Student Testimony: Anne Ostrander
by Anne Ostrander
I was only three years old when my parents divorced. I was too young to understand exactly what was happening, but I understood the basics. From that point on, “family” became a mess of step and half relatives.
The strange thing about how divorce affects the children is that it affects them more each year as they grow up, not less, as with other tragedies. Psychologists call it “The Sleeper Effect.” The worst effects arise not at the time of the parent’s divorce, but at the time when the child reaches their early 20s. Sophomore year I came to understand this.
You see, as children of divorce grow up they start forming their own relationships and seeking to build their own families. Because a healthy marriage has not been modeled for them, they struggle. Although I have never been in a relationship of that kind, I was beginning to think of my future and—instead of pleasant dreams—I encountered fear. I feared that if I ever did marry, eventually my husband would want to divorce me, and I just could not handle that thought. Never marrying seemed like a good idea, a good way to escape harm and be safe.
Sophomore year I realized there was a part of my heart that I was holding back from the Lord with clenched hands.
I encountered a book entitled Generation Ex: adult children of divorce and the healing of our pain. The author, Jen Abbas, is a child of divorce herself. This book had previously gathered dust on my shelf—I considered myself “way over that” a long time ago. But the truth was that I never once grieved. The book caught my eye at just the right time my sophomore year and it led me through grieving, forgiveness, and healing—all the while pointing to God as the one to hope in. I began to learn His design and purpose for marriage and family. Through the process, most importantly, I came into a better understanding of the character of God.
Though there may be other issues that arise if I marry, I am now prepared with how to battle those trials and identify the roots of certain buried fears. The Lord has taken my broken heart and has made me whole. I am ready now for whatever God has for me. I will marry only if my union with a man with let me know God more. If it is not God’s design for me to marry, then I will embrace the single life knowing that His love is more than enough. Through my trials I have come to understand firsthand how God truly is the only one who can fulfill our deepest needs.
Sharing the personal struggles in my life is hard for me, but if we do not share our stories then we are not taking an opportunity to help others who may be struggling with the same hurt. The devil wants us to not talk about it, to not share how the Lord has transformed our lives. But if this testimony can help at least one person—just one person—then it makes sharing this scar worth it. If you are a child of divorce and have never come to the Lord for healing, I encourage you with all my heart to do so. The book I mentioned above I recommend to you. Please, open your heart to your heavenly Father and let Him restore your soul.