Dr. Wall suggests using the time of pain after a relationship break up like divorce as an opportunity to reconnect or connect with God. He cautions that too often after relationship failure, the pain is so great that people get mad and reject God. Letting God heal our broken hearts is a better route.
Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you.
In our last blog we started a series on healing from a broken relationship. The first thing I suggested is that you will want to give yourself time to heal. It hurts like mad to go through a divorce. You will be going through all the stages of grief. It’ll be hard to concentrate on other things.
The first temptation will be to jump right into another relationship. This is the most common route people take. But you don’t want the most common route, because the most common route doesn’t work. It’s not fun feeling like crap. Friends and family will tell you to get back in the saddle and ride again. Please, no. The principle of trying again doesn’t work in this case. If you jump right into another relationship, you bypass your healing and train yourself to need other needy people to put you together. You will become very needy and will believe that having another relationship will define you and you will tell yourself unless you are involved with someone, you are less than whole. This isn’t true, but it FEELS true. Feelings can bite you in the butt. You want to be careful. If you let your feelings be your guide, you’ll become addicted to relationships and will be well on your way to inviting further psychological damage into your life.
Bad feelings drive all addictions, whether it’s gambling, alcohol, drugs, porn, affairs or bulimia. The addict doesn’t like feeling bad and uses the destructive behavior of choice to put him or herself together. It doesn’t, of course. It just makes the person that much more dependent upon whatever they are using to escape. Then the addiction becomes the NEW MAJOR problem. Well, really, we’ve got two problems: Whatever the person was trying to cover up (whatever caused the bad feelings) and the bad behavior of choice. BAD RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE ADDICTING! After a divorce a person is BROKEN emotionally and relationally and in many other ways. A BROKEN PERSON ATTRACTS OTHER BROKEN PEOPLE LIKE FLIES TO MANURE. YOUR JOB IS NOW TO PUT YOURSELF BACK TOGETHER SO YOU CAN ATTRACT OTHER VICTORIOUS, PUT-TOGETHER, MATURE, GROWING, LEARN-FROM-THEIR-MISTAKES PEOPLE.
This, then, is your new job: HEALING. Learning from your mistakes. Learning to forgive. Learning not to blame. Learning not to hate. Learning not to bear grudges and take revenge. Learning to deal with your shortcomings. Learning to get a reign on your anger. Learning to handle your problems. Learning to make better decisions. Learning that you are not alone and that God is waiting around the corner.
Which is the opposite of what usually happens. When the going gets tough, the hurting dump God. Why did you let me go through this divorce? Do you hate me God? You think I’m going to call on you now? Where were you through all these problems I had? What kind of God let’s his people go through these devastating ordeals? I trusted you before and look where it got me. Just leave me alone already.
So, no. Most people are prone to dump God after a divorce. Great. We just went through one of the most painful of all human experiences and we’re going to add to our misery by denying the Creator of the Universe the opportunity to, ah, help us heal? You mean your faith is only good when the going is good? Isn’t this the problem you had with your marriage? Whether it was you or your spouse or the both of you, somebody decided to cash it in because it wasn’t what it was supposed to be? So if your life isn’t what you thought it should be, then we divorce God? I’m not sure what religion you are embracing, but I hope God has a little more staying power than that.
The God I was referring to was the one that made us and sent his son, Jesus, to be the sacrifice for our sin, so that we might have a way of escape out of our darkness. The one I was referring to is the one who took the evil of the world, conquered it and made good come out of it. Notice I didn’t say that evil is good. This is all the atheist and the pantheist can say. In the face of evil all they have left is convention and social niceties or they deny the existence of evil altogether.
But the person that believes that Jesus was actually the Son of God and did actually come to take away the sin of the world and did actually die on a real cross and was put into a real grave and his heart actually stopped beating and he was pronounced dead at the scene and then three days later he really did rise from the dead to show that the last enemy, death, has been triumphed over, and later he ascended into heaven and will come again to judge the living and the dead and will take all this evil that you have done to others and against God and all this evil that others have committed against you and everyone else, and put it at the feet of the cross for those who believe.
