Did anyone of us set out to become divorced?? Did we know on the day we said “I do” that we wouldn’t always honor that? Probably not – I say probably because we all know that one person that can’t admit they were wrong, so they back it up with ” I knew it wasn’t gonna work”! And please don’t send an email and tell me that one person is your ex – Haha!
Seriously, no one sets out to get divorced. Even if we were the cause of our divorce, we didn’t set out for that to happen. We didn’t spend time in our marriage day-dreaming about the things we would do in our future ALONE. Most of us spent countless hours planning for our future together. We had hopes and dreams and plans that have now been taken from us. Instead of living out those plans, we wake up each day and set out on a road we never intended to travel. We don’t know where the road leads but more importantly, we didn’t spend a lifetime preparing our hearts for this journey. How do we navigate it?
Unknown Avenue is what I call the road we find ourselves on post-divorce. It’s dark, lonely, and filled with what-if’s, guilt, and how to’s… but it doesn’t have to be!
Struggles we thought we beat a long time ago begin to resurface. Our security, our peace, and our comfort zone has been rocked. We have worries and anxiety over the simplest of things. WE HAVE FEAR – FEAR OF THINGS WE’VE NEVER EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT.
If you are looking around wondering why you are feeling all these things… YOU ARE NOT ALONE. YOU ARE TRAVELING ON UKNOWN AVENUE…
Because when I started driving we didn’t have GPS and all the fancy digital maps, I am a landmark person. I memorize landmarks – it’s second nature to me now. I don’t even think about it. So I wanna give you a few landmarks I remember about Unknown Avenue.
ANXIETY. ADDICTION TO APPROVAL OF OTHERS. GUILT. ANGER. FEAR. FEELING LOST.
We don’t know the future. We cannot change the road you are on. But with God, we CAN breakdown and remove these landmarks. We can adorn Unknown Avenue with precious memories and new hopes! Todays post is going to cover Anxiety Road. Future post will cover the additional landmarks.
All of the sudden, I found myself consumed with anxiety. Things that I took for granted now paralyzed me. Worry literally ruled my life. I worried whether others would see me differently now? How many friends would side with me and how many with my ex? What is he telling everyone? I can’t even put words on the worry over social media and all that goes along with that. Does my daughter like me better or him better? Is it safe to share my feelings with anyone? Can I trust my friends not to tell him everything I say? This list could be a mile long… but let’s start unpacking this way of thinking before we give the negative more attention than it deserves.
1- Do others really see you differently now?
Honestly, yes! Yes, PEOPLE see you differently now. But no matter how much you worry about it, it will not change. GOD, however, does not see you as any less worthy of His promises than He did before! No one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Don’t allow people access to your emotional well-being. Give that to God – seek Him in all situations that arise where you feel others see you as less than or unworthy.
John 6:37 English Standard Version (ESV)
37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.
2- How many friends will side with me and how many will side with my ex?
Twelve years later – it’s pretty easy for me to look back and say “Who cares”! But I remember so well that nothing stings like the broken friendships that you thought were going to stand the test of time. Some of those friendships are going to end. Some will be maintained but not really the same. That makes this season of our lives SOOOOOO much harder. When we are married, we build our lives around our marriage. We often encourage friendships between our spouse and our friends spouse. When we are at our lowest and most vulnerable in our divorce we need FRIENDS. Instead of pushing friends to “choose” a side – ASK GOD. Pray. Pray. Pray. Let friends be friends. When we start pushing people we remove the trust that built the friendship. It is perfectly okay to have friends that are also still friends with your ex. We cannot and should not control our friends. BUT and this is a HUGE BUT – set boundaries on your friendships. You do not need to talk about and constantly stir up negative conversations about you ex or your divorce with everyone. You can still enjoy things that you have always done with those friends without discussing your divorce. Choose wisely who to share details with. Ask God to bring Godly friends to light your path. Go to Him FIRST with your problems and with your struggles. Allow Him to show you safe places to seek guidance on situations that arise. Don’t throw away friendships because you want someone to choose you. Be grateful that there are people out there who can and will be a positive influence on your ex!
Isaiah 58:11 English Standard Version (ESV)
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
3 – What is my ex telling everyone?
