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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Advice for Surviving Your Divorce

A Wife’s Wisdom

Many of you are aware that my wife is a essential part of this ministry for the divorcing.  We have been in touch with various people along the way and recently she wrote a piece that contained a great deal of insight and good counsel.  She is a wise woman (after all, she married me, right?).  Anyway, I decided there were many tidbits in it that I would like to piece together with some comment to share with you, my blog readers, because her words may strike a special nerve for many of you, and perhaps make life a bit easier.  I will place her words or ideas in blue, to distinguish them more easily for you as you read.   I think you’ll find it is kind of nice to get a woman’s perspective.   With no further ado…

Nola first describes those early days of the divorce process as a time of “absolute numbness and shock,” including a time when she could only stare a bowl of cereal before her because she simply couldn't even eat.  

Indeed, it is very hard to describe the intensity of the experience, or to fathom how paralyzing those intense emotions can be.  I have known parents unable to cook for their children, adults unable to drag themselves out of bed, women who could not stop weeping, the list is almost endless.  

Though circumstances may vary from divorce to divorce…many may not be shocked at all…still the intensity of the emotional upheaval is profound. It is wise to garner for yourself - friends and family whose support and encouragement can keep you going.

Nola also raised the issue of the sudden shift from a relationship with someone you loved to a relationship that has suddenly become adversarial.  

In many ways, this is almost unavoidable, as each person shifts their attention and energy from building and preserving a marriage, to building a new future from scratch and suddenly moving to a self preservation mode.  It is especially difficult when your ex chooses to be vindictive, manipulative, jealous or just downright mean.  After all, you once loved this person, and they once loved you….it shatters so quickly.  

There is no easy way to deal with the pain this causes.  But know that none of the actions go unnoticed by God…yours or theirs.  And it is God who will bring the appropriate vengeance and justice in the appropriate time and way that only God knows.  Much as you would like to, don’t overstep your bounds and take on the role of avenger.  All of this is especially hard when poor choices by your ex damage the psyches of your children (and theirs!), but YOU choose to be the best and most godly person you are able to in the process.  The children will need an alternate example, and you can be that for them.

Nola also shared a bit of her own personality:  I will admit that I am some one who generally tries to find the silver lining in every cloud - but during this process - there was one day - when the kids were at their dads - that I realized that this is what depression is.  Something I really had never encountered or dealt with....     

Indeed, the emotional upheaval may introduce you to a plethora of emotions you never experienced before.  But they are usually temporary if you deal with them as they come, and as my wife points out, not only will you come out a stronger person, your experience will be something God can use to bring comfort to others.

Nola’s next line is one many of us struggle with, and the way it is experienced varies from person to person, but this dark time also impacts our experience of God, though remember, it does not change God!  

Nola expressed it this way:  I did believe that God was there... but I don't think I knew what to think about how this all aligned with what I knew about Him.  It took weeks - probably even 3-6 months - for me to really realize that He was very much still there.  

And then Nola wrote an exceptionally beautiful and profound paragraph, one that resonates deeply for so many of us.  It may not be your experience, but it is for many.  Hear her words:  

Just don't expect this to go fast - you will be angry - and what I can say - there is very little that will be "fair" about this process.  You will get screwed over, lots....   and just when you think you are at the point where you have your equilibrium back.... something will hit you square in the face and you will have to start all over again...  and to be honest - you will never be able to have the thought that you will receive "justice" for this.  You are just going to have to wrap it up and let God handle the justice part of this...   however - you will take months  (or years) before you can really do this - and then you will have to do it again.. and again.. and again...    but someday - the day will come - when it may bother you but you can walk away and say "God, I know you see.... and I know you will take care of it... I can't.."    If you spend too much energy focusing on the justice part of this it will eat away at your core - and you are far too priceless to waste your time on that.  

And then she points directly to the heart of the issues we all experience as one we loved now rejects us.  Her advice?  

God sets the price for you.. not man.  

Though all the world abandon you, God has sworn he will never fail or forsake you.  And though your company is no longer valued by the one you loved, God’s desire to spend time with you eternally is worth so much, that Jesus died on the cross for you, just so that you and God could be together forever. 

Nola’s note includes some other little snippets, a few of which are: 

So be angry - it's ok....  tell God... it's ok....  but take care of yourself.....

You are going to have to hold your head up high - even if you don't want to and don't feel you can.

And then, some of her last bit of counsel, perhaps the wisest of all, she simply says: 

Hang in there... you will be fine...  not the same, but fine.

Wise, because the truth is, if you belong to God, God will get you through.  And make you a better person through it all.  Awful though divorce may be, God is able to transform it and use it for his own purposes in our lives, just as he transformed the ugliness of the cross into a thing of beauty and salvation. 

So, see?  I told you she was a wise lady!  And now you have just a glimpse of how blessed MY life has been these past ten years in my second marriage!  Thanks, Nola, for sharing the things God has taught YOU through some of the toughest times of your life.

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