Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

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Practical Advice for Divorce


The word alone strikes fear into the heart of people. Maybe you lived through your parents’ divorce. Maybe you watched friends’ marriages suffer the ultimate destruction. Maybe you’ve walked that dreaded path…or you fear your marriage is heading down that road now.

I’m not sure there’s another pain in this life that compares to the incomparable devastation brought about by the end of a marriage. Nothing I’ve been through before and nothing I’ve experienced since has ever evoked the same destruction. The feelings of failure and rejection. The sense of utter worthlessness. The belief that you are unloved and unlovable. The fear that your life is over, that you will live the rest of your life alone.

When divorce happens, you can’t think clearly. You struggle with every step, walking through a fog so thick you can barely breathe. You try to make sense of it all, to make wise decisions. But so often, the pain and unbearable emotions cloud your ability to see what needs to be done, to find the path out of the destruction.

Maybe that’s where you are today. Many of us have walked this path before you…and we stand as living testimonies that there is life beyond divorce…beautiful, abundant life you never dreamed you could have. Because we’ve been there, we’ve learned. We’ve learned what to do and what not to do. We’ve walked the path imperfectly but somehow made it through to the other side. We’ve seen God take our pain and make something beautiful of it all.

Because we’ve been there, we hope you will listen to some words of advice to get you through the darkest days of your life.

Turn to God. I can’t reiterate this one enough. I promise, He’s the only answer. He’s the One who can lavish you with love, heal every broken piece of your heart. He’s the One who can take your broken and create something beautiful, something so beautiful you could never even imagine it. He’s the One, the answer to every problem you face.

Spend time with Him, in the Word and in prayer. Spend time with His children, those who love Him and will love you. Let Him remind you just how precious you are, how deep His love for you.

Become a woman (or man) so deeply rooted with God that the right man (or woman) will have to seek God to find you.

Take time. The biggest mistake I made was to jump back into the dating scene too soon. I thought I was healed. I thought I had dealt with the pain and devastation. And I was so wrong.

Grief is a powerful emotion with no timeframes. It takes years to deal with the mix of emotions that course through your being, sending you over the edge at the most inopportune of times. Allow yourself to feel the emotions, to walk through the stages of grief, before you decide to jump into a relationship. You will carry baggage into any future relationships. Just make sure you are only carrying an overnight bag and not an oversized suitcase.

Surround yourself. Don’t try to be a lone ranger. Instead, find a group who will love and support you through it all. Maybe it’s your extended family. Maybe it’s people from your church. Maybe it’s simply your best friend.

I tried to go it alone, but it wasn’t until I courageously stepped out of hiding and into the loving arms of my family and friends that I began to experience the healing. Having a shoulder to cry on. Being embraced by a caring friend. Hearing words of encouragement spoken to me. You can’t even start to put a price on the support given by those who love you.

Take the high road. I know it’s hard, but always do what’s right regardless of who is looking. You may be maligned. You may have lies told about you. No matter what they say, no matter what they do, always do the right thing. God always brings the truth to light. You will be rewarded in due time.

No matter what they say and no matter what they do, forgive. Don’t let the anger and bitterness grow up inside you and overtake your life. You may be justified in your anger, but I promise it hurts you more than it hurts the other person. Don’t let a root of bitterness take hold (Hebrews 12:15).

Maintain adequate life insurance on your former spouse when children are involved. You just never know. This one I learned by experience. I never dreamed something would happen to him, that I would be raising my children with no support from him. It’s not about the money; it’s about the kids. Had I maintained life insurance on him, I could send my kids to college. I could pay the mountain of medical bills we have amassed over the last few years. I could maybe even splurge on a vacation for and with my kids. If only…

Don’t settle for surviving. I know there are days when survival may seem like a noble goal. But I encourage you to do more. Determine to THRIVE!

God came to give us life, abundant life (John 10:10). He never wanted us to settle for a mediocre, stale life. Even when it seems your life is over, He promises so much more. He promises to bring beauty from the ashes (Isaiah 61:3). He promises a future of hope and prosperity (Jeremiah 29:11). He promises all things will work for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28). He promises to do a new thing (Isaiah 43:18-19).

Rediscover yourself. You know what’s fun? When the dust settles and you look in the mirror and you don’t have any idea who you are, who this stranger is looking at you in the mirror…and you get to start all over. You get to decide who you are, what you enjoy, how you will live. You get to decide if you are going to be a runner or a couch potato. You get to decide if you are going to be a girly girl or a tomboy. You get to figure out who you are!

Don’t let the past define you. You are free to become all God created you to be. This moment in time, this momentary pain, does not define who you are. You are who God says you are.

Don’t allow others’ opinions to tear you down. Unfortunately, there are very judgmental Christians and churches. Don't let that get you down. God's opinion of you is the only thing that matters, and He loves you. You are His masterpiece, His chosen people, His royal priesthood. You are a child of the One True God. You are His pride and joy, the apple of His eye. He takes great delight in you (Zephaniah 3:17).

Your life is not over. Your ministry is not over. Your opportunity to be used by God is not over. Many would have you believe that a divorce disqualifies you from representing Him. Quite the contrary. It’s often our greatest pains, our greatest failures, that God uses to build the qualities of compassion and grace into us, to prune us of the sins of pride and arrogance that blind us to the pain of others.

Think about Peter. He denied ever knowing Christ. Did God disqualify him from the Kingdom, from ministry? No! Instead, Peter was the rock upon which the church was built, a solid foundation that gave his all for the cause of Christ. Instead of going down as a coward who was afraid to admit his relationship with Christ, God used his greatest failure to create a solid foundation for the future of Christianity.

God never discards us because of a divorce; instead, if we let Him, He will use it to mold us into His image.