I was walking my kids into their school the other morning and I like to greet the other kids as they are walking in. “Good morning,” I say. Or,”You make it buddy/sweetie, good job getting up this morning!”
My kids are tolerant of my outgoing nature but someday they might be embarrassed—but thankfully, not yet!
I was alarmed though as this little girl (probably a 3rd grader passed me wearing an enormous backpack stuffed deep.
I noticed it (1.) because I had just purchased a mega-sized backpack for my oldest in middle school. And (2.) it was an especially thick backpack for such a small person.
I said to her in passing, “You must have a lot of homework in there!” This girl just stopped and spilled out to me, “I have to carry extra clothes plus all my other stuff because my parents got divorced and I have to go in between their two houses.”
“Sweetie… I’m sorry.”
“Yeah, it’s the worst but…” (Bell rings and she scoots off.)
Literally, this little girl was carrying the weight of her parent’s divorce.
I grew up in a divorced home and if it’s necessary to say, I know that in many cases it feels unavoidable. But, what concerns me in all the separations with kids that I’ve walked through and observed, it’s the belief the kids are fine.
I’ve heard parents in the midst of a painful separation say, “They’re actually doing great. In fact, they love having two places to go.”
Or even, “I ask them how they’re doing and they said they’re doing great… you know kids!”
Yes, I do. I think I know kids… and they’re probably not alright and when parents are in the midst of painful separation, they themselves are probably NOT in the best position to gauge emotional well-being.
In a Kindergarten class, students are talking and one shares that his parents are divorcing. He says, “I just want a regular family that isn’t broken.” Another girl responds “oh you mean you guys have broken things and no money to fix them?” “No,” he says, “I mean a happy family that loves each other no matter what.”
I can honestly see why God hates divorce. Because it often lays the burden of a broken covenant in the backs of the children.
As a pastor, I would never claim to be able to help every couple, but I regret it so much when a married couple with or without kids never think to seek restorative counseling before making that massive step.
I say restorative counseling as in let’s explore the lesser painful option to separation, which is learning to love one another in way that gives life, not takes it away. We aim for restoration and learn to live in God’s peace.
I’m often convinced that people see divorce as they easier route. And in some ways it is. Because it avoids the more painful challenge of digging into the heart and finding out why something once so desired has become so painful.
Divorce often takes that pain and relational baggage and sets it on the back of the kids who find themselves in the middle of it.
“Here is another thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, weeping and groaning because he pays no attention to your offerings and doesn’t accept them with pleasure. You cry out, “Why doesn’t the Lord accept my worship?” I’ll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows.
Didn’t the Lord make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are his. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth. “For I hate divorce!” says the Lord, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.””
(Malachi 2:13–16 NLT)