As a divorced (or divorcing) Christian you need strength, encouragement and comfort – and you found She Blossoms! That just goes to show how much God loves you. He is faithful and compassionate; He is leading you forward and onward, and He wants you to grow and flourish into who He created you to be. He has blessed you with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, and you’ll never be alone. Sometimes you feel alone – like Jesus did in Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed – but you aren’t.
I don’t know what stage of divorce you’re at, or even how strong your faith in Christ is. I also don’t know how you feel about getting divorced. Maybe you’re relieved because you’re finally free from an abusive husband. Maybe you feel shocked and betrayed by your partner, and even your friends. Or maybe you’re moving into a new stage, such as a She Blossoms reader who asked what the Bible says about getting remarried as a divorced Christian (if that’s you, you may want to learn What Jesus Says About Divorced Christians and Remarriage).
But I do know that divorce is hard. Whether you’re a Christian or not, getting divorced is painful, destructive, and expensive in more ways than I can count. I think that’s why God doesn’t love divorce…but I believe He understands that divorce is sometimes necessary. In fact, staying in an abusive or unhealthy marriage can actually perpetuate sin! Ironic, isn’t it, that — depending on the situation — not getting divorced can be more offensive to God than getting divorced.
In Christian Chick’s Guide to Surviving Divorce – What Your Girlfriends Would Tell You If They Knew What To Say, Suzanne Reeves says after her divorce she walked into a local Christian bookstore with her head down, hoping no one would see the tears streaming down her face. “I didn’t want the usual version of surviving divorce,” she writes. “Have a glass of wine, slash his tires, head to Jamaica, and party like you did in college. I needed Godly advice from a woman who had walked in my shoes and lived to tell about it.”
How to Survive a Christian Divorce
In 4 Things to Consider Before Leaving Your Christian Marriage, I discuss the fact that that adultery is not the only reason Christians get divorced. If your husband is not loving you, honoring you, serving you, or respecting you, then it is spiritually acceptable (and even necessary) to seek a divorce. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
My friend Michelle stayed in an unhappy Christian marriage for 17 years because she thought God hates divorce. Now that she’s been divorced for two years and sees her marriage in a different light, she realizes that God does hate divorce…but that doesn’t mean God hates her or that Christians shouldn’t get divorced. God hates divorce because divorce is painful and damaging. But He allows it because the alternative is worse.
1. Be honest about your guilt, shame, pain and grief
What have you always believed about Christians and divorce? If you hold on to the idea that a Christian divorce is sinful, then you’ll have a more difficult time surviving divorce. If you hate the fact that you’re a divorced Christian, if you beat yourself up over everything that went wrong in your marriage, and if you keep dwelling in the past, then you’ll never learn how to survive a Christian divorce.
This divorce is part of your Christian walk. The sooner you find ways to accept it, the more peace you’ll feel. Talk to a Christian counselor if you can’t accept your divorce, or if you’re obsessing about your marriage breakdown. Learn how to let go and trust God. Hold on to your hope and faith, and don’t give up on your dreams for your future.
2. Grieve in writing – like David did in the Psalms
Do you journal? I encourage you to write out your prayers, pain, and problems. Tell God how angry, hurt, and destroyed you are by this divorce. Maybe you feel betrayed by Him, or even abandoned. Work through those feelings, and learn why Christians face terrible problems in this world. This morning in my devotion I learned that we can’t share in the glory of Jesus without also participating in the suffering of Jesus. We’re all suffering in this world – the whole earth is groaning under the weight of pain and sin. Don’t allow your pain and grief overcome you, and prevent you from finding your identity in Christ.
How are your children coping? Read How to Help Your Children Through a Painful Divorce.
3. Don’t accept the label other Christians give you
One of my other friends, Jerry, could never tell anyone that his marriage failed. Not only did he never learn how to survive a Christian divorce, he never learned how to be himself with his friends. Jerry was anxious about the labels other Christians would give him if they found out he was divorced, so he hid. The ironic thing was that people knew he wasn’t honest with them about who he was. They sensed that he wasn’t being upfront and honest about his past, and this led to distrust and suspicion. People didn’t like Jerry, but not because he was a divorced Christian. They didn’t like him because he wasn’t comfortable with himself.
Taking off your mask and being honest about your struggle to learn how to survive a Christian divorce will be difficult. Telling people you’re a divorced Christian may fill you with fear and shame. But, the alternative – hiding and lying about your past – is worse. Allow people to think what they will, for you can’t control their opinions of you. They’ll think whatever they want to think.
4. Connect with other divorced Christians
Is there a Divorce Recovery or Divorce Care group in your area? What about a MeetUp for divorced Christians? Maybe you could consider starting your own Christian divorce support group. Regardless of how you find them, it’s important to meet other Christians so you can connect with people who know how it feels to learn how to survive a Christian divorce.
If you feel like you want to start fresh with a new Christian community, you might start looking for a new church. You don’t need to focus on churches near you – you might want to get out of your neighborhood and start fresh with a new group of Christians who didn’t know you as part of a couple.
Is it too soon to join a divorce support group for Christians? Read 4 Steps to Healing After Your Marriage Breaks Up.
5. Balance turning the other cheek and standing up for yourself
What divorce battles are worth fighting, and what do you need to let go of? Part of learning how to survive a Christian divorce is knowing when to stand your ground and when to just let it go. The best way to make these decisions is to seek wise counsel. Talk to a Christian counselor, divorce mediator, parenting therapist, or financial adviser. Who you talk to depends on the type of advice you need when you’re working through your divorce.
Avoid making decisions out of impulse or emotion. Always take a deep breath, close your eyes, and connect with God. Be still. Listen for his guidance. Take your time – don’t allow yourself to be pushed or manipulated into making rash decisions.
6. Hold on and trust God to turn your life around
God used the very worst thing ever – Jesus’ death – to bring salvation to the entire human race. You can live in peace, knowing and trusting God to use even the worst things you face, for good. God IS working out all things for your good, even if it doesn’t feel like it. You ARE healing from the pain of this divorce, and God DOES know what He is doing in your life! He loves you dearly, and only wants good things for you. Why He allowed divorce into your life isn’t anybody’s business but His. If you trust Him, you need to hold on to your faith and accept your life.
Another tip for surviving divorce as a Christian is to believe that God is giving you this opportunity to start fresh. You may not have expected this turn of events, but here it is. It’s time to step forward in faith, courage, strength and power! What have you always wanted to do with your life? Where is God leading you?
Take good care of yourself, for you are a child of God — and that means you’re worth taking good care of! Read 7 Ways to Take Care of Yourself Through the Divorce Process.
How do you feel? What have I missed? What do you want Jesus to do for you? Your thoughts – big and little – are welcome below.