From the book by
Dr Myles Munroe
To be single means to be all one (alone), separate, unique and whole. Marriage is when two separate, unique and whole individuals (one male, one female) make a covenant to exchange vows, committing their lives to remain together until death.
Separation is an unofficial divorce with the exact same effect as divorce. It is the most tragic state of limbo.
Divorce literally means to desert. It is the legal and physical termination of a marital vow that was intended to last forever. It is a traumatic, devastating experience that does not only touch the two people who are dissolving their covenanted commitment to stay together unto death, but also their children, family, friends and the church as a whole. The scars of divorce manifest themselves like open wounds oozing with hurt, bitterness, hatred and disillusionment, As many as 60% of church people today are either divorced or the product of a divorce situation.
There are few experiences more traumatic than divorce. The emotional effect is unbearable, the physical toll astounding, the spiritual impact immobilising, and socially it can lead to self-inflicted isolation and low self-esteem.
Divorce seems to create more problems than it solves. Years later, people still grapple with the spiritual, moral and religious elements related to divorce. Not to mention the legal, social and financial
aspects of divorce. Most tragic of all is the “ripple effect” divorce has on children and the institution of family.
It is okay to be single, but not good to be alone. People do not have a “singleness” problem. They have an entirely different problem, called “being single”, especially after years of being one of a couple, of feeling a sense of “belonging to” someone.
Being single means to be “separate, unique, and whole”. Would you like to stop being whole or a unique person? Of course not! So what is this problem with singleness? There is no problem, except with our definition of singleness, which we have confused with “being alone” or “loneliness”. If the Bible definition of being single is to be “unique and whole”, then we all should have the goal of singleness! The Bible does not teach that singleness is bad, negative or unhealthy. In fact, no one should marry until he or she is totally single. Until you are a separate, unique and whole person, you are actually not ready to marry!
Most marriages fail because a husband or wife (or both) do not see themselves as unique, worthy individuals, i.e. they have bad self-image and are not whole, or they are not separate but always depend on somebody else to make them happy. Until you are truly single, marriage will be a difficult, and perhaps negative, experience. Your life – before and during marriage or after divorce – will get better as you become more single. Instead of running from being single, you should run toward singleness.
GOD’S VIEW OF SINGLENESS
In Genesis 2:18, did God say “It is not good for man to be single”? NO. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone…”
God had no problem with the man’s separateness, his uniqueness, or his wholeness. Adam did not even know that he was alone. He was so totally unique and so whole in himself that he did not miss anybody. It was God’s own observation of the situation, based on His own wisdom, that led to this statement. Having a companion was not Adam’s idea, it was God’s.
Neither did God say, “Adam is not a whole being, he needs a wife to complete him.” In essence, God wanted to give him a helper who would be suitable, or “like him” – another being who would complement him and be complemented by him. God made this second human being for Adam not to be alone. You do not need to be married not to be alone. Any companions and close friends can fulfil that role in your life. Lots of people are not married and yet not alone. And lots of others are married, yet desperately alone! God did not create marriage in order for us not to be alone. He created other human beings in order for us not to be alone. Eve was not created primarily as a wife, but as
another like Adam, who would first be a companion; then, later, a wife.
All you need not to be alone is to find someone else like you.
Marriage will not solve aloneness.
God never said it was not good for man to be unique, separate and whole. As a matter of fact, He likes uniqueness so much that no two people on this planet have the same DNA, fingerprints or eye retina patterns. Our conclusion must therefore be that God not only likes
uniqueness, separateness and wholeness, He insists on it in His creations!
Being single is therefore essential to – and the foundation of – ALL relationships. A relationship is only as good as whatever the individuals involved bring to it. An omelette is only as good as the separate eggs in it.
GOD DOES NOT CHOOSE YOUR MARRIAGE PARTNER FOR YOU God only presents. You choose. If God chose your mate for you, He would not only be violating your right to choose, but He would be taking responsibility for the relationship. If it failed, any blame could be transferred to God. It is a misconception that God has created only one specific person on this planet for you to marry. Just as He made salvation possible for you, but gave you the freedom to choose it or reject it, in the same way He will present people in your life, and it is your choice whether or not you use the Word, wisdom and characteristics of God’s nature to make that choice. Therefore, you must take the responsibility for your choice – and for all the consequences that come with it. Do not become overly spiritual or irrational in this regard. Providing prospects is God’s responsibility, but choosing a mate is yours. Rely on the assistance of the Holy Spirit, but do not attempt to transfer the responsibility of choice to Him.
