By Sharon Baker-Johnson
The divorce experience has many references, but most say it’s like a funeral; emotionally, you can experience depression, loneliness, isolation, low self-esteem, or many other psychological distresses associated with loss. However, the word divorce in and of itself is defined in the dictionary as “the action or instance of legally dissolving a marriage.” The actions of going through it and its aftermath are entirely up to the individual. You have the power to control how you go through it and decide when to move on. However, unlike a funeral, your “corpse” (the other individual) is still roaming the earth. If you still have some form of physical, financial, emotional ties or children involved, you’re required to interact with them on some level.
So, how does one handle something so complex? Just because you’re divorced doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve stopped loving, caring, or want to dissolve the friendship with your ex. In some cases, it could be the complete opposite of these feelings. We all experience the trials and tribulations of life differently, but the common denominator we all have is a right to God’s grace and mercy. Seeking His guidance and direction throughout the entire journey can alter your outcome.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV) says to “be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
The last stage of grief in dealing with any loss is acceptance. Knowing or making a firm decision to move on from a divorce is accepting your new beginning. Although things may feel, look, or even sound familiar at times; however, they are not because the change begins in your mindset and not your surroundings or even the circumstance. You may find yourself in a posture of discomfort, anger, pain, disappointment, and many other things, but learn to submit yourself unto the Lord, casting your cares upon Him, and He will direct your path; read 1 Peter 5: 5-11.
You don’t have to allow your situation to define who you are. How you go through your divorce experience is always bigger than you. All eyes are on you during this stressful time, and believe me, the people you least expect or haven’t considered are watching and taking mental notes of your response, action, or reaction. Your test is not only your testimony of how you made it over but also the truth in knowing that God is able and His word can carry you through any storm and that there’s nothing too hard for God.
By taking the time to reflect on your shortcomings, you have started the healing process. You’re gaining a new perspective of yourself; therefore, self-improvement has begun. You can now file things in your “what not to do” or “it could have been done better” folders. It’s easy to point the finger or blame at others but flipping the mirror back on yourself is unexpected because it requires transparency. This is so important because if you cannot be honest with yourself, this same behavior will transfer over into your next relationship. So, you will find yourself carrying all this unpacked luggage from one relationship to another in this never-ending cycle (like the children of Israel in the wilderness) because you fail to evaluate your accounts accurately during the relationship. If you desire a different response, you must first develop a different mindset. First, thank God, you made it through, know your worth, and learn to love yourself. You cannot depend on others for your self-worth, to make you feel loved, or even write the ending of your story; because it’s not over. God is the author of life. In Matthew 7:7-8, he encourages you to seek, knock, and ask. He will close doors that will cause harm and open those that will bless you.
It’s so vital for you to learn to love yourself. Too often, in relationships, you forget who you are, resulting in identity loss. When you genuinely love yourself, you will do things for yourself without the approval or validation of anyone else. You will find yourself in a place of peace, God’s peace that reassures the heart and goes above and beyond the mind’s understanding (Philippians 4:7). This mindset is more than evident after a divorce when you cannot function without your ex being a part of your everyday life. When God created you in your mother’s womb, you were made whole; relationships cannot make you complete. Only God can! The same God that created you, knows every hair on your head, and surrendered His only begotten Son for your salvation, is the same God that will sustain you in your time of need.
So, as you begin to walk through your new beginning, take the time to reflect. Remember the Lord’s restoration of grace; during your trial, He has removed the old things and replaced specific capabilities within you. He has undoubtedly prepared you for the next chapter of your life because He’s that kind of God. So, be encouraged and know that when you’re experiencing divorce, there’s nothing He can’t handle, and take your rest in Him.