I have a friend who is an addict. It breaks my heart how he continually makes bad choices. I have not supported his bad choices and he has said many things calculated to hurt me –mostly via text message. Even if untrue or with only shades of truth, words from those you love hurt the most. That is one of the many things that make divorce in the Bible belt of Mississippi (or anywhere for that matter) so freaking hard.
One of my counselor friends Phil Hardin said to a group I was attending the other day that the opposite of love is not hate. Love and hate are like the heads and the tails of a quarter. You cannot walk into a store and spend a “tails” or a “heads.” You have to spend the whole thing. Love and hate come from the same place. The opposite of love is actually fear. More on this some other day.
One of the things my friend said was that I am the Joel Osteen of divorce in Mississippi. He says I am a big fraud that uses my church and my faith to get business. While I don’t really know much about Joel Osteen, I have seen him on TV, so I guess he is a modern day televangelist. I know he is the pastor of a mega church in Houston and he smiles all the time. I have been called many things in my life, but a televangelist is a new one for me. I have been pretty bothered by this coupled with some of the other things that he said. I really wanted to help him, but it got so bad that I had to ask him to stop texting me. I am very sad about it. I am grieving the lost relationship that was such a source of joy for me for a long time. It feels a little like a divorce.
While I am talking about this, I want to set something straight. While I am a Christian, I know God hates divorce. I wrestle with this fact every day. The way I see it, I am on the front lines of the emotional and spiritual battles that my clients live out when they walk through a separation or a divorce. It sounds crazy or hypocritical or whatever, but I love what I do. Some people have asked me if I am going to quit practicing divorce and focus all of my energy on our new adoption agency, 200 Million Flowers. The answer to that is “No.” Frankly, the divorces are funding the adoptions. Maybe this makes me a big fraud or selfish or whatever, but it is what it is.
Take Tim Tebow. He is a somewhat polarizing figure in sports, especially after being routed by the Patriots in the playoffs, but few people can argue with his heart, both on and off the field. One of the biggest reasons he is able to be a philanthropist is football. Trust me, while Jesus is in his heart, if you meet Tim Tebow on the football field, he is going to try to tear your head off. He is going to play by the rules. He will help you up after he knocks you down. He will pray for you after the game. But while the clock is ticking and he is leading his team down the field, it is you against him.
My attitude about the practice of divorce in Mississippi is sort of like Tim Tebow’s approach to football. I do not want to see people hurt. I am not going to play dirty. I am genuinely touched by my client’s real life struggles. But if I meet you in a courtroom and I am representing my client against you, I am going to try to knock your socks off. That’s all there is too it. Ask someone who has been cross-examined by me over the last ten years and see if they think I am like Joel Osteen.
Anyway, this entire situation has given me some real ideas about how to deal with harassing phone calls from people you once cared about, and that unfortunately, criminal charges for telephone harassment or cyberstalking may be the only recourse when a person on the tails side of love will not stop. This is especially complicated when you and the person have legitimate reasons to talk, like coordinating visitation with kids.
And to my friend, if he is reading this I want him to know that my heart breaks for him. I only want success, happiness and health for him and I hope someday he finds it. No, I am not the same person I was when I was 25. Thank God. As far as I can tell, if you are not growing, you are dying –and I want to LIVE.
By: Craig Robertson