Years ago when my oldest daughter was 3, she had an accident that caused a severe welt on her head and a broken collar bone. The scary, nasty welt was taken care of immediately and a CT scan confirmed there was no concussion, thankfully. But, the broken collar bone went undetected for several days. At three years old, she wasn’t capable of telling us her collar bone was broken, so to cope, she just went along with the normal daily routine until the pain got so bad she burst out into raging tears without warning. She guarded her lower neck area and wouldn’t let us touch it or get near it. But when we took her to the ER and she was in the presence of the medical staff, her guard came down and she submitted herself to the doctor because she knew he would take her pain away.
My daughter’s reaction is not much different than the reaction of someone with a serious emotional wound such as divorce. The pain can be so bad, there are few words that can communicate it’s severity to others. It’s common that people who suffer the pain of divorce become quite defensive in an effort to protect themselves from ridicule, hurt and embarrassment.
Doubt becomes the measuring gauge for just about everything. With pain that bad—a pain that feels physical indeed—doubt would dictate there is no trustworthy doctor. And you become defensive when others try to help, blocking them from your hurt. Many times, the mere mention of the annulment process triggers this defensiveness. People suggest it because they know it will bring healing and closure but for the one who is divorced, the idea of waiting to date seems unconscionable. This is the point where one might decide to operate on his own terms and his defensive nature doesn’t care what anyone else thinks about it.
The Culture of Divorce
This is also the point where all the free-thinking, party-going, guilt-denying, faith-stealing, victim-creating people start coming out of the woodwork, offering you all sorts of ways to soothe your pain, or as I prefer to call it, the “culture of divorce.”
Perhaps the biggest lie perpetuated by this culture is that your happiness lies only in the pleasure you can reap from any given moment.
You deserve to be happy so stop sulking and go find someone new!
Forget about your cheating ex, there’s someone over here who wants to make you feel better!
Feel like a failure? Go for the gold! Hook up with someone rich who will treat you like the princess you are!
Those statements are not just a mentality, all three are actual advice I received from therapists. And this is the big swindle… convincing you that it’s all about you and how much pleasure you can have. There isn’t even the slightest care for the well-being of your soul it’s all just about pleasure in the moment.
When Doubt Wins Out
It’s so sad to see all these people who hurt so badly underneath the surface respond with callousness to the one Doctor who can bring true healing, not just momentary relief… Christ. He is the Divine Healer and it is through His Church that He heals. There is great solace and peace to be found through frequent reception of the sacraments and Eucharistic adoration. The other major key to finding healing within the Church is through the annulment process.
Yet, many divorced people scoff at the annulment process with objections like “It’s a man-made process that holds no meaning for me,” or “You must be crazy to think I’m going to put my life on hold and refrain from dating when there is no guarantee I’ll get a decree of nullity.” Sadly enough, this is that defense mechanism in action, borne out of doubt and coupled with the “live for the moment” mentality. Just as my daughter shielded her broken bone from us when we tried to help, those who don’t understand the annulment process push the idea away and miss a tremendous opportunity to heal.
But the really sad point is they don’t understand they are jeopardizing their souls—just so they can go out on a date.
A few months back, I wrote an article titled, Divorcing Catholicism: Separation of Church And Fate and although I was addressing divorced Catholics who walk away from the Church completely because they feel alienated, I made a point in there that I want to reinforce here for those who believe the annulment process is not important:
My point is this: Getting to heaven should be paramount in your life, no matter what disasters may strike, and your Catholic faith is the pathway to get you there. Don’t let your divorce serve to distract you from this critical point—your fate.
My prayers go out every day for those who have suffered through divorce. I pray that you will not allow the culture of divorce to distract you from your heavenly goal.
I take my coffee black, and I take all my questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.