A decision that leaves you hurting doesn’t necessarily mean it was the wrong decision. Sometimes, divorce can serve to move us out of the muck and mire we have been living in, forcing us to get completely honest and observe ourselves in a way that brings redemption. My hopes are that you first tried everything in your ability to prevent or reconcile the relationship before you divorced. Healing is hard, exhausting, and downright draining, but it is required to continue with life. You may want a quick fix of 5 easy steps or ‘how to’ on self love to make yourself feel better, but it would only temporarily alleviate your pain. True healing doesn’t come easy or without help from someone outside of yourself. Whether you are a believer in Jesus Christ, a skeptic, or simply someone with a lot of struggles and questions, I hope you are met with a permanent healing by seeking and applying the next few paragraphs during your journey.
1. Solitude And Emotional Recovery
If you share children, this will most certainly be more difficult. The time it takes to heal really depends on a number of factors such as, was it your choice? Did you see it coming? Were you left for another? Are you self supporting or needing help? Was your identity wrapped up in the marriage? Do you even know who you are or what you like? You need some seclusion to cry it out and grieve the happy times and all the other memories that will flood your mind and torment you the next few months. If we avoid healing, we will repeat what isn’t repaired, therefore it is essential to grieve and sit with your feelings long enough to have your heart, mind and soul restored. There are so many emotions you need to disentangle. Journaling is a beautiful way to see how far you’ve come in your pilgrimage while also helping you wage war against your unhealthy thoughts. We are forgetful and can’t always trust our memory alone. For me, it helped define what I was experiencing day to day and reconcile the outcome in the end. I hope you use this tool and with your pen in hand, are met with healing.
2. Seek Wisdom
Make the best use of your time during your recovery. You may reach a low you never expected, (especially as a single mom) and to gain wisdom from how you got to that point can be pivotal. There are resources available to help you and I hope you seek them out. Some churches offer divorce care groups, which I found to be very beneficial and drew great encouragement from just knowing that I wasn’t alone in my suffering. Biblical counseling before, during, and after may help you understand the foundation to which you should build back upon and help restore healthy boundaries. You need to be wise in who you share with and take advice from. Everyone is not meant to speak into your life! You probably have mutual friends, so prepare for them to take sides. Also, look out for people who will lead you astray by making you feel comfortable in your own wrongdoings. This will only deaden your conscience and keep you in a vicious cycle. I hope you don’t get stuck here. Find seasoned, wholesome, and trustworthy people to help hold you accountable. Guard your mouth, your heart, and pray for strength and wisdom daily. If you love and seek wisdom, this will be far more valuable and nothing you desire can compare with it.
Even without an apology, FORGIVE. The pain is still there but you are free from the suffering. Bitterness, shame, and anger will eat you alive if you don’t, and it will absolutely require something outside of yourself and your own strength to accomplish. Being in union with Christ and living as a receptacle of His grace while walking in the Holy Spirit is where the power came from for me personally. If you were rejected, you may find it helpful to pray and ask that you can walk in acceptance. If you were shamed, you may pray and ask that you can walk in compassion. If you ignored red flags and accepted treatment that you now know was unacceptable or if you focused on their potential instead of the reality of who they were, then forgive yourself. If you were the offender, then you may want to ask for forgiveness. If you are ever given the opportunity to be the bigger person, I hope you take it. You will never regret walking away from the divorce when you truly forgive the offender. If you have children, this is the perfect time for them to observe how you respond to suffering. Even those who pretend they don’t see you will learn from you as you walk in forgiveness.
No one really teaches us healthy relationships outside of what we learn in the home growing up or our connection with others. I hope you are at a place that allows you to pay attention to the times that YOU were and can be toxic. You have a responsibility to take action once you discover the painful realities revealed to you. I once read, ‘You shouldn’t drink poison just because you are thirsty.’ In other words, don’t allow yourself to get lonely and reconnect with toxic people or continue toxic behaviors. This could be staying busy or having those old friendships resurface that you know aren’t healthy. Sure, friends and being busy can help your mind take a break but ultimately it will cripple your efforts to heal. You have to keep in mind that you are mourning the loss of someone who is still alive, and you may still have to interact with them at times. Make up your mind about how long a conflict will be discussed and set boundaries on your communication. Know when to walk away and don’t react to the pain you feel.
5. Don’t Rush
The world is telling you to hurry and that you are missing out. Every social media app will show you your insecurities and get you caught up in the comparison trap. I hope you can find contentment in the waiting because beauty can be found in getting reacquainted with yourself. If you struggle with loneliness, I urge you to not rush into something to fill that empty void. You have to remember you are transforming and getting used to your ‘new normal.’ That doesn’t happen overnight.
So now, I leave you with a call to action! A simple quote that stuck with me was from Dave Ramsey and although it’s about money, it can speak into any situation: ‘The pain of change has to be greater than the pain of staying the same.’ Are you in this mindset yet? Are you so sick at how you have handled things by your own resources and strength? Are you exhausted from the mind games you are playing and yet keep depending on your own strength, only to find you are like a dog returning to its own vomit? How much longer must you continue like this? How will you know when you have been healed?
I will end with an excerpt from my local church bulletin that helped me: ‘To all who are weak and seek rest; to all who mourn and long for comfort; to all who struggle and desire victory; to all who are broken and long for healing; to all who are strangers and want fellowship; to all who hunger and thirst after righteousness and want to be satisfied; to all who sin and need a savior, you are welcome here.’ (Phil 3:7-11).
The best way to know you have healed from divorce is when you can boldly say, AND EVEN IF I remain single and never have the family I want, I am content. Then you will know that peace and healing has rested upon you.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Bradley of Birmingham, Alabama. You can follow her journey on Instagram and Facebook. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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