Our lives are made up of defining moments: times of joy and times of sadness, times of regret and times of achievement. As Christians, these defining moments become more than experiences marked by emotion, instead, they become moments of life changes- perhaps when you accepted Christ as your Savior, you were baptized, you led someone to Christ, you served on a missions trip. These moments are game changers. They give us glimpses of what true joy in Christ really feels like. They personify God’s grace working in our lives.
However, with the good the bad will also follow. For every joyous and wonderful moment throughout our walk with God, there will inevitably be moments of spiritual failure, struggles with chronic sin, and times when we simply turn our back on God and pursue our own path.
I will never forget the day I deliberately turned by back to God and began a near two-year reckless journey filled with denial, self-destruction, and mistakes so severe I will never be able to undo. It was almost four years ago, around Christmas time during my freshman year of college. After being away from home for some time, I came home and immediately realized the divorce was permanent. My parents’ relationship was over, and our family would never celebrate Christmas together again. I came home to a father who was leaving town with his new family for the holidays and a mother who was drowning in a sea of deep depression.
As means to try and get my mother some help, I went to a nearby Christian bookstore and desperately searched for some kind of Christian divorce recovery resource or aid for my mom… but I was met with nothing.
I remember the anger and rage I felt as I spoke with one of the sales associates of the bookstore,
“You mean to tell me that regardless of the fact that the divorce rate is higher than ever in our country, that you have absolutely no Christian books for divorce recovery?”
“I’m so sorry, ma’am.”
That was the darkest defining moment of my life. I felt so alone. I simply thought that because I was unable to find comfort and guidance in a Christian bookstore, that God was unwilling to offer neither I nor my family any help. I began resenting Christianity because it seemed that no one was willing to talk about the painful realities of divorce within a Christian home.
However, simply because God does not seem to help you when you think you need Him most, does not mean He has forsaken you.
If you feel like God is nowhere to be found I encourage you to look harder, dig deeper. Cry out for help. Because divorce does happen in Christian homes. Infidelity does occur within a Christian marriage. Christians do struggle with addictions. And depression does capture the hearts of many believers. There is help for you out there. There are Christian resources that are waiting for you. There are spiritual tools that can help you get through this. I beg of you to not give up today.
Recently I watched Transformers for the first time when our family was going on vacation and we checked out several movies from the library to watch during our trip. I’ll save you my opinion of the movie itself, but there was one scene that really stuck out to me. It is the one where Spike is desperately trying to keep the Decepticons from taking the all-powerful Allspark. He is standing on the pinnacle of a tower with the cube in his hands, and the head Decepticon is trying to grab it from his hand. Rather than let them take it, he throws the cube over the side of the building with the hope that one of the Autobots will catch it.
You may be wondering why I was so captivated by this rather obscure scene. Well, it’s because I realized just how much that scene applies to my life. Sometimes I need to remind myself that God is there to catch me. I need to throw my trust down from my tower of safety and trust that God is able to catch it.
It’s especially intuitive to rely entirely on yourself when you live in a home with divorced parents. You’ve been hurt by other people’s failures, you’ve had to live on your own, and you have been forced to take on adult responsibilities. The world and common sense say that we should just stop hoping in other people and should depend on ourselves alone.
So far, I haven’t found a verse in the bible that says we have to trust in other people. But there are plenty of verses that speak about the joy of putting our trust in God. Unlike other people in our lives, he is totally reliable. Take a chance. He is trustworthy.
Every good driver understands how important the rearview mirror is, but focusing on it too long can be dangerous. Remember Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers? His rearview mirror depicted happy-go-lucky days tending sheep while wearing his rainbow colored coat. A coat that screamed favorite son to his eleven brothers. He did nothing to deserve his quick demise into the bowels of prison. Who could blame him if he dwelt on the comfort of his past?
