Question: Handling Divorced Parents

I hate to treat you like a therapist and abuse your ask like this, but would you happen to have any advice for a born-again Christian struggling with the effects of parental divorce? Earlier this year, after my parent’s divorce, I rededicated (rather, actually dedicated) my life to Christ. Six months later I am again feeling the resentment. I am mainly conflicted about my mother’s new beau. I treat him with a cold shoulder when I know I need to be turning the other cheek. Any advice? Shalom! -M

Hey first — you’re not at all “abusing my ask” or anything close.  I live to serve my God and my church, and I consider the blogosphere my second church-home.  Even when I don’t answer every question that comes through my box, I’m still throwing prayers.

I also want to say: I have tons of love for you, dear friend.  I’m sorry about all that has happened, and while I can’t give perfect clean-cut advice on this, I can say that I completely understand the hurt and the hard choices.

To share a bit: My parents divorced when I was thirteen, and it was probably one of the most painful, dramatic, tumultuous times I’ve ever been through.  It was an ugly divorce, full of affairs and custody battles and money haggling and trash-talking.  At one point my dad sat me down and read the divorce papers from beginning to end, pointing out where my mom went wrong.  He shut my mom out of my life for at least three years.  To this day, it still kills me a little.

My brother and I ended up with my dad.  He quickly remarried to a woman who, to be fair, did try — but my dad and her were a terrible fit.  They brought out the worst in each other.  She was often aggressive, overbearing, drunk, violent, and negative.  My dad was passive and a poor husband and constantly talked bad about my mom, and later I found out he only remarried for the money.  I ran away when I was 16.  I came back only to start drinking and going to strip clubs every week.  It took me seven years to finish college, after I had dropped out and lost my scholarship.

All that to say: Forgiving anyone who has hurt you is going to be a lifelong daily process.  You’ll feel the resentment pop up at random.  It is not who you are, but when external things hurt us, our heart is provoked to react in the worst ways.  It only becomes our fault when we carry these emotions into excuses for destructive tendencies (like I did for a long time). But you’re not there yet.

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