Recently someone on the great book of faces posted this article called “The Casserole Rules.” Written by Jill English, her entry takes notice of how churches make casseroles for days if you are sick or there’s been a death in your family.
But not when a marriage falls apart.
No, there’s no casserole when one person pulls out unexpectedly. There’s no casseroles for the mourning children that are not only living with the breakup of their family unit, but also dealing with the guilt of wondering “was it my fault,” and also dealing with the emotions of other family members(because everyone loves for you to take care of them in their mourning when your life falls apart), and dealing with the social fallouts (how do I tell my friends?, what will my teachers say? am I allowed to cry in class without being judged because I’m just sad?). No, there is no casserole as you are trying to reorient your life in the midst of incredible loss and, often times, rejection.
Furthermore, there’s no one to come mow your lawn or help you clean, because that person didn’t die, they just went away. No one is there to hold your hand because you didn’t lose someone, they just left. You weren’t left totally alone, because again, they didn’t die, they just left.
Experiencing my parents’ own divorce was devastating as a 17-year-old. I still remember the feelings of rejection and loss as if they were yesterday. It’s taken a lot of therapy and reparations to move beyond it. But it still hurts. Just because you move on and heal doesn’t mean the scar still doesn’t sting when you touch it.
Luckily, we did have people to care for us. We had a whole church to love us. It wasn’t always perfect, but there were invitations to meals and there were people there to support us. But no matter what, it was never treated as equal to death or sickness. It never is.
We have to stop seeing divorce as something that isn’t worth paying attention to.
Divorce hurts. It’s just as painful as death in many instances. You are reorienting your life just as you would a death. I’ve felt both death and divorce in my life, and you know what? Both suck. So why do those people in the pews and on the committees look the other way when it comes to divorce? Why don’t we make casseroles for the person who is struggling after their spouse didn’t die but said “nope, not gonna be in this with you anymore”?!
On the flip side, why don’t we make a casserole for the person who made the incredibly hard choice to leave or say, “this doesn’t work”? Leaving is often just as hard as being left. Why don’t we make casseroles for the woman who says, “I’ve had enough, I won’t be treated like this anymore,” or the person who says, “I won’t stay in a relationship that doesn’t value me any longer”?
If there’s someone in your church who you know is going through a divorce, go make them a casserole. Now. Hell, make them two. Here’s a good attempt at Cracker Barrel’s Hashbrown Casserole (or funeral potatoes as my in-laws call them, but in this case, let’s go with divorce potatoes). Let them know you’re there. Grieve with them as you would a friend who just lost a family member. Be the church in all times and all places, not just in death and sickness. But in health and brokeness and divorce.