For those who think the whole thing is a ruse and a joke there will eventually be an accounting before the Judgment Seat of Christ, because justice belongs to God, not to us, so that you don’t have to take revenge yourself, which is a huge relief. If God has forgiven you, then you can forgive those who trespass against you, and if all this is true, then the suffering that you are going through is temporary, and in light of eternity, it is just a passing moment, so that you don’t have to let the problems you are experiencing now define you. There is someone else who defines you, and he is bigger than any problem you are facing, for if God is for us, who can be against us.
So you call upon God in your time of trouble and you ask him to be your Rock and your Fortress and your Strength and your Very Present Help In Trouble and though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil, for he is with you. These momentary troubles take on perspective, because you were bought with a price. That means you are worth something and you don’t have to give your life to some low life guy or gal, whose prayers only reach the ceiling, and who pooh-pooh your God, and mock your commitment, and say you have a crutch, and they don’t need a crutch, but no, you don’t need a crutch either, because you have the Lord God Almighty, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and you know who holds tomorrow and if God holds tomorrow, he holds you, so you don’t have to get sucked into some fleeting temporary pleasure. No, not you.
You’ve got the long view and you know that love is patient and right now you need to be patient with yourself and cut yourself a little slack, because it is your relationship with God that defines you, not some shallow, self-absorbed guy or gal, that wants you to bow before their feet. If Jesus can bear a real cross and shed real blood, for heaven sakes, you can be single for awhile or even the rest of your life, because your life is NOT defined by who you happen to be with now, or how many kids you have or don’t have, because you will be with Christ for eternity, so you can deal with whatever now, and you redeem the time, because the days are evil, and you count yourself blessed to be among the elect and you try to figure out how you can serve a living God NOW. THAT is your assignment.
You know enough about your faith, that if you seek to save your life, you will lose it, and if you lose your life for His sake, you find it, and maybe it includes a future spouse and kids and all and maybe it includes other things so great, beyond all you could ask or think, but it doesn’t matter, because whatever happens you know who holds tomorrow and it’s NOT you and that’s just fine because you would thoroughly suck at being God.
Which is the whole problem: If God doesn’t do what you want, your temptation will be to kick God out of your life and become god to yourself. Or your new boy or girlfriend or live-in lover or husband and wife will become your god and none of us is big enough or wise enough to handle the evil in the world let alone the evil in your own life and sooner or later your new god will be found wanting and you’ll have to go looking for another new god and it’ll become an endless search, wandering in the wilderness.
And meanwhile your kids will become absolute messes and your life will be filled with drama and chaos and you’ll be really good at blaming the real God, which will be kind of funny, if you think about it, that your problems are God’s fault, when you reaped what you sowed by making your own choices and sowing your own seed and you’ll have no one to blame but yourself. But God’s an easy scapegoat when he’s invisible, but the day is coming when he won’t be and you can bet there won’t be anybody shaking their fists on that day. They’ll be bowing their knees instead.
So look: Use this opportunity of pain and anger and hurt and rejection as a time for you to identify with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who came to his own and his own received him NOT and he used the opportunity to take away the sin of the world. Not a bad example. Don’t use your pain and anger and hurt and rejection as a time to multiply the sin of the world by making the same bad choices times ten. It’s time for NEW choices, choices that end the cycle of evil in the world, at least as far as you are concerned.
It starts with you. You let the evil that you’ve done and that was done to you, humble you before God, because the Bible declares “let him who thinks he stands, take heed, lest he fall” and you say to God that, “well, ah, I guess I need you to guide me this time, because, left to my own devices, I tend to screw things up pretty big time” because the Bible says somewhere else to “acknowledge God in all your ways and he will make your paths straight” and “a man plans his way, but the Lord guides his step.” You will like that option better than trying to do this whole relationship recovery thing by yourself or being so self-absorbed that you can’t see that everything that happens to you does so for a reason and if you’d just listen you might see there’s a silent hand conducting your life and that he has your best interests at heart.
But you’d have to have eyes to see and ears to hear in order to figure that out.
Dr. Bing Wall is a marriage therapist with a practice in Ames and Urbandale, Iowa. To set up a time to see Dr. Wall click here or call 888-233-8473. For more information about Dr. Wall click here.
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