Divorce, Faith, and Football: One Call Away by Brenda Warner
Brenda Warner's lessons for life during and after divorce
Posted Sep 19, 2011
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Football season is upon us and it is easy to get wrapped up in the drama of the sport and their players. Kurt Warner is famous as a recently retired elite quarterback in the National Football League. He played for the St. Louis Rams, the New York Giants and the Arizona Cardinals, winning two MVP awards and a Superbowl. Yet Mr. Warner is now becoming known for a big decision that he made off the field: his partnership with Brenda Warner, his wife and author of an inspirational new book of wisdom, hardship and vision, One Call Away.
It's also easy to forget that the people we watch are not just media personalities and athletic stars, but also real people. Brenda Warner reminds us that the people that we have heard about on the news and online forums have lives before, during, and after their playing days, and often what they do with those lives can be inspiring. Brenda Warner is one of those people whose actions we can all learn from; the way she handled her divorce is exemplary of what we believe on the Intelligent Divorce Team. She simply understands the principle of putting one's children first.
In One Call Away, Ms. Warner documents, time and again how she put her kids' physical and emotional health before anything else in protecting the Intergenerational Boundary and by keeping her children, Zack and Jesse Jo, out of the conflict between her ex husband, Neil. As with most parents going through divorce this was not always easy.
She had every right to be hostile about Neil--- he cheated on her with a younger woman when she was 8 months pregnant with Jesse Jo. He made it difficult for her to have friends or even hold a job, and even went so far as to stand in the way of her relationships with her family. Yet, she allowed Neil to be part of the kids' lives. Their personal relationship may have been ruined, but she held the door open for him to come visit Zack and Jesse Jo.
After meeting Kurt's parents, who were also divorced, Ms. Warner realized that she didn't want to create splits in her family with anger and hostility. The strain she witnessed between them, as Kurt had to make sure that they did not sit next to each other at games, or meet accidentally, was something she did not want for her children. She decided then and there, "never to speak negatively about Neil and to make sure Neil and [her] always communicated to each other, not through the kids." She tried her best not to make the kids choose sides. This gave space for the kids to develop their own relationship with their parents, allowing them "to make decisions about this relationship [with their biological father] on their own."
When Ms. Warner met Kurt, she had a very difficult decision to make. Was she ready to jump back into a marriage? Were her kids ready? She had indeed, learned her lesson with Neil, and realized that marriage was more than just love-the two people involved had to be partners with similar goals and values. Ms. Warner's commitment to her kids is clear when she speaks of Kurt, "Kurt Warner was everything I wanted for my kids. And for me." Her syntax tells the story. Once I know that the kids would be fine, I could then make it work for me. Jesse Jo and Zack came first.
One last thing that we believe is important from our work with the Intelligent Divorce project is the importance of community and faith in getting through a difficult time. Ms. Warner used her spirituality as her rock throughout this difficult time. Her title refers to the fact that God was always one call away. Although Ms. Warner is a devout Christian, this support can be reached through whatever you believe-- whether it be Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or any other form of spirituality, organized or not. Even a support group that is not necessarily spiritual can give you that much-needed acceptance when everything seems so hard.
One Call Away has many lessons about faith, hope, and perseverance. But it is not only that, it is also a meditation on what it is to be in a relationship, whether it be romantic or familial. In a no-nonsense voice, Brenda Warner teaches us all a little bit about how to handle ourselves when things go wrong, how to watch out for our innocent children and believe in a better tomorrow. One Call Away tells us that in this imperfect world with personal failures and hardship, there is value in knowing what is important. It is the power of positive thinking meets you make you own luck.
At the risk of sounding cliche, Brenda Warner is a quarterback in the game of life.
We like her playbook.