A flicker of hope in the aftermath of divorce…

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As you live this new life, we pray that you will be strengthened from God’s boundless resources, so that you will find yourselves able to pass through any experience and endure it with courage.

You will even be able to thank God in the midst of pain and distress because you are privileged to share the lot of those who are living in the light.

For we must never forget that he rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of his beloved Son, that is, in the kingdom of light. For it is by his Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven.
Colossians 1:11-14 Phillips

A recently divorced friend shared today that her new life as a single mom swirls with anxiety and self doubt.

And I can relate for I remember what that feels like.

In the early days after my first marriage ended and I took on full responsibility for raising three little boys who were then 1, 3 and 6, I was reeling in a downward spiral. I could not fathom any good coming from such calamity and loss. And I was yet unable or unwilling to see how my own choices and actions had contributed to the divorce.

This new life that I had entered was the worst of times and the best of times.

It was only through God’s boundless resources that I was able to survive this soul rupture and all its ugly aftermath. Pressing into God and His word, and getting by with a lot of help from my friends and family, I endured the devastation with courage and eventually, hope.

Not that I did it perfectly.

Some days I gave into self pity and saw myself as only a victim.

Some days I gave into fear, struggling with panic attacks and negative thoughts of the most dismal and gloomy nature.

Many days I wondered if I would ever smile again as my mother’s heart ached watching my little boys’ hearts break.

The cloud I lived under, including sleepless nights and the inability to eat, made it difficult to believe God when He says in Isaiah 61:3 that He will —

provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.

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In those days of a new life I did not want — a life that as a child of divorce I vowed I would never give to my own babies — my emotions rode a wild roller coaster. Inside I was screaming with every twist and turn, sometimes feeling dangerously close to the edge of a deep abyss.

I would find myself delighting in my sons’ antics and then almost instantly feel distressed that their dad was not there for them to share the milestones of childhood.

I was grateful I got to keep my house and the semblance of stability it would provide my children, but a strange noise at night or a broken appliance unnerved me.

I was glad my settlement allowed for me to stay home fulltime while my sons were young, but I was lonely and sorely missed adult companionship.

Yet in the midst of all this confusion and heart ache, I felt that somehow we would make it.

We would survive and eventually thrive because I knew we had a heavenly Father who loved us and would never leave. That my Maker who is my husband would be there for me providing for us and keeping us safe.

So we say with confidence,“The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.”
Hebrews 13:6

He was my helper and ever so will be, but those times were tough. Tougher than anything I had ever experienced before, but certainly not the last chapter of severe darkness {mercy} in my life.

And I shed gallons of tears every night for well over a year.

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After my little ones were read to and prayed over and tucked in safe and sound for the night, I retreated to a candlelight shower. The scent of vanilla swirled in the mist and the shadow of a flickering flame danced along the wall and ceiling as I sobbed as softly as possible, pain and exhaustion finding an appropriate outlet.

And I kept crying out to Him…

You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
    through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
    each ache written in your book.
Psalm 56:8 The Message

Change began to occur.

After working through the five stages of grief with bible studies, journaling and counseling, I was able to surrender my loss to God. Owning my own bad, yet choosing to forgive myself and those who had hurt me {and asking for forgiveness}, I exhaled and relaxed into the arms of God that had always, always held me.

And to this day He holds my hand as the healing process of sanctification continues one day at a time until eternity.

He heals the brokenhearted
    and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:3

I do not feel the pain and hurt anymore unless I concentrate really hard for a long time to conjure that feeling. Yet I will always lament the losses in my life with a certain wistfulness that things had worked out differently for me and for my sons’ early years.

But God can restore what the locusts have eaten. Bringing more joy and peace than ever imagined.

There is freedom in looking back with a heart that is stronger than before and in realizing the great gift that God has given me as a result of my pain and loss.

The immeasurable gift of His tender mercy and coming to Him and knowing Him and slowly realizing that He loves me like crazy no matter what.

The gift of Himself.

And in stepping out of denial of the pain which can breed captivity, I share my stories humbly with the hope that He might use them to touch your own heart and help it to heal with a love everlasting, expanding your heart to embrace the new life He has for you.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

~sheila

P.S. Tomorrow I will share tips for single parents recovering from divorce.

 

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