Category Archives: strength

The Tempest

In Shakespeare’s play, “The Tempest” caused a shipwreck that killed the main character’s enemies. One may feel that a divorce is like the tempest. Divorce is painful because it is the rending of two souls intimately joined by promise or covenant – that’s what the rings represent. Divorce can feel like a shipwreck, and all you are left with are splintered boards, broken glass and an oil slick on the water.

I have never endured a hurricane or a storm on the open sea. However, I have endured frightening thunderstorms in the Midwest and dust storms in Arizona. The tempest can take many forms – from thunderstorms whipping the atmosphere into a circular frenzy to mighty winds carrying dust into every nook and cranny and powerful storms over the ocean pushing the sea several miles inland. The tempest can also be the emotional storm that accompanies the ripping apart of a divorce.

I thought about this post this morning. I try to encourage others to walk through their divorce with courage, knowing there is light when you come out of the darkness. I know going through a divorce is not all butterflies and unicorns. I know it can be one of the darkest, ugliest and most frightening places you can be. I think only abuse and death are worse than divorce – at least for me.

Shakespeare’s character conjured up the storm for nefarious purposes. I know of One who calms the storm – for His glory. I can honestly say that if it had not been for my faith and the faith of two close friends, I would not have made it through the tempest. I also humbly admit that I did not ride out the storm as a saint. I rode out the storm screaming and shouting all the way – not out of fear, but out of anger and vengeance. I am not the ideal person to emulate during a divorce. However, I can proudly say that I am still standing, I have withstood the tempest because of the love of Christ.

The storm may be buffeting you all around. You may feel as if you do not have the strength to stand. Pray the prayer, “Help!” You will feel the hand of God calm the tempest and steady you. Have faith. Stay tuned. . . .

Fear Not

Fear is a constant companion for many people – fear of death, fear of life, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of intimacy, fear of loss, etc. Fear is paralyzing – it will cause you not to act, not to reach out to others, and not to seek something better for yourself. Life is too short to allow fear to dictate your actions and decisions.

What’s the worst that can happen if you make a wrong decision? You learn from it. People make wrong decisions daily – some get them into trouble and some are just a temporary sidetrack to their life’s course. While some wrong decisions have permanent consequences, most don’t. Eventually, you will come out of those consequences and be able to continue on. For example, I made some wrong decisions that got me into debt I could not handle. I had to declare bankruptcy. The bankruptcy has since been discharged, but it will stay on my credit record for a while. The bankruptcy will fall of my credit record in a few years. So what do I do in the meantime? Pay bills on time, don’t open new credit accounts, don’t be easy prey for predatory lenders. Learn from the experience that got me into trouble in the first place.

Fear causes us to stand still in one place and not move through our lives. Fear robs us of the opportunity to learn valuable life lessons. Fear blocks our ability to have intimate relationships. Fear weighs us down with negativity. Fear hinders our desire to do and learn new things, to have new experiences and adventures. Fear likes nothing more than to keep us ineffectual and hidden. Fear tells us we are worthless and stupid.

Resolve to break away from fear! Just for today, do one thing you’ve been afraid to do. Call that lady you met at exercise class and go out for coffee – you may just make a new friend! Put in an application for that ‘ideal’ job you found online – it may change your life. Visit that Meet Up group that shares your same interests – you may find a group of kindred spirits. Visit the pet shelter and adopt that sweet senior dog or cat – you may give an animal joy in the twilight of their life.

Angels in the Bible were constantly telling those to whom they appeared to “Fear not!” God is not the author of fear and He knows fear is paralyzing. Step out in confidence. It’s okay to make a wrong decision, death is a part of life, and that person you will have coffee with may be just as intrepid as you are about making a new friend. Life is too short to allow fear to dictate your actions and decisions. Stay tuned . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

One of my favorite Christian artists, Wayne Watson, sings a song, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. The song is about an old violin that seems worthless until played by a master. I love the song because it reminds me that even when others think we are worthless, our Heavenly Father tells us we are of great value. After all, didn’t He send His only begotten Son to bring us back to Him? Zephaniah 3:17 says:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Might Warrior who saves. He will take delight in you; in His love, He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Enduring a divorce is painful, especially if you were rejected by your spouse and faced any kind of abuse. It can be such a dark place that only seems to get darker. There are days when you feel like you are so far at the bottom of the well, that you can’t climb out and you can’t see daylight. Dear one, know that in those places, Christ is with you. His heart also breaks at your abuse, mistreatment and abandonment. That’s not what He intended for marriage.

If you are in that place today, dark and dangerous, send up an arrow prayer of “Help me”. Don’t be afraid to venture out into a support group. There are many women who have been where you are. They have come out of the dark places and have experienced the grace and love of Christ. Even though you may be tempted because of a lack of confidence, don’t, don’t, don’t isolate yourself!

Sister, let me be your encouragement. You are an amazing woman! You have come this far, haven’t you? Continue to climb out into the daylight. I wish I could share with each one of you the amazing spring day here in Mytown. It is absolutely glorious! Today is the spring day all other spring days should emulate.

Take heart, my friend. The way seems dark now, but keep moving forward. There is healing in the journey. You are priceless! Stay tuned . . .

Storm Preparations

I just got an email from the emergency communication system here at Myjob. We are under a severe thunderstorm warning. So far, this storm has left quite a bit of destruction in its wake. A couple of my children live in the middle of the state and have already sent me photos of some of the destruction their areas received just a couple of hours ago. Fortunately, the local weather folks have been forecasting this storm for a couple of days, so we are prepared.

There have been times in my life when I wished I would have had a forecast of the storms to come. I would have been better prepared. I was not prepared for the pain and anger of the divorce. I was not prepared for the destruction it wreaked on my heart and soul. I was not prepared for the emotional, financial and mental destruction the divorce left in its wake. Fortunately, I had several great people in my life who walked through that storm with me.

