A letter to divorced Catholics

Posted By on June 14, 2009

Dear Friend,

I know it hurts, and I know you may feel alone. Catholics aren’t supposed to divorce, right? Everyone around you is happily married, and you’re struggling, juggling, and really working hard at life. It feels sometimes like nobody gets it, and maybe everyone is judging.

I want you to know that you are not alone. There are so many people in our parishes who are or have been divorced. We know that divorce is a sad, lamentable thing; not because we judge, but because we know how painful it can be. And those who don’t understand, it isn’t because they think you are a bad person; it is because they just don’t understand. Maybe they haven’t had to go through the struggles you’ve gone through. Maybe they aren’t aware of your circumstances. Or maybe they just don’t know what to say, because they haven’t been there.

I don’t encourage divorce, but I’ve been there. My divorce was unavoidable, but it took me several years to realize that I didn’t owe everyone else an explanation. Your story belongs to you, and you can share it or keep it to yourself. But whether you share it with others or not, you should go to God with it, and your priest. They do not want to stand in judgment of you; they want to help you make things right. They want to see your life work out beautifully, blessedly. They can’t set things right without you, but they want to help you set things right. They want to see you smile again.

Some of the judgment you think you see is not really there. Some of it may be, but even then, you need to remember that you will never, in anything, have the complete approval of everyone… and you don’t need it. Don’t let those few people who make you feel uncomfortable drive you away. God isn’t chasing you away or rejecting you, even if you have made mistakes. He is calling you, with open arms. Don’t run away, run to Him. He will help you.

When I got divorced, I feared facing my family. They are Catholic. We don’t do divorce, ya know? I felt like a failure, and wondered how they would receive me. But I didn’t need to worry. There were some hard times as we redefined some aspects of our relationships, but we made it through them. My family helped me through this most painful part of my life, and I grew, and my relationships with my family members grew.

For a while, I guess I was a little broken. And my family treated me like I was a little broken. They were protective, careful, guiding, and very parenty. After a while, I was ready to stop being broken, but they didn’t know it. It took me letting them know. I had to communicate that I was ready to take those reins back, and they were happy to hand them over. What they did was not to punish me, but to protect me. And when I stopped needing protection, they were ready to let me spread my wings again.

The other difficult thing was, of course, the lonliness. I had three kids, and was dirt poor. Getting out of the house seemed an impossibility, and it was so hard to meet adults. Spending time with family members became my lifeline, till my kids were old enough to be left alone for an hour or two. It was tempting to rush out and look for a new relationship, but I’m very glad I didn’t. It took me several years before I was ready to have a real relationship again. I needed to heal first. Please have patience. Lonliness is so hard to bear, but healing really helps you to be ready for a really good, healthy, and spiritually grace-filled relationship.

God loves you, and so does your parish family. If you don’t have one, find one. They will be more supportive than you think, and will be a genuine blessing. Seek the advice of a priest, and if possible get involved with the social life of your parish. Volunteer for a ministry. Not only will it give you an outlet for your need to be around other people, but it will give you the opportunity to nurture some lifelong friendships and to realize that you aren’t as alone as you might feel.

God bless you, my friend. I don’t know who you are, and maybe you don’t know who I am. But I am a testiment to the fact that God has good things in store for you.


One Response to “A letter to divorced Catholics”

  1. Theresa says:

    Hi Christina,
    I found you while looking up blogs on Carmelite Spirituality. Your blog is really neat and I love the title! If you get a chance, come visit me on carmelitemom.

    I, too, have suffered the effects of a divorce. Still shaking the *guilt* that tends to resurface when I read about Catholics and divorce…but God has led me into a God-centered marriage with a wonderful husband. Thanks for your consoling words.

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