DIVORCE IN PERSPECTIVE: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE
When we are in pain, it is important to examine the cause of the pain, not merely the symptoms. When the Pharisees tried to ask Jesus a trick question regarding divorce, Jesus went beyond the symptom of divorce, beyond marriage itself, and took them all the way back to the
beginning where God had created man male and female. Jesus took
them all the way back to the Garden of Eden. In the beginning there were two single individuals – male and female - in the context of God’s perfect Garden environment. Sadly, so many people get married
outside the “garden environment” of God’s presence, and still expect to
make a success of it. God only guaranteed success in marriage under the conditions that it consists of “garden” ingredients.
Jesus said, “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife” – but not everyone is ready to take that step. Only people who are living in the garden environment of God’s presence are willing and ready to leave home and parents and be joined in the total commitment of marriage. Marriages outside the garden are unions made by men, not God. Therefore, the very first thing you need to find out about a prospective marriage partner is whether or not that person is in a relationship and fellowship with God. Marriage works properly only when the right ingredients are mixed together. Divorce results from a defective marriage, and a defective marriage results from defective ingredients. Marriage itself is not the problem: it is a perfect institution established by God. People contaminate that perfect institution with all kinds of “junk” ingredients and then wonder why they do not get the results the Manufacturer promised. DIVORCE IS NOT THE PROBLEM. THE PROBLEM IS DEFECTIVE MARRIAGE DUE TO DEFECTIVE
INDIVIDUALS WHO COME TOGETHER OUTSIDE THE “GARDEN” CONTEXT – PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER BECOME TRULY SINGLE.
People have a bright and appealing picture in their mind of what marriage will be like, and jump right into it without considering whether or not they have the right ingredients or have made the right preparations. They fill their heads with pictures of a beautiful wedding dress, a nice car, a lovely little house, candlelit dinners, moonlight walks and angelic children. With little or no thought to preparation, they enter into wedlock and expect the picture-perfect marriage of their dreams to come about automatically. When it doesn’t, they become disillusioned and bitter and start looking for a good lawyer. A cake is only as good as its ingredients, and so is marriage! The Pharisees were looking at the cake. Jesus told them to examine the ingredients: values, virtue, character, dignity, moral standards, convictions, humility, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
There are two kinds of married people in the world: those whom God joined together, and those whom He did not. God joins males and females who come together in the garden of His presence, according to His standards, and they become “one flesh”. Anything else is an experiment and a grave risk, joining people together by the laws of man rather than God, and therefore they can also be separated by the laws of man.
God is a heart-oriented God, and He deals with motives, not emotions. The Kingdom of God does not deal with outward appearances but with attitudes of the heart. Jesus told the Pharisees that because of the
hardness of their hearts, Moses allowed bills of divorcement, but in the same breath reminded them that God did not create things this way. In essence, our present living conditions in this world are not God’s original plan for man, and His ideal has become an ordeal. The world has developed an attitude that marriage is a “necessary evil”, when it was intended to be a great blessing.
Divorce and remarriage is one subject that brings more confusion and puts people under more condemnation than almost any other in the Christian or non-Christian walk.
“Did I sin against God?”
“If God forgave me, why do I still feel guilty?” “I remarried. Am I committing adultery?”
“Did I do the right thing? Perhaps I should have stuck it out and waited longer to see what would have happened.”
To see what the Bible really says, we must interpret the verses properly:
o Keep in mind the literal thing about which you are reading. o Find out the historical setting of the verse or verses. That is the
cultural, political, economic, social and educational environ-ment of the times.
o Look at the verses before the one you are considering and the verses following it – this makes up the proper “context” of what you are reading. Otherwise you could believe something which is not true!
