Life After Divorce (Yes, It’s Possible)

Life After Divorce (Yes, It’s Possible) May 31, 2024

Life After Divorce
Image by Armando Orozco from Pixabay

Divorce is costly. Though not an unpardonable sin, when we fail at marriage, we will experience the consequences of our choices to some degree. Very little, if anything, entirely remains the same.

Unfortunately, when you are unhappy and unsatisfied in a marriage, for whatever reason, and then you find yourself in love and thrilled with a new relationship, you rarely stop to zoom out and consider all the consequences. And the losses are often high relationally, physically, emotionally, and financially. I am delighted with my new marriage, but I have many regrets about my divorce.

One of the after-effects of divorce is you may end up estranged from many people who once loved you. When I went through my divorce, a big chunk of my family, most of my friends, and my former co-workers rejected me. And when you’re my age (60ish), losing old friends is painful.

Some people didn’t know what to say to me, so they said nothing. Some were disappointed and angry, so they wrote me off in disgust. Some felt they were being biblical as they shunned me (2 Thessalonians 3:6,14-15). Whatever their belief, being cut off from people you still care for and love is excruciating.

Because of what divorce does to the human soul, God hates it (Malachi 2:16). Divorce shreds hearts and rips our most important human relationship to pieces. The tearing of one back into two is painful. God doesn’t hate divorced people, but He hates divorce because of what it does to people He loves.

I have walked through this experience as a son with divorced parents, as a former pastor with hundreds of couples, and as an unfaithful husband. So, I speak from firsthand experience.

Divorce is devastating.

One of the things you discover going through a divorce is both the offended and the offender must wrestle through a tidal wave of emotions. Regardless of who is at fault (and it’s never just one person’s fault), both parties suffer through the anguish of divorce. If you are the abandoned spouse, I can appreciate how that last statement upset you. I’m sorry, but it’s true; both parties suffer and share some responsibility for the marriage failure.

People kept asking me, “Do you know what you did to your wife and kids? Do you know how devastated they are? Can you see the impact of the nuclear bomb you dropped?” After they finished yelling at me, I would sheepishly reply, “Yes, I know, and I feel horrible, but I’m hurting too.” Which usually sets them off on another rant of shameful accusations. “YOU did this! YOU chose this! YOU have no idea what you’ve done!”

However, whether you’re the victim or victimizer, the wounded or wounder, you can’t stay stuck if you want to get healthy and be whole. The secret to your survival is not to ignore or deny your brokenness but to own it, get help, and keep moving forward.

Sin happens.

We all fail.

We all go wrong from time to time.

Desperate and divorced
Desperate Divorced Man Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

But failure doesn’t have to be the end of our story.

For thousands of years, David’s sin with Bathsheba and his murder of her husband have been a lesson of God’s grace and mercy. David’s heartfelt plea for grace in Psalm 51 shows the brokenness of the greatest king following his greatest failure. (Note: Here’s a link to a Bubna paraphrase of Psalm 51.)

Yet, from the worst thing David ever did, God demonstrated that no life is beyond His work of redemption, restoration, and renewal. God can take your failures and the vilest things in your life and turn any mess into a miracle. (By the way, this Tim Keller article is worth a look.)

No one is beyond the love and goodness of God.

No one is ever hopeless.

David never forgot his failure. He lived the rest of his life aware of what he did. And countless millions have read his story and thought, “If God can love and bless a mess like David, then maybe there is hope for my life, too.” And there is hope for you and me.

T.D. Jakes once wrote, “Creation comes out of our chaos.” In other words, God does some of His best work in the darkness. Whether it is the darkness that once covered the earth or the darkness that consumed a tomb, God is always working, and He always has a plan. Always.

For weeks after I left my wife, I grieved and wept. The weight of my choices crushed me. As mentioned, most of my friends and a lot of my family abandoned me as “lost” and turned their backs on me. I knew my children and grandchildren would be devastated, but I did not expect their rejection. I was treated as an unclean leper by most who once admired me.

But God never abandons us and does some of His best work in the dark.

So, let’s consider a not-so-random question: Can anything good come out of the dark ashes of a destroyed relationship?

Bear with me as I compare ash and our hearts. According to Wikipedia, “Some ashes contain natural compounds that make the soil fertile. Others have chemical compounds that can be toxic but may break up in the soil from chemical changes and microorganism activity. Like soap, ash is also a disinfecting agent.”

Whether ash is good or bad has much to do with its chemical makeup, which got me thinking. When I burn something down, like a relationship or marriage, whether the burnt remains can be used for anything good or not is an internal issue. In other words, it depends on what is in the ash. And if microorganisms can convert toxic ash to usable ash, am I allowing the work of the Holy Spirit to transform me?

Sad Woman
Sad Woman
Image by DanaTentis from Pixabay

So, how is your heart?

Is it full of bitterness or forgiveness? Is your soul filled with toxicity, or is it tender? Are you angry and anxious, or trusting Jesus and walking in peace?

When the Apostle Paul said, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28), I think he meant that nothing is beyond God’s redemptive and restorative work if we will love and cooperate with Him. And all means all. Including the ashes we cause through our sins.

Interestingly, ash can also be used as a cleansing agent. And I know my soul has been cleansed since my divorce in ways I did not imagine necessary or possible. Once again, I never tire of reminding you that perspective matters. How you view that pile of ashes has everything to do with whether you move forward in hope or not.

So, whether you are the burnt one or the one who did the burning, never forget that hope is sometimes found in the darkest and messiest places. A seed of new life can grow amidst the foulness of our failures.

Tulip on burnt ashes
Out of the Ashes
Image by ivabalk from Pixabay

You can find out more about Kurt Bubna and his writing on Twitter and Facebook. You can read more about his views and insights, both in his books and on his website.

 


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