Faced with divorce, a family slams headfirst into an iceberg, and its members struggle to survive. In the process, family members often become engulfed in waves of destructive forces. Is there a captain for the ship? Are all passengers accounted for? Will they survive?
Regardless of a family’s past or present religious engagement, living faith is a powerful remedy to quell the storm of divorce. Genuine connection with God supports stabilization and provides direction, enabling each member to navigate a course for emotional, spiritual, and physical healing.
A spiritual connection with God is essential for restoring ourselves and effectively responding to others, especially in the challenges of a crisis such as divorce. Our critical connections — healthy awareness of self, others, and God — provide a template for how to restore love when challenged in chaos.
It is my belief that we are all children of God. I also believe that God — not the individual — is the source of love that informs our love for each other. And parents, who are entrusted by God to care for their children, must turn to Him and model trust in the only True Source upon whom we can rightly depend. To love well we must draw upon that Source of the greatest, highest love — that which infuses us with the ability to provide spiritual and loving nurturance and guidance to our children.
As divorce depletes parental energies, it makes sense that, in order to maintain a reservoir of energy for ourselves and for our children, we must be restored. By drawing upon the spiritual strength available to us through prayer, inspiration, and communing with God, we enliven our spiritual cores and are infused with an energy that will both deepen and develop our sense of love.
We Cannot Always Choose Our Challenges
When I interviewed Maya Angelou, she spoke about the meaning of faith and her relationship with God in times of her greatest hardship. She described challenges and prayer as an opportunity to expand her own understanding of life. During our conversation she asked to sing a church spiritual for me that encapsulated the message that she lived. That hymn, “Lord, Don’t Move That Mountain” encourages us to open our eyes beyond our agenda, beyond our desires, despite temporal pain, to awaken to the power of living faith and discovery of God.
After Maya sang, she wiped her brow, and after pausing for a few moments looked at me with tear-filled eyes, holding her hands together, and said, “That’s some deep stuff!”
We must stay connected and not run from Him when we are challenged:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. — Psalm 23:4
We cannot always choose our challenges, but we can choose how we manage them.
It is through an active spiritual life that parents model for their children actions of genuine power that will not only help parents with their own issues but also help them guide their children to do what is right.
The Greatest Blessing in Life
My own view as a parent has been that God entrusts parents with the greatest blessing of all: giving us an opportunity to participate in the creation of life and guiding our children to achieve their potentials. Even when divorce perpetuates some of the harshest and worst feelings imaginable, faith and spiritual power can provide direction for what is good, true, and right. I believe that a breathing relationship with Christ identifies true core values of respect, honor, and love — essential aspects of all healthy relationships — that may become unrecognizable when parents struggle through divorce.
When my children learned that my former wife and I were headed for a divorce, it shook each of them to the core. Though shocked by the unexpected calamity of divorce in our home, our connection to and trust in God provided invaluable support and direction in this time of isolation and fear.
The Power of Prayer and Connection to Christ
During the agonizing period of divorce, we joined in prayer and felt the critical connections that gave us strength and direction. As we read the Bible together, sang spiritual songs, or prayed, the new power we felt was palpable. My children asked to pray together regularly; they felt that this gathering with God was the clearest symbol of us assembling together as a unit, countering the rupture. Muddled situations gave way to vivid direction and clarity. When considering whatever difficulty we were facing, I would reassure them with the adage, “Do your best and leave the rest to God.” I never thought this path was vacant or ineffective; instead I believe it revealed to them the power of trust and experience of the Truth.
Developing children’s awareness of their capacity to love and be loved is the most important task in parenting. Parents should not feel the need to make up for their divorce by showering their children with material gifts that replace kids’ real needs — spiritual and emotional connectedness. Nor should parents allow children to exploit them in order to win their support. By serving as an examples of leadership and engagement, and responding to their children’s needs with spiritual awareness, parents set a higher bar for life and guide all of the family’s relationships during the transition. Such spiritual centering ultimately leads children to establish their own spiritual connections to Christ for guidance and support.
Managing the Unexpected
Divorce is destabilizing for everyone. Parents may lose their spiritual compasses entirely amidst the chaos and abandon their role as life guides — neutralizing the structure and order that children require for healthy growth and development. In Greek, the word devil (diavolos) derives from the word volos — one who “throws” (falsehoods) — and dia, “in the middle.” The devil is one who throws falsehoods in the middle — through chaos. “Chaos” and “confusion” is how children most often describe the state of divorce; it’s essentially an earthquake that breaks apart their foundations, causing them to feel as though their worlds and their selves are at risk. By contrast, that which is holy bonds and unites in love:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. — John 13:34
The power, security, and truth of this reality enable all who partake to walk in light, connected. And when you read in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” you’re given the formula to maintain your moral compass.
Turning to Christ cements our fractured bonds.
The power of prayer leads us to do what is right and what is true when confusion, fog, and chaos fill the air. By turning to Christ in active trust and faith, we are realigned to a path that leads us out of darkness. In the throes of divorce, parents do not need to worry about securing their children’s trust upon themselves but upon God, the Source that will not fail their children in moments of fear, anger, despair, and confusion. By doing so, parents secure their families with sustaining trust — as well as regain trust for themselves.
Original post by Dr. John Chirban, author of Collateral Damage: Guiding and Protecting Your Child Through the Minefield of Divorce.
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As parents in the challenge of divorce, you can take control of your situation and lead via “rightful actions” for yourself and your children. But you can’t do it alone. Remain focused on your critical connections to God, your children, and yourself. Pray without ceasing and depend on God. He will not fail to provide you with the clarity, love, and strength you and your children need to face the challenges of the storm.
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