Jesus came to “fulfill” the law of Moses, literally meaning to “expose the true intention of it.” He did not come to do the works of the law. He came to show people the spirit of the law – what it really meant
and why it was given. He spoke about real righteousness as opposed to the outward appearances of religious rituals. Real righteousness means not only do not murder someone, but do not even hate them or wish them dead. The context of His comments on divorce was “right thinking” as well as “right actions”. The “pre-text” to Matthew 5:30, 31 is the Beatitudes, examining the attitudes of people who are the “light of the world”. The post-text was the manner in which people took oaths and handled their enemies. In other words, adultery and divorce were in a list of unrighteous things that included everything from hatred to keeping your word to getting even. The context, therefore, is:
“what you THINK is as important as what you DO”. Jesus was saying
that divorce was not the problem but what leads up to it. Divorce is only the consequence of wrong attitudes toward your spouse. In essence, divorce is the symptomatic manifestation of marital deficiency.
The historical setting for Jesus’ comments on divorce was Moses’ decree that men should go through a certain process to get rid of their wives: 1) write her a bill of divorce 2) give it to her, and 3) send her away.
Moses was actually protecting women. “Send her away” is a figure of speech used from the time the Jews were “sent away” from Egypt. It meant to send someone off with goods and money, enough to start a new life. Jesus was saying that men could no longer leave their wives for the slightest little whim – her cooking, glancing at another man, sneezing while her husband was eating, coming into a room where he sat with men friends. By the end of the Old Testament period, husbands were divorcing their wives for the smallest of real or imagined provocations, and the situation became so out of control
-with wives at the mercy of husbands who could send them away at any time – that God made a statement through the prophet Malachi that this was the reason that He was not answering their prayers: “Yet ye say: Wherefore?” Because the Lord has been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant … Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord (Mal 2:14-15)
Jesus went even further and revoked the custom of stoning an adulteress. Jesus wanted the people to think about what made a
marriage (Gen 2:24), not the conditions under which they could get out of marriage. God hates divorce, the breaking of vows and not
keeping your word, but He still loves divorcees. Under the New Covenant, any sin (except blaspheming the Holy Spirit) is covered by the blood as soon as you repent and receive forgiveness. Religious people today act as if divorce is the unpardonable sin, too great for the blood of Jesus to cover. That would make divorce a more heinous crime than murder!
But, in essence, Jesus responded to the question of divorce with an answer about marriage. He was reiterating the principle that, if marriage is properly understood and entered into, there will be no need for consideration of divorce.
Remember, marriage is much more than a legal contract to physically sleep together and share the family financial obligations. Marriage is the joining and uniting of two souls, and if the two souls are not compatible because of different life values, different religious beliefs or clashing cultural backgrounds, the relationship is on a course of tragic disaster.
God does not condone any kind of separation in relationships. He does not like broken fellowships between different parts of the Body of Christ, or within churches or families or between good friends. Separation is detrimental to the flow of fellowship. Broken fellowship in any form is destructive to the person and to his fellowship with God. Broken homes and broken lives make God extremely sorrowful. Why does it hurt so much when a good friend forsakes you? Because you have shared with him or her on a level so intimate that you developed a vital need for his or her emotional support. When that person breaks away, part of you is gone.
Broken bodies can get mended by doctors, but broken hearts are actually broken souls. The mind is shattered, the will is broken, the emotions are wounded and there seems to be no incentive to keep on living. The hurt of a broken heart is almost unbearable. If you are the one who is the offender, you need to understand the devastating consequences of your actions.
Attempting to restore a broken relationship can be as difficult as trying to conquer a fortified city. Whenever there is a broken relationship, you can be sure that God is not involved. Someone else is triggering the destruct mechanism, namely the thief who comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10).
Television soap operas make it seem that marriage can be like, “Well, it’s been fun, but I’m tired of you now. I have found another one.” But television is a world of fantasy. There is no way you can be married to
someone for X years and then decide that you are going to cut it off overnight. Separation/divorce will leave you sick for years.
There was no mechanism created in man to handle the hurt of divorce. People jump off bridges, slit their wrists and swallow pills because they cannot handle the guilt and pain of divorce. So God sent His Son and provided a way to handle this sin and hurt – the precious blood of Jesus, which cleanses us and heals us and restores our fellowship with Him. So there is good news also: There IS life after divorce!
THE TRAUMAS OF DIVORCE
Divorce involves the tearing apart of emotional bonding, and separation distress. Broken relationships always result in traumas, be they great or small. Trauma causes distress, and distress manifests in anxiety. Anxiety can lead to irrational behaviour, where you begin to act without thinking properly.
If your arm were torn from your body, there would be tremendous pain; secondly, there would be a loss. Forever after, your nervous system feels as if “something” is still there. Yet, you are aware that it is gone. Such are the after-effects of a broken relationship. Thirdly, there will always be a scar in that place, and fourthly you will be handicapped after that. There are things you can no longer do as well, no matter how you learn to compensate for what is missing.
Of course, there is always healing. Even after amputation, there is healing.
Immediately after a separation or divorce is NOT a good time to make major decisions, and certainly not a good time to get involved with
someone else. Your wounds are still tender, if not bleeding. There are “cords” hanging from those torn webs of emotional bonding. If you marry a wounded person, they are tender, and if you touch them the wrong way, they yell. There are people who have been divorced a long time and those cords are still hanging. You cannot close up the holes and empty places by patching over them and trying to bond immediately with someone else. Those new webs will not stick.
Ever hear someone talk about “marrying on the rebound”? That just sets you up for a second trauma or separation.
DISTRESS OF SOUL
The distress part includes all of the things you go through after that first sharp pain of tearing apart the bonds. Send a distress signal to the Lord: In my distress, I called upon the Lord – Psalm 18:6.
The same pattern of bereavement and loss follows a divorce, than follows the death of a partner, whether the relationship was good or bad.
Another part of distress is depression, caused by contrasting how you
thought things were going to be the rest of your life and how they are
apparently going to be now. You think about all the dreams and plans you used to have together – and now all those are gone with the wind. Make sure God is with you at these times, or you might end up in a severe depression. Depression stems from feeling rejected, angry and helpless. But Ephesians 1:6 says something beautiful about rejection: “He has made us accepted in the Beloved”. That knowledge is your protection. Remember that separation is just an event, it is not the end of your life!
Jesus tells us in Luke 4:18 that He came to mend broken hearts, among other things. You may feel that you do not want to see anybody,
eat, go to work or keep on living. Proverbs say that a broken heart
dries up the bones. Do not commit mental or emotional suicide. Do not
decide that you will never bond with anyone again because it hurts too much. Do not think that everyone is out to get you. There is medicine for all of these traumas: Jesus is the Physician, and the medicine we find in Proverbs again: Joy and gladness instead of misery.
A merry heart doeth good like medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones – Prov 17:22
A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken – Prov 15:13
The antidote for the poison of divorce is found in Psalm 43:5 – Why art
thou cast down, o my soul? Why art thou disquieted within me? Hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance and my God.
Regain hope. Place your hope in God, not man. Praise the Lord. Praise and worship do miracles towards restoring a merry, happy heart. Jesus is not only God, He is your health. The time when you feel He is the farthest away, He is actually the nearest. God promised to be near the broken-hearted and to make whole again those with a crushed spirit.
You do not have to let all these negative feelings and problems control your life. There is help in God. Begin to take control of them and turn them over to Jesus. He is the Healer, and He will heal you, if you let Him.
THE TRAUMA OF CHURCH REACTION
Many churches still have difficulty with divorce, and react as if the divorced person has failed and become a second-class citizen. Those
people are misinterpreting what Jesus said. He said, “Divorce is real, but it is not God’s perfect design for man.”
Churches that never teach on divorce are not meeting the needs of their people, because many Christian marriages end in divorce, which means that all congregations have hurting people sitting there. It is extremely hurtful to go through the trauma of divorce and then have the people who claim to have the love of God, give you the cold shoulder. That is not walking in the love of Jesus. That is high-minded religiosity and modern Phariseeism, to adhere rigidly to the letter of the law and totally miss the spirit of the Word. There is only one unpardonable sin – and divorce is not it! Yes, divorce is wrong, but so is unforgiveness and judging. Neither divorce nor remarriage means eternal damnation!
THE AFTERMATH OF TRAUMA
“Never confuse who you are with what you have done.”
Judges and courts are not equipped to tell you how to deal with the aftermath of divorce. How you handle things is not their business. And as far as churches are concerned: many of the simply ignore the problem. Or – worse – they may add rejection to the rejection the divorced person already feels.
Above all, do not think you are a failure because a relationship failed. Smart does not mean perfect, and sometimes smart people do dumb things. Do not, therefore, confuse failing with failure. You may have failed, but you are not a failure. Do not measure your self-worth by whether or not you make mistakes. Measure your personal worth by
the fact that God gave you worth before anyone ever met you. Say to
to pick up the pieces, give them to God, and ask Him how to go on from there.
Jesus judged the actions of the woman caught in adultery. He told her to go on and not do those things anymore. He forgave her actions and gave her back self-worth.
TYPICAL WAYS OF REACTING
The first way people typically react in times of great loss – when they experience divorce, separation or being jilted – is to withdraw. This comes from hurt pride and is the result of rejection, depression and enormous hurt.
The second is to become a social butterfly. This is “getting even” behaviour and arises from anger.
The third is to feel the ground sink under your feet and react by trying to jump to another nearby rock. This stems from fear and panic. When you get a divorce, some of the ground on which you have been standing is shaken or completely torn away. This can lead to mixed feelings and a state of permanent confusion.
The only person who handles loss without unmanageable ill effects is someone who has Jesus Christ as their foundation, someone who solidly stands on the Rock that will never be moved.
The fourth reaction is to become truly independent. This person has achieved balance and is on the way to being completely healed.
1. Withdrawal into self
You become introverted, isolate yourself from help and imprison yourself within yourself. This reaction is wrong because it is counter-productive to healing, although it is the “normal” or “natural” thing to do. Proverbs 28:26 – He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but
ask God to walk with you. A wounded heart is vulnerable, irrational and weak and cannot be trusted. Seek therefore to walk with the Holy Spirit, who teaches true wisdom.
Staying home alone, not talking to anybody about your situation, sitting in the back of the church and slipping out early amounts to trying to working things out all by yourself, which the Bible brands “foolish” behaviour. God did design you to be single, but not to be alone! Genesis 2:18 – It is not good for man to be alone.”
A person walking in isolation is trying to use pride to bandage a pained soul. It may cover the wound, but does not keep it from hurting. Isolation will not bring healing.
Alone-people also suffer from self-pity. They convince themselves that they don’t need anybody and that they are - in any case – not worth anything to anyone else. This is self-deception and must be cancelled. 2. Replacing pain with people
This is that dangerous state where you could fall into another relationship that would fail just as the other. This is where “remarriage” or a relationship “on the rebound” occurs. At this point, the divorced person wants to say: “Who needs you? I will show you that I don’t need you!” Like a butterfly, they bounce from one relationship to the other – go out with anyone, perhaps sleep with anyone just to prove a point, go to every club, every church, every gathering. Instant relationships are no guarantee of instant relief from pain. They only camouflage the wound, which still receives no healing. Some people seek out those with similar hurts, but hurt people cannot help other hurt people to heal. It is the blind leading the blind, where both end up in the ditch. It is okay to want to help people who you can identify with, but wait until you can speak freely about your ordeal without pain or any negative emotions.
Christians who hide their feelings in church or with friends and smile brightly, while dying inside, are denying their problem and not allowing God to “handle” their hurt. Jesus does not work anything on earth without involving His Body.
3. Looking for a security blanket
People who have not become truly single, who do not know who they are in Christ, who do not have a firm identity of their own, will react to separation by reaching quickly for another person or group to hold them up. This can also result in moving too quickly into another relationship.
Whatever the reason for the divorce/separation, there needs to be sufficient time to back off and see what YOUR contribution was to the failed relationship. If you have not been changed for the better in some way by the experience, what is to prevent the next relationship from going the same way – or worse? You may try to hang on to some vestige of the relationship by trying to remain friends, or maintaining contact on some other basis. One will say, “I will come to see the kids” or “I will come and put gas in your car.” Divorced people sometimes keep on checking up on one another: Who is she dating? Who is he seeing? Is that person sexier/smarter/richer than me? They can be apart for months, but still the emotional ties are there. Now that they are not married anymore and the immediate conflicts and incompatibilities have been removed, they start thinking “maybe he/she wasn’t so bad after all”. They start going to lunch together, going for drives, going to parties at friends’ houses. This is “mixed feelings”, or “having your cake and eating it”. The other person has not changed. You are just trying to weave yourself a little security blanket to shield you from the emotional trauma.
Others go home to “mommy and daddy”, seeking desperately for some stabilisation. Others become workaholics, their career becoming their “solid foundation”, their security blanket, something they can count on to fill their days. But sooner or later, wounds have to be healed – not ignored or covered by various kinds of “band-aids”. Allow the pain from the failed relationship to be exposed to the light, so that the blood of Jesus can do its healing work. Be sure your security is in Christ and the Word for only they will not pass away.
4. Regaining custody of yourself
People think about custody of property, custody of the children, even custody of pets, but they seldom think about regaining custody of themselves. That self which had been placed, at least to some extent, in the keeping of another must be re-accepted or taken back. This means finding a balance, setting priorities, re-defining boundaries, and dealing with emotions – not repressing them, but dealing with them.
The situation must be accepted, not denied, no matter how much it hurts. You need to get counsel before making any decisions: from the Holy Spirit, the Word, and people you can trust. After a time of being glued to another person, you have now been given a declaration of independence against your will. Women now have to face paying their own bills, taking care of the children by themselves, planning for the future alone. Men have to face eating out all the time, not seeing their children every day as they grow up, and washing their own clothes. Both must deal with awakened sex drives.
Regaining custody of yourself, however, does not do away with the basic principle of God’s dealing with mankind: people need people. It does not mean declaring independence from the human race or disappearing into your own little world. It does not mean becoming so
self-centred that you declare love bankruptcy and close your trust account. Regaining custody means that you take responsibility for restoring your life according to God’s principles and submit to His healing process. It means to take your roots out of other people and put them into God, yet develop the freedom to share your fruit with them.
People who have been hurt can be dangerous
Certain emotional aftershocks accompany trauma, the first one often being numbness, where the emotions go into shock and are temporarily paralysed although the person seems to keep on functioning. When it finally wears off, the pain can be quite unbearable.
Emotions like anger, self-pity, panic and fear, irritability and mood swings can follow like smaller shocks follow a major earthquake. A dog who is in great pain will not let you come close enough to help him – he would snarl and even bite if you reach out a hand. In the same way, hurt people can be dangerous.
I Cor 13:5 says that real love is not easily provoked. There is an anger that is righteous and will allow you to do and decide the right things. Ungodly anger, however, will cause you to do all the wrong things, to lash out and hurt others because you have been hurt.
Anger cannot always be circumvented, but remember Eph 4:26-27 and do not sin by retaliating and striking out at someone else. Do not
curse anyone, throw anything you do not want thrown back or act foolishly. The temporary attitude of anger can cause some very
permanent negative effects.
Self-pity is a seductive emotion to which you can become addicted, ruining your whole life.
When panic strikes, reason vanishes and you might find yourself doing irrational things. People have married in a state of panic: “I’m not getting any younger. This might be my last chance…..” Remember, however, the old adage: “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.” Ask yourself: “Are things really as bad as they seem? Take stock of your assets and the possible advantages of your changed situation. Panic is fear in action. Fear is never from God, but stems from insecurity. 2 Tim 1:7 – For God has not given us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
A sound mind means correct thinking. David says he will not fear the
shadow of death (Psalm 23). A shadow never killed anybody. Most of
our fears turn out to be mere shadows, exaggerated by our feelings of insecurity, hurt and being afraid to trust again.
“Breakdowns” are escapism
Nerves do not “break down”. What “breaks down” is the person’s mental capacity to deal with things. People who suffer a “breakdown” take refuge in unreality. They either begin to deny what happened or make up something else. Not being able to deal with reality, they try to create a reality where they can cope. In many instances, people literally become ill. People may outwardly seem to be living in reality, while they are really living in some kind of fantasy.
There are four basic choices in surviving the trauma of the loss of a relationship:
Avoidance of the situation can take place on a mental, emotional or literal level. You avoid facing your loss, refuse to talk about it, avoid people who want to ask you questions, avoid situations that remind you of the past. People who choose “avoidance” as a way of coping either choose maintaining contact with the previous partner, getting lost in a group, or moving into isolation.
Escaping the situation on a mental, emotional or literal level, like moving into a fantasy world or a quick new relationship, trying to replace the lost relationship with another.
Denying what happened is the most serious, because it leads to mental or nervous breakdown. Denial is a serious problem among a lot of “Word people”, “Spirit-filled, positive-confession Christians”. They feel that to admit they are hurting is admitting a failure of faith. They hide in the cloak of false spirituality. Hurting people attend a lot of prayer meetings. They will pray loudly for other people, but will not admit that they need prayer themselves, because it will “contradict” their “positive confession”. What they really need to say is: “Help! Can anyone pray for me? I’m hurting! This thing is killing me!” Instead, they deny reality: “I’m not hurting. I gave all that to the Lord and left it there.” And yet, at 2 am they are tossing and turning under a load of distress. Real faith, however, means to face facts, accept reality, and move into the openness required to deal with consequences, effects and results.
