One summer afternoon, my mom called me to tell me that she and my dad were getting a divorce. I was blindsided. I knew that they had had their fair share of problems in the past, but I thought that they had worked it out.
The change that followed brought the most gut-wrenching pain that I have ever experienced. I felt really angry, but more surprising was how completely un-moored I felt, like someone had just ripped the safety net out of my life. I couldn’t really express how I felt with a “feeling” word, just pictures—like being completely adrift at sea.
I had been married for one year, and I lived far away. I resented that my kids would never get to experience Christmas morning at their grandparents’ house, or know my parents like I did growing up. I resented them for making me look bad to my husband’s family. And I didn’t want people’s pity. I needed my friends to help me, but none of them knew what to say, and none of them called to check on me after the initial “hey, my parents are getting divorced” conversation.
The only person who I could talk to and would call to check on me was my mother-in-law. She prayed through it with me six months later when I was ready to forgive. She prayed for me in person and on the phone, gave me advice, told me that I had to keep forgiving over and over when I felt the pain, and that part of forgiveness is accepting the consequences of other people’s choices. So I forgave, and I had to keep forgiving.
After my dad remarried and I was going to meet his new wife for the first time, I thought I would vomit in the car in front of their house. On the way there, I called my best friend, and she said that I didn’t have to pretend that everything was fine, but the truth was that I did have to. What was I going to do? Cause a scene with sobbing and barfing? No. I faced it with my siblings and my husband, and that made it easier. Forgive. Accept the consequences.
Time has passed, and it’s easier to accept now, but I still think about the past, especially when I’m home and things aren’t the same. There are two Christmases and Thanksgivings. I worry about hurting people’s feelings by not spending enough time with them because I have to be somewhere else. I feel the responsibility to take care of my mom, and sometimes to take care of everyone.
What changed for the better in the midst of pain?
I got closer to my siblings through processing with them. I love my mother-in-law for supporting me during the most difficult time of my life, and I will always be grateful to her for being God’s instrument of love and grace to me. My home is now with my husband and our family together instead of the home where I grew up. My relationship with my dad is restored, and we are friends again. And we even go on vacation together.
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