This week's post comes to us courtesy of my friend, Cheks Enunwa. This morning, I woke up to a totally fabulous Facebook post, which she'd written last night. I loved it so much, I asked her for the permission to share it here, which she kindly granted.
When she asked my why I wanted to share it, I had to think about my answer for a minute. Here's the gist of what I told her: There's a wall of silence that surrounds things like divorce and miscarriages, especially in the culture I come from. Every moment of silence adds another brick to that fence, until people feel suffocated, alone...desperate. When people share their truth, it blows a hole through that fence, and gives someone the freedom to step forward and say "Yes. I'm suffering, but now I can draw strength from your story. I know I'm not alone."
According to widely-cited statistics, the divorce rate in the United States stands at 50%. The divorce rate for Christians is 42% ... so approximately 4 of every 10 Christian couples will end up in a divorce court. Clearly, this is a very common occurrence among Christians, yet you wouldn't know it if people like Cheks didn't stand up and share their truth.
11 Things NOT to Tell Your Divorced Friend - By Cheks E.
Dear friend of my fellow divorced single mom.
Fellow? Chekwube? What do you mean by fellow? You mean...?
Yes! I mean! I joined the distinguished ranks of Christian divorced single mothers in the early part of this year, 2016.
Distinguished, I say? Yes! Distinguished say I. Single moms are an amazing group of strong women. Flourishing in spite of their Herculean task. Doing the work of two, leaning on God for grace each day. Nurturing alone. Maybe even providing alone. No, providing as God provides. All day. Every day.
I should let you know. Shouldn't I? After all, I told you when I got married. Maybe I didn't call you, but you saw the pictures on my page. Now that it's over, you should know. At least I think so. Now you can stop asking those "How are you? And how is the family?" questions. Sometimes with that "I heard..." look in your eye. Now you can stop wondering. Now you know😊. And don't worry. I'm fine. Really. All by the grace of God.
And yes. I'm still a child of God, who loves Jesus. Don't worry about that😊. You can ask my Pastor 😆😆.Or you can ask my heavenly Papa directly. He still loves to speak to us you know, if we take the time to listen.
Yes indeed! Divorce, ex, custody, child support, visitation etc. are no longer "dirty x letter words"! I no longer get to scrunch my "sanctified Christian" nose and wonder what that woman did to end up in that situation. Okay, maybe not scrunch my nose. But think it in my heart. Because I'm now in it. In her shoes, I mean. Now I know. Maybe she did nothing. Maybe she did everything. Maybe she did some things. Maybe it doesn't really matter. For her, this is her reality. This is her now. It doesn't define her, but it's now part of her story, part of her unfolding testimony of the goodness of her God.
I'm writing this to share some advice on how to relate to your Christian divorced single mother friend. You may have good intentions, but:
1. Please DO NOT send her scripture about how God hates divorce! DO NOT DO IT!!!! She has agonized over that all by herself. And maybe she's finally gotten to the point where she is free in her heart and knows she and her Heavenly Father are cool! 😎 Please don't send her back to the prison of self-condemnation. You do not know what happened! Don't hide a judgmental spirit behind your 'care for her soul'. Jesus loves her. This she knows.
2. Stop telling her that he is still the father of her children and so she has to blah blah blah! Believe me, she remembers who she made her children with. And you weren't even there? So how do you know??😆😜
3. Stop asking her how she gets along with him and whether she said hello when he was at the same function the other day. Frankly, it's not your business.😊. Please check your heart and ask yourself why you're asking her that question. Hmm....
4. Stop telling her that she has to forgive him and that again, he's still the father of her children. Trust me, she knows. And as a Christian woman, depending on her particular story and what phase she's in, she may be struggling and asking for God's help to forgive someone who hurt her in a way you can never understand in spite of how many times you say "I know what you're going through". Let her walk through the process with God. He wants to help her. Frankly, He's the only one who can. Stop telling her that God will not forgive her sins if she doesn't forgive him. She reads the same Bible as you. She knows. And please! PLEASE!!!!! Stop comparing forgiving an ex-spouse to forgiving a business partner or a friend. It is not the same thing! And it belittles her pain. STOP IT!! Just. Stop. Also, please know that forgiveness and trust are not the same thing. Even in the dictionary! And my English friends confirm this.
5. Stop telling her to just move on. Give her space and time to heal. You wouldn't tell someone who just had open heart surgery to "just move on"? Would you? Same thing. Just the invisible kind. Deep wounds need time to heal.
6.. Stop telling her that he"ll come back! She may stop talking to you for saying that! Lol. Grieving her loss is necessary. She's lost a marriage, good, bad, fake or real. She's lost her "once upon a time best friend?" Maybe. Or maybe it always sucked. Still a loss. She's lost family. She's lost a vision and dreams. Maybe she's even lost friends. She may have lost her home, finances. She may have lost her job. She may have lost her kids. Maybe she's lost everything she's known for the last xx years. Still, Don't get it twisted. And if you're Nigerian, you may not believe this. 😆But really. Truly. Doesn't mean she wants him back. Like Pastor Tony Evans said, "Satan wants to keep you looking back so that he can keep you from moving forward". Don't help Satan work in her life. Please. Don't.😆😆
7. Stop telling her that she should just go out and meet someone new! If she's a wise woman, she doesn't want to make the same mistake twice! Like one of my older aunties told me "give yourself plenty of time to heal and let God do the shopping" Sage advice 👌🏾
8. Stop calling her to tell her you heard he's doing such and such or someone told you that he said so and so. Lol! Like she doesn't have enough to deal with in her own life! Please! Get over it! He is no longer her husband and so his business is no longer her business!! Maybe you need to move on...
9. Stop telling her how amazed you are at how good she looks in spite of everything that happened! You can say she looks good, but please save the rest. Did you think she would fall down and die?? No way! She's precious, valued and loved by the God of the universe! She's a queen! And maybe one day, God will send her one of his sons, a man after His heart to love and cover her like a godly husband should his wife. Or maybe she's content in her singleness. Either way, she's just going to keep on living and being the beautiful woman she was before she met him and still is now that he's gone!
10. Do not walk up to her, look at her child and say "Wow. This child looks so much like - insert ex-husbands name-, how does that make you feel?" That's just downright thoughtless. Hopefully, by this time, she's made some strides in her healing journey and your words just roll off. And besides, like you've reminded her before, he's their father, right? Who else would her kids look like? If you have nothing uplifting to say to her, please walk on by.😉
11. Just love her and be there! Really be there for her. Make time in your schedule. Don't make her feel like she's become burdensome. This may only be a season. You may need her to do the same for you in your own season. Visit with her. Offer to watch her kids so she can go get her hair done. Remember her birthday. You may be the only one who does. Buy her chocolates on Valentine's Day (Okay, maybe just for the 1st year!😜). Don't be afraid that she's trying to steal your husband! Trust me, the last thing she wants is another woman's man. Get my drift? Divorce is a death. But it can be worse. It's like mourning the "living dead". Worse because you don't get to check the "yes" or "no" box like with a physical death; a person doesn't get to choose. Just let her know that she'll be alright. Be a shoulder for her to lean on and be there through it all. Don't stop being there. And please, instead of asking her so many questions, PRAY for her and PRAY for her children.
Ok! I'm done!😜