Navigating life after divorce often feels like your walking through a land mine. You are cautious with each step you take but there are no guarantees for that step to be a peaceful one. You may be trucking along, thinking you’ve finally settled things down and BOOM!, out of nowhere, you saw something that sets off an explosion of anxiety inside of you – all the hurt, all the anger, and all the bitterness instantly flood you and knock you right back down.
It’s a process. Grieving a marriage – whether you wanted the divorce or not, it is a long process. Even if your partner did some horrific things that contributed to the divorce, there is still a part inside of you that will grieve the loss of what you hoped your future would be. Honestly, if we didn’t have hopes and dreams for our future with our ex, we probably would have never married in the first place. So it is important to note that grieving a marriage is multifaceted. We do grieve what we lost, the man we knew, loved and trusted. We grieve the life we had built together and what we had. But we also grieve what we will never have with that person, those plans we had for our future, and the dreams we had hoped to experience.
Grieving anything is always a process. And because this is true – we sometimes feel like we are walking through that land mine for months, maybe even years. We never really know when an interaction with our ex is going to go awry. We may have had several amicable conversations with our ex about the children or even about splitting up belongings. But again, BAM!, out of nowhere – one of you has said something that set the other one off and the emotional whirlwind begins! When will this roller-coaster ever stop??? Because there is so much emotion involved on both sides, we tend to have heated interactions quite frequently. As time goes on and emotions calm, we get a little better at communicating with one another.
To help us navigate this land mine a little better, it is important for us to learn to RESPOND instead of REACT to every little explosion that goes off beneath our feet. Review how you have reacted in the past. Read the tips below to see what you can implement in the future to help yourself stay in peace and away from the anxiety and worry that paralyzes us from moving forward in the joy that God has planned for our lives.
A Call for help…
We all tend to recognize big battles when we see them – or at least when they smack us in the face. Praying seems natural in tragedy. Even if we don’t go straight to prayer in the face of tragedy, our friends, pastors, or even strangers will jump in and pray over us. But for some reason, when we are dealing with day to day troubles, stress, or worries; we just get lost in the process. We let our feelings or emotions drive us. We react when we should respond. We try to handle it our way. We forget to call for help…
1- As Christians, we often mix up the ORDER of our EMERGENCY CONTACT LIST. John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
2- We also forget how SMALL we are and how BIG He is. Isaiah 40:22 (NIV) 22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers.
3- We try to fight SPIRITUAL BATTLES with carnal WEAPONS. 2 Cor 10:3-5 “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
When we don’t turn to God first, we add to the mess.
A Cure for Chaos…
God is the only one who can see the bigger picture. We MUST remind ourselves in moments of complete chaos, the only truth is what we can see in front of us. Our reactions are generally based on worries and what-ifs, not on facts. As my Pastor, Chris Hodges has said many times… “Worry is the enemies way of making you think you can control something God never intended for you to handle”. Now, he says that because when we react to worry – we are trying to control the outcome of that variable – the problem is that variable may or may not be truth. So when we react to worry or a what-if, we add to the mess and often create something that wasn’t even there to begin with…. Don’t create a narrative in your thoughts based on assumptions – stick to the only factual information you have.
“Worry is the enemies way of making you think you can control something God never intended for you to handle.
-Pastor Chris Hodges
1- When we PRAY FIRST, we gain the PROPER PERSPECTIVE of the problem. Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
2- GODS WORD doesn’t change when our world crumbles around us. It remains eternally TRUSTWORTHY. 2 Sam 7:28 “Now, O Lord GOD, You are God, and Your words are truth, and You have promised this good thing to Your servant.
3- We don’t have to say A FORMAL PRAYER to invite Him into our chaos. We can merely CALL ON HIM FOR RESCUE. Psalm 69:14 (NIV) 14 Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters.
Our God is not a god of disorder, but a God of peace.
We have our very own bodyguard – a Secret Service Agent so to say – The Holy Spirit. Not that He should be kept in secret but His presence is undetectable to unbelievers and utterly dependent on our invitation. He is our protector and our healer. He hears our pleas and desires for us to live in His peace without fear of evil.
It’s super cool to think that we have our own Secret Service Agent looking over us?? We can call on Him without anyone around us knowing. We can talk to Him and invite His presence in any place.
1- JEHOVAH RAAH – He protects us and He is our Shepherd. Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.
2- JEHOVAH RAPHA .- He is our healer. Psalm 30:2 (NIV) 2 Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
3-JEHOVAH SHALOM – He is our peace. John 14:27 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Faith is trusting in Him when we feel Him the least. What we do in the face of rejection, pain, frustration, and chaos is a direct reflection of our trust in Him.
We must learn to control our reactions and respond in faith. Standing on the promises He has given us and seeking Him for the solution.
Proverbs 25:28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
Meditating any scripture is a great way to delay a reaction. Even reciting the Lord’s Prayer to ourselves or aloud can help us reset our focus and align our thoughts with His word. There are infinite ways to call on Him and invite Him into our troubled hearts. The key is not to try to change yourself or change reaction on your own abilities, but to learn if we will merely seek Him, He will change us with His power. Here are a couple of prayer tips to get you started….
1- Scripture: PSALM 91
Great scripture to review during a time of uncertainty or struggle.
2- Prayer :
Prayer to Overcome Reaction
Heavenly Father, I am wound up inside.
I feel I cannot overcome the worry placed upon me.
I am close to falling and fear that I may stumble under the weight of these troubles.
I cannot carry this stress around, and so desperately need to find some peace.
So I come to you.
I am crying out for your presence,
I am seeking shelter in your Almighty hand,
And clinging to your promises of hope.
I trust that you will lead me to a place of peace,
And weave the trials that I face into a masterpiece for your glory.
I look to you.
I fill my wounds with your words.
I open my heart and ask you to calm my reaction and see those around me the way you do.
Please restore the broken pieces inside of me.
But what happens when we react instead of respond…
This is what is so AMAZING about God’s grace… There is NO CONDEMNATION. Yes, there will be consequences for our actions, and likely conviction from the Holy Spirit. But CONDEMNATION and CONSEQUENCES are not the same things. CONDEMNATION is that shame, that guilt you feel, that little voice you hear reinforcing that you aren’t enough or you haven’t grown any – the one says, “see, you are crazy for getting mad like that”. And that’s the enemy talking, he’s trying to paralyze your progress – DON’T LET HIM. CONSEQUENCES are part of justice, and our God is a God of justice. That means if we blow off the top and over-react to someone, we may have the consequence of having difficulties communicating in future interactions. There are earthly consequences for actions. That’s what makes sin what it is – God didn’t just decide He wanted certain things to be “wrong”. He labeled those things sin because He knew the consequences those actions would have on our lives. And CONVICTION is not about shaming you for what you have done, it’s most often a nudge from the Holy Spirit to take future action. You will absolutely experience conviction at some point in your walk with Christ. He will put a desire in you to take action but never shame you to cause you to stumble. You feel the pull to apologize or change your path or put safety precautions into place – that’s conviction!
We all fall short and we all stumble. Earnestly try to take steps to call on God in all things, not just the big things. His perception is wiser and more perfect than any earthly being. He can see the whole picture – allow Him to give you vision over your struggles and the land mines that pop-up in your life. He will help you see the underlying issues and sometimes reveal things to you to help you understand. He is loving God and wants to be first on your Emergency Contact List!