Starting Over

Written by Rusty Wright

Starting Over_290x220February 13th fell on a Tuesday that year, but it seemed like my unlucky day.

My wife of twenty years was divorcing me; it would be final in two days. February 1, my employer had shown me the door—on the twenty-fifth anniversary of my employment. Now, on February 13, I was in my physician’s office getting test results. Unaware of my difficulties, he asked, “Have you been under stress recently?”

Perhaps he was assessing my emotional state to help him gently ease into the difficult subject he was about to address.

He said I might have cancer.

That evening, a longtime friend called to encourage me. As we spoke, I felt the weight of my world crashing in. Would the haunting pain of spousal rejection ever end? Where would I work? What of my life’s mission? Would life itself last much longer? I wept into the phone as I struggled to make sense of the swirling vortex of uncertainty.

Relationships, work and health absorb our time, energy, memories and hopes. Ever had a fulfilling relationship turn to ashes? Maybe you’ve excelled at work; then a new or insensitive boss decides your services are no longer wanted or affordable. Or perhaps your health falters. Your parent or best friend dies suddenly of a heart attack or perishes in an auto wreck.

What do you feel? Shock? Grief? Anger? Desires for revenge or justice? Discouragement and depression? How do you cope with the loss, and how can you start over again?

Over dinner, a new friend told me he had lost both his parents in recent years. “How did you cope?” I inquired. He related painful details of their alcohol-related deaths. I listened intently and tried to express sympathy. “But how did you deal with their deaths?” I asked, curious to know how he had handled his feelings. “I guess I haven’t,” he replied. Painful emotions from deep loss can be difficult to process. Some seek solace by suppressing them.

My wife lost her father, then her mother, during a five-year span in her late twenties and early thirties. Focusing on her mother’s needs after her father’s passing occupied much of her thought. After her mother’s death, she felt quite somber. “People who always were there, whom you could always call on for advice, were no longer around,” she recalls. “That was very sobering.” Over time, the pain of grief diminished.

How can you adjust to significant loss and start over again? I certainly don’t have all the answers. But may I suggest ideas that have worked for me and for others along life’s sometimes challenging journey?

  • Grieve the loss. Don’t ignore your pain. Take time to reflect on your loss, to cry, to ask questions of yourself, others or God. I remember deep, heaving sobs after my wife left me. I would not wish that pain on anyone, but I recommend experiencing grief rather than ignoring and stuffing it. This tends to diminish ulcers and delayed rage.
  • A little help from your friends. During divorce proceedings and my rocky employment ending, good friends hung close. We ate meals together, watched football games, attended a concert and more. A trusted counselor helped me cope. A divorce recovery group at a nearby church showed me I was not the only one experiencing weird feelings. Don’t try to handle enormous loss alone.
  • Watch your vulnerabilities. In our coed divorce recovery group, I appreciated learning how women as well as men processed their pain. It also was tempting to enter new relationships at a very risky time. Some members, not yet divorced, were dating. Some dated each other. Attractive, needy divorcés/divorcées can appear inviting. After each group session, I made a beeline to my car. “Guard your heart,” advises an ancient proverb, “for it affects everything you do.” {1}
  • Look for a bright spot. Not every cloud has a silver lining, but maybe yours does. After my divorce and termination, I returned to graduate school and saw my career enhanced. My cancer scare turned out to be kidney stones, no fun but not as serious. I met and—four years after the divorce—married a wonderful woman, Meg Korpi. We are very happy.CNN star Larry King once was fired from the Miami Herald. “It was very difficult for me when they dropped me,” he recalls. King says one can view firing as “a terrible tragedy” or a chance to seek new opportunities. {2}
  • Cherish your memories. Displaying treasured photos of a deceased loved one can help you adjust gradually to their loss. Recall fun times you had together, fulfilling experiences with coworkers or noteworthy projects accomplished. Be grateful. But don’t become enmeshed in past memories, because the time will come to. . .
  • Turn the page. After appropriate grieving, there comes a time to move on. One widow lived alone for years in their large, empty house with the curtains drawn. Her children finally convinced her to move but in many ways she seemed emotionally stuck for the next three decades until her death.Significant steps for me were taking down and storing photos of my ex-wife. Embracing my subsequent job with enthusiasm made it fulfilling and productive. Consider how you’ll emotionally process and respond to the common question, “Where do you work?” Perhaps you’ll want to take a course, exercise and diet for health, or develop a hobby. Meet new people at volunteer projects, civic clubs, church, or vacations. Consider what you can learn from your loss. Often, suffering develops character, patience, confidence and opportunities to help others.
  • Sink your spiritual roots deep. I’m glad my coping resources included personal faith. Once quite skeptical, I discovered spiritual life during college. Students whose love and joy I admired explained that God loved me enough to send His Son, Jesus, to die to pay the penalty due for all my wrongdoing. Then He rose from the dead to give new life. I invited Him to enter my life, forgive me, and become my friend. I found inner peace, assurance of forgiveness, and strength to adapt to difficulties. Amidst life’s curve balls, I’ve had a close Friend who promised never to leave.

One early believer said those who place their faith in Christ “become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” {3} Jesus can help you start all over with life itself. He can help you forgive those who have wronged you.

As you grieve your loss, seek support in good friends, watch your vulnerabilities, and seek to turn the page. . . may I encourage you to meet the One who can help you make all things new? He’ll never let you down.

Living with hope

If you are looking for peace, there is a way to balance your life. No one can be perfect, or have a perfect life. But every one of us has the opportunity to experience perfect grace through a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer. Praying is simply talking to God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Here’s a suggested prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life to you and ask you to come in as my Savior and Lord. Take control of my life. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be.

Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? You can pray it right now, and Jesus Christ will come into your life, just as He promised.

Is this the life for you?

If you invited Christ into your life, thank God often that He is in your life, that He will never leave you and that you have eternal life. As you learn more about your relationship with God, and how much He loves you, you’ll experience life to the fullest.

This article first appeared in Answer Magazine 14:1 January/February 2007. Copyright © 2007 by Rusty Wright. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Notes
1. Proverbs 4:23 NLT.
2. Harvey Mackay, We Got Fired!…And It’s the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Us (New York: Ballantine Books, 2004), pp. 150-153 ff.
3. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT.

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26 Responses to “Starting Over”

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    good article thank you for posting it

  • Renee says:

    Linda, I hope you get this. There is a book called ‘An Affair of the Mind’ it was written by a lady whose huband was deeply into Porn. She shares what she went through, and he shares why he got into it and went through. The best part, is she shares frankly about going through this and how God helped her. This book is radically honest, and may really help you to read the story of another woman who has really ‘been there’. God Bless you, I will pray for you.

  • Sharon Sharon says:

    i always feel tha new years are always a new start or to start over again

  • linda says:

    Thank you so much for your compassionate reply. My husband is still under the roof and has gotten counselling for a year and a half for his lusting and porn addiction. The christian councilor, who is one of our pastors, has worked in this field for years. He saw him every week and made himself available day and night. I have prayed fasted and God in His mercy has stayed near me. I have repeatedly forgave him,to no avail. I have gotten help but the pain with him here is unbearable at times. I have no money to leave all though Christ called me back to school before this final nightmare. He will not leave and has the income to move on mine and my sons behalf. Praise God for this ministry!

  • Andrew Andrew says:

    @Linda I understand that it would be very heartbreaking to discover that your husband is addicted to porn. You are not alone in your feeling as there is a reason that it is multi-billion business! Their are many reasons why men get involved in porn often it is as a result of escaping reality or they have a severe insecurity complex and this is their way of coping.

    Often watching porn is to escape a deep hurt in the past as it is self medicating however the only problem is the more a man watches it the deeper he gets involved till the point where he can’t quit because the fantasy is better than reality. It is up to him if he wants to break his addiction and in reality the only thing you can do is pray that God will convict him through his holy spirit in such a manner that he will quit. The only way he will be able to break the habit is to get another man to become his accountable partner. There is nothing you can do as most likely his wathching porn is so he can escape the deep hidden hurts that he has which you might not even be aware of. Pray that God will guide you through the Holy Spirit and then the Holy Spirit will show you what you need to do. I suggest that you also contact an online mentor to guide you.

    God Bless.

  • linda says:

    i am a sixty year old woman married for twenty-two years.My husband has always lusted after other women. Were both in church. He has received counselling for over a year and a half for a porn addiction. He was caught and has been involved deeply for seven years. When I found out it explained his removing himself for years. I was crushed, humiliated and angered but stayed praying my staying and counciling would help. I am in school now but have no means to live his choices are killing me. He has the means to live I put him through school. He wont leave
    I dont know what to do no one to help. I’m in the word but I am being tormented.
    What can I do. It’s me that keeps trying to get him to change.H won’t. Help!

  • Christine says:

    Sharon,
    I just joined the power to change but reading your post, i can’t even imagine……
    I am happy you are ok and friends plus family members helped.
    I have gone through something almost like that but not loosing a husband….It’ is hard.
    Know everything that happens in our lives, happens for a reason and God watches.I have always stood on the promises of God, Exodus 14:14.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Sharon, I cannot even imagine all that you have gone through these past three months. How I wish I could be right there beside you and give you a hug, but a cyberhug will have to do….(((((Sharon)))))…..it’s at times like this that I am reminded that God sees every tear that we shed and in fact they are precious to Him and it says in Psalms that He stores them up in a bottle(I have often said that I probably have 10 gallon drums for all the tears I have cried in my lifetime).

