DivorceIt’s crucial that we find people in our lives who are experienced in listening to and talking with God to guide us into recognizing His voice in our lives.
When I was 13, it seemed like a sudden hurricane had appeared when my parents separated. Despite the abruptness, and my initial sadness and disbelief, I spent a lot of my time and energy convincing myself that everything was okay. Does this sound familiar to any of you? How often do we go to great lengths just to try and justify a sense of “peace” in our lives?
I was evading the serious business of living by neglecting the truth that I was confused and angry about my parents’ divorce and I wouldn’t dare to admit this to myself or anyone else. It took many years for me to finally decide to welcome the painful truth into my life.
One way I have done this is by seeing a professional counselor. You may feel that seeing a counselor just isn’t for you, or that you don’t want to talk to a stranger about your problems or that seeking professional psychological guidance is a sign of weakness.
But seeing a counselor has really helped me learn to make my emotions my servant rather than my master. It has truly helped me slowly understand why I am the way that I am and regaining my sense of responsibility for my life. My takeaway from talking to a counselor is this: to begin to know yourself, you must know the One who truly knows you. Conversation with a counselor helped me learn to converse with God. Admitting that you would benefit from this kind of resource would be a sign of strength and wisdom, not weakness.
“Coming to grips with what happened involves reinterpretation of a potentially larger part of your own story.”
What’s Your Story?
When your parents get divorced, it may jeopardize your understanding of who they are. This is uncomfortable for us because it invites questions of trust and love into our minds and hearts. It wakes you up, coldly and abruptly, to the hardness of human hearts. Coming to grips with what happened involves a reinterpretation of a potentially larger part of your own story. The more reworking of your own story that you have to do, the more painful this is. In order to begin doing any reworking at all, of course, you’ll have to obtain information about what happened. And if you can’t get the information when you want it, and you can’t accept the fact that you might not be ready to hear your parents’ story yet, this makes existence pretty tough. It makes the option of shoving all of these questions down inside look pretty good.
Yet, there is another way.
Be patient with your parents and with yourself. This process will go much smoother if you free yourself from feeling responsible for your parents’ behavior. Letting go of false responsibility for other people has a lot to do with forgiveness. When you forgive someone, you give them space and freedom to repent, or you turn around from their present way. If God hadn’t forgiven us for our sins, there would be no way for genuine repentance. Forgiving people is difficult. Ask God for the strength, patience and anything else He might have for you in order to forgive, and see what happens.
When it comes time to hear one of your parent’s narratives, ask yourself some questions. Is this parent pressuring me to adopt their narrative, create relational camps in my life or behave in a certain way? If any of this is true, they are operating out of a center of fear and not love. It’s a good idea to question each parent’s narrative and ensure you are not believing anything that is causing you to feel like you owe your allegiance to them.
You may feel like you’re stuck in the middle between your parents—like you have to choose sides. This is simply not true. Do not let yourself be fooled into believing that you have to declare yourself against one of your parents for the sake of the other. You may need to set boundaries depending on your situation, and this is not in contradiction to love.
When we truly place our faith in any sort of narrative, we live our lives according to this faith. I believe what we put our faith into determines what kind of fruit we produce. This takes time; this takes living out your faith. If you can’t find the capacity to forgive, if you are always angry or if you are just confused and your mind is clouded, it may be that you are believing lies.
“Hearing God comes from living life in a particular way, and this way of life is painted in depth, beauty and mystery in God’s Word—a wonderful place to begin this journey.”
Despite having grown up in the Church and learning about the Bible and Jesus, it took me 23 years of life to accept Christ as the Savior of humanity. When I did so, my life was made new! But this does not mean that all of my problems magically disappeared.
God is fundamental about transformation within, rather than escape from our circumstances. Developing a relationship with God and learning to live in conversation with Him about what is going on in my life has been essential to my journey of healing.
Conversation means that there is not just talking, but listening. God has given us ears to hear His voice (John 10:4). Hearing God is a reality and therefore it is something we must learn and experience. This learning and experiencing only happens when we start to live our lives in total devotion to God. Hearing God comes from living life in a particular way, and this way of life is painted in depth, beauty and mystery in God’s Word—a wonderful place to begin this journey.
In fact, if we want to start hearing God, it’s crucial that we find people in our lives who are experienced in listening to and talking with God to guide us into recognizing His voice in our lives. The endearing account of Samuel’s calling in 1 Samuel 3:1-10 tells us that this process of learning to hear God’s voice includes sharing experiences of child-like obedience and patient discernment.
Remember to give yourself grace, patience and space during your journey of healing. Place your trust, hope and love in God, for He will take care of you. Surround yourself with people who want to listen to you and will not pressure you into doing anything. Don’t be afraid of your emotions! God gave us emotions so we can understand what is going on inside of us. Talking about what you are thinking and feeling with someone will not only help you understand yourself, but you’ll also build relationships while you’re at it.
God bless you in your journey.
For Further Study
Hearing God by Dallas Willard. He is like a spiritual grandfather to me. He has helped me better understand God’s character and nature, and I particularly appreciate his teachings on how God speaks to us. Read this and spend some time on YouTube listening to his lectures!
The Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius (1491-1556) wrote extensively about his life with God. He has gleaned many helpful insights on how we can better listen to our internal reactions to events in life and make God-centered decisions.
Luke Watson after spending several years working as a software engineer for an aerospace and defense company, Luke then traveled to Tromsø, Norway where he ministered for two months with a local Salvation Army corps (church) and he sought clarity on God’s calling for his life. Luke is interested in hiking, camping, playing the guitar and spiritual development.