-doing-that advice. Each time a new milestone popped up in our New Normal, they somehow sensed that I would be extra needy, extra sensitive, and extra fragile. Their generous outpouring of comfort and love absorbed so much of the shock of that first year after my parents split up.

5) They kept praying.

My friends joined me in praying that this devastating chapter in the life of my family would bring out life-altering change. I prayed. My siblings prayed. My extended family prayed. My friends prayed. My parents' friends prayed. We came before God and asked that hearts would be changed, that wounds would be healed, and that their lives would be restored. And sometimes we even dared to pray for reconciliation.

Hearts changed. Wounds healed. Individually, my mother and my father were restored to wholeness in Christ, and two years after their divorce, my parents reconciled and remarried.

I don't mean to suggest in any way that this will be the outcome for everyone who has prayer warrior friends. Only God can comprehend the Hows and Whys in the this story. What I do know, however, that God did a mighty work through divorce in my life and in the life of my family. I learned hard things, beautiful things, powerful things that I might never have learned without this heartbreak.

Amongst the most significant lessons that I learned during that time was the importance of loving, faithful, supportive friends. As is so often the case where any kind of loss and grief are involved, it's just in the being there that can mean so much. I believe that the Enemy of our sous delights in divorce and the hurt it leaves behind. As a friend to one whose parents are divorcing, you have every opportunity to get back at that ancient serpent just by offering your presence and your prayers.

Megan is a wife and mama of two who now lives on the wind-swept plains of Oklahoma. She writes about faith, mothering, and natural living at SortaCrunchy.


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