Christian or not, divorce can be a dirty deal. Even the title of this blog is anxiety-provoking. “How to deal” already suggests that you better take a seat at the card table, for some win at this game and some lose. If you are divorced or going through a divorce, here’s the hand you’ve been dealt; your old life is over, and it’s time to settle into a new arrangement.
Even though change is a constant throughout our lives, it can be stressful. The first time I experienced divorce was when I was 14, and my mom joined the women’s liberation movement and left our family. My life as I knew it was over. A new and radically different life began for me.
Instead of blossoming, I withered. Then, at 24, I found the love of Christ. It was 10 long years in the “darkness” until I was restored by the “light.” I went on to experience divorce as a Christian woman two more times. I get it now. I understand how to cope with divorce as a Christian woman. Do you?
Perhaps you are a divorced Christian woman, and instead of feeling like you are going from glory to glory as God promises, you are experiencing distress, turbulence, and overwhelm. I understand and have been there. There are many ways we humans cope with life’s disappointments. As I will discuss below, some coping mechanisms are healthier than others, and some have a more long-term transformational and healing effect.
After divorce the statement, “it’s not over until it’s over” is invalid because it’s never truly over.
Memories are stored in our minds and cannot be erased or deleted. The only solution is to generate new thoughts and enough self-love to move on after divorce and make new memories that will move to the front of your memory banks. The more you make, the more your fearful thoughts and divorce memories will move further and further away like an old story you read long ago.
Christ was the master of self-love. He lives in our hearts. God is love. Jesus is love. We lean into Jesus. We follow His journey, and it demonstrates to us how to move forward through pain and suffering and into a new life, a calling, and a destiny. If you are having a difficult time with self-love, you can focus on loving Jesus, and His Love inside of you will grow.
Pastor Joel Olsteen often says nothing in life is random. Adversity is not a setback; it’s a setup for the next and better chapter of your life. That includes divorce. Our divorce does not define us. Divorce is a defining moment to become more of who we are meant to be. Pastor Olsteen is the king of positive thinking. Thinking about divorce as a setup and not a setback is a brilliant and powerful coping mechanism. We learn to turn our negative thoughts into hopeful ones consciously, and we focus on the love and promises of God.
We move forward slowly and continue the journey to becoming more like Christ by thinking His thoughts and generating His Love in our hearts. The Christian path is a path of love, hope, and faith. “That Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” (Eph. 3:17)
At a time when our thoughts and emotions are heightened, and we feel broken, betrayed, and overwhelmed, we turn to Christ’s love in our hearts, and we are forgiven. Our minds are renewed, our hope restored. We receive compassion and understanding. This is self-love. Can you allow it in?
For a season, we practice having the love of Christ work on our behalf. Yes, this might sound selfish, but remember, it’s self love-ish. Instead of being distracted by our pain and away from our destiny, we can turn inward. We take the time to discover our personal power, individuality, unique soul, and new identity.
Often what we need after divorce is a restoration and recovery period. Our heart needs to be re-created, and love needs to permanently move in so that we never lose our stability and fall into darkness.
It’s time to do an inventory of your life.
Did you know divorce ranks second on a scale that determines our overall health risk called “The Social Readjustment Life Scale?” It is preceded only by the death of a spouse. In third place is marital separation, in seventh place is marriage, and in ninth place is marital reconciliation. Four of the top 10 health risks have to do with marriage! Divorce can be a major trauma, and we need to treat it as such.
Unless, of course, you are one of the few that have no kids, easily separated your possessions, and then moved onto the next best thing. My stepmother was one of those people. She left her marriage to marry my dad. She was immediately happy and still is. Her happiness lifted my father out of his despair. I was thankful for her, yet I could not relate to her at all.
If you are one of the more sensitive types, like me, or you experienced a lot of change and loss during your divorce, as I did, you may need some help and counsel in taking an inner inventory. As Christians, we know that we have The Spirit of God, also known as The Helper and The Counselor. We must learn to listen to that still small voice inside.
According to the Bible, we live in a body, have a unique soul, and are a spirit. It is in the area of the soul that we will have some wobbling after a traumatic event. Our soul is responsible for our experience of distress, and it signals to us that our peace has been disrupted.
Our soul includes our minds, emotions, and our will. For just a second, I invite you to imagine how your thoughts, feelings, and desires all cause certain behaviors. Take an inner inventory at any one moment, and you will be thinking, feeling, and desiring something. And, these parts of us change from second to second, creating a type of instability.
Get professional help.
In my recovery journey after divorce, it became necessary not only to seek the help and counsel of God’s Spirit but also help from a professional coach or therapist. Our friends and family will not be able to provide us with the deeper exploration of our soul, which can bring us the lasting levels of healing that we may need.
