Divorced Hope

April 20th, 2009

broken-heartOk. This is an especially tough subject given the state of things here in the United States these days. Statistics on Divorce have been getting worse and worse and today, more than half……HALF!……. of marriages end in divorce. It’s a staggering statistic. Odds are pretty good that you are acquainted with it. If I were a gambling man, I would be willing to bet your last dollar that every person who has read this blog in the past four months knows someone who is divorced, has been married more than once, and knows at least a handful of children who are part of a broken home.

Many divorces are for very good reasons. Many……..well, it’s not my place to issue an essay on divorce so I’ll just stick to the story at hand. Divorce Hope and the difficulty we have helping.

We sat there as our friend asked for a few moments to address the group. All eyes turned to her and there was a collective breath held as we all imagined what was coming. She trembled as she began.

It was a small gathering on a Sunday evening and we all enjoyed our group get together every other week. We would gather for Bible study, prayer and a time of sharing together in addition to food and some good nature ribbing. She had been coming alone for some time and although there was some discussion about where the other half was, I really didn’t know anything and it really wasn’t my business.

Without getting into the personal details, she made her announcement that she was filing for divorce and we all sat there, not knowing what to say or do. It was so awkward. That poor woman, never prone to crying, sat there weeping and all we did was sat there wondering what to do. She was scared and uncertain what to do. She was afraid of what was going to happen next. She didn’t know WHAT to do next and we only offered a few “we will be here for you” mumblings and a few of the women went over and maybe hugged her.

A few months later, another member of our group announced that his wife had informed him that she was leaving at the end of the month. Again, we sat there in awkward silence not knowing what to say or do. All I stupidly did was pat him on the shoulder, tell him I was sorry and that I would be praying for him. I asked if he needed anything but it all sounded stupid and ridiculous. I, and the others, had learned nothing about being compassionate and caring at the news that someones life was falling apart. All we had done was learn how to push compassion and true caring out of our minds and continue to go about our day to day lives in the superficial way that never really helps our brothers and sisters in a lasting, impactful, deeply personal way when they really need it.

Look, there are few times in our lives when someone will come up to us and break some kind of earth shattering news. A child, a spouse, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, may come up to a you and announce that they are pregnant, gay, infected, addicted, guilty or whatever. What do we do? How do we react? We need special grace to respond in the way we really should. We need a merciful, compassionate heart to help when help is needed the most.

Look, ….here’s what’s actually happening: When people open up to us, trust us enough to open up to us, they are looking for our support! They need us! They are hurting so badly that they are reaching out looking for help, even if it’s just an understanding, non-judgmental ear. But when we respond poorly, compassionatelessly (if that’s a word), we are essentially telling the person, “I’ve got no hope to offer you, maybe I don’t even care.” That may not be true, but we have got to get better at helping! We in our group had the perfect opportunity to learn, grow, educate ourselves, prepare ourselves on how to respond in a hopeful, helpful, compassionate way. But when we failed to do that, we offered our second announcer the same as we had offered the our first; nothing. I felt terrible, and knowing the heart of the other men and women there, I’m sure they did too. But that didn’t help.

There is no Hope in divorce. It’s an ugly terrible thing for both people to go through and even worse on the children. But we as friends of those affected by it have to be able to reach out and provide hope to them. Hope for them means letting them lean on you; telling them that the sun will come up again even though it may not seem like it right now; not judging them; allowing them to hurt; allowing our mouth to stay SHUT!; not talking about it to anyone else; let them heal; don’t rush them; and most importantly, we must love them.

We failed terribly, but we have stayed with those two people from our group and I think they know we love them very much. Our hearts hurt for them and we are working with them to help them get their lives back together. I don’t think we are doing enough but we press on anyway. Hope for whoever has trusted you enough to lean on you. And when you need someone, it’s ok to lean on someone else. They may not respond how you want them to, but how many of us really know whats best in those moments. Be gentle and know that we all are growing and we all need that hope that only another can give.

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