Weddings have invitations, ceremonies, and receptions. Babies’ births get announcements, showers, and dedications or baptisms. Graduations have announcements, commencements, and open houses. Deaths are marked by obituaries, wakes, and funerals. Divorces, on the other hand, are as life-changing as any of these milestones, and yet they can pass by as non-events to the world at large,” a recently divorced Christian friend “Lori” shared with me.
When her world fell apart, the rest of ours kept moving on.
There’s no funeral for the death of a marriage, no “obituary” in which Lori can publicly acknowledge all the pain she’d privately carried and dealt with for years in a difficult marriage, no “shower” of gifts to restock her home now that half of her possessions have left with her husband.
In a day, Lori’s life was redefined. She moved from wife to single-mom status. And now she’s supposed to just pick up and continue with life in this new, strange normal.
The quiet, yet searingly painful “normalcy” of a divorce is just one of its many challenges. There are the holidays to navigate. There’s child custody to arrange. The ex-in-law relationships to redefine. The friends who aren’t sure how to act, what to say, or which “side” to pick. There’s also the loneliness. The regret. The bitterness. And the mourning.
“I’ve been surprised by how many things I keep having to mourn the loss of,” another recently divorced friend, “Sarah,” told me. “I’ll be having a great day, when suddenly a thought or a memory pops up and I’m overwhelmed with feelings of extreme loss—loss of my family; loss of a 50th anniversary party, loss of my kids having a dad at home, loss of sitting by my husband’s side at my children’s weddings someday.”
How can someone survive the upheaval of a life? The shattering of dreams? Though a relationship with God certainly doesn’t make it all better or whitewash divorce’s painful realities, it can be a life-giving constant to keep one afloat through the storms. “I can think of no other life experience that has brought me closer to God than my divorce,” Lori explains. “I have never been so completely and utterly dependent on him. He has blessed me and provided for me in more ways than I could have asked or imagined. So many times I would cry out to him in my despair—and he would soothe and comfort me.”
Similarly, for Sarah the darkness of divorce has brought the surprising blessing of a flourishing intimacy with God. “God has somehow turned what was ugly and destructive into something beautiful in my life—my relationship with God has never been stronger than it is now,” Sarah explains. “God has shown me daily that he will never leave me, and that he is protecting me and my kids. He leads me, listens to my whining and questions, and answers my prayers vividly. His faithfulness is truly never-ending.”
No matter where you are in the divorce recovery process—whether you’re raw with fresh pain and the shock of it all, or if you’ve navigated through several years and are moving forward—there are unique challenges you’ll face, and also unique spiritual opportunities. The opportunity to courageously choose forgiveness over bitterness. The opportunity to trust God more deeply and depend on him more than you ever needed to before. The opportunity to be miraculously content in the present and future he has for you, even if it’s different from what you’d envisioned years ago.
If you’re wading through divorce-recovery, like Lori and Sarah, you can cling to God during this time. You can experience him as the true soul-light in your current darkness, and as the ultimate companion who will never leave you or forsake you.