Marriage is beautiful and divorce is ugly. This is something I not only know from God’s Word but something I have seen and experienced. A covenant is God joining man and woman together in a partnership, but divorce is a man not holding up his portion of that covenant.
I had some very dark days after my divorce. I felt like a complete failure who would never recover. It was as though everywhere I went there was a sign above my head that said: “divorced, broken, failure.” When I moved out of our house, the one my wife and I had shared, and back to my hometown I felt as though someone had died that was very close to me but no one would address it. It was as though everyone just wanted to pretend everything was okay when my soul was aching. That ache only grew as I tried to navigate the new world I was in on my own. I did not feel like anyone could understand what I was experiencing, and I felt like no one could help me. I felt like a lost cause. After I moved states and found a new job, those who had been so near to me for three years were now hours and miles away.
That led me to cope by creating unhealthy, sinful patterns in my life. I began to hide and not be honest with those around me. I satisfied my flesh and not the Spirit. My anger, sadness, confusion, and loneliness clouded my view of the world around me. The satisfaction I found by meeting the desires of my flesh helped me escape, but those moments were short-lived. Then, I found myself right back in the pain, but now with the added guilt that I had displeased the God I loved. I believed that I was what my actions were and I believed that there was no way that I could escape the sin in my life. Those deep-seated lies grew even though, on the outside, most people thought that I was doing fine.
But God! God is for marriage. He wants our marriages to thrive. But even when they don’t, he doesn’t abandon us to ourselves and our sins.
In September of 2015, God stepped in and began to transform me and help me see who he had made me to be. When my divorce was finalized in May of 2013, I thought the dark season that followed would last forever. But, God was at work in this darkness in my life. God used the wise words and encouragement of a woman I met through a mutual friend, who was stationed in Germany. Liz, this amazing woman, helped me begin to see God’s truth again. Amid this season of excruciating pain that I was in, God brought me Liz, my now wife. Through the love and support of another person, I began to see that so many of the lies I had believed about myself just were not true. I began to say “no” to old desires and I began to feel alive on the inside again. Church became fun again and I felt like I was not alone anymore. God was near me and I began to see it and see how he had protected me as I strayed.
Practical Steps to Healing: Advice for Men Navigating Divorce
- Find a small group of men you can be real with who will support you and encourage you in this very challenging time.
I had friends where I lived during the divorce who had walked me through a very painful time when my wife and I were separated. I shared a lot with them, and even after the divorce concluded I had a few guys who continued to support me. They were there for me. But, when I moved I chose to leave those friendships behind, and that is when, in isolation and fear, the darkness was able to grow. Today, I am back in healthy relationships through small groups and one-on-one relationships with other guys, and they make all the difference in protecting us and encouraging us.
Be aware of the sin that entangles you and make sure you have a good defense plan.
When we go through a traumatic experience, we are usually very susceptible to the medicating promises of sin. We are often in one of the states of H.A.L.T. This acronym stands for hungry, angry, lonely, or tired and is a great tool we can use to assess our situation. It is in these moments that we can turn to satisfying the flesh instead of going to our true source of strength, Christ. If we become better students of ourselves and how our situation impacts our decisions, we can be more prepared to battle temptation physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It is also great to get a group of guys around you who can provide accountability and encouragement.
Also, think about your offense.
What will you do that you enjoy to help you in the pain of your current season? How can you make sure your brain is releasing healthy chemicals that counter the depression that could occur? I have a great friend who dove into his physical fitness pursuits and not only found a healthy spiritual outlet for his pain but made major investments in his physical health, as well during a very difficult time. What can you begin to focus on or do that brings you joy?
Stay involved in your local church and find ways to serve others.
Even in my darkest season of rebellion after my divorce, I was faithfully involved in the church. I served on a team, weekly attended services, and participated in small groups. The continued proximity to God’s word, his people, and worship consistently exposed me to that which could help transform me. Even though my heart was not healthy, because I kept showing up, I had people praying for me. I never let go of the foundation that had been laid earlier in my life. If you disconnect from believers and the teaching of the church, the lies will only grow.
Consider counseling or other steps that may help you unpackage the feeling of rejection, the loss of your dream, or the pain of betrayal.
There are great counselors, pastors, coaches, and retreats that can help you deal with the pain you are walking through. Sometimes we need to take drastic measures and get the help we so desperately need to heal and move on from the trauma of divorce.
Above all, remember that God is a healer and he brings beauty from ashes. Your circumstances may look insurmountable, but we serve a God who raised Jesus from the dead. He can do immeasurably more than what we thought possible. If you have been divorced or are going through it, your life is not over. Take it from me, it is just beginning.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and 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.
Join the Journey of Healing and Redemption
As you’ve journeyed through this article, you may have found echoes of your own experiences in the story of overcoming the pain of divorce. Remember, you are not alone in this. The Redeemed offers a compassionate and supportive community where men can find healing, strength, and companionship through one of our many small groups.
We invite you to consider joining one of The Redeemed’s small groups, available both in person and online. In these groups, you will find a safe space to share your story, listen to others, and grow together in faith and understanding. It’s a place where you can be real, find genuine support, and discover the transformative power of community guided by God’s love.
Don’t let distance be a barrier – our online groups provide flexibility and accessibility, ensuring you can connect with others from the comfort of your own home. Your journey towards healing and rediscovery is important, and we at The Redeemed are here to walk alongside you every step of the way.
Take that brave first step and join us. Find a group that resonates with your journey and start transforming your pain into a story of redemption and hope.