for evangelical divorcees.
Unfortunately in our generation a growing number of evangelicals are confronted in their personal lives with the unthinkable: a divorce. A large number of these divorces are can not be justified on a New Testament basis.
Most of us do not realize that the New Testament is very restrictive as far as divorce is concerned. Only adultery (Mal 2:16; Mat. 5: 31-32; 19:7-9; Mk 10: 3-12) is considered a valid justification. But whatever the biblical constraints a growing number of evangelicals today are confronted with the reality of a divorce. Here is some advice for those caught in such circumstances.
Get it in your head right from the start the following facts:
- the other person has a free will with which God does not tamper for your sake
- if the other person shows no willingness to reconsider the options then stop trying - it will only make them more determined
- find real good friends who are willing to check up on you and just listen to your pain without promising that things will change - they may not.
- don't spend hours blaming yourself or the other person or trying to figure out what went wrong
- make sure you come to the realization that the other person is not your life
- if infidelity is involved know that you have biblical grounds for divorce although every attempt should be made to heal things first - infidelity breaks the mysterious "one flesh" bond because more than two are now involved
- don't waste time criticizing the other person - it will only make things worse and make them more determined
- if you're a Christian don't preach the bible to the other person - even if they are supposed to be Christian as well - preaching sermons to them will only make them want to flee
- pray, pray, pray. Take the time to get your relationship with God in order. More than ever you need His grace. We always need His grace.
- read the psalms over and over again - memorize them and speak them out or sing them
- get out in fresh air with good friends regularly
- find a new hobby that you really like
- If you have kids, then have fun with them - and make sure they know that you love them and that the divorce is not their fault
- don't hide all your feelings from your kids - they may feel that you didn't really care or love your spouse - so cry with them but don't act like poor broken sucky
- don't act like your world and your life are over - especially not in front of the other person - that will only serve to make them think they're right
- listen to good music a lot - sing praise songs every day whether you feel like it or not - like the song says "sing your blues away" (Neil Diamond - song sung blue)
- if you're a Christian don't start prayers of control (which amount to witchcraft) with regards to the other person - that is, prayers like: "O God make them change", "Lord put your judgment on them", "punish that other person who's bewitched my spouse" etc. pray only blessings whether you feel like it or not - tell God how you feel
- NEVER BLAME GOD - tell Him exactly how you feel - His shoulders are able to bare your anger and pain
- if you've done wrong in the marriage (who hasn't?) confess it and ask forgiveness whether the other person gives it or not - again don't preach sermons at the other especially not while asking forgiveness
- never ask forgiveness with a proud or selfish attitude and beware of mentioning the other person's part in the wrongs done - you're 100% responsible for your x% of the wrong and the damage
- never try to turn your kids against the other person - it'll come back against you in the long run
- don't be a wimp - don't let the other person control you through your emotions - stand up tall and straight and act like you've got it together - sooner or later it will just be the truth
- TRUST GOD ABSOLUTELY - no matter what it looks like or feels like He is still there and He loves you.
- know that you still have a life and don't waste years hoping and waiting for the former spouse to 'realize how wrong they are and come begging for you to take them back' - it may never happen - get over the mourning as soon as possible
- wait for at least 2 years before starting a new family make sure you forgive the other person as soon and as completely as possible
- remember that forgiveness doesn't mean you'll stop hurting - it means you no longer wish punishment or wrong to be done to the other person for what they did in rejecting you - let them out of the mental cage you've had them in.
- forgiveness doesn't mean that you forget and act like nothing ever happened - that's just denial in most cases - if the other person has not realized their wrong or asked forgiveness then you must be responsible and beware of accepting further pain from them - in other words be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove ; don't open yourself up for more hurt by making friends with them if they have not changed - they will only hurt you again - you have already suffered enough
- don't go around telling everyone how evil the other person is - at the same time don't hold everything inside - share what has happened with trusted friends
- keep a good relational distance from the other person - let them know that you want them out of your life and that you'll stay out of theirs - cut all unnecessary ties with them and with their family if possible
Certainly not an exhaustive list - these are just some basic rules of thumb that helped me