Joseph didn’t focus on the series of events leading up to his current situation instead he focused on the future God had for him and God showed him favor. King Pharaoh’s wine steward and baker were thrown into prison with Joseph. He interpreted their dreams and the dreams played out exactly as he predicted. The wine steward was restored to his position in the king’s court and a couple of years later when Pharaoh had a dream that couldn’t be interpreted the steward remembered Joseph and recommended him to the king. This dream interpretation ultimately led to Joseph’s release from prison and the promotion of second in command to the king.
Paul says in Philippians 3:13 “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
The comfort of what we do know is an escape from the anxiousness of what we don’t know. It’s okay to remember your life before your parents’ divorce but don’t be imprisoned by it. Even the great apostle Paul struggled with the mindset of forgetting what was behind him.
Just focus on today. Say, today I will focus on doing really well in this class, or on your music, or with your writing. You fill in the blank. God doesn’t intend for you to do this alone. Ask Him for His help every day.
Know I’m Praying for You,
I had finally passed my driver’s test just one week before. Today, my mom and I were testing the route that I would be driving every morning for the rest of my six-week internship. I was dreading using the highway because I hated having to merge lanes in high-speed traffic.
When it came time to enter the highway on our test-run, I sped up and successfully merged into the traffic flow. I relaxed, relieved that the worst part was over. But suddenly I realized that the lane I was currently driving in would also end in just a few hundred feet! I frantically tried to get over, but a huge semi-truck was blocking me. I jammed on the brakes and the car stopped at the end of the lane. The 18-wheeler wizzed past my window, missing our car by inches. My mom and I sat stunned for a minute before trying to enter the highway again.
This was one of the many times when I experienced God’s supernatural protection. I consider it miraculous that we didn’t get run over by a semi-truck that day. Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Then in verse 7 we see God’s amazing promise to those who believe in him: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”
Your parents’ divorce might have brought circumstances into your life that seem out of control or even dangerous. It can be so hard to have to deal with those things, and I’m sure I can’t even begin to imagine the particular situations you have had to face. But take hope in God’s promise. When it seems like you have come to the end of yourself, God is right there with you. He will deliver you in the moment of your distress. He encamps around you to protect you. When it seems like you can’t take anything else, he will sustain you. Trust in Him.
“He heals the brokenhearted and He binds up their wounds.”
The holidays are always difficult times for families dealing and coping with divorce.
I remember almost perfectly the joy and excitement I used to have about Christmas- literally counting down its arrival starting in October… but after my parents’ divorce, I began the same countdown, yet this time it was out of dread, sadness, and fear for the approaching holiday.
Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations carry with them so much joy and happiness yet for those within a broken home, these celebrations typically become times of depression and chaos. The dichotomy that these wintery seasons represent is a perfect illustration of the constant battle between God’s glory and Satan’s darkness within the hearts of believers.
While Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior and Thanksgiving a time to reflect and praise God for His incredible blessings, Satan undoubtedly will be gearing up in these next few months to wage war upon us as followers of Christ who come from broken homes.
Perhaps for you the holidays trigger feelings of depression and sorrow as you think back to the way things “used to be” in your family. Perhaps, the winter season is the time of year when you struggle most with obsessing about your weight or the amount of calories you consume. Perhaps it is a time when you are consumed with self-pity about the sadness of your family’s situation and feel that you are unloved and unworthy of the unconditional love from your Heavenly Father.
While I do not know for sure the emotion or behavior that you tend to struggle with during these upcoming holidays, I do know that both God and Satan are fully aware of what it is that you struggle with. I also know that Satan’s temptation at times appears far easier and more appealing than walking the righteous path that our Heavenly Father has called us to walk upon.
If you fear what is to come in the next few months, I beg of you to call out to the Lord and ask for protection. Ask Him to strengthen you. Ask Him to continue to heal and take away the pain that is lurking in your heart. For our Heavenly Father longs to heal the broken hearted and to strengthen those who are weak.
Call out to Him today and let Him prepare you for what is to come.