When I was a young girl, my brother enjoyed Country Western music and one of his favorite artists was Tammy Wynette. I was a fan but I distinctly remember one of her songs called, D-I-V-O-R-C-E in which she sang about how her small son, J-o-e would be affected by his parent’s divorce. The lyrics that stand out to me are these:
Watch him smile, he thinks it Christmas
Or his 5th Birthday
And he thinks C-U-S-T-O-D-Y spells fun or play
I spell out all the hurtin' words
And turn my head when I speak
'Cause I can't spell away this hurt
That's drippin' down my cheek.*
The struggles are real for parents, regardless of their child’s age. Recently, I assisted with a wedding of a young man whose parents had been divorced for a year or so. During the wedding practice, I was led to believe that the groom’s parents would walk down the aisle with him as if they were still a family. The father or ex-husband had totally misread his ex-wife’s reaction to walking together as a cohesive unit. Her eyes were drowning in hurt and pain, however after a few minutes, she straightened her shoulders, took a shaky but firm breath and said that for her son, she would agree to walk down the aisle with both of them. She could have created a ruckus, however she bravely set her discomfort aside to do this for her son. As someone who knows just how painful it is to pull that off, my respect for her grew immensely.
Everyone’s relationships and marriages are different and I will not speculate on what caused the divorce for the woman in Wynette’s song or for the groom’s parents. Given my own pain from the breakdown of my vows to “love and cherish till death do us part,” I will tell you that divorce is not the “easy” way out. It is devastating! Someone pointed me to a biblical text that describes it like this:
“It’s not an enemy that is insulting me—I could handle that. It’s not someone who hates me, who is exalted over me—I could hide from them. No. It’s you, my equal,
my close companion, my good friend! It was so pleasant when together we entered God’s house with the crowd.” (Ps 55 12-14)
The Psalmist acknowledges that enemies might betray us, but when someone you have loved, laughed with, slept with, and had children with, betrays us the pain is almost unbearable. The pain, sorrow and hurt of something that was once holy was now lost forever. Shortly after my divorce, a pastor asked me if I had repented of my sin and asked for God’s forgiveness. His question caught me off guard because I was still in the midst of the anger and hurt of my failing marriage. I was not even close to forgiving my ex-husband so how could I go before God and say, “forgive me.” One could argue that as a minister, it was his duty to ask me that question, however as a pastor or “shepherd” who cares for the hurting, it would have been more thoughtful of him to encourage me in my pain and disappointment. During this time of pain, I needed to feel God’s unconditional love rather than the judgment of my actions. Remembering how I felt in that interaction has helped to shape my reaction to other couples in the throes of their broken relationships. I no longer judge their story. I offer them the compassion, support and love that were not offered to me. It is for this same reason that I could encourage and support the groom’s mom as she struggled to walk down the aisle. D-I-V-O-R-C-E is rough but it is through those tough times that we discover that God is L-O-V-E!
* Recorded by Tammy Wynette ---Written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman