10 Things to Help Through Divorce – The pervasive nature of divorce in our culture today has shattered many dreams. We have seen multiple movements distinguished by a hashtag on our favorite social media channel, but the biggest one yet to surface is the #menothappy movement. It is the hidden secret only said to best friends as a preemptive plan of escape. Divorce has many faces, and people leave marriages for many reasons. That’s not up for debate in this article. However, what a divorced person can do in the aftermath, is.
Some reading this will say what aftermath, I got away from a bad situation. Others will tell the story of being left by their spouse, who they thought was their best friend and confidant, which has left them lonely and devastated. However your marriage ended, there are pinnacle things that work for both sides that can plot a healthy future.
Having walked through a divorce and seen what good and bad choices look like in the long run, I would like to leave you some tools I used to help propel me to a healthy place. They are spiritual and practical ways you can view and do things to move forward while grieving any loss you may feel. They are in no particular order.
If you have never done this, it will be a great release of everything going on in your mind. I wrote about what I was feeling, my day at work, legal things, how I felt so alone, and what God was doing in me. Day 115 of going through divorce was particularly hard, but my progression is evident in this edited excerpt from my journal:
Day 115 Help Through Divorce
“I will never forget this time how even though I am not faithful to God, he is to me. How he meets me when I am at my lowest point and lifts me, so I can stand. Without a God like this who can even stand, or even forgive, or ever hope? Even though I am brokenhearted, I will still stand for what I believe. I will not waiver in my belief that my God sees and hears my cries. Now I know where my foundation is, where my fortress is, where I go in my time of trouble. I will never, ever forget how God reached down and showed himself evident in the hardest time of my life.”
Today as I read the words in my journal, I see how the story unfolded, how close God was to me, and ultimately, how he worked it all for good. It’s like seeing one of those home shows where they renovate a house in an hour. It always turns out better than you think. This is your way of seeing that and learning you can trust God through difficult times. Journaling through divorce is what lead me to write.
Perspective is your key.
You may not feel loved, beautiful, whole, or peaceful right now, but you are when you are in Christ. While the feelings may not readily change, you can change your perspective. If you surround yourself with depressing music, selfish people, and a self-pity mindset, you will surely steer your world in that direction.
Perspective is choosing something you don’t necessarily feel or wholeheartedly believe, but you put into practice through positive thoughts and actions. For example, I created a list then spoke the words out loud. Sometimes called self-talk, I affirmed things of who I was and where I wanted to go. Things like I am peaceful, I am loved, I have a great future ahead of me, and I am wise. Even though I didn’t feel any of those things, the positive words seeped into my mind and heart and helped change my perspective.
Give it time before you consider a new relationship.
When I was going through a divorce, I went to a divorce care group at my local church where they told me that it took three months for every year you were married to heal and move forward in a new relationship. When I did the calculation on my own life, I was like “I’m not waiting that many years.” Through subsequent poor choices and pain, I have learned that healing doesn’t have a clock. I have observed some who married two or three more times, only to experience tons of pain because they hadn’t resolved things. If you are doing things to fill a temporary discomfort of loneliness, like partying or hooking up, you will live with lifelong consequences as hurting people find other hurting people, and it’s a mess. You can read about how I did that here.
Just give yourself enough time. You will know when you are ready. When did I know? It came when the excuses and blame were gone, peace in my own skin surfaced, and I realized God has a greater plan at work. The real healing came when I realized that while my heart is to marry again, I have a full life of joy and love regardless of my marital status.
Get Professional Help.
Go to a Christian counselor and keep going until you find you have nothing more to work through. It took me every week for two years because I am a bit more hard-headed than most. Going to counseling showed me that while I had things to work through, I wasn’t who divorce said I was.
Decide what and who you are living for.