Weather forecasters always tell you to be prepared when bad weather strikes. they encourage you to make sure you have an emergency kit in case the power goes out or goes out for an extended period of time. The American Red Cross also lets people know how to prepare themselves in bad weather. But how does one weather the severe storms in life?

1. Have a safe place to go: Seek out a good friend, a pastor or priest, a mental health professional, a support group. You will need somewhere safe to go, somewhere that you can open up and express the emotions stirring around inside of you. You will need to go somewhere where the support is strong.

2. Have an emergency plan: Divorce just doesn’t happen overnight – there are signs of the impending doom. If you feel like your marriage is headed south, I would encourage you to do the following: open your own bank account and make sure you have money in it, find legal help and make sure you are covered, obtain a credit card in your name only and resolve to use it only for emergencies, make sure you have a place to go if you have to leave quickly. Take care of yourself.

3. Keep emergency supplies on hand: Friendship is like a flashlight in that it can show you the way in the darkness. Be sure to have a good friend close by, someone who will walk through the storm with you. Keep a journal to document your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Give yourself plenty of grace because you will make mistakes as you weather this storm. Take some time to pray and be quite before the Lord. He will hear your cries and He will heal your heart.

4. Listen to warnings and take appropriate action: Do you dream about revenge? Are you close to cyber stalking your ex? Are you losing sleep or weight from your divorce? Divorce is an incredibly stressful time. It is a major life change. Pay attention to signs of depression, PTSD, anger and other negative emotions. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

5. Turn around, don’t drown: Give yourself grace as you weather the storms. You may not feel ready to step back out into all the activities you did prior to being divorced. It’s okay to say, “No” when someone asks you to do something. It’s easy to cover up emotional pain with busyness. Take the time to deal with the pain of the divorce and allow yourself to heal. Don’t drown in overwhelming busyness.

The weather continues to be crazy outside. I will spend this evening bundled up with my dogs – not going anywhere, not risking my safety – but taking some down time as I prepare to move and deal with some major changes in my life.

Dear one, the storms of life are overwhelming, especially when we feel like we are clinging to life as we sit on our rooftops, waiting to be rescued. Cry out to God in the midst of your storm. Give yourself grace and time to heal. There is a rainbow at the end of the storm. Stay tuned . . .

 

Sundown

One of my favorite Christian artists is Wayne Watson. His songs not only speak to the human condition in general, but also to the Christian condition – the attitudes of our hearts and souls before God. Since I am moving soon, I have been sorting, packing and throwing stuff away. In one of my sorting soirees, I discovered several CDs of Wayne’s music. I was listening to one on the way to work this morning. One of the songs was entitled, “There Goes Sundown”. The theme of the song is that only God knows the number of our days and when this world will finally end. As we live out our days, we need to live each one for the gift that it is and not waste our time waiting for the end.

There was a time in my marriage when I dreaded each day because I knew it was another day I’d have with my ex. What was I going to discover today – more money taken out of our account for adult web sites, more evidence of his nasty habits and addictions? I have to confess that I didn’t even look forward to the day because it was a day I’d get to spend with my children – I was so concentrated on my ex.

These days, I look forward to sunup and sundown. I look forward to sunup because it is a brand new day – a new chance to experience this life God has given me. Some days are better than others, but when I close my eyes at night, I am grateful for another chance to experience God and His great love for me. I look forward to sundown because I can look back on my day and see where God showed up and how He used me in the lives of others.

Sunup also brings sloppy doggy kisses from my pups. What better way to start the day than to know you are so special to someone- whether it be a spouse, a child, a pet or a friend.

Dear one, if you are dreading this day, this week, take heart. Here in Mytown, spring has come early. Flowers are blooming and the robins are nesting. If nothing else, look out your window and marvel at our God’s amazing creation. As the sun sets on another day, breathe a prayer of thanks – for the beautiful sunset, for the life He has given you. Stay tuned. . .

Going Where No (Wo)Man Has Gone Before

I have a friend from high school who is a die-hard Trekkie. He collects autographs of Star Trek characters, Star Trek memorabilia and has even memorized the plot of each and every episode of Star Trek. When he was in seventh grade, his sister made him a Star Trek officer’s costume for Halloween – complete with insignia and laser.

In the days immediately after my divorce, I felt a bit like the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise, whose five-year mission was “to seek out new life and new civilizations  . . .  to boldly go where no man has gone before!” I know many women had gotten divorced and walked out those initial days, weeks, and months after a divorce, but it had never happened to me. I didn’t know what to expect.

“These are the voyages of ME. My five-year mission is to seek out a new life and a new normal, to boldly go where I have never gone before!” Wow. Strap me to the U.S.S. Enterprise and jettison me out into space! Perhaps that would have been a better idea.

Even though I had two amazing friends, Cycle Dude and my dogs to accompany me on my amazing (healing) journey, I still felt like I was light years from anything normal. I felt like I had crossed over into a totally unknown and uncharted galaxy that was inhabited by strange aliens. I felt like I was a strange alien! I recently sought help to work through PTSD.

It wasn’t until recently, in the last year or so, that I have finally felt like I’ve discovered my new normal. I feel like I have finally come back to earth after a crazy, whacked-out voyage around the universe. It’s a good thing my space dogs have stayed with me the whole time!

Dear one, if you are recently divorced or have been divorced for a couple of years and are struggling with “going where no (wo)man has gone before”, know that you are not alone. Many of us have been where you are. I extend my hand to you and say, “You will settle in to your new normal. Give it some time and know that it’s okay to feel like you are on an interstellar voyage. Grieve, be angry, be confused and frustrated. Take life one moment at a time. You will heal.” Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .