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Divorce: The Elephant in My Room


When I was fourteen years old, my parents finalized their divorce. My father moved out of my home, and my mother moved into her work, and we all pretended we were fine.

During my younger years, they’d discuss the possibility of splitting up. The screaming matches of two spirited, Caribbean parents harmonized with the torrential downpour of emotions within me. I used to build forts in my room with all of my blankets to block out the sound. It never worked, but it made me feel safe. Ultimately, they’d always decide to stay together because of me. I remember wishing they wouldn’t.  

Over the years, my father scarcely came home. I remember turning on the TV to his favorite shows whenever he’d show up, hoping it would make him stick around longer. Eventually, he stopped coming back.

Growing up without a father during my most crucial teenage years was my first heartbreak. Psychologically, girls get their worth from their fathers and their identity from their mothers. I felt my self-worth was destroyed. I felt abandoned, unvalued, and depressed.

We became ostracized by our church family. Not only did they all pretend like nothing had happened and never reached out, my mother was voted off leadership positions by the pastor himself, due to her “imperfect family conditions.” People who once welcomed us stopped speaking to us, and no one ever asked how we were holding up or offered kind words. In addition to all of the pain I was already feeling, the most painful thing was feeling absolutely isolated in the place you’re supposed to feel most loved and supported. I became disillusioned with love, with the church, and with families.

Although I felt the utmost abandonment from my earthly father, my Heavenly one was not done working in my life. Throughout my pain, He has shown me a greater love than I could ever have asked for. On some days, I’ll still feel a little broken, a little empty, and at times, a little hopeless. Jesus, please embrace me today is my daily prayer. And He does. Every single day. He’s provided strong fatherly figures and amazing friends and loved ones who have added golden contributions to my life.

He’s captivated me with a sense of purpose. I will only wear my pain so that others know they aren’t alone, that there are people who’ve gone through the same, and that there is always someone to reach out to.

Although our church at times can’t help but fit the societal structure of “pretending to have it all together” and having yet to figure out how to not be awkward about certain very sensitive issues, I’ve learned that we are all a bunch of imperfect humans just trying to make it work. But our Leader, our High Priest, and the ultimate Pastor of our church is a kind man. He embodies all lovely things and will always embrace me during my darkest, most vulnerable moments.  

Natalia Perez is a senior at Southern Adventist University and the editor-in-chief of their university newspaper, the Southern Accent.

Image Credit: Photo by James Hammond on Unsplash

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