I’m about to write something that may seem a little radical to many I know. So consider yourself warned.
On the one hand, the whole world has Jon & Kate + 8 fever, and it seems that their big announcement tonight is that they’re getting divorced, as People Magazine reports that papers have already been filed in Pennsylvania. I firmly believe that being on TV is not a good thing for families, but I don’t think it’s just the quest for the spotlight that doomed this family. Even from early episodes, it was apparent from the way they spoke to each other that Jon and Kate did not respect each other. And though Kate often goes on church speaking tours, I did not see a lot of Christian love and grace between them. Of course I’m just an armchair quarterback, but I calls ’em like I sees ’em.
And so, I’m faced with a sort of bipolar response to this, as a committed, happily married woman, and also as a child of divorce. You see, I believe that divorce is sad and tragic and to be avoided whenever possible. MY Jon and I both agree that it is simply not on the table for us. Based on the experiences of family and friends, I do believe that any marriage can be healed with love and grace by the power of God.
On the other hand, I am a child of divorce. And honestly? I’m GLAD my parents split up. Instead of growing up in a home where both parties existed in a kind of Cold War tolerance if not out and out warfare, I grew up for the most part with my dad and my stepmom, who had a great relationship (well, except for some minor communication issues that I’ve chosen to learn from), and who loved each other, and my sister and me, to death. I had the hope of actually seeing a functioning, loving relationship rather than growing up with the idea that marriage looks, at best, like detente. And I am almost certain that if my parents had not gotten divorced and my stepmom not come into my life, I would not be the person I am today. For one thing, the divorce, yes, it forced me to grow up faster than I might have otherwise, but I also became resilient and independent, skills which have served me well these past two years living at least 1,000 miles from everyone I love.
But more than mere independence, I know I would not know God the way I do today had my dad not married my stepmom, who insisted that we grow up in church. THIS, I believe, is proof that God takes broken things, even marriages, and uses them for his purposes. I do not take this to mean that God intends the original brokenness, that God wills divorce, or welcomes it at all, but I do believe that God can work anything that we make of our lives, even a colossal mess, even a divorce, into something beautiful.
And so, while I hope and pray that Jon and Kate can be reconciled, I also know that if they aren’t, all is not lost for their family. Good things can still come out of brokenness. And a lot of commentary I see on divorce, particularly among my Christian brethren, fails to take that into account. In my case, my parents’ divorce has made me strong, has made me a woman of faith, and has made me determined to do any work necessary to keep my marriage from getting to the brink. I just hope that in the wake of whatever comes of this show (I don’t have cable and though I have watched lots of J&K+8 in the past, am not watching tonight and am blogging based solely on the articles I’ve read ABOUT the show), that the kids will be better for it, that they will not doubt that they are loved, and that their parents can at least put aside their differences enough to raise them in some sort of cordial custody arrangement if their marriage doesn’t make it.