Genesis 37:23-25
23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.25 And they sat down to eat a meal.

 

Divorce feels much like this. Stripped of an identity and family unit, you feel like you’ve been thrown into a pit with no water (refreshment) to be found. Then all your friends went back to their meal (i.e., their daily life). Lost and alone, you sit in a dark pit called “Divorce.”  

Joseph was caught off guard by his brothers. Perhaps your spouse caught you off guard with the divorce papers. And depending on your church and their teachings on divorce, you may have lost some, or all, of your community.

You are not alone. Unfortunately, it is a big club.

So many questions swirl around your thoughts during this season. One of the first is “How long will I grieve and hurt? Will I ever feel happy again?”

I wish I had an absolute answer, but everyone is different, every situation is unique. Some people say two years, others say one year for every decade of marriage. For me, I grieved my 25-year marriage ending, off and on for over two years. Just when I thought I was over it, a painful conversation or phone call would bring it all up again, and I felt like my feet slid on a sheet of ice.

Grief has many cycles. It can hide for months until you see or hear something, and it whispers to your heart and reminds you of your pain. When overwhelmed with sorrow, it is like the circuit breaker of the house overloads and shuts down. Decisions slip through your fingers like wet noodles. I remember struggling to decide which I should do first …  mow the lawn or clean the house. That simple decision paralyzed me!

Exhaustion was my constant, unwelcome companion. It seemed like I couldn’t sleep enough. I spent many lunch hours at work in my car grabbing a quick nap just to function.  

Like Joseph, I felt lost, like I was sold into a strange land with no protection. I’d been married for 25 years. I went from my parent’s home to my husband’s home. I didn’t understand how to live a life without that other part of me.  I had to learn how to do the online banking, take care of car maintenance, take care of home maintenance and all the things that come with a new single life.

It was hard. I was scared. I cried daily.

But eventually, the grieving turned a corner. I noticed I didn’t cry every day, and the exhaustion lifted. I found my anchor and dug my heels into this new life. But it didn’t happen in a month, or even a few months. It took two-and-a-half years until I came out of the “land of meh,” as I called it.

Three things helped me get through the grief and depression:

 

  • Jesus and prayer. This seems like a no-brainer, but He is the reason I’m still standing, still walking, and talking in full sentences (mostly).

 

  • Journaling and blogging. This was cathartic and eye opening. There is something about pouring out all your angst and anger on paper (or computer) that is like lancing a wound. You don’t have to be a writer. All you need is an audience of one with your words. 

 

  • Accountability partners and therapy. I needed a group of women around me who would stand in the gap and pray for me and with me. You can’t do this alone! My therapist was on speed dial. 

 

What happens if you “move on” too soon?

Your grief will turn stale, and your healing will stall. What do I mean by stale grief? Do you remember Linus from the Peanuts cartoon? Remember the dust cloud that formed around him as he walked everywhere? That happens when your grief is not processed to completion and healing takes a firm hold. Eventually, depression, bitterness and many other dust clouds will take up permanent residence in your soul. You may not see it, but others can!

So let yourself grieve. Cry, yell, throw things—no, not at your ex—I was thinking of a brick wall or the side of a house. (The dollar store has perfect nick-nacs to throw against a wall!). I actually did this, and it felt amazing! Let yourself feel. Don’t rush it. Grief can hide in the weirdest places if you ignore it.

God redeemed Joseph’s story. He is still redeeming mine and He will redeem yours, as well. It won’t happen overnight, and it may take decades like it did with Joseph. But if you press into God’s heart, listen to His heartbeat, you will find life unfolding like a spring flower.

Over the coming weeks, the podcast Rise and Reclaim After Divorce will go through the pains, heartaches and myths of surviving divorce. We will also go through tips and truth to help you rise and reclaim your life after your divorce. In the meantime, find me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/redeemidentity/ and join our community for encouragement and the updates on the podcast.

Have a question? Need prayer? You can contact me at Dana@redeemed-identity.com.