Another friend just told me their marriage is over. Their family as we knew it no longer exists. Another group of people we love is faced with the horrible truth that people don’t always keep their promises. In what world is that fair?
The obvious answer is that it is fair in our world. I realize that means that our world is really screwed up. People stretch their moral boundaries, craft new identities, and create elaborate lies to cover it all up. As Christians we talk about our broken, fallen world, like it is some fairy tale that can only hurt us if we lose our faith. The truth is that even with the strongest faith in the world our broken world will continue to threaten our emotional, physical, and spiritual safety. In fact if we look at the heroes of the Christian faith they had pretty big targets painted on their heads most of their life. But what makes our God loving friends so vulnerable to the upheaval of their relationship? Why is divorce the weapon of choice in the arsenal of darkness? To understand that a little more we have too examine what happens when a family falls apart.
When the disintegration beings, all parties in the story begin to rewrite their history as they try to find their new path. Each adult involved has many choices to make, but perhaps the most important is how they will tell their story. The person left behind most often “deserved to be betrayed” because they were “never loving” or “too controlling.” The person who leaves is blamed for becoming “selfish, and never putting anyone else’s needs before their own.” Many of my divorced friends may be feeling pretty self conscious right now because these words hit close to home. Please do not think I am betraying the confidence you had in me. I can tell you these words are repeated over and over and over. It happens frequently enough that I have joked that there must be a manual somewhere, because everyone is saying and doing the same thing.
There is no way to go through a divorce or separation without it changing each of us. But we all have the power to choose how it changes us. We can choose to become a victim, a bully, or resilient.
Our fear that betrayal is the only thing that we will ever know creates a state of victimization that is easy to get stuck in. Betrayal does not make us a victim, it is our fear of loving again and possibly getting hurt again that paints us into the dark corner we call the victim mindset.
Even though bully and victim seem to be on opposing ends of the emotional spectrum, they actually draw from the same well of emotion. We are afraid that we will continue to be hurt, so we come out swinging against our betrayer and anyone else who happens to get in the way.
Choosing resilience is the only option that stems from a different emotion. Resilience comes from a desire to live, rather than a fear of emotional death. Resilience in the face of darkness is the closest we may get to a resurrection, but it is no less miraculous.
The reason that your choice is important is because the forces that are destroying your family have a much bigger end goal than hurting you and your spouse. When children see the conflicting stories and the resulting pain they begin to lose hope. When they see love turn to hate they become painfully aware that human love doesn’t always conquer our darkness. In the case of betrayal they now see that parents don’t always tell the truth, even to the people that they love. When abandonment occurs, it is now a very real possibility that anyone could walk away at any moment. The doubts created stand in direct opposition to God’s promises to each of us. Do you see the way darkness tries to manipulate us? It can be really hard to believe that He will keep His promises if our parent(s) could not.
So to my friend, and anyone else traveling this path of heartache take heart. Even in the midst of your world burning to the ground, the ashes of your family are more valuable to God than all the riches of this screwed up world. Choosing resilience in the face of victimization or bullying is the only way to shield yourself and your children from the fallout. Do not let our inability to keep our word shake your belief that God will keep His.
Copyright 2014 AngelaJHerrington