My children return to school for a new year of learning next week and for the past month, it seems all I’ve done as Mom is shop, shop, shop and fill out forms! Dental and medical visits and registering them for their different schools have unleashed a form-completing marathon, something every parent I know dreads. As I dispensed all kinds of personal information for administrative employees to read and record, I naturally recalled the days when I had to swallow my pride and check the “divorced” box instead of “married.” I immediately thought of all of you who are still going through this and wanted to take a few moments to give you some encouragement.
Just as CatholicMatch’s Chris Easterly aptly described in his recent blog article “The Stigma of Divorce
,” much of the suffering divorced men and women endure is silent and hidden from others. Yet they push right on through it, revealing that deep strength that also is unrecognized by others.
All of us who have been married and divorced know the awkward discomfort that comes with being in the same room with happily married couples and intact families. We don’t wish for anyone else to go through a divorce – in fact, we wouldn’t wish it on our worst enemies – but it can be really hard to be in the presence of happy couples and a reminder of what you don’t have anymore. It’s that silent suffering we don’t talk about.
Some time ago, I received a response to one of my Daily Reflections
from Amanda, an incredibly wise and insightful woman. She was describing the fear and nervousness she felt about being the only single mom in a room full of couples as she drove to her daughter’s school for a concert one night. Her aggravation compelled her to use the quiet ride by herself to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance. She wrote, “I could feel the Holy Spirit inviting me to “enter within” as Theresa of Avila calls it, and so as I drove I turned to Him dwelling within me. I could feel His love, His presence.”
She continued, “Arriving at the school early, I was aware that as a divorced mom, I would be there “on my own” and I am not always comfortable with that. Sometimes it is painful to see a loving husband and wife, because it brings anew the feelings of grief for what I have lost, although in fact never had. Seeing an affectionate marriage relationship is beautiful, but it does still hurt me. There were enough loving couples at the concert to make my heart begin to ache. Until He called me back to Him and within the center of my being He met me.”
The Interior Castle of A Suffering Soul
Amanda was referring to St. Teresa of
Avila’s popular form of prayer called “The Interior Castle” describing a person’s soul as a great castle with seven mansions, each level preparing the soul to meet Christ in the seventh mansion. It is a beautiful and effective way to find peace with Christ amid the chaos of the world.
Amanda’s recount of that evening illustrated the love and attention that God pays us, especially when we hurt and searching. He is always there for us, no matter what. God is the only perfect spouse.
Amanda finished by saying, “I may have arrived alone, but I was never alone that evening. My Beloved was an attentive and loving presence who brought joy to me as we watched His children and mine.”
I cannot thank Amanda enough for sharing her thoughts with me and I hope it helps you whatever situation you may be in. If you are feeling the awkward discomfort of having to identify yourself as being a divorced parent, I invite you to consider Amanda’s beautiful words and find your consolation and self-worth by cultivating this beautiful form of communication with Jesus.