Life After Divorce: Now What?
Have you been through a divorce? Confide in an online mentor and let them walk with you.
Divorce is a great loss and a crisis that has a huge impact on the lives of everyone involved. If you have experienced, or are experiencing divorce, my heart goes out to you. I know about divorce. My parents were divorced when I was 12 years old. It was painful. It was destabilizing for my whole family.
In my years of counseling I have heard many divorcees voice the same concerns. Many express their feelings of loss, betrayal and confusion. This isn’t the way the story is supposed to end. For many divorcees the question becomes, “now what?” Divorce is not the end of the road. It isn’t easy, and it often is not what we would have chosen, but God can help you make wise decisions to deal with the transitions you face.
Life for a Christian who is suddenly divorced and single is not directionless, purposeless or hopeless. Why? Just reflect on these verses:
• God has plans for you. He says “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans not to harm you but, to bring you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
• God will strengthen you. He says, “Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:27-31).
“I am so tired of feeling the way I do”
Divorce is painful. There is nothing that will quickly take the pain away, it is something that has to be worked through. If you are experiencing divorce, you are dealing with grief, with rejection, with having your heart broken. Taking away the pain would make you miss out on the growing process that is so necessary to bring about real healing. And you might risk getting into a rebound relationship.
This is the time to work on your personal growth and life stability. The grief you feel is real, normal, and a process that will help your heart to heal. It’s ok to give yourself time to work through this transition. You don’t have to crumble underneath the weight of it. You can learn to grieve and grow.
“I still loved him and prayed his heart would change.”
It is normal to feel that you still love your husband because you gave your heart away and committed yourself to him. You took vows to love him until “death do you part.” Unfortunately, you can’t make him change his mind and you wouldn’t want to force him to change his mind.
When you really think about it – you want someone to freely choose to love you for yourself. Because love freely given is real love. Real love has to come from the person’s heart and volition. Rejection and betrayal are painful. But, would you want him back because he felt pressured to come back to you? No. In fact, what you rejoiced in when you were first married is that this special person freely chose you and loved you. As much as you might want to, you can’t make him love you.
“I feel betrayed and rejected.”
The first issue is feeling rejected. Your ex-spouse’s rejection does not change who you are and how valuable you are as a person. The rejection is a choice he made – that choice does not determine your worth. You are still a person uniquely made – someone with purpose, talents, opinions and someone who can be used to make a difference in the world.
The rejection you feel will cause you to feel angry. You will need to work through the anger and the resentment. Anger will help motivate you to work on improving your life – but beware because it can also cause you to fall into the trap of bitterness.
“Nothing I do seems right anymore…my life feels like a mess.”
80% of your energy is used processing your emotions. That is why you feel confused, troubled and question yourself. Your self-esteem has been affected greatly. To top everything off – you feel cut off from people because friendships change when a marriage breaks up. You lose some of your couple friends. You feel left out and isolated. You feel depressed because of the divorce and the depression makes you want to isolate yourself. There can even be employment and financial difficulties.
I encourage you to fight the depression that tells you, “I am not worth anything, my life is meaningless, nobody cares about me – I may as well give up.”
Start making choices that will keep you growing in the right direction, working through the grief and getting on with your life.
Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.”
What are the choices you can start making?
- Get counseling and support. Find a counselor in the AACC directory. Find a Divorce Care support group.
- Begin to journal your grief and feelings.
- Start a job search if employment or finances are an issue. Get some help with your resume from someone you know who has some expertise in this area. Get some career guidance from www.crown.org.
- Begin to make one goal a week which will help your life improve. Exercise regularly. Eat nutritiously.
- Accept that life will be a challenge. But, look at the challenges as opportunities to grow in faith, character and new skills.
- Accept the reality that you are divorced. Read how to make the best of your life after divorce. Read books like Growing Through Divorce by Jim Smoke.
God will help you persevere and mature in the midst of this trial. James 1:2-4 reads, “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
Dr. Larry Crabb eloquently states the goal of Christian maturity this way: “Christ wants us to face reality as it is, including all the fears, hurts, resentments and self-protective motives we work hard to keep out of sight, and to emerge as changed people. Not pretenders. Not perfect. But more able to deeply love because we’re more aware of His love.”
You can experience contentment with Christ. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”
You are dealing with various issues here: The reality of the death of your marriage, the loss of your spouse, the rejection and betrayal, a broken life and dreams. This is huge! This is hard! But, let me stop to say that this crisis is one you can get through to the other side. This loss is one in which God can bring hope and in which you can become strong in the brokenness.
There is no way that I know to work through the pain of divorce quickly. You would miss the process of character development, the ways God will answer your prayers each day, the way hope and strength will grow slowly back into your life. This will build a stronger foundation in your life and in your spirit. You can discover new blessings, new treasures, and even a new you – if you determine to trust God for each day and each tomorrow.
If you are going through a divorce or if you would like to talk to someone about your relationship, we’d love to hear from you. We’re available any time, from anywhere in the world. Send us an email and start the conversation.
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