A co-worker who recently lost her mom said she struggled with the big picture. Her question; what’s it all for? Divorce works the same way. It will cause you to ask big questions like “why God,” “what’s the point of it all,” and “will I ever feel normal again.” Those are all journey questions. You don’t get the answer until you start moving forward. One key is starting with your reliance on God’s help, rather than your means. I say that because it’s effortless to coast after divorce as people give you the room. If you are not pressing into God, then easy will take over, which has its world of bad choices. I will say if you are living for things that change, you will never find contentment. Hebrews 13:8 is a great place to start to understand what is permanent.
Serve someone else.
Go to the local homeless shelter, the local church, or non-profit. Get involved with your community. Do something that is not about you. Service pushes you to think about others and provides a gateway to empathy, which helps to heal any unforgiveness you may hold in your heart toward your former spouse.
Forgive your former spouse, their family, their friends, but most, forgive yourself. When things turn ugly in our lives, we like to grab the time machine and go back to the root or start of things. In most cases that’s wise. I have heard some say, “I wish I would have…” or “I should have seen this or that in them,” or “I labored, and I tried to make it work, and it didn’t.” Those are all valid reflections, but that’s all they are.
Reflect means to bounce and move another direction. That’s what you need to do. Look, some things you will never know, others you don’t want to know. The only thing you can do is to forgive others, yourself, and bounce to your future. On a side note, I forgave hundreds of times before it took root. I said the words, only to feel unforgiveness in my heart repeatedly. Just keep saying it, give it to God, and sooner or later it will take root. One last thing about forgiveness for you; if you are in Christ, you are a new creation, go and sin no more!
Workout & Eat Healthily.
To get your mind right, you also need to get your body moving while maintaining a balanced diet. The first few months of going through divorce, I went unhealthily from 215 to 155lbs. The only thing I could eat was a couple of eggs and some sliced tomatoes. After those first few months, I jumped on the treadmill and started walking. Today I continue with a healthy diet and run daily while introducing other fitness regimens into my life like CrossFit. It helps keep my mind and body right so that I can continue to grow both physically and emotionally. It’s proven that eating right and adding some fitness in your life promote a positive attitude.
If you are in Springfield MO join me at CrossFit Provision and I’ll introduce you to some folks who can set you on a fitness and nutrition path.
Choose Your Circle Wisely
Who you chose to be around in this state of distress, will either push you forward or hold you back in the progression of healing. To be candid, initially, I got around the wrong people. It wasn’t until a few bad choices pushed me out of that friend group, into one that has changed my perspective on so many things. If you surround yourself with people who are passionate about themselves, money, the opposite sex, the way they look; then you too will be excited about those things. If you choose people who have a heart for God, it directly rubs off on you. You can read more about friends here.
Pray, Pray, Pray
The two verses I held on to were ones about God’s closeness (Psalm 34:18) and how that if I trusted in him (Psalm 25:3), I would never be put to shame. Both were proven true with the experience of my journey. I would pray those verses, and remind God of his word saying, “Lord, you said you are close to me, help me to feel it.” Or “everything is coming at me, and you said if I trust in you, I won’t be put to shame.” The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, “Put the Lord in remembrance of His promises, keep not silence” (Isaiah 62:6 AMPC). God invites you to remind him of his promises, so I did.
All of these ten things are suggestions but can only have a positive outcome when putting them into motion. Journaling showed me the results of the journey and how to change my perspective; while choosing not to date allowed my heart room to heal. In many cases, it took external help to discover how to serve someone else and forgive others and me for the past. The best thing I did for me physically was to get moving and to eat right. While friends are so important during this journey, choosing the right ones will surely set you on an exciting course for the future. Ultimately, it took prayer to see that God was close, and I could trust him to have my back. It was in those times that I reminded him of his word, and he was faithful in it.
My full list encompasses so many things, but all take root in one thing; that I am loved by a God who thought of me before he created the universe. That I can trust he has my best interest in mind even when there are pain and discouragement. His word says the same about you. I pray that as you go through this time, God’s peace surrounds you, that his favor rests on you, and that you see his goodness through the pain.