I was mid-way through my twenties when I faced the reality of divorce. My twenties were supposed to be significant; marked by purpose and direction, making a career, achieving milestones—not spent navigating a divorce.
But it was during this time I discovered and experienced God’s love in a way I did not expect and cannot fully articulate. Somehow, despite my chaotic circumstances, I received complete peace to the depths of my heart and soul.
For many Christians, divorce is a black-and-white concept that remains largely controversial. Despite its prevalence, divorce is one area of brokenness that is not always well-received by the Church. The Scriptures appear clear, the statements found throughout the Old and New Testament seem to disqualify many of those who are divorced, and warn off those who may seek it as a resolution.
And it’s true that divorce can be ugly. Marriage is God’s good design, reflecting His heart toward His people. Jesus is the ultimate bridegroom, the expression of God’s love for us. Divorce is spoken of strongly because it is essentially the opposite of God’s heart for marriage.
Many Christians experience divorce for various reasons and can find reconciling their reality with their faith as challenging as the divorce itself. Whether we experience brokenness from our own choices or through no fault of our own, we have a Savior who delights in us and desires to see us living life abundantly. Romans 8:31-39 declares that nothing can separate us from His love. Fellow believers need to extend God’s love toward those who are facing divorce rather than exhibiting negativity and applying judgement.
A few years on, I have walked through to a place of restoration and wholeness having reconciled my reality with my faith. Here are a few important keys for those experiencing divorce and desiring to come through to a place of healing:
Seek to Honor and Respect
No matter what has transpired between you and your former spouse, seek to honor and respect the other party. It speaks volumes about the depth of your character when you honor despite circumstances that indicate otherwise. If you have children, honoring the other parent is paramount in protecting your children’s hearts, and you should always value your child’s heart above your desire to assert yourself.
Divorce is a painful process, and when you are navigating a relationship breakdown, emotional responses are often heightened. You’ll probably go through all sorts of conflicting emotions and not always know how to feel. Maintain perspective by daily seeking God’s heart for your life, laying the burden down. Jesus beckons “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Also, protect yourself and your perspective by choosing wisely whom you open up to and whom you allow to speak into your situation. Are they able to speak life with your best interests at heart, or do they simply seek to discuss your circumstances and gossip?
Give Yourself Time to Process
When you are emotionally tender, simply getting through the day without losing it can be a challenge. Look after yourself, and if you need to take some time away from your normal activities or simply slow down, do it. Placing value upon your mental and physical wellbeing will enable you to emotionally cope with the changes following divorce.
Cultivate Your Response
Being wronged or treated poorly is painful, and lashing out and responding in the same spirit may feel good in the short-term, but ultimately, refusing to forgive will only hinder your own healing. We cannot come to a place of healing without forgiving and learning to accept that oftentimes this is a one-way deal. We cannot control what another person does but we can determine our response. We should establish boundaries and try to show respect, but not retaliate. This takes prayer and spending time in God’s presence to cultivate a heart that responds well to the challenges.
Examine Your Own Heart
In order for a wound to heal, old tissue must be debrided or else the risk of the wound becoming infected is quite high. The same goes for rebuilding; there must be an excavation of the old, in order to be sure of the foundations on which a new structure is positioned.
God desires to restore and make new the areas of our lives where we have experienced brokenness and loss. John 15:2 says “He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more, richer and excellent fruit.” When we submit to His authority, we are accepting there will be areas of our past where we need to pursue change order to sustain new healthy growth.
Take it Day By Day
There is no simple checklist for healing. As you surrender and forgive, remember that these are ongoing processes. Healing doesn’t come by simply accomplishing a set of tasks, but by abiding in God’s love and faithfulness. Through abiding you will begin to see the fruit of your restoration. As a wise woman once told me “Every decision you make effects your five, 10, 15 year future.” Every decision regarding your thoughts, emotions and attitudes becomes a seed, and there is a daily decision to be made about whether you sow life or death into your circumstances. Hebrews 4:15-16 beckons us to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace where we find all we need for every situation.
Remember That Your Past Doesn’t Define You
And finally take heart. If you have been through a season of brokenness and divorce, it does not define you. What remains is a chapter in your journey, but not the position from which you do life. God’s love is truly known and experienced when we trade in what is broken, have the slate wiped clean and step into restoration.
Natalie is a mom, registered health professional, sun chaser and tea drinker who works with young adults and family ministry. She Loves community and reconciling life with faith.