by Dick Innes
Turn Pain into Gain
Like a cold, biting arctic wind, Roger's note stung bitterly and cut deeply into Ruth's heart. From outward appearances Roger and Ruth's twentyeight year marriage seemed to be very happy and secure.
One afternoon, however, after a very pleasant lunch date with Roger, Ruth returned home and found a note on her pillow. It read, "Dearest Ruth, you have been a wonderful wife and mother. I could never have asked for anything more." After more flowery compliments Roger continued, "But I'm in love with another woman. I've left home. You will hear from my lawyer very soon."
Ruth was devastated. It took several days to get over the shock before she could even cry. She pleaded with Roger to come home, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. She was left with divorce papers, shattered dreams, and a broken heart.Tragically, Ruth's story is being repeated many times every day. In the U.S. there are two divorces for every four marriages. At the present rate of family break-down half the adults in America will be single by the turn of the century.
As those who have experienced it well know, divorce is one of the most painful experiences any family can go through. It's not only the death of a marriage, but also the death of dreams and hopes, and for some it can be more painful than physical death which at least has a finality to it.
Of one thing we can be sure, even though God hates divorce (as well as anything else that is harmful to people), he loves divorced people and broken families and wants them to be healed and made whole. The healing or recovery process may not be easy but it can be "God's wake up call" to a healthier, happier, stronger, and greatly enriched lifenif we so choose. The following steps can help you achieve this goal.
Acknowledge the loss. After the initial shock it's tempting to go into denial either by refusing to face the reality of what has happened or by burying feelings of hurt, anger, and grief. So the first step in recovery is to face the reality of the situation and be truly honest with how you feel.
Accept your pain as normal. It's nature's way to tell you something is broken and needs fixing. Whether you have a broken arm or a broken heart, the discomfort is meant to motivate you to get the help you need to heal and to take propercare of yourself.
Realize that this, too, will pass. With divorce it is easy to feel that life is over and that you will never love again. However, if you work through the recovery process, the pain will pass and you will come out a much wiser and better person.
Don't wast your pain, invest it. The greatest way to do this is to allow it to motivate you to grow and become a healthier person, and then support others who are going through times of loss and help them to see that they, too, can survive and become happier, healthier persons.
Give yourself time to heal. A broken arm takes six weeks to heal. Broken hearts take much longeróbut not forever. As you work through the recovery steps, you will heal. For some it make take up to a year or more. But if you still haven't resolved your pain after a year or so, chances are you haven't dealt with your feelings and that will keep you stuck. If this is your case, I suggest getting professional counsel to resolve this problem.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4, (NIV)
Do your grieving now. With all loss there are many emotions such as hurt, anger, guilt, and deep griefóall of which need to be expressed creatively, otherwise they will be acted out destructively. Find a safe person to share them with even if it has to be a professional counselor. If you put walls around your negative feelings you also block out your positive feelings. An absolutely essential part of the healing process is to verbalize your anger and weep and even sob out your grief. As Jesus said, "Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted."1
Forgive to be free. Failing to forgive keeps you bound to the past. To make genuine forgiveness possible, you need to get rid of all your negative emotions other-wise you can remain bitter for years. Furthermore, you will take these feelings into all future relationships and in all probability take them out on the ones you love the most. They can also make you very ill physically.
Let go of the past. I've worked with people who divorced as long as twenty years ago and still hung onto the fantasy that their former spouse would return, even though they had remarried.
It is so important to work through your pain, then let go of it. It also helps greatly to hand your failures over to God, ask for his forgiveness for your part in the marriage breakup, receive it by faith and then forgive yourself. Then leave it with God and get on with life.
Guard against a rebound. Rushing into another romantic relationship too soon can cause you to avoid facing the pain of your marriage breakup. And if you remarry before resolving your past, you are just as likely to repeat it.
God sets the lonely in families. Psalm 68:6, (NIV)
Get into a support group. None of us can make it alone. We weren't meant to. It is vital to be connected to safe, supportive, accepting, and non-judgmental people. We got hurt in hurtful relationships and grow and get healed in wholesome relationships. The Bible says, "God sets the lonely in families." 2 He does this through other people and the closest thing to a family is a small support or recovery group.
Realize that failure is never final and that the only real failure is not to get up one more time than you fall or get knocked down. What we don't resolve we are destined to repeat.
Call on God for help. Any failed relationship can be an indicator that you have areas in your life where you need to grow. It can be very helpful to ask God to show you what you contributed to your marriage breakup and why you were attracted to the person you married in the first place. The danger is that what you don't resolve you are destined to repeat.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4, (NIV)
Remember, too, that no matter what you have ever done or failed to do, God loves you and wants to make you whole. His Word, the Bible, says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers [and sisters], whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."3
With God's help, the support of safe friends, and working through the recovery process , as many others have successfully done, you, too, will find healing from your hurt and a greater measure of wholeness and become both emotionally and spiritually enriched.
1. Matthew 5:4, (NIV); 2. Psalm 68:6, (NIV); 3. James 1:2-4, (NIV).