From the moment I first held each of my five children, I looked forward to walking through life together. I pictured days of joy and laughter, and even moments of scraped knees and hurt feelings. But I never imagined I would walk with my young kids through the tragedy of divorce. While nothing prepared me for this sorrowful journey, God has lovingly guided us toward healing and hope.
Here are some of the trail markers that have helped me to effectively lead my family on this broken road.
I felt overwhelmed, and I often found myself on the phone for counsel and comfort from friends. Meanwhile, my hurting children desperately needed me. I decided to make calls only while my children were occupied or asleep. In this way, I protected my kids from overhearing too much information and gave them the attention they needed.
Difficult questions began early in our journey. I prayed earnestly and endeavored to answer my kids honestly. I assured my children that I understood why they wanted to know details, then shared what was fitting — with as much hope as I could offer.
My ex-husband often said or did things that hurt or angered me, and I struggled to respond graciously or kindly. In hopes of encouraging my children in their relationship with their father, I worked to keep my facial expressions and words from revealing my inner conflict.
Not surprisingly, my children's struggle with the divorce reflected in their behavior. My dwindling emotional reserve sometimes made it difficult to respond well, but I learned to extend grace, allowing them to feel sorrow, anger and confusion. I focused on maintaining consistency in my parenting while still offering patience and love.
The path of divorce was difficult. But God gave me hope. Scripture blessed me with a perspective of God's good plan for my family and His great love for each one of us. From that place of hope I encouraged my children to trust that God still had a wonderful purpose for our lives.
Divorce was never our intended destiny, yet it was part of our family journey. Because of God's abundant love and support, our real destination is a place of hope and healing.
Sue Birdseye writes about her divorce and single-parenting journey in When Happily Ever After Shatters.