Editor’s note: Nassau County’s many churches reach out into the community, finding and meeting needs that otherwise might not be met. Their sheer numbers and dedication to community service are defining characteristics of our community. We hope to begin telling those stories on a weekly basis.
By Elizabeth Matthews
Divorce is a life-altering experience that can leave those left in its wake with feelings of fear, loneliness and uncertainty about the trajectory of their lives. Jordan Davis* was divorced from his wife in 2008. He can still remember how lost he felt after 20 years of living as the other half of a life built together. The harsh reality of this new life was a shock to the system. He found himself staying at home more often than venturing out alone, due to feelings of isolation and the foreignness of no longer being a party of two. He believed, whether founded or unfounded, that he was now on the receiving end of stares of pity and a sad curiosity towards a middle-aged man dining alone. “It reminded me of my failures,” he said. He was embarrassed. Watching other couples out to dinner or at the movies, whether happy or not, was a sobering reminder of all he had lost. It took years to come to grips with the reality of this new, unwelcome situation. His struggles and state of mind are common to those going through divorce and separation.
Kathy Cooke, local facilitator of the DivorceCare support group said, “Divorce is a grief.” In her experience, those living with the trauma of divorce need serious assistance in starting over. Every aspect of their lives is affected by the break-up of their marriage. Their lingering questions are built into the curriculum of DivorceCare. How will I handle finances alone? How will the holidays go? Will the anger subside?
Viewing divorce and its aftermath as period of trauma and grief in which people struggle for answers and survival, led to the creation of the program. It’s a difficult subject to tackle regardless of your spiritual condition.
Kathy and David Cooke, in partnership with First Baptist Church on Amelia Island, seek to give hope to those affected by divorce and separation of marriage. They lead the DivorceCare ministry, which meets on Wednesday nights from 6-7:30 p.m. DivorceCare ministry is a “safe place where caring people come alongside you as you find healing from the pain of separation or divorce.”
It’s a 13-week program that has two session per year and covers topics such as Anger, Loneliness, Forgiveness and Surviving the Holidays. The Cookes became acquainted with DivorceCare when Kathy attended the program after her own divorce. Her passion for helping others who were hurting led her to begin facilitating the group with the assistance of her new husband, David.
Kathy believes DivorceCare, “Gives hope that things will get better, helps people understand they are not alone and helps them to realize they can get through it.” For the Cookes, leading the group is extremely rewarding as it allows them to pour into others and reminds them of the progress they have made after their own trauma of divorce.
DivorceCare is a scripture-based Christian ministry, but anyone who desires to attend is welcome. The next session of DivorceCare begins January 18, 2023 and meets at First Baptist Church at 1600 S. 8th St., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034. Childcare is provided. For more information on DivorceCare please visit www.DivorceCare.org.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the subject.