There is a “door” which will take you into the openness you need to allow God to heal you, for only God can heal a broken heart.
4. The way out
Openness is the healthy way of recovery. It is an honest desire to face
the truth and deal with change. Openness allows you to begin making plans about the future, not spend hours reliving the past. Accept what has happened and learn how to move on. Every person who suffers loss has to deal with more or less the same things, even a little boy whose dog is run over by a car. Life is a process of change. Only God remains the same! Paul understood this, when he wrote in Phil 3:13 –
But this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind , and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
We need to apply this spiritual principle if we want to move from the past towards the future in any area of our lives. Do not let the failures of the past interfere in your future! There is life after divorce, but you first have to find your hope in God. You cannot move into openness and healing through another marriage, another boyfriend, another relationship. You have to press on towards Jesus
and His purpose for your life.
LIFE AFTER DIVORCE AND SEPARATIONForgiveness is vertical as well as horizontal
The door to healing and life after divorce or separation is forgiveness. Understand clearly, however, that forgiveness does not get rid of the hurt. But it opens you to the One who can heal you of the hurt. No psychologist or counsellor can heal a broken heart. Only Jesus was anointed to heal the broken-hearted! But you have to make your heart
available to Him. Unforgiveness towards another also blocks your fellowship with God.
When you find your spouse has been cheating on you, you might feel like killing him/her. God says, “the hurt is inevitable, the anger is OK if it is against ungodliness, but the hatred is not of Me.”
Forgive in the Hebrew means to “cut loose”. In other words, you
release the other person from everything you held them accountable for. A wrong attitude gets in God’s way and blocks the flow of His Spirit to you. Unforgiveness binds you to that other person with ungodly ties. To become free, you must release them. Then God can easily wash away the hurt, the bitterness, anger and hatred.
You do not feel like forgiving. You decide to forgive. Choose to obey God’s Word – the “good feelings” will come later!
To walk in forgiveness and peace in God requires a lot of maturity. Being a mature person requires growing in wisdom, bodily stature and favour with God and men, just like Jesus did. (Luke 2:52) The maturing process is a vital part of healing!
Wisdom: Do not allow your mind to turn off when you are hurt. Do not sit and die. Make your plans and God will guide you through them. Think rationally, plan carefully. Do not let the one who “walks out” take your sanity with them! Keep your mind intact. Keep on growing.
Stature: Do not stop taking care of your body. Losing interest in food will lead to loss of energy, just when you need it the most to cope with stress! Make yourself eat. Eat right. Eat for energy, not for comfort. A fit body is much more able to handle emotional trauma than a fat, weak, sloppy one.
Favour with God: Times of trouble are certainly the times to find God, and not rely on your own wisdom and strength! (Prov 3:6-8)
Favour with people: Jesus liked people and mingled with all types from all walks of life. He did not isolate Himself. He did not, however, spend a lot of time with the religious leaders of His time who walked in hypocrisy and legalism. Surround yourself with people who are open and accepting, able to reach out in love. Sow love and understanding, and you will reap a rich harvest!
FOCUS ON GOD
Do not look at the circumstances, look at the Answer. Make sure Jesus is your foundation, and you can have a life after divorce. Do not focus on yourself and your feelings. Self-focus is self-destructive and will keep you from the healing you need.
Do not focus on what other people think. Do not focus on new relationships.
Take your burden and your hurts to God. Call on Him in your distress. Every relationship on earth is temporal, but your relationship with God is eternal.
The door to healing is openness and the key is forgiveness. The first step is solitary healing – just you and God. The second step is
community healing – fellowship with the rest of the Body. Say to God,
“Father, this is a bad experience. This relationship has failed, but I am a beautiful person because You love me and are making me beautiful.” The end result will be maturity, gaining in wisdom and stature, and favour with God and man. This balance will cause you to be truly single, if you have not been before.
Divorce is not the ultimate sin. You can be forgiven, even if you are the guilty party. And there is life after divorce, living in a kingdom relationship with Jesus.