This question will STEAL so much of your joy and your time. Let’s face it – we don’t really know. And what we hear is only “hearsay”. It’s what we do with what we hear that steals our joy from us. We analyze it, we let it get under our skin and make us angry. We let it hurt us. What would you think if I told you that you have to give someone permission to steal your joy? You cannot control what your ex says about you or your situation but you also do not have to let it CONTROL you. Guess what? If your ex says the most horrible, nasty things to people you love and care about – it doesn’t change the truth of who you are or your situation. If your like me – you may over-react and lose your cool a few times… but at some point, we have to draw the line. We need to make a conscious decision to not let the words of our ex steal our joy! The enemy is looking for a way to steal your joy and he would love nothing more, than to use the words of your ex to stop you from experiencing the joy God intended for you!
1 Peter 5:8 English Standard Version (ESV)
8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
4- Social Media + divorce = ANXIETY ON STEROIDS
Just don’t. Don’t do it to yourself. Don’t do it to everyone else. Don’t do it to your ex. Don’t do it to your children. I’m talking about airing your dirty laundry on social media. DO NOT DO IT. When I first divorced, social media had not yet made its grand entry into our everyday lives. I may not be as experienced in this area of anxiety as I am the others but we all know divorce makes us do some pretty crazy, irrational, and at times – questionable things. Don’t let posting trash about your ex or your situation be on your list of crazy things you’ve done. But for me, I think scrolling through and seeing everyone else’s “perfect” lives and marriages and vacations and children and friendships and parties and homes and… and… and… ENOUGH – can we throw up already? Not only do we not want to expose our garbage in a social media format, we also don’t want to let everyone else’s portrayal of perfection bring us down. It’s not real. They may have had a great vacay – but I guarantee they didn’t post about the name – calling, all out screaming battle they had trying to get to the airport on time?? Every marriage is hard. Some people learn to adapt. But they are all hard. Don’t scroll through Facebook or Instagram reminiscing the “what-if’s” or the “should haves” or the “I no longer haves”. If you need to delete social media altogether for a period of time to allow your heart to heal and process only your failures and your successes. (Especially if you are a super-empathetic person). Just turn it off – and turn to God or His word every single time you think about Social Media.
Isaiah 41:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
5 – Does my child/children like me better or my ex better?
It’s another trap from the enemy. It’s a fleshly need for vindication that we should shut down as soon as we feel it. This too will steal so much of the time and joy that we have to make memories with our children. The truth is – God intended for our children to love and have both of us. Regardless of the situation, your ex is not your competition. Its one of the BIGGEST mistakes divorced parents make. Don’t compete with your ex, don’t breakdown your child’s relationship with your ex. EMBRACE THE RELATIONSHIP THAT YOUR CHILD HAS WITH THEIR OTHER PARENT. Even if the other parent isn’t doing everything they should or if you need to put certain boundaries in place to protect your children, you can still be positive and offer hope for the other parents future. But don’t allow the enemy to turn you into a whipping post that he can strike daily with new ideas about how your kids feel about your ex. I discussed something similar with someone in my small group recently. I reminded her that we have to really control our reactions to what our kids say about what happened at the other parents home. Our kids do not like to upset or disappoint us. Not just bad stuff, but also when our ex does something our kids thought was really cool! When they tell us something and we allow our emotions to react, we cut that line of communication with our children. Our reaction doesn’t encourage or stop certain behaviors by our ex or at their home, but it does stop our children from telling us about it – our kids seek to please us and make us happy.
2 Corinthians 5:7 English Standard Version (ESV)
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.
6- Is it safe to share my feelings with anyone?
The safest place to share your feelings is with Christ. Every. Single. Time. He never betrays you, He never shares your secrets or twist your words. We talked earlier about setting boundaries with friends. I would like to recommend setting boundaries with family members too! Especially if you have children with your ex! Just because your divorced doesn’t mean your family members won’t ever need to communicate or see your ex. Remember – you will get over some of the things that have been done to you and when you do, you will regret sharing those things with some people. So try to keep it clean. Find one or two Holy Spirit led friends to really open up to. The kind of friends that are so full of grace that you feel it radiate off of them. Allow them to help you on your journey. Surround yourself with others that will speak life into you. Make it a point to speak life into those around – even your ex. You will be amazed at the work God can do in your heart when you allow Him to work through you. Don’t get bogged down with all the he said, she said… it will make you a paranoid mess!!!!!! TRUST ME!
John 14:27 English Standard Version (ESV)
27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
That’s really just a very surface look into the anxiety that overwhelmed me after my divorce. We each have our own issues. But our God can heal them all just the same. Go to God with those things that worry you!
And look for Divorce – Where Unknown Avenue meets Addiction to Approval Street coming tomorrow!!