After sitting together in silence for a while, Jean said, So tell me, what’s really going on?
Well my mum and dad are splitting after 35 years of marriage
What? Sorry, wrong response…
No…it’s ok, that was my precise reaction when they first told me
What is causing this?
They are unhappy.
What do you mean unhappy? They are always smiling, involved in things and hosting people. They throw a mean party too.
Yes, but under the surface and out of the public eye things aren’t like that.
What do you mean?
Let me ask you a question.
When you are going through a hard time, do you wear a sign on your head saying I am having a bad day?
When you are facing the biggest doubts of your life do you go blasting it from the rooftops?
Well, it’s my business and I want to work through my issues on my own
Do you tell anyone?
A few people who I know have my back for life.
So why is it so strange when suddenly you hear my folks are having issues? If you would keep your issues in private why do you expect them to air theirs in public?
Mmhhhh. Good point. The thing that gets me is that they are upstanding people and staunch Christians
So? Aren’t they also human beings who are fallible or have issues?
Yes they are but they are leaders
Yes they are. Are you saying that leaders will never have a hard day or a day full of doubt?
Well, they are human so I guess they could have those days.
The thing that gets me though is that since the news broke, we have been excommunicated from all the communities that
used to embrace us
Well, clearly they seem think we are now defiled and will contaminate them and affect them with the failed marriage syndrome.
Failed marriage syndrome? For real????
Well, that is my thought because of how people are behaving.
How are they behaving?
Like we have a communicable disease
Ummmm…I don’t get it.
Remember when you were a child and got chicken pox or measles?
Oohhh the itch was too much then add the fever.
Ok, so you remember how you couldn’t go to school till you were fully well lest you start an epidemic?
Hahahaha…oh yeah…I infected my siblings and cousins and we were all home for two weeks.
So just imagine that was two weeks and you could see the end of it…imagine our lives because divorce doesn’t go away so we are blighted for the rest of our days.
Wooow…I hadn’t thought about it like that.
No one seems to have thought about it except me
Have you talked to the folks about this?
Sure, I’ve tried
What do they say?
Mum just cries and says she never thought it would come to this. Dad is saying very little
Have they prayed about it?
Prayed about what?
The way forward…to get a divorce of not; to go for counselling or not; really find the right solution for your family
Right solution for our family?
Sure…there’s no blanket solution for anything in life so I cannot expect that what works for your family will work for mine
Are you saying that your folks are thinking of divorce?
No, but I know they have had some really hard times and I’ve seen the cracks before
You’ve seen the cracks?
Sure. My folks fight but they somehow keep it together
So how have they learnt to keep it going despite the things going on around them?
I really don’t know but maybe it is time to ask them about this.
There was silence…as each thought about her life
You know what I wish?
That the folks were never the all-together, all loving couple and we never presented ourselves as a perfect family
First of all the pressure of living up to the expectation is extreme then all this happens
What do you mean?
When we were growing up, we were told you should never do this or that, be seen here or there, wear this or that, talk to this one or that one…uuurrghhh it was endless
Yeah, I had come to think that I had to do this list of things to remain ‘perfect’ and ‘accepted’. The way the people at church are treating us now is really in line with the fact that if I don’t live up to their expectations then I am not a good Christian.
What do you mean?
The people from church won’t talk to us, come and see us, understand the situation…nothing. I have cried so much it doesn’t matter anymore.
Remember the story that I was losing my mind?
Well, it started one day when I met three women from the women’s fellowship at church and they asked if it was true that my parents were breaking up. I said yes. Wah! I would never have imagined the backlash that was about to hit me. I was made to stand with these three women for over an hour initially being told off for taking my father’s side, then for having little faith, then for talking about such things in public…they went on and on and on and after a while I just broke down and cried. They then proceeded to take me through ‘deliverance’ saying that I was now controlled by an evil spirit because I couldn’t stop crying.
Where was this?
In the parking lot of a local mall
What? So how did it end?
Well, I simply cried harder and harder and couldn’t stop so I just sat on the ground. I later found out that I sat there for three hours crying and rocking myself.
How did you get out of there?
I had told my brother where I was going and he expected me back within a certain time frame. When I didn’t pick my phone he decided to look for me. By then the management had been called and they were standing around wondering what to do.
How did he find you?
He walked around the mall parking and saw the family car next to a crowd. When he came to the car, there I was sitting on the ground crying. The security guards are the ones who told him what had happened.
Where were the women?
Oh, they had left after they finished their ‘thing’
After that meltdown, I had a few others and so everyone was convinced I’d lost my mind
Jean couldn’t hold back her tears thinking of how she had participated in fanning the flame that Anita had lost her mind. She shared ‘prayer requests’ without knowing the truth. How many other people had she scarred for life by participating in such conversations? How much pain had she caused others by sharing ‘prayer requests’ around? Where did she learn to be so crass and carefree with information? Why hadn’t she realised how much pain she was causing people?
Help me please. Show me how to be different. Daddy says, to be different I must do different. I can’t do different if I am not different. Please lead me in the way that will make me different for real.