Start your journey to recovery.
You might need to take some time to explore and observe this deeper part of you, your own soul. Unless we learn how to do this, we are being led by the most unstable, unwise, and unruly part of us. This is where our unique identity is and where the devil can try to confuse and tempt us.
The soul and the body are referred to as “flesh” in the Bible. It’s where our “sinful nature” is located.
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. (Rom. 8:16)
This Bible verse represents the severity of not understanding, harnessing, or surrendering our soul to God’s Spirit. Our soul is where there’s a lot of power; it aims to keep us alive and evolving. However, if we let it have all the power, destruction may, unfortunately, be the result.
Developing self-awareness will assist you in knowing your own unique soul, calming it down, and being able to listen to the messages it is sending you. A coach or therapist and God’s Spirit can help you find your true self, your inner voice, and help you to find your inner wisdom.
Stay positive when you see him or meet with him.
After divorce, our minds can be hyperlinked to the negative in an attempt to keep us safe. This can cause our thoughts to become fearful and our words to be harsh. With such levels of fear comes behavior that can be out of control and impulsive.
Make every attempt to keep yourself safe and then stay positive. Especially for children, avoid negativity and finger-pointing. Children will come to their own perspective in time. Just do your best to be your best you. Set an example of love and acceptance for your children.
Gravitate towards other divorced Christian women.
Much like veterans that went through a harrowing experience, other women who share your same beliefs can provide a lot of comfort and joy. The relationships I have formed with my divorced friends are more intimate than what I have with my married friends. We have a shared experience that makes us look at life differently.
We understand when we get together that we might go deep. We share stories, feelings, and prayers with reciprocal love and care. It is an excellent place to start if you are alone and need to practice being more intimate and vulnerable.
Get a prayer team or gather a Bible study group.
Share with each other helpful tips and coping mechanisms. I have found some women like to talk on this level of intimacy, and some don’t. Find out who is who. Develop relationships that you can trust. It just takes one special friend.
I have a divorced friend who was willing to learn Biblical and Christ-centered meditation, which is what I love to teach. She gave me great input and was very thankful. She has helped me pray more sensitively and taught me a type of Biblical meditation called Lectio Divina.
We are both navigating divorce with children, and our discussions are priceless. I know we will be lifelong friends because we know so much of each other’s pain, struggles, and goals. We can be in the trenches yet lift each other up, too. Finding these women have helped me to clarify what I want in my next relationship. I’ll be looking for someone to share my peaks and valleys, someone I can be honest with and who can be honest back.
Is God Against Divorce?
The Bible says God hates divorce. Is He against it? Yes, only in that it brings out the worst in us and can put us on the wrong path. God wants to move us from glory to glory, and divorce, if we are not careful to stay focused on Him, can drop us into darkness and despair. It can turn people towards hate and violence. Then we are unable to do God’s work.
However, God is the one who, over and over again, will bring you out of the darkness and restore you.
“I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord.” (Je. 30:17)
No matter the level of sin or shame, either from your past or after divorce, it won’t keep God from loving you. He desires to work in your heart and change your perspective so that you realize even in your distress, He is helping you to cope. He is merciful and forgiving and we are imperfect humans making mistakes.
God is for loving, intimate relationships. Even after divorce, when we begin to date, as long as we hold God’s Will first, we can move forward safely with His power and wisdom protecting us. He is working on our behalf to bring us something better. We do our part and have faith, and expect the next best thing.
Life after divorce can be challenging but also can be reviving. We have another opportunity to evolve into a better version of ourselves. We break free of some old patterns and can create a new life. We make new friends. We learn to have self-awareness, without which there can be no self-love.
In conclusion, get the old s*&# out; thoughts, people, and stuff that’s holding you back or keeping you down.
Sorry for the *&#@ but the sooner and more effort you put into letting the past s&*# go, the sooner you will experience the love and miracles of God. Focus on the love of God. Get the help you need if you’re stuck. Make new memories, friends, and create a new identity and life. Live with expectancy that goodness is headed your way!
Tonyah Dee has studied the Bible and wisdom traditions of the world for the last 30 years and teaches about finding ways to increase inner strength, stability, and confidence through practicing spiritual disciplines and healthy habits daily. Tonyah is a nutritionist, registered dietitian (R.D.), and earned her B.S. from Loma Linda University. She also holds certifications in Christ-centered life coaching, equine therapy, and meditation. Tonyah has been published in Scary Mommy, MSN, The Mighty, Mantra Wellness, CoveyClub, Thrive Global. Follow Tonyah on her blog, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Medium.