Your Mission After Divorce
by Tez Brooks
Is there really life after divorce? Sometimes it can feel like a mission impossible. Perhaps it’s been a few months since your divorce. Though still disoriented, maybe you’ve settled into a new routine. Being alone wasn’t your plan, but you’ve learned to survive and, surprisingly, inch forward.
Although we shouldn’t make any big decisions when under stress, we do need a strategy to shape our new single-again lifestyle. Proactively moving toward healthy change prevents us from being carried helplessly along without direction. Following some simple core strategies, we just might emerge a healthier, stronger child of God.
1. Stay Healthy
One of the first things neglected during a divorce is personal health—not just our physical health but also our emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.
Exercising: Make time to at least take a walk. Much stress diminishes with as little as 20 minutes of exercise daily.
Mourning: It’s okay to bawl. Crying reduces tension and lifts depression, helping us think more clearly. Weeping to the Lord gave me the strength to get out of bed.
Renewing the Mind: Sometimes I imagined who my ex-wife might be with and whether or not this man would win my children’s affections. Entertaining those thoughts took me down unhealthy roads. Bible reading combined with godly counsel focused my thoughts on positive pursuits.
2. Serve Others
It’s hard to dwell on our own woes when we’re surrounded by those with greater concerns. The quickest cure for self-pity is to meet someone else’s needs. And we don’t have to look far to find the hurting; often they’re within our own circles.
Make the most of your singleness while you can. Use this opportunity to do things you never had time for when married. Look for an organization that needs volunteers—maybe your church, a nursing home, a homeless shelter, your kids’ school. Weekly, even monthly service can pull us out of despair and point us to hope. I volunteered for the police as a chaplain, counseling victims of violent crimes and even giving death notices. This brought healing to my own brokenness. Few things glorify God more than putting other’s needs above our own.
3. Find Community
During my divorce I often preferred isolation. I didn’t realize I was running from what I needed—community.
Friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers can give the support we desperately need during this life adjustment. If we have children, the need is even greater; seclusion isn’t the answer to becoming a healthy single parent.
I leaned heavily on my church family as I raised my kids alone. Moms and widows provided the feminine nurturing my son lacked at my house. I found support, acceptance, and accountability from this community.
4. Draw to God
Of course all these healthy choices won’t help if our spiritual life is wavering. Rather than leaning on the Lord, many guys avoid pain or loneliness by remarrying too soon. But it typically takes five years to fully recover from divorce; remarriage before that is inadvisable.
Marital breakups are painful regardless, but if your faith isn’t grounded, a divorce can be devastating. I’ve seen friends abandon God because a divorce shook their fragile faith. I had placed all my identity in the American dream—wife, kids, and a house with a picket fence. When it was all wiped away, I found myself feeling worthless to my children, society, and God.
Thankfully I turned toward, not away from, the Lord. He revealed to me my true value and identity as his priceless child. I wouldn’t have seen this had I not remained close to him during the hardship. One scripture that brought me peace was 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 which reminds us that God comforts us in our trouble, so we can turn to help others with the comfort we ourselves received.
5. Lead Your Kids Spiritually
Finally, modeling Christ’s character for our children though the divorce is key to winning them to the Kingdom. It may be hard to respond to our ex or the court system with grace and humility, but it’s possible with the Holy Spirit.
My kids experienced the pain of divorce too. They needed to see Jesus working in and through me. When I failed, my repentance blanketed them with security as they observed Christ was the main thing in my life.
These certainly aren’t the only areas to concentrate on as you face single life and parenting, but it’s a good start. It may be easy to just allow life to happen. It’s certainly easy to be lethargic when you’re already emotionally drained. But with God’s help, you can build and maintain a healthy, biblical lifestyle and be a Christ-like dad for your kids.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it . . .
Tez Brooks has been writing for decades. He and his wife, Christine, are full-time missionaries with Cru. They have four children and currently reside in Orlando, where Tez serves as a screenwriter/producer for The Jesus Film Project and a certified Stephen Minister Caregiver at his church.
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