By Melanie Barton Disciple World Magazine November 2002
When a couple decides to divorce, they also decide who gets to keep the friends, the house, the kids, and the timeshare. But who gets to keep the church? In a society that sees nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, that’s a question the church today must answer.
Most of us were raised to believe divorce is a sin. So how do we minister to those in the process of divorcing? Just as important, how do we minister to both partners, without taking sides? Our clearest answer comes in the example of Jesus as healer-ministering to those who are broken, rather than ostracizing or shaming them. Here are some concrete steps toward helping those in the process of a divorce.
Instead of Interstitial Cystitis becoming a curse for me it has become a life-changing gift. I was devastated and angry when first diagnosed in 1983. Then I was relieved to have a name for what plagued my every waking minute and interrupted my sleep. In-between potty breaks I decided to fight rather than give up. I went back to school and got my Master’s degree in Social Work. I opened a holistic private practice and began to counsel among others, “IC” patients offering them hope and encouragement. Creative ways to deal with pain emerged.
On August 28th while going through a divorce I was diagnosed with colon cancer and required surgery. While working to quickly close down my practice, I suffered a number Transient Ischemic Attacks (“mini strokes”) requiring carotid artery surgery a week after colon resection surgery. I was grateful I made preparations for such a crisis, but I also realized how unprepared I was.
As a young child my mom faced the loneliness of living apart from her divorced parents. She struggled growing up to achieve success in a world torn apart by World War II.
Melanie J. Barton
Florida State University
Many cancer patients experience anxiety sometimes due to the cancer diagnosis, sometimes prior to the diagnosis for reasons not related to the illness.
I am new at this. All these people coming and saying all these nice things, but what does it all mean? Joseph is being such a good father neither one of us knows exactly what to do as parents.
In 2009 I was diagnosed with colon cancer, heavy metal toxicity and chronic Lyme’s disease and had five “mini-strokes”. I feared my days of serving others were over. Not so. You might ask yourself: “How can I serve others when my own life needs help?” You would be surprised. Here are some ways the Spirit has answered my prayers.
Q: The New York Times article cited a study that said husbands are seven times more likely to separate or divorce from wives who are seriously ill. What is it about our culture that makes men less likely to take the caretaker role than women? What can we do to reverse this troubling reality?
Preparation: tell the kids ahead of time what to expect
Organization: plan ahead what the consequences will be
Support: Tag team, friends, family, therapist
Innovation: Do what works for you, not what the kids want
Timeliness: Address the behavior when it happens every time
Integration: Use a combination of techniques and change as needed
Values: Remember what you do is what kids will see as your values
Energy: Take time for yourself, do not have a child-centered home