When Our Son Divorced

by Dawn Hamilton*

 When we met our son, Paul, at the airport, he stepped off the plane with all he had left in the world: his old tool box. He walked slowly with none of his old carefree spirit. My husband and I said little to him as we found the car and headed home.

I remembered being so sure that because of our Christian home, our two boys would marry and have happy lives. I never dreamed divorce would enter the picture.

Teenage attraction

At age eighteen, Paul fell in love with Stacy. She reminded me of a Dresden doll with her pale skin and stunning black hair. Her family life, however, wasn’t all that pretty.

Stacy’s mother had lived with many different men and had been abused by several of them. One man had even held a gun to her head. Though my heart went out to her, I couldn’t see any Christian values that could influence Stacy and my son.

Parental unrest

My husband and I reminded Paul that we didn’t see how this relationship could work, but the attraction between him and Stacy grew quickly anyway. One day our son informed us that Stacy, her mother, sisters, and the man of the moment were moving to another state — and that he had been invited to go along.

“Please don’t leave,” we begged Paul. “If your feelings are still the same in a few months, we will buy you a ticket to visit Stacy.”

Paul considered our suggestion, but several weeks later announced that he was going. We continued to pray, but God did not intervene.

Letting go

The evening Paul left home, his few things were loaded into an old station wagon belonging to Stacy’s family. My heart broke as he drove away.

At choir practice later that evening I tried to sing, but each piece of music made me cry. I hid my tears from people seated on either side of me, but God saw them. And though I knew He was there to comfort and strengthen me, I still feared no good would come from this situation.

Message from a son

Several months later, a letter from Paul arrived in the afternoon mail. He wrote, “I knew it was wrong to live with Stacy, so we are married.”

I was entertaining a house guest at the time. Stunned by Paul’s words, I couldn’t concentrate on what my guest was saying. Small talk was almost impossible. He married her kept spinning in my brain. I could hardly wait for my husband to come home.

As soon as my husband and I could be together, I showed him Paul’s letter and retreated to the comfort of his arms. After a long night and little sleep, I dressed and left a note for my guest that I would be home as soon as possible. I had to talk to someone.

Sitting at my friend Nina’s kitchen table, I poured out my heart about Paul. Nina prayed for me. Her love for Jesus and me helped me know I was not alone.

Coming home

One year later Paul phoned as my husband and I were settling down for the night.

“Can I come home’?” he asked, and quickly added, ‘”Will you have room for me?” Our son had left before my husband and I were transferred by his company. Paul had not seen our new home.

We replied, “If we don’t, we’ll build a room.”

For the next few weeks Paul ate his meals and often lost them. “If she comes back, please don’t be angry with her,” he told us. He was still trying to make what was wrong turn into right, but eventually he and Stacy divorced.

Lessons from pain

I have learned many lessons from our son’s divorce that only hurt and struggle can teach. I’ve learned to trust the love and grace of God for Paul’s healing and not to preach at him. I’ve also learned not to be concerned about what others think of our son divorcing and not to limit God concerning Paul’s future.

Our pastor helped me with this. As I asked him questions, he reminded me there were many places in and out of the church where Paul could serve. His constant counsel to me: “Just love him and let the Lord lead.”

The Lord’s leading

We did let the Lord lead. Paul remarried and now, over fifteen years later, has three children of his own. He and his wife are serving God in their church and are happy there. How often he has reminded me of that late-night phone call. “I was just like the prodigal son,” he says.

When I meet people who have had divorce in their family, I am never shocked; I only feel their hurt with them. I share my story when I believe it can help someone. Best of all, my husband and I are reaping the good harvest out of a bad divorce, made possible by the power of God.

* The names in this story have been changed.