As a child of divorce, I learned a lot of things, among them to keep from crying and to hide my tears when the first effort didn’t work. My parents divorced when I was two, custody was decided by the time I hit four, and with all four of my grandparents living nearby, I bounced between three or four houses for the first ten years of my life.
The reason you learn to hide your feelings is that you pick up on people’s attempts to manipulate or change them to achieve their own ends. It’s just a side effect really, but one that tends to carry over into your adolescent and adult life. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great family that I love, and God has brought me a long way emotionally and psychologically. I’m not nearly the mess that I could be, and that’s all due to His grace.
But tonight as I prayed for the first time in a while I cried, and I thought about how quiet I was, even in the sanctity of my own room and my own quiet time before God. Even there I didn’t want to weep aloud.
A few weeks ago I was praying in my pastor’s office before service with some of the other leaders, something we try to do each Sunday, and I was flat-out weeping. My face was hot and soaked, my chest and stomach hurt, but no one knew until I stood and wiped my eyes. There were too many tears to wipe off my face before I stood or else I would have. My pastor asked if I was okay, remarking that he had no idea I was crying.
People rarely do.
Another side effect of divorce is a difficulty with trust. No matter what role you play in the divorce—spouse, child, grandparent, lawyer—you tend to not trust anyone else during the process. Depending on how deeply it all affects you, this often continues as a pattern in your life, especially if you’re the child torn between the people you love the most.
It did with me. I don’t blame anyone for my issues, and I trust God to continue to work on my heart until they are all resolved. I know what it will take on my part. Off and on I do it, but like every other busy American, I let other things get in the way of my spiritual health.
As this year draws to a close and another one knocks at the door of our lives, I’ve thought about all the resolutions I made last January and the ones I might make the next one. Somehow they seems pointless, just the trimmings of a life that I wish I could have, rather than the manifestations of the life He has for me.
I think instead of giving myself a plumb line of activities and accomplishments this year, I’m just going to focus on trusting more: trusting God, trusting my family (spiritual and blood), trusting my friends, and maybe even trusting complete strangers with reasonable things. More than anything, I want to stop being closed off.
As a teen, I was always waiting for someone to see through the lie that I was “fine.”
Now, I want the courage to tell the truth in the first place.