(Helping the divorce victim(s) to love and trust God)
Despite its paradox, the predominant religion in Nigeria is anti-divorce. Not only do the moral authorities reject divorce and separation of marriage as options in society, but even traditionalists oppose them. People frequently use the proverb “what God has joined together, let no one put asunder” and the phrase “till death do you path” to assert that marriage is for life. Even in the church, divorce rates have recently increased despite the strong disapproval of the practice in society. Divorce is becoming more common among the church’s diverse membership, particularly among recently-weds in the twenty-first century. Because the victims (husband, wife, and children) are often severely traumatized following a divorce, we need to recognize that God still requires us to provide care for these individuals.
Image of Pastoral Care to be adopted
The traumatized victims of divorce suffer from the shattering love and trust of one another – they no longer trust nor love each other as a result, divorce becomes the only option left. The Image of pastoral care that resonates with me the most is the image of “The Solicitous Shepherd.” Even though this image of pastoral care does not cover all circumstances, it is “always present as a readiness to emerge when called for by particular need.” The image of shepherding looks towards healing and restoring the well-being of a care-seeker. The victims of the aftermath of divorce can be likened to the man who was attacked by armed robbers in the story of the “good Samaritan” in Luke 10:30–35. They need Oil, Wine, and Bandages to heal their broken heart and shattered love.
The practice of pastoral care
- Intercultural empathy and compassion: I was better prepared by this theme to enter the victim’s emotional state while staying conscious of and grounded in my situation.
- Embodied Listening: I realize that to effectively engage divorce victims, communication is a crucial tool. According to Doehring, “Caregivers can tell our theology from our posture, tone of voice, and facial expression.” That is, as caregivers we need to be careful of the way we communicate using our body language, is not, we might send the care-seekers away instead of bringing them closer in the process of caregiving.
Strategies for Pastoral Care Intervention
1. The Capacity to believe: what happens to these victims might lead them to disbelieve in the power of God’s love in mending broken families. As a caregiver, I must believe that though it is not God’s will for them to be divorced, God’s power to mend a brokenhearted can never be underestimated. In my inner space, I need to believe I have enough space to handle other people’s relationships and predicaments. I must believe that I can handle their emotional trauma or challenges. I cannot pretend to open up to a care seeker if deep within “my real life” I know I cannot handle it.
2. The Capacity for concern: it is important for me as a caregiver to be mindful of my destructiveness while engaging in reparation and caregiving. Hamman is advising ministers to know their ruthlessness and to welcome it as the intimate enemy that we can never get to the end of it. Knowing and engaging our destructiveness, the less likely that our dark side will become towards ourselves and others and the more likely it is that we will engage in acts of reparation and restitution.
3. The Capacity to be alone: Hamman states that “the capacity to be alone describes the ability to contain one’s emotions and appetite and to enter into appropriate relationships with significant others and strangers.” It is necessary for me as a caregiver to be able to control my internal desire to say something while engaging in reparation of caregiving. It is important as a caregiver to maintain my boundaries and not to allow my life experience or intelligence to jeopardize the intended reparation.
- I believe in myself.
- I appreciate the love of God towards me.
- I don’t allow depression to overwhelm me.
- I set positive boundaries for myself and others.
- When I feel depressed or neglected, I don’t stay alone, I stay close to my family.
- I identify my weaknesses and welcome them, I become cautious of them whenever I face depression.
- I pray always for myself and my family.
Martin H. Kamaidan