‘Well, I don’t know anything about divorce and what your going through but hopefully this will help’
About 2 months before my Grandad, a staunch Methodist, died he gave me money to help pay for my divorce. He didn’t understand (or let’s face it, probably want to) but he did love me and wanted to help in a way he knew how.
This may be a little bit like your Church, your family or your faith community. Perhaps they are not sure how to understand or to help support you through a divorce or break up but there is love and well-meaning. There is training around supporting with bereavement and loss, but the complications, guilt, trauma and sometimes abuse that comes with separation is less able to be supported in my experience.
It is in our nature and servitude as a Christian to forgive and ‘turn the other cheek’. When it comes to different forms of abuse, that means that we can be in a relationship longer than most as we are hoping and praying for change. Strength and comfort can be drawn from a deep faith even in challenging situations. Churches are beginning to recognise the need for more education in order to support in this area but, when I searched online for studies and information related to Christianity, divorce and domestic abuse, there was very little recent study or information to be found.
The nuclear family unit has been held in such high esteem for such a long time and it can offers a place of secrecy - a place apart, private and not available for public discussion. It is only through the tight bonds and friendships within faith communities that the ‘meatier’ stuff be divulged. Before my own experience, I never really delved into ‘relationship stuff’. It can still feel very lonely both in a relationship that is broken and after separation, despite being surrounded by a wider faith community. There is added pressure relating to bringing shame and embarrassment on parents and other family too.
Funnily enough, it was only once I was going through separation that I had very meaningful conversations with members of the Church whom I had only known at a very surface level. It is in our frailty and vulnerability that we often become more humble, open and relatable to others. Those conversations were powerful, amazing! In sharing our hurt and often tears, we were able to support each other to heal. I know that people will speak to me specifically now because of my experience and I am glad to be able to support others. My own faith has been enriched in a different way and I know that God can use me to support wellbeing in anyone going through the pain of break up or divorce, or even feeling alone or on the fringes for other reasons.
In this way, CHURCHES and FAITH COMMUNITIES NEED YOU! We need the diversity of broken, scarred, wonderful humans to help to support each other and lift each other up each day. To women and men – we need to challenge the problems that patriarchy in scripture can allow, particularly relating to domestic violence.
In opening up conversations and sharing experiences, there is love, hope and an embrace from a wider faith family. A family who may not always understand exactly what is going on, but want to help through love.
On a side note: The pictures are of a most beautiful monastery in Romania that I visited. The village lived in poverty, the monastery at the end of the road was immaculate. Not my idea of where God is if I'm honest but that tale is for another time!