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Question:
I’m 19 and my parents just got divorced. Everyday, I continuously think about the situation and it makes me feel depressed, mad or both. All this has made me feel resentful towards my Dad, and I want it to stop, so I can go on with my life and enjoy it. What is your advice?

Answer:

First of all, I’m sorry that you’re having to go through this and I know it’s not easy. I wish I had a magic answer for you but I don’t, and anyone who says they do, either hasn’t lived through this, or probably wants to sell you something.

First let me tell you, that as an adult you need to recognize that your parents are adults too. There is nothing you can do about their choices good or bad other than try and be a Godly influence. If they choose to sin, that is their choice and while it may have an emotional effect on you, the responsibility of that choice is between them and God. No matter how much you dislike it or resent them for it, their adult choices about their life is simply something that you can do nothing about nor, in my opinion, is it really your responsibility to do anything about.

Don’t get me wrong. If you see someone sinning, even your own parents, then of course as a Christian you have a duty to point that out to them and reveal the truth of God’s word to them about their sin. This can be an obviously touchy and delicate situation but nonetheless it is our duty as Christians.

Now having said that, concerning your emotions toward your parents and particularly your dad, this is no longer an issue about their choices but about yours. Your choice to forgive, your choice to trust God, your choice to accept the fact that they are adults who are responsible for their own lives, and your choice about how long and how much you will linger on the matter.

I realize that it is sad and I can understand a certain amount of sadness (depression) over the issue. But if the depression lingers, you have to start asking yourself if you are taking on a burden that is not yours to carry and not trusting God to be sovereign over the situation. If you continually stay mad, then ask yourself if this is righteous anger, appropriate in God’s eyes or if you’re mad out of selfishness. You don’t like the way things have turned out and perhaps you are punishing them with your anger.

Or it may simply be time for you to experience this side of life, and through it you will learn and gain emotional/spiritual maturity.

If you are resentful toward your father, resent is usually a polite way to say “bitter”. Bitterness will eat away at you and rob you of joy and peace. It will destroy or severely damage any future influence or relationship you may have with your father and mother. As well, it runs a great risk of tainting and distorting YOUR marital relationship, present or future.

Philippians 3:12-14 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (NKJV; emphasis mine)

My advice to you is this: find yourself a couple of older mature Godly men who you can share these feelings with. Be honest with them and ask them to hold you accountable and help you to forgive your parents, learn to trust God, leave the past behind and press on to the future. Ask them to help you come to the realization that the joy and peace you seek cannot be found in any circumstances, good or bad.

Finally, in response to your comment that every day you continuously think about the situation, my advice to you is pretty simple:
quit thinking about it.

In order to do that, you have to make a willful choice to think about what God would have you think about.

Colossians 3:2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (NKJV)

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; (NKJV)

God may just very well use you in this situation to convict your parents about their choices. If your parents see you praying for them, compassionate towards them and demonstrating Godly love and holy standards in your life, it may be the catalyst God employs to open your father’s eyes about the situation.

You have no power over your parent’s choices. You have ALL power over your choices, emotions and responses because you have the Holy Spirit in you. You simply need to avail yourself of that blessing.

Readers: I’m sure there’s alot more good advice you could share concerning this VERY common situation. I wish you would help me fill up the message board with good advice so that many future readers who are struggling with divorce in their family can be taught and encouraged. Go here…

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