There’s something about divorce that leaves women fearful. For some it has to do with finances and taking care of the children involved. But for others, the fears are internal. The fears they face include: failure, being alone, and not ever being enough. Divorce can leave a lasting impact on a woman and on her identity. It makes me think of Max Lucado’s children’s book, “You are Special.” In it, the wooden people (the Wemmicks) were given stars for every achievement and dots for every flaw or mistake. When I think of my experience with divorce, it was as though I put on one huge dot for everyone to see. It didn’t matter how many stars I had before that because the big dot covered them all. I know my experience is shared by many. You question your worth and whether or not you could make a relationship work. In reflecting upon my experience today, I felt led to share 7 ways to recover from a breakup or divorce.
(You can watch the animated film, “You are Special,” here.)
My divorce story is a bit different than the heart-breaking stories I’ve heard from some women. My ex-husband was never unfaithful, he didn’t have any addictions, and he wasn’t abusive. What was the problem then? Me; I was young, selfish, and had no clue how to be a wife. Like many others, I came from a broken home and did not have one single example of a happy marriage to look up to or learn from. Not one single person I knew in all my life had gotten it right.
The movies I saw growing up made me believe there was a prince charming out there for me and I deserved to be happy! The music I listened to at the time also focused on finding happiness and glorified the single lifestyle. It made me believe I should keep looking until I get all I want. So, when my ex-husband turned out to be a normal guy and not my prince charming, I felt cheated. This was not what I had signed up for and so I decided to move on. Yup, just like that as though the covenant of marriage was nothing. I didn’t understand the depth of our Father’s love for me and I certainly did not feel compelled to read his word, let along, abide by his commands.
So, in that moment of empowerment, I never considered the damage I was doing to my ex or to myself. Not once did I consider the brokenness I was inviting in through my divorce. I entered into another relationship and when things were not going well, I told myself I had to make it work. I had to give it time and put more effort. In the back of my mind, I knew I couldn’t fail again. To make sure of that, I dealt with lying, cheating, and a whole lot of other dysfunction. Can any of you relate? Have you ever experienced the pressure of divorce? Settled for way less than you deserve because you just couldn’t bear to fail a second or third time?
While I don’t think these feelings are limited to divorce, I believe it has a stronger connotation to it with regard to labels. Some women have experienced a breakup from a relationship after 5 or more years that has had the same effect. Though they don’t have to carry around the title of divorcee, I believe they can still benefit from these 7 ways to recover from a breakup or divorce.
7 Ways to Recover from a Breakup or Divorce
1. Know your title.
You are not a divorcee or a failure. You do not have to put on a huge dot like I did. Instead, wear you crown because you are a daughter of the King. No matter where life takes you or how many times you fail at something, that crown is yours! No one can take it from you.
2. Repent and Make Amends.
Repent for whatever part you had in the breakup. If you did the person harm, apologize to them. If you did not follow God’s word, went against your God-given convictions, or entered into a relationship the wrong way, repent and the Lord will forgive you. You must put down your guard and open yourself up to taking accountability for your actions. Once you acknowledge it, and repent, you are then able to release it, once and for all. Do not pick it back up, it is no longer yours.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.John 8:36 (ESV)
3. Forgive your ex.
This is not an easy thing to do, especially if he treated you unfairly. It may have been years of abuse or sudden abandonment that pushed you over the edge. Whatever the situation, you must forgive. Notice I didn’t say, “try to forgive.” No, you must. Not because he deserves it but because you deserve it. You deserve to be free from the weight and burden that comes with unforgiveness. So, tell yourself right now that you will be intentional about laying down that burden each day to God, even if you don’t feel like it. When it seems impossible to do, cry out to God and he will help you. And remember, we are called to forgive because we have also been forgiven of much.
As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.Colossians 3:13b (ESV)
4. Pray for peace and comfort.
The Lord is so gracious. Even if you were the cause of the breakup or if you had fault in the relationship, God still loves you. Though you still have to face the natural consequences of your actions, you don’t have to do it alone. He is with you every step of the way. He is your comforter and can bring you peace and joy throughout any storm you may be facing.
5. Make self-care a priority.
Break-ups can be so stressful and leave you feeling completely drained. In those moments, remember: you are not the sum of all your mistakes or failures. You are not a collection of dots. And you are certainly not to blame for the shortcomings of others. Allow yourself to be happy. Take care of yourself. Go get your nails done, get your hair done, take a nature walk, or reflect on the beauty all around you. Most importantly, carve out some alone time to spend with God. Let him speak his truths to you and be your source of refreshment. He knows exactly what you need.
6. Surround yourself with positive people and use your support system.
This is not the time to be private, ashamed, or independent. You are not superwoman and you don’t have to be. There are people who love you and may understand what you are going through. They may relate to you more than you know or just want to support you during this difficult time. You don’t have to feel ashamed or try to hide the break-up. More times than not, you are the only one judging yourself. Allow those who love you to speak life into you and over your situation. Let them encourage and help you in any way they can. On the other hand, recognize the negative people and those who instigate the situation. They may also care but unintentionally make the situation worse by dwelling on negativity. Limit your interaction with them until you are ready. They will only make matters worse by reinforcing your anger and causing discouragement.
7. Focus on your purpose.
Grow from this situation. Be reflective of your past and where you went wrong, whether it was ignoring the signs, settling for less, or causing the relationship to end. Whatever your unique circumstance, pray for wisdom and understanding; then, be ready to let go. It’s okay to be sad and feel hurt. It’s okay to grieve the loss of a relationship. But after that, you must be willing to move on. Don’t dwell on the past. Look ahead and focus on your God-given purpose. Open your heart and ask God what good could ever come of this.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28 (ESV)
Related: Finding Beauty in the Broken
I hope this has encouraged you in your journey of healing. If you are going through a difficult time, I would be honored to come alongside you in prayer. Just email me at [email protected] to let me know how I can intercede.