Mary springs the news, “I think Phil and I are getting a divorce.” When you hear something like that where does your mind go? Is it to Phil and Mary, or is it to any number of thoughts that are all about you (or in this case me)? Here’s a peek into my thought life: “Oh no, there go the Friday night Pinochle games!” “Crap, I have no idea what to say to her!” “What Bible verse can I use to get her to change her mind?” This is only the beginning. As time goes on, don’t be surprised if you get further caught up in the “me” trap. “If I keep hanging around Mary, will I be seen as supporting divorce? If I reach out to Phil to comfort him, will I be seen as disloyal?” “Will the church think I’m soft on divorce if I keep these two as friends?” “Will my marriage be at risk if my spouse sees how easy it is to get a divorce?”
These lines of thinking are only natural, and in many cases fueled by our need for emotional self-preservation. But natural or not, this kind of thinking can lead us down a path we do not want to follow. If we want to remain effective friends to our brothers and sisters going through tough times, we need to remember that their marriage challenges or their divorce is not about us. Sure it impacts us – we can feel a significant loss, pain or fear – but ultimately, the two people experiencing the relationship trouble are the ones in need of support.
Also, remember the family members who have been drawn into the crisis. Can you offer help by coming along side the children? Can you be the voice of calm and reason with extended family, church community or friends?
Let’s keep the focus on their pain. Not ours. Let’s minister to their confusion. Let’s be the hands and feel delivering not only good news, but real help and assurance.