Child of God, Child of Divorce

I am both – a child of God by baptism, and a child of divorce by legal settlement some 28 years ago.

And even at age 31, the legacy of my parents’ divorce continues to inform and influence my daily life. It is a pervasive kind of presence, an all-too-consistant constant in my life. Through baptism I am also an inheritor of a legacy of grace and new life, child of a heavenly parent.  And yet, the legacy of divorce is much more concrete, much more real, much more tangible than the legacy of baptismal grace for most of us children of divorce. . .

I’ve recently read a wonderful book on the legacy of divorce – Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, by Elizabeth Marquardt. In it she details the experiences of young adults – ages 18-35 – whose parents divorced during their childhood. I’ve written a little more about it on a previous post, but the all-too-short summary is that children of divorce live between two different worlds – one of mom, one of dad – and even absent parental conflict, children of divorce experience stress, tension, anxiety and helplessness in a way unlike children of intact marriages, simply by nature of constantly being on the move between the two worlds of mom and dad. The book’s final chapter considers the impact divorce has on the religious lives of children, which includes:

– Children of divorce are less likely to attend religious services than children of intact families.

– When presented with the story of the Prodigal Son, children of intact families identify with the end of the story – with the warm welcome home. When presented with the same story, children of divorce identify with the beginning of the story, with the leaving. Children of intact families see a story of a united family; children of divorce see a story of loss and leaving.

– Children of divorce find parental language to describe God troublesome. Children of intact families find such language comforting.

I’m trying to figure out where to go with this, but in some way I want to explore faith and divorce, to cultivate the resources that faith and our Christian (and particularly our Lutheran) tradition brings to the discussion of divorce and its realities. More to come . . .

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