Top Ten Hints for Springtime...
I like springtime! And this year, I am SOOOOO ready for it to come! Seems like dreary skies and late snows have just lingered and lingered.
But out in front of the house, the leaves of Surprise Lilies have continued to push up, although the tips are brown because of the cold. The jonquils are blooming, tulips are in bud, iris are growing and warmer days are coming. Yay!!! (With my apologies to those of you in the Southern Hemisphere who read my blog, and who are facing the movement toward winter instead.)
Springtime is a good analogy for a lot of experiences in life. I have noticed around me these days, places where I can see God’s hand at work in the lives of people I know, little beginnings of growth and renewal. It’s always fun to see those things.
The cover of the second volume of my divorce devotional is intense green, as opposed to the desolate grays and blues of volume one. It is indicative of the time when, after a divorce, one begins to recognize that life can be good again, that there are new possibilities. During this time, the emotional numbness begins to thaw and one begins to believe there is hope for future love. It is a really good experience, especially if you have been deep in sorrow, depression or despair.
Springtime also contains some risks, too. For example, heavy rainstorms can come, or mountain streams begin to overflow as snow melts in the altitudes. Flooding can occur. In my part of the United States, storms can breed deadly tornadoes. There is great joy and wonder in spring, but there are dangers as well. The same is true in the springtime of divorce.
There is an interesting verse in the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) that goes like this:
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the gazelles or the does of the field, that you not stir up or awaken love until it pleases. (2:7 ESV)
When post-divorce spring comes, it can be very exciting. A heart long silent may suddenly come alive again when you catch the eye of an attractive date. Being on the receiving end of a little flirting can feel very good. But be careful: do not stir up love prematurely!
Sometimes the loneliness that has been overwhelming and perhaps tediously long leaves us so hungry for companionship, love and laughter that, like the flooding rivers, we get caught up overboard and can get way ahead of true love. Sadly, I have observed several individuals who, after their divorce, were caught up in just such an experience. In response to the attention they received, they mistook infatuation or the alleviation of loneliness for true love. Sometimes they end up married far too quickly, only to find themselves in the throes of another divorce!
If only they had waited a bit longer. If only they had not “stirred up or awakened love until it” pleased!
I was very blessed. God arranged for me to have special friends around who helped me learn how to pace myself and not get in a hurry to jump into another relationship. Some days that was very difficult for me, because I had concluded that I would like to remarry sometime, and wondered when it would be. I eventually did, but it wasn’t until six years after my divorce. I remember one friend in particular saying to me that it would be worth my while to be patient and wait for the person God may be preparing, pointing out that the person may not be nearby yet, or may be in the midst of her own divorce and not yet single. My friend’s words turned out to be prophetic, because that was exactly the situation at the time, I learned, when a few years later I met the woman who would become my wife.
Let me share some thoughts, or maybe tips, that might help YOU pace yourself, or that might be something useful you could share with your friends.
1) Allow yourself time to heal. Some statistics suggest that it takes a year of healing for every four or five years you were married. Wait until you are well into the healing process before entering another relationship.
2) Choose to get into a relationship ONLY when you are comfortable with being single once again. Entering a relationship based on neediness is not a healthy start.
3) Commit to yourself that you will seek healing so that you can bring a healthy, whole person into any relationship, rather than a person still struggling with wounds and fears.
4) Commit to not date until your own divorce is final (as well as that of the person you are dating if that applies). Far too many people have dated someone they thought was divorced and single, only to be hurt again when that person decides to go back to their spouse and try again. And, if that person would date YOU while still married to someone else, if you marry that person who is to say they wouldn’t date someone else while married to you?!?
5) Pace yourself. True love does not need to hurry. Concentrate on getting to know the person well, take time to let the relationship grow and mature. If it is real, love can always stand the test of time.
6) Listen to the advice of friends who have your best interest at heart. Sometimes they will be wrong, so you don’t always have to agree with them, but listen.
7) If you find you are forcing yourself to ignore red flags, or to go counter to instincts that warn you to be careful, then take drastic action and stop quickly. Take time to evaluate those warning signs carefully before proceeding any further. After all, who wants to get divorced again?!?
8) If you find yourself thinking that the relationship feels a lot like that of your first marriage, take heed! Sometimes we get into certain kind of relationships because they feel familiar, but when the familiarity is from a troubled relationship and failed marriage, it is time to try something UNFAMILIAR!
9) Pray. Offer the whole matter up to God, both personally, and then, when you DO meet someone, pray together for God to guide.
10) Spend time in the scriptures…daily! Even if it is only a few minutes a day. This puts you into a situation where you will be able to hear God speak when the time comes for him to guide you.
Spring is here in the central United States. And, if you are struggling with the aftermath of a divorce, know that spring will come to you one day, too. My second book is filled with ways to recognize and celebrate that new life.