    God is the God of all Comfort…may He comfort You during this incredible time of loss in your life. You said that you are still holding on to God and that’s exactly what you have to keep doing. We also have online mentors that would love to walk alongside of you during this time. Just fill in the form on this page http://powertochange.com/experience/talk-to-a-mentor/ and one of our mentors will email you back.

  • Sharon jackson says:

    Thanks for the encouraging words I have experiencedgreat loss in the past three months
    I loss my husband of five years, and I was six months pregnant at the time. This was his son that he had been waiting for.
    While trying to cope with his death I held on to god, and to the fact that his son was coming and I would have a piece of my husband to look at every day. Well three months later, and two weeks early our son was stillborn. I still hold to my God. He will see me through this I know. it’s hard but like you said family and friends help.

  • jewel lentz says:

    THANKS AGAIN RENEE, I WILL PUT THIS INTO PRACTICE, THANKS FOR SUPPORTING ME, I TRULY APPRECIATE IT. JEWEL

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Those are some great suggestions Renee…..it’s so awesome to know that God can in fact help us to renew our minds and start over again after feeling like our lives have been shattered.

  • Renee says:

    Your welcome, Jewel. A perfect name for one whom Jesus loves so much! Memories (i.e. Flashbacks)can be one of the harder things to tackle. Try getting a cheap notebook and start writing down every good memory you can think of, even a pretty flower or a sunset. Also write down some scriptures that say who you are now in Christ-Ephesians 1 is a good place to start. When one of those bad memories comes up, replace it with a good one. It takes some practice, and ask God to help you. Romans 12:2 says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, 2 Corithians 10 talks about dealing with the strongholds of the mind. God can help you with those memories!

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Thanks Renee for sharing that resource. It’s so neat to follow the comments on these articles and see people sharing with one another! Keep posting!

  • jewel lentz says:

    HI RENEE, Interesting that you found this site. I indeed will get this book, I still have memories for some reason, though I have had much healing, Thank you very much for recommending this book Renee, I appreciate you taking the time to write me, as well as the other prayer partners. I am glad you are feeling well Renee. God is good. Jewel Lentz

  • Renee says:

    Jewel-there is an amazing little study called ‘The Path to Sexual Healing’ by Linda Cochrane. You can pick it up online. God used that and His Word the Bible, beliving and practicing what He says is true..you are a new creature, the former things have passed away, behold all things are new! He healed me, as though none of it ever happened. If He can do it for me, He can do it for you.

  • Sharon sharon says:

    dear jewel– it is really rewarding helping people through this website.

  • Doris Beck Doris says:

    Jewel, I’m glad you found this website too and that you have been able to overcome some huge obstacles in your path. If you would like to help people who have been on a similar journey perhaps you could become a mentor here on our site.

  • Sharon sharon.lambright says:

    my sympathys too for the loss of your wife. 20 years ago my life collapsed, that was a rough few years and i got help from this and i am healed today by the grace of God. may God comfort you even now

  • jewel says:

    Hi, It is encouraging to read this website, I have overcome a long journey of PTSS, memories of sexual abuse as a child, from the age of 40, I am 49. I have pondering to start a website to help others with same condition, since there doesn’t seem to be much day to day knowledge on how to cope.
    I was hoping to find websites to link to so people could find my website. Jewel

  • Di says:

    Thank God I have come across this article at just the perfect time. I am coping with a just ended relationship and I thank you for sharing practical insights.
    God bless you

  • Power to Change says:

    Rick, You have been in our thoughts and prayers. How are you doing? How is your family coping? We care and want you to know we are thinking about you. We are so sorry for your pain and terrible loss.

  • Claire Colvin Claire Colvin says:

    Rick, I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your wife. If you would like to talk to someone privately we have mentors available 24/7. You can use this form to send in a request and we’ll match you with a mentor who will respond by email. You might find this article helpful Relearning the Promises of God it deals with a different kind of loss, but the journey of grief is probably similar. Can we pray for you and your family?

  • Rick Harris says:

    Thanks for the encouragement my wife was murdered on June 1 and I have had many differnent emotions from anger to emptiness and the things that do help me are my family and the relationship I am building with god. It’s is very hard to go thru each day but I do believe that god has a purpose even if we don’t understand why? I have been searching for help and your writings have help me. Thanks so much

  • As a Newbie, I am always searching online for relationship articles that can help me. Thank you

  • C. Custo says:

    Wonderful uplifting advice ! Losing someone in our lives is devastating but the healing hope and love from our Savior is always there, we just need to go to Him….
    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

  • Judi Moore says:

    Thank you for this info – it has helped me and I don’t feel so alone, now

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