PUBLIC VS. PRIVATE TRIALS

March 1, 2022

Over the weekend, Jeff and I had the opportunity to attend a portion of the "BYU Life After Divorce Conference" (which we were invited to observe as potential presenters for next year). The ending keynote was given by Brad Wilcox, who talked about public versus private trials (among other things). He reminded us that Jesus Christ experienced both public and private trials during his atonement for us. He suffered excruciating pain in the intimate privacy of Gethsemane, and the humiliation of being exposed publicly, naked on a cross.

Divorce, along with all the agony that leads up to it, includes both intimate private suffering that no one sees and the eventual humiliation of a failed marriage that requires dealing with public scrutiny. It was both surreal and comforting to be reminded that Christ experienced both as well, so he knows how to succor us.

Jeff and I have experienced the crucible of divorce, along with all the private traumas and public humiliations. This morning, I woke up with a strong feeling that I should write about something else I've experienced that also parallels. It came up several times during the funeral festivities for Jeff's late grandmother, which we experienced together up in Cokeville, Wyoming yesterday.

A few months ago I went to a neurologist about a problem I've been having my entire adult life with shaky hands. Over time it's gotten worse and has becoming a public embarrassment. I now have a name to put with what I've been dealing with: "Essential Tremor." For most of my teens, 20s, and early 30s, the shaky hands, along with inner tremors, were relatively manageable and mostly a private problem. There was some concern about my ability to continue playing violin, but as long as I avoided caffeine and constantly nourished my body with healthy foods (kept my blood sugar from dropping), the tremor would usually subside and if that wasn't enough, I would take Propranolol specifically for performance as needed.

In my late 30s and early 40s, the tremors in my hands have gotten more pronounced and much more noticeable; it can affect my daily life and basic function. What people do see is embarrassing and what people don't always see is incredibly frustrating. The tremor can get bad enough now that I can have a hard time eating and drinking without spilling, taking pictures that aren't blurry, and even writing without scribbling. Signing "Intentional Courtship" books with a nice signature, the way I prefer to sign them, can be a challenge. (Sorry for any of you who got a messy signature from me, I promise I did my best at the time!)

Just as I recently got a name for what I've been dealing with for a very long time, divorce puts a name with a very intimate problem that no one on this Earth will ever really understand. Each spouse generally tells a different divorce story so even the partner who experienced that marriage and subsequent divorce with you, will not likely understand it from your perspective. People will be curious and ask about it, and you alone will have to decide how to respond.

There isn't necessarily a right or wrong way to respond, however, we encourage you to respond in whatever way serves you best. Being judicious about the story you tell yourself and others can make a big difference in how long it will take you to heal and recover from your loss. "Divorce Stories" (episode 12) is a good podcast on "LILY Pod" that can support you with being more intentional about choosing yours.

Most importantly, remember you have a Savior who does understand, in a very real way, the private pain and public humiliation you have experienced. He knows how to succor us and can support our efforts to forgive and let go of what we thought was forever. God allows divorce, through agency, to be part of some people's life path. If it was part of yours, we believe there is purpose in it for your benefit and highest good.
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