FB conversion pixel

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Learning Endurance


Often my blogs come out of conversations or email correspondence I have with folks in a variety of ways.  Sometimes those contacts remind me of struggles that a variety of individuals may be experiencing, who could all benefit from some encouragement, other times they remind of lessons I learned along the way that might be helpful to share.  Today’s blog comes out of such interactions.

Sometimes in divorce, the pain of the process combined with hurtful actions your divorcing partner may impose, creates a desire to just be done with it, to have it over and be able to move on.  Instead, very often the experience is that the divorce process is tediously slow, frustrating and contains lots of unexpected bends in the road along with emotional ups and downs.  Added to this is the reality that sometimes courts move at a pace even snails could beat, and make decisions so bewildering that seem to come from some alien planet.  It is this kind of experience I want to address with some simple thoughts today.

  1. Painful though it is to go through this as you are, I would suggest to you that each step is one step forward because the power of the experience and the pain of it all diminishes over time.  It really does.  Not that you will completely forget, or not be impacted, or maybe even have days that something bothers you once again, but the intensity of it all truly does pass.
  2. As you go through the dark days and the aftermath, I encourage you to let the pain of the experience teach you.  Learn through it some fresh insights about yourself, and also let it teach you some things about the pain Jesus  suffered for you as his love was rejected and he was traumatically tried and crucified.
  3. Keep current.  Mourn the loss and the pain as you go along, instead of letting it build up inside and fester.  You may need to share the burden in conversation with friends or by journaling, or by processing it with a counselor, but take advantage of whatever is helpful to process as you go to the degree you are able to do so.  
  4. Keep an honest eye on what your goal is on the other side of the divorce process, and what it was that got you to this point.  It is easy to get bogged down in the struggle and lose track of the fact that your life can move forward to something fresh.  It is also easy to get discouraged and begin to minimize things like abuse that occurred during the marriage.  Either extreme is not helpful.
  5. Recognize that the “awful” feelings you are experiencing are not so uncommon, and that you can be honest with God about them.  The Psalms contain honest expressions of the same kind of emotions you may be feeling, but they are Psalms we don’t generally pay attention to, so you may not be familiar with them.  Some examples could be Psalms 55, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137.  In them David and others express the anger and even vengeful hatred they are feeling, talking openly with God about those emotions and desires.  God did not reject David for feeling the way he did, and he does not reject us for those feelings either.  Many of them are feelings we probably should not ACT on (such as David’s call for destruction upon those giving him pain), but the reality of the emotions can be expressed and acknowledged.  After all, you feel some of those emotions because you are experiencing some very hard things!  We are, after all, human beings created with a wide variety of emotions…and since God already knows how we feel, it can only help our relationship with him if we know how to be honest with God.
  6. Realize the divorce process is more like a sculpture than like a drag race It occurs step by step, chisel mark by chisel mark, not a brief flourish of activity and it is over.  And realize God may use the sculpting process of it all to shape YOU.  I am not a sculptor of stone, nor have I even been around one.  But I have been told that someone who sculpts marble has to be very patient and careful.  The artist knows that the work must go slowly, bit by bit, because if he or she tries to remove too big of a piece at one time, it can result in breaking the entire stone.  Instead, the vision of the goal is there, but the sculpting is a gradual movement toward that vision.  I believe God works the same way with us, because He has a vision of what He can help us become, and He knows just how much to work on at a time, and how much might risk breaking you or me, and tailors our experiences accordingly.
  7. It’s okay to dread the day and to hate the process.  It can produce sleepless nights (Tylenol PM can be a great gift sometimes!)  It isn’t a process that SHOULD be enjoyable, agreed?  After all, a divorce is a sad and tragic thing, even when it appears to be the only option left.  Mourning is built into it all.
  8. There is an end to the worst of it all, and the judge does eventually bang the gavel and sign the papers.  Sometimes you just have to endure!  In fact, I have always been struck by the verse in Hebrews 10:36—
    For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God,  
      you may receive what was promised.”  (New American Standard Bible)

We don’t often think about it, but endurance is a characteristic God really 
wants built into our lives.  The trouble is, the only way to get it is to have 
something you have to ENDURE!  Yuck.  

Okay, so that’s my little list.  I remember that time and those difficult days in the process.  I just wanted it to be over.  I wanted it to be, a fast flourish of activity and then done.  But it wasn't.  At least, most of the time it wasn't.  Some things did move quickly, but very few, and the overall process, even though it felt like an insane whirlwind, moved tediously slowly.  Looking back, I wonder if there wasn't purpose in that.  Maybe I couldn't have endured or survived the onslaught if it all happened at once. Maybe I wouldn't have learned the things I did.  

I was probably supposed to learn patience, but I don't think I did....however I did learn endurance.  The trouble is, endurance is not at the top of anybody's list as something they want to learn...except maybe marathon runners.  However, the truth is that in our Christian walk we, too, are in a marathon, not a sprint.  That kind of image of endurance is even used in 1 Corinthians 9, Hebrews 12, and 2 Timothy 4.  So realize that, tough though it all is, God can use even this difficult experience called divorce to shape and prepare you for things to come in your life.  If you are in the midst of the fray, my prayer for you is “May God's strength and peace help you through THIS day, and THIS step.”

No comments:

Post a Comment