Divorce Affecting Teen

Straight Talk

The Question:

I am fifteen and about ready to experience my dad’s second divorce. Financial hardships, loss of social interactions as a result of moving, and emotional stress are really weighing me down. I know God is using this for my benefit but the problems are constantly adding up. Do you have any advice?

– M. From Maryland

The Answer
Part 1: Choosing your response

Choosing your response (Part 1)

It seems to me that divorce is like a stone dropped in a pond; rings of consequences continue long after the stone sits silently on the bottom. Two people fail in their promised commitment to each other and they are hurt and disillusioned. Often they ricochet recklessly into another relationship until the pattern repeats and now there is a second or third divorce. Finances are depleted, stability is disturbed. But the worst? Children suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin.

This is what is happening to you. I always feel badly for children because they are mostly stuck. They can’t go off and live by themselves to get out of the chaos. They often can’t even choose who they want to live with. And they certainly almost never had a choice in their parent’s pick for a marriage partner in the first place.

But you do have one advantage. You have a relationship with God and you realize that he can work this for your good. He can. Used correctly it can build the character of Christ in you. You did not choose this to happen but you can choose how you will respond to it. That is in your control and makes you a powerful one in your adverse circumstance.

My advice? I’m not going to pretend that actually going through this valley won’t be hard and you don’t need to pretend either. Putting on your “Praise the Lord anyhow!” smiley face may satisfy some church friends but it’s not usually real. Yet while you are in the valley you can look up to the mountains—they are as real as the valley.

This passage of scripture gives me new perspective when I am going through tough times. “I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from where shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2) Looking up means climbing higher—above your circumstances, and interpreting what is happening from a spiritual perspective. It means trying to see through God’s eyes and trusting him for the long term.

I hope that doesn’t sound like spiritual gobbledygook. Practically speaking it means affirming God’s will and plan for your life in spite of disruptions. It means not feeling sorry for yourself–a hard one. It means forgiving and not allowing any roots of bitterness spring up. Harder still. It means asking God what he wants to teach you and then submitting to his lessons even as it goes against your flesh.

I think you are going to do fine. I think you are going to come out more like Jesus. Just remember that the top of the mountain has the clearest views.