Going through a divorce with children in tow can either sink you – which it has at times – or it can give you a plethora of lessons to pass along – which it so totally has. And though there are a thousand things I want to teach my children and so much I still want them to know before they have to handle life on their own, there is one main thing that I would want them to know how to do above all else, and it would be this:

When hurting, when life throws you a curveball, when a relationship is painful or ends, you can find comfort in Jesus and you can let God tend to your soul.

The tricky thing about teaching this is this is one of the most elusive spiritual disciplines I’ve ever attempted to master, and I’ve been working on it for all of the twenty-seven years I’ve been following God.

So I would start by telling them when your heart is broken, God promises to be even closer in ways we don’t understand. How can he be closer than he already is? I have no idea, really, but he is. He loves the brokenhearted in special and specific and intimate ways. Maybe it’s because he totally gets the feeling of being brokenhearted; I’m not sure.

I would tell them that the word of God is the key to his comfort, especially, I’ve found, the Psalms. There isn’t one emotion left uncovered in that book. David and the other writers went through it all. Bad for them, good for us. Betrayal, unfaithfulness, sinning, being sinned against, being chased, having enemies, feeling far from God, searching for him and not finding him, searching for him and finally finding him. Relational strife. Love, loss of love. Friendship, loss of friendship. Life, loss of life. You name it, it’s in there.

I would then tell them that there is a voice that whispers amazing things to you, especially when you’re hurting, but it comes after time and time and time in God’s word, learning what he would say to you, discerning his voice from yours, discerning his voice from the enemy. As my dear friend Charlotte once told me, “If {the words you’re hearing} are being said with condemnation, that’s not the voice of Jesus.” It’s the Spirit of God bringing Scripture to your mind, perhaps even words you don’t remember ever reading, let alone memorizing. And it’s the Spirit of God speaking distinct and intimate things to your heart, things that only God could know would mean something to you.

And then I would tell them that it’s a different kind of comfort from the human kind, to not let that surprise them or mystify them or discourage them. There are no human arms holding you when you are in the embrace of God. He doesn’t magically and physically appear. There aren’t gentle eyes looking back at you.  There aren’t hands to wipe away the tears. It’s different, but it’s just as real. It’s different but it can heal, even more than human comfort.

When you let it. And I would say when you let it because there is a surrendering that comes when you go to God for something, especially when you go to him to have him put the pieces back together. It’s an admission that you can’t do it on your own. It’s an admission that you believe in an invisible God, that you believe he is good, that you believe he is loving. And it’s an admission that the comforts of this world fall short – even the gentlest words and hugs and touches from mothers and friends – they can only do so much. When you come to God for comfort, you are in essence saying, you are it for me. You are my only true hope of feeling better, getting better, healing up from this. You are it.

There is so much more to this.  So much more I haven’t even learned or experienced on my own.  But I would tell them that I have known the comfort of God when no one or nothing else could comfort me, that it is a true thing, that it is something they can have and own for themselves.  And that once they do, they’ll be changed, and they’ll be healed, and they will know it to be true.