People Watching

A man and his adolescent son sat in the pew across the aisle from me. The boy looked up just as his mom came in. She touched him on the shoulder as she sat down in the pew behind him and his dad. The dad looked up briefly as he, too, noticed someone sitting down. Mom and dad hesitantly exchanged the brief, obligatory smiled no eye contact, only the common courtesy shown a stranger. I felt in that moment I was watching my life re-enacted.

It saddens me to think how frequently this scene is replayed not just in my life or in my church but in the lives of many known to me and to those not. Of course the frequent chorus “How did we get here” plays in my mind. How did they get there? How did a journey traveled together result in a solo ride?

How are two individuals who traveled together for more than two decades supposed to think, feel, or behave after their journey together has ended? When once you are traversing life’s hills and valleys knowing you were not alone to realizing that you are alone. How do you act when you see the person who changed their mind about the journey together? The goal seems to be that we will be friends remember we loved once and have beautiful children as a result.. Maybe we will travel with another and we’ll all be friends. This is supposed to be best.

The feelings that consume you as you begin down this road alone cause you to closely evaluate the journey you once experienced. Love? Maybe it wasn’t really love after all. How could it be? Devotion? Hardly.

I can’t help but think that since my ex wanted this divorce why would he want to even be around me? Let alone be friends. He divorced me. Isn’t that what he is saying?

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  1. It’s terribly sad. And I think this scene is replayed more times than we can imagine and the scene as you describe it is one of the more polite. Far worse are equally prevalent.

    I don’t know how we got to this place as a culture, but it’s a plague, and somehow tangled up in cultural expectations that are unrealistic and in daily life that is complicated by the need for two incomes, by too many demands on our children, by a pace that doesn’t allow families to spend as much family time as they should, and now, generations of children that are children of divorce.

    I have no answers, only observations, and hopes that we can somehow find a way to look inward and look outward, to listen to each other, to face our institutions where they are broken and abrading our essential values, and seek improvement.

    There will always be a need for divorce, but the greater need, I believe, is to reset expectations for marriage – and perhaps, to learn how better to approach it.

      • Michele
      • January 10th, 2011

      Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. I couldn’t agree more! Divorce can surely be likened to a plague. Wish I hadn’t caught it!

      God Bless.

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