In the past few weeks, I've had more than one person approach me about how to "get through" a separation and/or divorce. Their spouses have left and although they themselves are pursuing reconciliation; it is a difficult road.
I have experienced loss in my life. Even the loss of one who I loved dearly and for all emotional and mental purposes had committed myself to marriage to. I have mentioned previously that I had a serious relationship in college that was both pure and good that I had felt certain that God was directing toward marriage. To my complete surprise, God was impressing on my boyfriends heart a different path. One that did not include me. The most difficult part was that the path he was being led toward was still paralleled with my own. It was a heart-wrenching time in my life. One in which I questioned everything.
For a long time, I was tormented with self doubt. The person who knew me the most, the one I had trusted my deepest heart on a human level with, had rejected me. He sent deeply confusing messages like, "It's not you...it's me." (He used more eloquent words, but it basically boiled down to that.) And he even went so far as to tell me that he loved me and was praying that God would preserve our hearts for one another. I was a mess.
All that to say this...I have not gone through separation and divorce. I cannot pretend to begin to know the complexity of pain, loss, suffering, and disorientation of it all - especially when children are involved; but I do know what it is to feel rejected and alone. To wonder if I had what it might take to ever be loved by another. To wonder if I was even really loved by God. To see what I believed was my future crumble into nothing and look up at a blank canvas after I had begun to catch glimpses of what I believed could have been a masterpiece of art.
Those emotions are real. But they can also be twisted into powerful lies and strongholds of the devil in our lives if we allow them to.
How does one get through the difficult path of separation and divorce? I believe it all comes down to love.
And I don't mean that with one ounce of cliche attached. In my experience, I journeyed through a time of wrestling with God. Bringing my biggest questions and fears before Him and being more real before Him than I ever had been before. Not because I had been trying to hide anything intentionally; I was just raw. My words and the emotion of my heart were unfiltered. He was gracious and kind. He allowed me to get it all out; and then I cried until there were no more tears. I was numb for awhile. I felt nothing; and yet I knew I was being carried.
It was His love that restored my broken heart and soul. His relentless, patient, grace-filled love that showed me truth. His truth. I learned how to seek His face before turning to my empty canvas. I learned to embrace the emptiness of it; the new that He was beginning within me. I was more willing than ever to allow Him to choose the brush strokes and the colors. He did not bring that relationship back to me although I prayed fervently that He might. Gradually, over time, I learned how to place my entire heart in His care. The broken pieces. The shattered parts. The parts yet untouched. And I asked Him to guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
Redemption is part of the very nature of God. We cannot control other people and the choices that they make, but we can trust the heart of God toward us. When we draw near to Him he will draw near to us (James 4:8). He will show to us the paths of life (Psalm 16:11) and He will place beautiful rays of light in our path in the form of other Christians whose salt and light will bless and assist us along the way.
God is able to restore marriages. I have witnessed it. I've watched restoration take many different paths; but true restoration ALWAYS begins individually. It begins between you & your Savior. There may be sin to confess, there may be bitterness to release, there may be questions that you've never asked of Him that you need to (just be sure to listen for His answers.) Maybe you have never caught a glimpse of God's heart toward you - ask Him to show it to you.
There is no simple three step answer that I know to give. I believe it is a day by day process of healing, restoration, grace, and forgiveness; But it all centers around the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is being intentional about accepting the love that our Creator designed to fulfill us - His love.
I invite those of you who have walked the path of separation or divorce to offer your insight or tips in the comment section - whether it would be a specific verse, practical tips, books that blessed you or a word of hope for others.
God's Word is powerful. I hope the following verses will bless you today:
"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul." (Psalm 143:8)
"Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." (Psalm 30:5)
"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters." (Psalm 18:16)
"He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." (Psalm 18:19)
"In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice. In the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." (Psalm 5:3)
"Christ Jesus, who died-more than that, who was raised to life-is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us." (Romans 8:34)
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 43:5)
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our 'God is a consuming fire.'" (Hebrews 12:28-29)
"[God's] compassions never fail. They are new every morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23)
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.'" (Psalm 91:1-2)
"It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night." (Psalm 92:1-2)
"I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11)
"It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights." (Psalm 18:32-33)
"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." (2 Timothy 4:17)
"You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you." (Isaiah 26:3)"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17)
May He wrap each of you in His Everlasting Arms,