The other day I happened to stumble upon another article written with the list of negative effects or consequences of divorce, especially when there are children involved. It was basically a list of reasons why you should never get a divorce. As I write and share my story, about how God didn’t save my marriage from divorce, I often hear what I should have done differently or the consequences I now must endure.
As people who are going through or who have gone through a divorce, we already know these consequences. We’re experiencing them first hand. We know the trauma our family faces, we feel the betrayal, we grieve the losses, and we see the pain our children are enduring after divorce. This is not the path that we would have wanted to be on but so many of us were not given any other choice – we were abandoned and/or abuse or adultery was committed.
The only way to heal and move on to a thriving life after divorce is to accept this path, even if it’s really unwanted. We remain stuck in these negative effects when we refuse to acknowledge the truth and allow this human rejection to define our worth. Instead of dwelling on what could have and should have been, we need to learn to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel and overcome. Thriving after divorce means creating a new life, with our Creator as our Husband. Here are 5 positive things to do after divorce.
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Here are 5 Positive Things to Do after Divorce:
1. Manage Conflict with Peace
Jesus is a great example for how to conduct ourselves in the face of conflict. He kept himself calm by knowing God was still in control even as His enemies were attacking. He spoke out to His disciples sharing that He knew they were going to betray Him but He left the consequences of these actions in God’s hands.
You cannot control how your spouse behaves during or after the divorce, but you can control how you act and treat other people. Treat them with the respect they deserve as the parent of your child, or at least as a fellow human being – even if they’re acting like some sort of alien from outer space.
Don’t try to seek revenge for all that has been or is being done to you or your children. Live in peace knowing that God will take care of everything and make things right in the end. He is still sovereign even when everything seems to be out of control.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” (Romans 12:17-19 NIV) (Emphasis mine.)
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"A healthy person does not participate in foolish behaviors or unnecessary conflict."
This isn't to say that you should be a doormat after divorce or hold in all of your feelings, bearing deep resentment. Learning to have boundaries and be assertive in the face of conflict should also be part of your emotional healing. Becoming the most emotionally healthy person in your child’s or family’s life will not only help you, but it will show others how to be a healthy adult.
A healthy person does not participate in foolish behaviors or unnecessary conflict. Instead, we control conflict by focusing on what is in the best interest of the child, working through the forgiveness process, and embracing whatever lies ahead.
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2. Embrace the Circumstances God Has You In
I am reminded of the story of Jesus and His disciples in the boat (Matthew 8:23-27). A huge storm began raging around them while Jesus slept peacefully. The disciples were afraid that these circumstances would ruin them and their boat. But Jesus knew who was in control. Then Jesus calmed the storm and showed the disciples God’s power over all situations.
Most divorcing people are very scared during the divorce journey. We don’t know how we’re going to survive. But as we embrace these unwanted circumstances, we realize that God was with us through the storm and through the pain. He is never going to leave or let you drown. During my divorce, I knew He wasn’t going to stop the storm immediately. Actually it still hasn’t really stopped, but He is always working things out even if I can’t yet see it. I only need to have faith in His promises.
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"... knowing God is all we have, we start to understand that He is all we really need."
Faith is a free gift from God. We see it more clearly extended in our darkest seasons of life. Our faith and trust in God is strengthened as we endure. While we endure, knowing God is all we have, we start to understand that He is all we really need.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4 NIV)
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3. Challenge the Lonely Feelings with Benevolence While Single and Healing
Feeling lonely after divorce is a real concern of many of the women I speak to. It seems to be the biggest struggle that Christian women (and I’m sure men too) face while working on healing. When the divorce wasn’t wanted in the first place, feeling lonely seems to be an added consequence to an already mounting list.
But we learn in the Bible that singleness is a gift from God. It may be hard to see it as such when you’re feeling so much pain and loss. But it’s often an invitation to seek a relationship with the One who knows how to cure the pain and fill the void.
