I remember being the odd man out growing up. All of my friends were Catholic; and myself at the time, Southern Baptist. While they all went to catechism class, I went home and enjoyed the afternoon cartoons. I tried to fit in with them the best that I could.
I was raised to go to church every time the door was open. I remember getting my Sunday School lesson up on Saturday nights. My mom and dad would always check on me to make sure I had done it. I then received my offering to give in Sunday School class the next day. I had a good upbringing. I am proud of it.
However, there were other differences besides religion between my friends and I. Many of my friends had step-moms or step-dads. They either hated them or loved them. I couldn?t fathom what they were talking about. I couldn?t imagine my mother and father not loving each other anymore.
As I grew older, I realized what it meant to have a step-mom or step-dad. Something that seemed to be a problem for my Catholic friends was a problem for my Southern Baptist friends too. They had step-moms and step-dads. All I could understand was that something had gone wrong in someone?s marriage?and the two stopped loving each other and living together. I understood very well, however, that my friends were hurting, but dealing with it.
As a teenager, a situation arose that crushed my family, my friends, and my church. Some of our leaders fell from grace as it were, in the worst possible way. There were lies, adultery, and divorce. Ministries were destroyed. Young impressionable lives, including my own, were damaged. I have seen and talked to some of those that survived the ordeal. It has been a long, hard road for all of us.
What of divorce and loss?
I have heard those who have experienced the end of a marriage through divorce as an experience worse than the death of the spouse. They feel as if they cannot move on with their lives. While death forces adjustment upon us by the sudden, irretrievable absence of a partner, divorce does so with some lingering hope of reconciliation, or the constant reopening of a newly healed wound. Divorce is loss?and the feelings of grief and bereavement that accompany it must be dealt with. We must come apart from the situation and take care of ourselves, or we will simply come apart.
Divorce Hits Home
I won’t go into too many details here. Divorce has hit close to home in my family. While my marriage has survived trials, my own family has felt the impact of divorce. There are hurt feelings, feelings of anger, resentment, and blame. Yet I feel a profound sense of loss for the person once welcome in my family and now not so welcome. While I feel some sense of relief, I cannot help but grieve. I lean now on the tried and true scripture, “The LORD is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” (Psalm 23:1).
Jeffrey K. Johnson is a licensed funeral director/embalmer in Louisiana with over 10 years experience, and is president of Hearts that Heal ministries.