Critical Steps for Surviving Divorce – Part 3

Step Five: Celebrate the days you didn’t cry; give yourself grace for the days you did.

I cried every single day for months. Some days it was misting around the corners of my eyes, some days a silent waterfall. I confess that the weekends were more of the guttural sob, but I really did try to reign those episodes in as much as possible! A name, a smell, a memory (and there were loads of memories!), a building, a song, a movie – anything could bring a stab of pain and a sob in the back of my throat. Truthfully, it made me so angry at myself! Why couldn’t I control my reactions and why did this whole thing cause me such emotional and physical pain? Then one day I read something that changed my anger into understanding.

“It hurts because it mattered.”

That was a turning point for me. Knowing that even though I would need to heal and even though I would need to move on, it hurt because it mattered. Sometimes it’s the simple things that the Holy Spirit uses to break through. Our El Roi sees us and meets us at the exact right time with the most perfect word. Praise Him!

Step Six: Let go of things that bring you pain.

Do you still have that necklace? How about that dress? Maybe those birthday/anniversary cards? Give them away, my friend. Dispose of those cards! If it has value, resell it – but you must release the things that bring you pain. Intentionally I kept a few things for my son, but I have those things packed away, out of sight.  The pictures are packed away also so that future generations will be able to have them.  I plan to create an online photo book so that I can store the book away and get rid of the photos. I am a genealogist so this is very important! 😊

Next, replace those things so that you aren’t left with a gaping hole. Take new photos, replace that dress, find a different necklace, and begin to build new memories that bring you grins – that leads to smiles – that lead to laughs – that leads to joy.

Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust in Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” 

Four years later I am standing in the Worship Center of my church bursting with songs of thanksgiving for the healing He provided to me and the hope He restored.

I pray earnestly that if you are amid loss and debilitating pain that you will lift your eyes to the hills, seek the Abba Father, and find true Joy in Him.

Tammy A

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Critical Steps for Surviving Divorce – Part 2

Step Three: Immerse yourself in Scriptures and in uplifting music.

I’m going to be straight with you because authenticity is vital. I had suicidal thoughts during the last months of my crumbling marriage. No one knew about them except Jesus. He saw what I was thinking and the plans I was formulating, and I will praise Him forever for intervening. After He led me to seek help from my doctor, I began to fully immerse myself in scriptures like never before. It was tempting to grasp at anything that would numb my pain whether it be secular music, stupid movies, scrolling for hours on social media, or seeking attention from anyone – anywhere. But I knew that Jesus was the only thing that could heal me. He was the only one that would take this dust and make something brand new.

I had lost all hope, but Jesus restored it. One of the outcomes of that grueling time was what is now my life verse, Psalm 121, “I lift my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

There is one thing I challenged myself with that calmed my agitated mind the first months of my separation – puzzles! My son and I put together no less than eight huge puzzles in that first two years. The act of focusing on finding the minute pieces was uber cathartic for me, perhaps it would be for you too? It’s difficult to believe that here we are in 2020 and puzzles are in crazy short supply! Wow!

Step Four: Talk to a licensed therapist and one or two close friends.

One never knows how many true friends one has until the bottom falls out of everything. Trying to discern who was just curious, who would be an unhealthy confidant, and who would be a healthy confidant was mind-boggling.  I didn’t want to burden those around me with the heaviness of what was happening, and I also didn’t want to create animosity towards others when I shared my story.

Have you known a person that figuratively walked around with a rain cloud over their heads soaking everyone close to them with their heartbreaking story? The person who chose to think, talk, eat, and sleep negativity? Did you eventually avoid that person any chance you got? I didn’t want to be that person! I imagine you don’t either. Seek help as soon as you are able.

A professional therapist is a safe place to talk through your trauma. It’s a place that you can rant and rail about the pain and get into the play by play of words and actions. A healthy-trusted confidant is another safe place to talk through areas of personal reflection but only if that confidant will advise you towards healthy habits, reactions, and thoughts. It’s entirely to easy to find people that will join the mob of hate and anger towards others; it’s a bit more difficult to find that friend that will pray with you and point your eyes towards Jesus for the answers. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us of the importance of these healthy friends, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Another encouraging verse is this one located in Ecclesiastes.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Look for Part 3 coming soon.

Critical Steps for Surviving Divorce – Part 1

Step One: You are going to be okay.

Sniffling into the third (or sixth) tissue, I had the urge to toss a sarcastic response when my friend said with such earnest love.  “Tammy, listen to me.” She took a huge pause. “You are going to be okay.”

My mind rejected the words immediately. “Hmm.” I sniffled.

“One day you will look up and find that you made it. You are okay.” My friend reiterated.

That was four years ago, and I can finally say with 100 percent certainty, I am indeed okay. The road to okay was difficult and at times literally overwhelming. My friend lovingly handed me a rope that I didn’t know I would need! I am forever grateful to her for speaking wisdom and love during a time when my personal storm was so loud I couldn’t hear her. Wherever you are in your difficult situation, beginning-middle-end, I am virtually taking your face in my hands and putting my forehead on yours to tell you, “Beloved friend, you are going to be okay.”

Step Two: It’s okay to withdraw for a season.

Long before the day I walked out the door of my marriage devastated, I had distanced myself from most everything and everyone. My heart was bleeding, my emotions were all over the place, and I couldn’t make myself focus on anything except work and my son’s needs. Conversations about anything were exhausting and plastering on the “fake it till I make it smile” became way too comfortable. Over the course of the next 48 months, I leaned way into Jesus. I had proclaimed throughout my life that Jesus was all I needed, but the words of Psalm 16:5 “You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands” became my reality.

This past year has been, for me, like a spring flower slowly opening its petals. I’m able to do simple things like keeping track of birthdays and attending baby showers again. Friend, it’s okay that you withdraw to heal for a season, but when God begins a new season, step into it with confidence and gratefulness to Him. Going from darkness to light hurts for just a few minutes until your eyes adjust. The same thing happens in our hearts. Feeling again hurts but we must move forward, not retreat.

Watch for part two coming soon!