On how to help a friend going through a divorce…

The divorce rate has been declining for the last couple decades, and the “50% of marriages end in divorce” stat hasn’t been true for a while (1, 2). Depending on how you calculate it (and the calculations have a TON of differences), closer to 40% of marriages end in divorce (3). The notion that Christians who attend church regularly get divorced at substantially lower rates is a convenient myth (sorry, but it is)(4). Although divorce rates are declining – it remains true that – whether you’re a Christian, a member of another faith, an agnostic or an atheist – you’ll likely know someone who goes through a divorce.

I’m divorced. And my current husband also went through a divorce. Prior to that, I believed I had to succeed at everything in order to be loved. Going through divorce helped me learn an important lesson: that grace exists beyond my failing (Romans 3:20-24).

Every situation is different, but I wanted to write about divorce. Specifically, since we will also know someone who goes through a divorce, I wanted to write about how you can help a friend who is going through a divorce.

 1)      Don’t pick sides.

 Marriage is complex, and messy, and tough. There aren’t two sides to a marriage; there are like… a gazillion. While it’s easy and convenient to think, “It’s his fault because he did X” or “It’s her fault because she did Y” – that is overly simplistic. People get divorced because they’re people, and imperfect. Don’t pick a side, it just makes one person feel like crap and the other person feel justified. And the truth is, no one will ever understand what happens in another marriage. So just listen. Just be kind.

 2)      Try to keep in touch.

I have such good friends. When I was going through a divorce they let me call or text as often as I needed. My friends were my life line. They listened to me and loved me when I needed it. If you have a friend going through a divorce, try to keep in touch with him/her. If you don’t want to be overbearing send a text that says, “I love you friend.”

3)      Don’t say, “I’ll pray you’ll get back together.”

People mean well when they say this. They are holding out hope that a friend won’t have to go through the pain of a divorce. But when you’re going through a divorce and someone says this line, what you likely hear is, “You’re wrong for doing this.” It feels like a slap in the face, because you likely already feel like crap for getting divorced. It is also undermining. It assumes that the person getting divorced hasn’t been trying for years to fix their marriage. A better thing to say is, “How can I help you?”

4)      Gossip is the worst.

When I was going through a divorce, I remember feeling like people were talking about me wherever I went. Although I was being slightly paranoid, I’d never felt that terrible feeling before. And despite never asking for gossip reports, things that were said always seemed to come back to me. If you know someone that is getting divorced and you need to talk to a friend about it, do it in private – and try not to be a jerk about it. Gossip has a way of coming back around.

5)      Remember – you could be next.

My least favorite pictures on Facebook are the ones like the below. Divorce isn’t Santa Claus or the tooth fairy – it exists. And unlike Santa, who “supposedly” comes around on the same night each year, divorce isn’t always expected. Today, I’m remarried to a wonderful guy who also went through a divorce. My husband Del and I have had the conversation, “We never thought we would have gotten divorced.” You never know what will happen next in life, or what weird twists and turns may come your way. With kindness I say – before you pass judgment upon someone for getting divorced, remember that it could be something you go through (although I hope it isn’t). And if you ever have to go through it, I hope you’re surrounded by kindness and grace, instead of judgment.

You “don’t believe”?

 (1) https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/23/144-years-of-marriage-and-divorce-in-the-united-states-in-one-chart/

(2) http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/02/upshot/the-divorce-surge-is-over-but-the-myth-lives-on.html?smid=tw-share&abt=0002&abg=0&_r=2

(3) http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/19/health/divorce-rate-its-not-as-high-as-you-think.html

(4) https://www.barna.com/research/new-marriage-and-divorce-statistics-released/

 

On all these politics…

I actually like politics. Nay – love it.

In college, I was on student senate all four years. My senior year I was President.

So I LOVE debates, but although I love them – I’ve been struggling recently.

On the Myers Briggs I’m an INTJ. INTJ’s are exceptionally rare, and are most scarce among women. My most extreme trait – is thinking. My colleagues and my friends took the MBTI, and among all of them I scored the lowest percentage for ‘feeling.’ So if you want a cold, calculating, rational, objective person – I’m your gal.

Image result for intj meme

On a practical level, this means that the majority of my decisions are based on thoughts and evidence, and not how I feel (although, it’s totally arguable that I just rationalize my feelings). Please note here that I’m NOT saying my way of thinking is superior to others; it isn’t. There are many valid ways to come to a decision. And this isn’t to say I never make decisions based on feelings. Two months ago I bought an inflatable donut because I just liked it; I try to allow myself 6 feelings-based decisions a year (let’s not get too crazy).

In regards to politics, this means that I’m fully capable of having a best friend that I totally disagree with on politics. And in reality – I do. One of my best friends – politically – is the complete opposite of me. I say tomato, she says tomato. But what we have in common is the fact that we enjoy debate, and can put feelings aside to engage in a thoughtful argument. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

The thing is, most people are not capable of putting their feelings aside.

And honestly – I can’t always do it. And I am scientifically the most rational person I know.

For the last few months, how people respond to politicians has seemed like a weird, hazy blur of irrationality to me.

I see what someone posts on Facebook, and all I can see is lines of hypocrisy.

Sally said: “This is just SO MEAN.”

Followed by…

Sally commented that: “These people are FUCKING IDIOTS.”

 OR

Jim said: “Hillary Clinton is SUCH a liar.”

