Anger pierced the corridor like a sabre. Glancing blows leave mortal wounds too deep to triage in the moment. “Dumont!” The name echoes through the chamber and I pop up, diligently and deliberately, cautious not look left or right – obedience is the only option. “He won’t participate,” I say, numb, “even if you tell him he can. He won’t.” She looks at me as if to say “Are you even alive in there?” I am – but barely. I do what needs to be done in this room, no more, no less. I have been here so many times before – all I can be is numb. Anything else hurts too much.
We speak, very briefly. Show her this document, answer that question. Now wait and he’ll come in, but don’t go far. I know the dance – believe me – I know. I stand in the corridor, alone, stoic, jumbled with my huge binder – I have been here before…too many times to recount. That binder is comfort and pain: comfort in its organization and sanity; pain in its constant reminder of the next step and the last.
Just like that, we’re done. He doesn’t agree to anything, as usual. Courtroom B-1. Roll call, and then waiting. He whisks by and I don’t look up; I stare at the ground, subservient again. I sit far and apart from him; his brother has appeared from somewhere…he needs someone with him at all times; not for moral support, but to keep him in check. Roll call bellowed out, and then we wait. We are moved to B-3 suddenly. They complain – “Who is the Judge in that court?” He feels bias against several Judges…or is it they are biased against him? I can’t keep up. I jump up and exit, not even listening to the argument.
In B-3, I take my seat. The Judge reviews the file, and asks me a few questions. I answer, politely, precisely. Motion for Contempt – back Child Support. He hasn’t paid anything in 1 year. His argument – he didn’t agree to anything. He doesn’t owe anything. Now, he states he didn’t sign the Divorce Decree; after 1 year he finally admits he walked out of the hearing. We all already knew that. He becomes belligerent. The Marshall moves to his table. He can’t stop speaking. The Judge instructs him to be quiet – the issues of today’s scope are narrow – he never really understands this point. He goes on and on – the Marshall draws closer and closer. His brother tries to calm him, to no avail. I am given a last opportunity to add anything I need. I readdress that he has never paid anything. That he lives on proportionally more than the 4 of us do. And that he had put in an appearance previously, that no one scammed him into getting divorced that day last April.
The Judge proceeds to deliver his sentence, and again he interrupts. The Judge is now intolerant, and tells him to quiet himself for the last time. He begins to sob uncontrollably. The whole exchange is horrible – to witness – this man, this father, this once husband, falling so far from who he once was…
When the Judge is finished, I rush from the court, as I am now virtually holding back tears. I am basically running down the hall, looking for refuge from them as they will be behind me any moment and I don’t want them to know I have broken – that my heart has broken once again for this situation that once was a marriage, a life, a family. I make it to the Court Services office, to the far back table, and collapse in tears…face in my hands, sobbing. How is it that, 2 years apart, I am still so impacted by what this man does and does not do?
I am reminded, however, that one person cannot carry a relationship alone. And, more importantly, God needs to be the center of any relationship for it to really work. You can be the best person, the best Christian, but you alone cannot fill in the gaps for your spouse. You will constantly fail without Jesus. We are all broken human people. And that’s ok – God made us that way. The purpose for that, once again, was so that we would lean on Him, in our personal lives, in our parenting, in our relationships – we need Jesus to complete us. He is the only one who can.
I love this new song by Casting Crowns…Broken Together. It talks about how if we each come together, admitting our brokenness, and approach Jesus, we can be made whole – TOGETHER. Unfortunately that couldn’t happen in my marriage. But my next relationship certainly will have a lasting foundation I can count on. Because I am broken – and so will my next someone be. And together with Jesus, we’ll be awesome!