I have a friend who has been struggling deeply. I try to help, but he shuts me down. I can tell he is struggling, but he laughs it off and says he is fine.
“It seriously doesn’t even bother me.”
“It really isn’t a big deal. A lot of people go through this.”
“My situation is completely different from most people who go through this, so I’m fine.”
“I was so young when they split up that I don’t even remember it, so it isn’t a big deal.”
Starting to get the picture? My friend is a victim of divorce: a sin that has become “okay” in the eyes of the world today.
Okay, let’s get back to my friend. For this story, we will call him Thomas. Thomas grew up with very loving parents in a nice, small town. Some points in his life were a struggle financially, but, for the most part, he was very blessed. The only problem was one very subtle detail: his parents got divorced before he was even old enough to remember.
Growing up, Thomas and I never spoke about that part of his life. It never seemed to bother him. He has always been a very positive person, so it never occurred to me that he might be struggling. Lately, I have started to notice a change. I have picked up on signs that he has been radiating his whole life. They are signs of struggle. They are signs of pain.
Thomas’ parents have actually kept a very healthy friendship. They have done nothing but love him and provide for him in the best way they can. His mother and stepmother have even developed a friendship, which seems to make the situation easier for him. Still, no matter how easy they have made this for him, nothing seems to be able to take away the pain.
If you are reading this, chances are you know someone who grew up with divorced parents, or maybe you’ve lived that life. If you have a friend who has suffered through this, I want you to tell them something. If you have been through the agonizing pain of a broken home, then I need to tell you the same exact thing. It is a simple, four-word phrase that carries a lot of weight in this situation:
It’s not your fault.
I know, I know. Cliché, right? If you’ve lived through a divorce, then I know you have tried to take the blame at some point in your life. See, no matter how many times you say, “I completely understand that it isn’t my fault” or “That thought has never even run through my head,” I know, deep down, you have struggled with this.
I know what you’re thinking. “But Cole, how do you know what I go through? You’ve never been in this situation.”
Everything you read about “Thomas” is actually about me. I can relate to your pain. The pain left behind by divorce is very subtle in the eyes of a bystander, but the effects are potent for those who go through it. What is the pain that I am talking about?
It’s the first time that you stay over at a friend’s house, and you find yourself confused, staring at the family portrait on the wall. The tears form in your eyes, and you spend the rest of the night in the bathroom crying.
It’s the first time a student in your elementary class makes fun of you for falling asleep in class, when in reality, you stayed up all night coming up with a “plan” to get your parents back together.
This list goes on and on as the effects left behind by divorce are never-ending. I know you are struggling, and I know you are hurting. I just have one piece of advice for you: tell somebody.
I know this is a hard topic to talk about. We try to hide these parts of our lives, but this is something that needs to be talked about. Find someone that you can trust like your best friend, your campus minister, or even your parents themselves. Open up about all the pain that you have struggled with, and be completely honest.
Although a close friend or relative is a great option when considering who to talk to about this, God is, by far, the greatest option. Find a comfortable place and talk to God. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Tell Him how you feel. Tell Him your struggles. The next step is the most important: you need to listen. Be open to what He might tell you. Listen to Him in your everyday life, and read your Bible with the intent of hearing God speak in your life.
No matter how easy it is to take the blame, there is absolutely nothing you could do about your situation. Your parents made that decision, not you. The only thing left to do is heal and be a light to others who are also struggling. If you need help, you are more than welcome to reach out to me. Do not keep things bottled up, as that will only make it worse. Talk to God about your pain and frustrations. He can handle it.
Cole Crenshaw is a sophomore from Grenada, Mississippi. He is studying integrated marketing communications at Ole Miss and has served as a member of the BSU’s drama team.