Followed by…

Jim said: “Trump’s honesty will lead us to greatness.” (ahem… wha?…)

I’m not telling you how to vote here, because science has proven you wouldn’t listen to me anyways.

I am, however, tired of the hypocrisy. And the person I’m most tired of hearing it from – is myself.

I’m calling out Sally and Jim, but I’d be lying if I said I’d never written a scathing post or comment.

I say I’m rational. I say I’m evidence based. But when I think of why I dislike a candidate, its mostly based on a deep feeling. A deep feeling that they are X, and Y, and Z. And I don’t know what to do with that?

I want to trust these feelings. But I’ve seen how feelings play out on Facebook and in business, and usually…. It doesn’t end well. Yet here I sit – feeling pissed off.

Pissed off at the hypocrisy. Angry at people who aren’t doing what they said they would. And angry that the root of it all is a feeling, and not a thought derived from evidence. I mean – why do we even HAVE science?

Image result for you're a hypocrite meme
And I’m one of them.

And at this point, I always come to the same question: “What would Jesus want from me?”

Would he want me to write a comment tearing a brother or sister apart? Probably not.

Would he want me to tie a Bible verse to a political position? Unlikely (although I’d be REALLY good at it).

Would Jesus vote for Hilary, or Trump, or Jill, or Gary? That is impossible to be known.

I don’t have every answer (who does?). But I think what Jesus would want, is for me to love my brothers and sisters. He would want me to listen to them, and share my views – as kindly as I can. He would want me to forgive errors I see and to look hard within myself to understand my own failings.

And I think – he’d want me to try to feel as much love for my brothers and sisters – especially those I disagree with – as he would have for me.

Because at the end of the day, worshipping a false idol is just wrong (Exodus 20:3).

And at the end of the day, we’re called to love each other (1 Peter 4:8).

And at the end of the day, Jesus is The King (Revelation 17:14).

 I think and I feel that is true.

Image result for christ is king
So let’s just CTFO!

What is power…

From a sociological perspective, I hate how much I can’t really show you what power is.

Thanks to James Watt, physics has a cool definition with some sweet formuli.

But when I look to social or political science, the definition is so ambiguous.

The ability of an individual or group to achieve their own goals or aims when others are trying to prevent them from realising them.

How the hell do I measure that?

I’d have to ask everyone their goal. Then I’d have to ask them at a later point in time whether they achieved that goal. And if they didn’t, I’d have to figure out the why of it all. But is that too micro? How do I measure structural influences?

But what’s the goal? Is it as simple as whether you’re able to get your work done at your job, or not posting something you want to say on Facebook out of fear? Or is it bigger? Like missing out on higher education, or being able to get that big job?

Likely, it’s all of those things. It’s big and it’s small.

When I think of power, the only semi-relevant quote that comes to mind is from the Jackson native justice Potter Stewart when he talked about porn.

I shall not attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description, and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…”

I know power plays when I see them. I see them play out and I feel them deep inside my body. And they are larger forces playing out in small moments.

They are those moments when another person says or does something to make me feel small.

And how old are you? I only hear that phrase used when someone wants me to know they’re older than me. Age being used to establish dominance.

They are those quips and phrases meant to keep me in my place. When someone says a woman is a “bitch” because she disagrees – that is power meant to keep a person down. What if I just want to disagree?

“I have the same ________ as a woman!” What? Do you realize what you’re saying here? You’re saying your job, or talent, or body part, or whatever is bad because a woman might have it. What is that saying about women?

Bible passages thrown on Facebook stories. I HATE this. People use The Word to beat people up.

Number of degrees. Number of articles read on a topic. Number of years worked at a job. Well some of these are helpful for understanding background and establishing credibility, I usually hear them used as a way to establish dominance. “Well I have a Ph.D. in X, so whatever your critique may be….”

But they are also more than words. They are body language. My old boss use to sit on my desk with his crotch facing me. He was using his body to make me feel, well, just icky.

But they are also larger than that. They are laws that seek to restrict my personal freedom. They are corporations and lobbyist groups that use their power to limit what people can do.

Science has proven that school integration is the best way to reduce test gap scores. But do we integrate? No, because there is power there. But what does that even mean?

Ask my husband how I experience the world, and you’ll likely get stunned silence. “She is overwhelmed a lot,” he will likely say.

I can’t shop at Meijer without having a panic attack. I have a hard time attending concerts, or theme parks, or stores, or meetings, or anything. Just being still is impossible.

I go into a room, and everything is there. I see every color on every wall. I hear every sound. I remember what people say, and feel what they feel, and notice what they imply. And I feel overwhelmed all of the time. So to subsist, I default to thinking over feeling and spending a lot of time alone.

And when I’m alone, I reflect back on my interactions throughout the day.

And in those interactions I see a complex world full of people. And some of those people are struggling to establish their power over other people. And for those people, my heart sinks.

Because the need to establish power doesn’t come from confidence or skills or ability, it comes from inferiority. A deep insecurity where you feel like you aren’t listened to or just aren’t good enough. Real individual power comes from knowing within yourself that you are good enough, because you simply are.

And it has to come from that, because the reality is that the world is stratified. And no matter how much we love ourselves, external forces exist to try to limit our choices. They’re big, and they’re small. And some have bad hair, and some don’t know how servers work. But they are real.

But because it’s so damn hard to define them, it’s hard to see them. And when it’s hard to see them, it’s hard to stop them. And that’s probably what they all really want. Because you can’t stop what you can’t see.