Last night was the beginning of a DivorceCare class that I am leading for the next 12 weeks. I have been divorced for ten years and I began a true walk with Christ way after my divorce was final. I have felt led for quite some time to do more to help people during and after their divorce. Divorce is incredibly painful, financially debilitating and stigmatizing for many. But it is also so brutal that it strips us down and makes us ripe for Christ.
Those who attended the group last night were in various situations and different stages of healing, many still in the thick of loss and suffering. Yet each person took fervent notes and had so much to add to the group. Even I, ten years later, put the pen to the paper. I have learned that divorce is a long arduous battle followed by a much longer recovery that most of us underestimate.
Here are some thoughts I would like to share with you from what I am still learning about divorce (some are from the class, and some are from experience). Many of us have gone through divorce, yet there are many misconceptions about divorce:
- If you are relieved that the divorce is final, then you wanted your marriage to end–The process of divorce is long, grueling, and expensive. It takes a huge toll on our health and wellness. It is okay to be relieved to be off the battlefield. It does not mean that you are heartless, selfish or cruel.
- If you file the paperwork, then you are the one giving up–Fault is not the outsider’s job to assess. It’s quite possible that the person who filed for divorce was also the one praying for the marriage daily, seeking counseling, attempting to communicate with their spouse, and begging for reconciliation. God’s heart breaks for the marriage that remains in ruin, not just for the marriage that officially ends.
- Recovery from divorce can be relatively quick–In my experience with divorced women, I observe that healing is painfully slow. Getting a final divorce decree does not erase years of emotional and mental patterns that have taken strongholds in our spirit. Those on the outside will not understand why you still treat your spouse as a spouse (at times), long after you have separate lives. This takes time, recovery and counseling to change.
- Dating will help you move on–(deep exhale) I learned that this was a myth the hard way. I hear many people (men and women) say that they just don’t like to be alone. They start dating as soon as they have their own place (or sooner), and have a new suitor lined up before the last one has left the driveway. They often talk to multiple guys or girls at once, afraid to have to be alone or un-pursued for a nanosecond. Dating will help you forget momentarily, but it will never ever help you truly heal.
- Time heals all wounds–Time isn’t that powerful. Healing is not an accident. Healing is a choice and it requires action. Healing is not done unto us, we have to choose it, pursue it and commit to it. Ignoring our pain, numbing our pain, or busying ourselves will not fix a thing. We can push it down until we forget about it, but it will rear its ugly head in a new form later (poor choices, depression, anger, addiction, etc.)
- We have to do divorce alone–Those going through divorce are not lepers, nor are they contagious. We need to continue to spend time with friends, attend church and small group, enjoy our healthy hobbies (or find one) and join a recovery group. Unfortunately, some of our friends might retreat, but we have to continue to seek out the appropriate company of other Christians.
- God is done with me–Due to divorce, we often feel very ashamed, and like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we often try to hide, even from God. But He is not done with us yet. We still have work to do, and we are not off the hook because of our divorce. In fact, I know a few wonderful people who did not get their start in Christianity or even ministry until after their unfortunate divorce. I am not saying that God celebrates divorce; I am saying that He can use the recovered-you for more good than you ever thought possible!
If you are in the middle of separation or divorce, or if you are years down the road and still feeling some of the pains of divorce, please get involved in a group that will support your emotional and spiritual growth during this difficult time.
Contact me for more information on DivorceCare in our area, or check out DivorceCare.org for a list of services near you.
Hope and healing are always choices to be made.
For more insight into the struggles of divorce, read Why Your Divorce is Breaking My Heart