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Last night, I went to my first session of DivorceCare and had two shockers in the first few minutes. Two friends showed up in the videos and some not-so-good friends — mood swings and suicidality — also played large roles in the production.

First shocker: Friends were in the house – The facilitator had noted that we might see some familiar landmarks, since the program originates near here and the videos were filmed locally. But as soon as the first segment opened my mouth dropped.

Actress Cheryl McConnell

I didn’t expect my church friend, actress Cheryl McConnell, to show up in the first scene of the DivorceCare video.

It was one of those sketches that goes really weird really fast, where the gray-haired husband comes home from work and his wife, a bit chubby but still coloring her curls, turns from the sink to ask about his day and enthuse about their upcoming vacation trip. He’s not excited about the trip, he says.

Would he rather go someplace else? she asks. They don’t need to go where they’d planned, she suggests.

Yeah, he says. He’d rather just quit his job and leave everything. He feels like he’s sacrificed the last 40 years of his life … for what?

It’s weird enough having someone in his 60s act like someone in his 20s — “I feel like I’ve sacrificed the last five years of my life … for what?” But the lady at the sink is my friend from church, actress (and timpani player) Cheryl McConnell. A bit later, another church friend, Brian Wood, shows up in another scene. I’m never surprised to see them on TV, maybe in an old episode of Army Wives. I just wasn’t ready to have them walk into my DivorceCare class.

Second shocker: Divorce ‘feels’ a lot like bipolar – In the first class, there are all these interview clips with people who have experienced divorce. They were explaining how it feels. And what did they say?

“I wanted to die. I wanted to drive my car off the side of a mountain.”

“I couldn’t get out of bed. I just pulled the covers over my head and stayed there for two days.”

“I was snapping at people and rude and mean. I’m not like that!”

Does anyone else think that these people experiencing divorce sound like people with bipolar disorder?

Now, I’m not really suggesting that divorce gives you bipolar disorder. For one thing, people who experience divorce usually get over their symptoms in about five years.

But if churches can understand and tolerate the kinds of difficult behavior that people have just because they’ve been divorced, they ought to be able to understand the difficult behaviors that some other people have because our brains are completely biochemically whacked out.

Not Always ‘Better Living Through Chemistry’

A brief aside: I was just on another blog and absolutely stunned by the meds list that a girl not yet 25 has endured so far. If she weren’t already biochemically out of balance, switching between so many medications in so few years would throw her chemistry from here to New Jersey and back via Tanzania and Tibet.

Truly, truly, I say to you (I and not the Lord): If we can love people who are experiencing five years worth of all of the terrible moods and mood swings that come with divorce, can’t we bring ourselves to love people who face a lifetime of managing mood swings and medical challenges because of our illnesses?