As an teacher, my heart goes out to children whose parents are going through a separation or divorce. From my experience, the children in my charge go through an emotional and grieving process that often leads to low self esteem and anxiety as they cope with new changes in their lives. What was once a “happy” nuclear family is now a dysfunctional one that sometimes require a calendar to meander through the weekly changes of being shuffled from one house to the other, to who has the authorization to to pick up the child, to a slew of other changes emotionally and psychologically.
My son confides in me the stories of many of his own friends and the drama that unfolds during the divorce of their parents. He tells me the heart wrenching story of his best friend – His bestie has two other siblings (one older and one younger), but after the divorce of his parents, his Sikh father only wants to see him every other week, and wants nothing to do with his two other siblings. His Quebecois mother has custody of the other two, and share custody with my son’s bestie.
I thought at first how unusual until I discovered this week an ex-student of mine is also involved in a divorce. Her mom left her dad with the two eldest daughters, leaving her 24 month old sister behind.
My heart cries out for these children and the fractures in their young lives. The intercultural dichotomy in a relationship can be challenging, especially if there is a difference of religion and culture. In my ex-students situation, her mom left a strict traditional Chinese patrilineal marriage which denies her the rights from a cultural standpoint. “Married life is hard work”, is what I recently told a newlywed friend of mine. There will always certainly be ups and the downs in married life, and from my own experience, honest and communication is the only way to weather through it. What helped my husband and I through every trial was TRUST and the God centered attitude to work through it. With honesty, there is no denial, just as without communication, there can be no reciprocal relationship.
The love of a newly married couple is very different from the love within a relationship after 30 plus year of marriage. As a couple grow and face the challenges in their marriage together with total honesty and communication, the love slowly develops into something that is full of depth and substance.
I remember when I first met my husband as a young university student in a punk rock club – Yes, a noisy club I use to slam dance and listen to hardcore music. Dan was a friend of the bouncer, who kinda took it upon himself to keep a careful eye on me – a petite Chinese girl who was kinda nerdy, and totally out of her depth amidst hardcore punk rockers.
Dan and I are from two different walks of life and culture, but my dad saw in him something of substance, and shared with him the love of Jesus. Dad planted those first fruits seeds in Dan – love and kindness. Those first years as a couple saw much changes in our relationship – from being a boy friend, to a “common-law” couple, to marriage. I am sure my parents prayer were long and steady on our behalf, just as with every visit, my dad never stopped sharing with his testimony and his love of Jesus.
There were ups and downs as I left the wild punk rock scene and buckle down to studying – first two bachelor and then my M.F.A. Dan always supported my educational drive, even through he only completed his high school degree. He also supported my walk back to Jesus. In the early days of our courtship, Dan would drive me every Sunday to St. Stephen’s for worship (he would stay in the car). This period also saw my dad pass away, and I think his death was a living testimony and opened my husband’s heart and soul.
One Sunday I asked Dan to accompany me into St. Stephens, and he did. A non practicing Catholic by birth, Dan was able to relate to Nick Brotherwood, an ex-punker himself, and now one of the pastors at St. Stephens. With his British accent, and insightful sermons, God used him to touch my husbands heart until His whispers was heard. What follows was miraculous, as my husband joined the Alpha course offered to young adults at St. Stephens, which in turn led to a renewal in Christ Jesus as his personal Savior.
Our journey as a couple has not always been an easy one as we worked through the many changes thrown at us. First from not being able to have children, and after much prayer – the miracle of adopting two beautiful infants, to learning to become parents, and to keeping God center in our relationship – it is with God’s blessing we are still married and together. The last 15 years saw us go through a financial consolidation which saw us lose real estate holdings, and my husband being laid off many times, as his industry went through changes.
In retrospective, much of the challenges thrown our way has helped us grow stronger as a couple, and as parents. It has also deepen my faith in Christ, without whom I would have probably left my husband and become one of the many dysfunctional families around me. By God’s grace, I have been lifted up when I felt discouraged and weak. Faith gave me hope.
Trials teach us what we are; they dig up the soil, and let us see what we are made of. – Charles Spurgeon
I see the hand of Christ in my husbands life, as He opens doors for him, just as I see my husband’s faith remain steadfast with all the curves thrown at him. We dealt with our financial lost together, knowing that God provides for our needs. Most of all I praise God for guiding me to be the best wife and mom I can be, just as I see God working in my husband to be the best husband and dad he can be – loving unconditionally is the key – just as Jesus loves us.
Holding on to our faith, and to God in our time of need is the glue that keeps our family together:
Jesus is our sure and steadfast anchor, without which we would have been lost in the depth of the sea…