“I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. … I would like you to be free from concern. … An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:7-8, 32, 34-35 NIV)
Another gift from God is your purpose. We often think that our purpose is to be a wife (or husband) and parent. When those titles are stripped from us during a divorce, there doesn’t seem to be much left to do in this life. But God is saying, ‘I have a plan and purpose for your life.’ And even if a divorce should happen, He will work to fulfill that purpose. He promises to redeem every circumstance of your life for His glory.
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"We know God's comfort because we've experienced it. Share it with others."
First, He wants divorced people to turn their devotion back to Him – He covets our undivided attention. He also promises to heal and place you on a solid foundation (1 Peter 5:10).
Often that solid foundation includes new goals and a new purpose. God allows bad things to happen so we can find our comfort in Him. As we spend time ministering to others, we experience a deeper healing of our own pain and he gives that pain meaning and eternal purpose. We know God’s comfort because we’ve experienced it. Share it with others (2 Corinthians 1:4).
A life of service is much more satisfying than merely existing after divorce. Bringing comfort to others who are hurting, sharing how we survived our pain and life’s big storms brings a greater purpose to what we’ve been through.
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4. Reclaim Your Life and Your Finances After Divorce
Another big struggle I hear from divorced people is the loss of their old life and the lifestyle they were used to living. This is huge loss that also needs to be mourned. It is difficult knowing that you worked so hard to help your spouse achieve a career and financial success, yet now you have to start your life over at what feels like the very beginning, without his or her help (or only temporary help).
I was a stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my two youngest children, when I faced my divorce. I had not worked outside of the home since before my 10-year-old was born. I had only done a little bit of freelance writing and social media work for bloggers, and I hadn’t finished my college education.
I’m not saying it has been easy, but each year gets more exciting as I listen to God’s leading and direction for my life. I can see where things I did before my divorce, and even before my marriage, have become useful to me today.
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"... I only need to work hard and hold onto faith."
It feels as though I’ve been putting together a jigsaw puzzle my entire life, and now the unknown picture is becoming clearer. As each piece falls into place I understand each piece even more. Each oddly shaped piece of struggle has been another part of God’s bigger picture – a beautiful masterpiece that only He could create.
And a funny thing is happening. While He is creating my life of purpose, He is also showing me how I will financially survive. Knowing God’s decrees have arranged for providence, I don’t have to worry about my finances anymore because God’s already got that taken care of too – I only need to work hard and hold onto faith.
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5. Be Cautious with Future Relationships as to Not Repeat Divorce
Most of the articles I’ve read about the consequences of divorce talk about the high divorce rate of second and third marriages. Knowing these statistics kept me trapped in my adulterous marriage thinking I would only face another divorce in the future. I can still see where this is very relevant to the conversation, but when we work through our emotional healing and get rid of any excess baggage, we all can go on to live an emotionally healthy life (with or without another marriage).
Sometimes we’re preyed upon by an evil-hearted person (who fools and traps us) but other times we choose an unhealthy mate because we don’t think we deserve any better. Often this is subconscious until we see the pattern of harmful relationships, realizing we have a broken “relationship picker.”
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV)
As someone on the other side of all the divorce baggage and healing, I can say it’s worth it to do the hard work before moving on to dating and remarriage after divorce. Whether I remarry or not I know that I won’t fall for the same tricks that worked on me 20 years ago. I’ve learned a lot from my divorce and the healing afterwards. I hope you will do the same as well.
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"You can thrive after divorce."
Divorce may have many negative effects and consequences, and I’m sure people will continue to write articles about that. But divorce can also be a new chapter filled with God’s purpose and providence. He doesn’t want you to merely survive after divorce, simply becoming a part of the negative statistics. God wants you to thrive! And you can survive and thrive after divorce.
Jen Grice is a Christian Divorce Mentor and Empowerment Coach, author of the book, You Can Survive Divorce: Hope, Healing, and Encouragement for Your Journey, a speaker, and a single homeschooling mom. She writes full-time at JenGrice.com and empowers women to survive and heal after their unwanted divorce on her YouTube channel as well. Jen believes that through God's healing, grace, and redemption that all Christian women can survive... and even thrive, after divorce. Navigating this foreign territory we call divorce? Feeling alone? Start here!
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Originally published Monday, 04 March 2019.