Like many children of divorce, I had to deal with the distressing situations my parents’ remarriages presented. All of those transitions introduced significant challenges in my life, but they also created opportunities for my faith to flourish.
After my dad’s first remarriage, age 5
Here’s a quote from my previous post 3 tough transitions as a child of divorce describing how I felt at my dad’s remarriage, just a few months after my parents’ divorce.
Dad’s wedding was very painful. My sister and I were chosen as the flower girls. I remember walking up the aisle, chin quivering, trying to hold back tears, and everyone staring at us with the clear message in their eyes: “Those poor little girls.” It brings tears to my eyes now as I write this and remember. My grandparents and aunt comforted us, telling us beforehand that they knew the day would be hard, but they would be waiting for us in the pew. I am so glad they were there in the midst of our pain and confusion, and I know God was watching over me too.
As a young child I had enough understanding to know nothing would ever be the same once Dad remarried. There was no hope that he and Mom would get back together, not that I had dared hope that would happen.
However, even then I understood that my Heavenly Father loved me and was watching over me, protecting me from harm. He did that through the loving arms of my other relatives. I thank God again and again that he gave me caring, doting Christian relatives and a sense of security in the church when I was so young. It set the foundation for my faith in years to come.
After my mom’s remarriage, age 13
On the day Mom remarried, I pretended to be a princess. Like most teenagers I enjoyed dressing up and going to parties and dances. I focused on the externals: the beautiful setting, the flowers, the food, and the company of friends and family. On that day I compartmentalized my feelings of concern, hurt, and rejection, detailed in my poems The shoulds, 1989 and Annul, 1990. I didn’t want to be disruptive or combative. I wanted to make things pleasant, for myself and for others. A peace-seeker. A people-pleaser. A mask-wearer.
That day was a temporary bandage on the issues that would soon surface. In my next post Unfair, 1991 and the essay to follow, I describe the ways Mom’s remarriage affected me.
At age 13 I was in confirmation classes at my Christian school. I was nestled in the comfort of a Christian environment, eager to learn and become a full-fledged member of my church. I enjoyed memorizing Bible verses, choosing passages for the class Bible study, and digging into the catechism. During that time God gave me a love for his Word and for his church. The church was my safe place when everything else around me was changing. I’m grateful that in that time of transition, God gave me those comforts.
After my dad’s second remarriage, age 22
The year 2000 was a whirlwind. I met my husband in February and we were engaged by June. In August we planned a November wedding at a chapel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and notified family and friends of our destination wedding. My dad was caught up in his own whirlwind. He divorced in the spring and decided to marry another woman that autumn. He told me and my sisters they would probably just go somewhere one weekend to get married and not include us, and I was okay with that.
Even though he knew my plans, my dad chose Gatlinburg as the site for his third wedding in September. At least they did not get married in the same chapel we had chosen. When he told me, I was secretly very upset. I thought his choice stole some of the specialness of my day. But I didn’t want to spoil the last few months before my own wedding. I was head-over-heels in love with my husband-to-be, which temporarily numbed my wounded feelings. I stuffed those feelings and donned a mask again, only to have them surface soon after Christmas. They took the form of a debilitating depression, which led me to the first counseling I ever received.
In the counselor’s office I found my way back to God after a season of rebellion. I had lost my way and desperately needed forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love. I drank it in like water, feeling hope and renewal after being rejected and betrayed. I will write about this time period in late August and early September, so please keep reading, dear followers!
Those transitions were difficult, confusing, and painful for me. They could have overwhelmed me with bitterness. But God used those times to draw me closer to him. He wrapped his arms around me when I felt rejected. Today, I am feeling rejected in a totally different situation that I can’t discuss here, for the time being. But I trust God’s word in the glorious chapter of Isaiah 41:
You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I have turned to these verses many times for affirmation, comfort, strength, and courage. God continues to use my struggles to build my faith and draw me closer to him today, and he has proven faithful to me in all those transitions of my parents’ remarriages.
How has God used the hard times in your life to strengthen your faith? How is he drawing you closer today?