“This is not my life.” These five words ran through my head as I slowly inserted a key into the door of my small apartment. I juggled my bags from school, purse, diaper bag, and car seat containing my infant daughter as I crossed the threshold and closed the door with the back of my foot. This scene was not unusual; in fact, it was a daily occurrence, and those five words plagued me.
As a devout faith-follower, church member, Christian school teacher, and preacher’s daughter, it seemed unfathomable that I was in the midst of a divorce and struggling as a single mom. Perhaps you can relate.
As we close the door on 2017, there may be some of you reading this who can identify with the sense of loss and grief of a marriage ending. At times the emotions can be overwhelming. You may feel completely alone and desperate for hope. This message is for you.
The word “this” is present tense. It refers to what is happening right now. If you are in the throes of divorce, you may feel consumed by court dates, attorney fees, custody battles, and single parenting. What you’re going through absorbs your time, energy, and focus. It may feel like God is very far away and life is never going to get better, but I have good news for you.
Romans 8: 16-19, NLT says, “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.”
In context, the Apostle Paul was referring to persecution for the sake of following Jesus. However, as believers our suffering takes on many forms and divorce is one of them. When we hold tight to the truth that we are God’s daughters, we are assured that there is purpose beyond the pain. In spite of your circumstances, staying strong in the Lord will reveal his character and be glorified through you.
It is common to ruminate on questions such as, “Why is this happening? What will become of me? How is everything going to work out?” It is a natural reaction when life if flipped upside down. We are filled with despair, fear, and anxiety. When facing each day becomes daunting and we would rather pull the blankets over our heads instead of going to work, it is easy to become problem-focused instead of promise-focused.
Asaph, a Levite prophet and worship leader, wrote these lyrics, “I get nothing but trouble all day long; every morning brings me pain” (Psalm 73:14, NLT). He understood distress and frustration but went on to sing, “Then I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside… You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny… My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever” (v. 21, 24, 26).
Denial is a powerful weapon. We use it to preserve our dignity, self-worth, and integrity. I’m not divorced. I’m not a single mom. We are worried what people will think of us if they know what’s really happening. Maybe we don’t tell anyone, or we dodge questions, making it seem as if everything is fine as usual. We feel insecure, embarrassed, and ashamed of being divorced. Be encouraged:
“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth.
For the Lord has called you back from your grief—as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer (Isaiah 54:4-8, NLT).
Loneliness is a natural byproduct of divorce. We feel the ever-present absence of our marriage partner. Gone is the flesh and blood we can hold for love and comfort. We feel physically and emotionally rejected and find ways to fill the void. If we are not careful, we will look in the wrong places. When we’ve been hurt and betrayed, it can be difficult to trust that God is really for us and not against us. That’s why Psalm 34:18, NLT says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
It is imperative that we pour ourselves into the Word and stand on his promises. Stay involved in your local church and surround yourself with godly influences who will support you in good days and bad. I made the mistake not to do this and found myself seeking solace in worldly ways.
Not soon after my divorce I was in a rebound relationship and married six months later. That marriage was short-lived, and three years later found myself divorced and single a second time around.
Finally, my will was broken. I learned to truly trust God; relationships didn’t define me any longer. Nights after my daughter was tucked in bed, I spent hours in prayer, Bible reading, and worship. I began cooking for friends from church and inviting them over to eat on Monday nights. They became my accountability partners; I wouldn’t have made it through this season without them. I also joined my local chapter of DivorceCare and gained wonderful words of wisdom and encouragement through this faith-based support group.
As we open the doors to 2018, are you using the right keys? Psalm 71:20, NLT says, “You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.” Let this be your motto. Memorize this verse and recite it every day.
Trust him to make you whole again. One day you will turn a key that opens a door no man can close, and you’ll find yourself saying once again – only this time with joy – “This is not my life.”
R.G. Sharpe understands the tragedy of divorce, and the wonderful blessing recovery can be when you place your full trust in the One who restores and redeems. She is an author and blogger who raises awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault while assisting women to find complete healing through Jesus Christ. It is her deepest prayer that women will find refuge in the One who loves us and calls us by name. Together, we can learn to rely on the Lord’s protection and trust Him to keep us safe in His arms. Learn more by visiting www.safeinhisarms.net.