Nearly everyone who enters into “the estate of holy matrimony” does so with the intent to “live happily ever after.” Our culture’s consuming focus is on creating a picture-perfect wedding — not on supporting an ongoing marriage.
For many people divorce may seem so common that, unless someone has actually journeyed through the experience, it may appear to be nothing more significant than a change in residence.
Regardless of the circumstances, we need to acknowledge that divorce rips through the layers of trust, community and security to reshape the very core of a person’s faith and identity.
During this critical time many people shy away from the church. With a growing insecurity about their sense of belonging, it often becomes difficult to deal with the dynamics of a faith community.
One of the tasks of the church is to recognize the reality that one in two families deals with the consequences of separation and divorce. How can the church nurture families in transition?
- Be honest and upfront about the realities of families in transition. Honor privacy, but acknowledge their pain. Model a spirit of grace and acceptance.
- Include prayers for the children and families in the midst of separation and divorce in your corporate prayers.
- Encourage those who have found healing in similar circumstances to be mentors for men, women and children of all ages.
- Give sincere and appropriate assistance. Consider starting a car pool for families with children to provide transportation to church programs and events.
- Sponsor divorce support and recovery groups for men, women and children in your congregation, or provide a ready reference for programs in your community.
- Be sensitive to what you name adult-fellowship groups. “Pairs and Spares” may be cute to some, but painful and insulting to others.
- Embrace the children. Surround them with love and attention.
- Put away the perfect attendance awards and recognize a child’s willingness to come when he or she can. Relay all forms of communication to both parents.
- Recruit “pew buddies” to sit with single parents who have small children.
- Unfortunately, the divorce decree is often the first wake-up call many spouses hear. It leaves them bewildered and extremely lonely. Become familiar with the stages of the grief and be sensitive to individual journeys.
- Many families struggle to keep the realities of divorce from completely consuming them. Help them maintain a balance with invitations to opportunities for fun and fellowship.
- Give individuals in transition age-appropriate ways to realize that the power within them is greater than any challenge they face. Encourage them to claim the words of 1 John 4:4 as their ongoing inspiration.