Moving forward and rebuilding after a divorce can be overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you navigate all the challenges you’re facing in this new season of life?
As a licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania and a Professional Certified Coach, I have walked with many women as they rebuild their lives after divorce. However, it’s my personal experience of beginning anew after a shattered marriage that qualifies me as an “expert.”
Here is an overview of the journey, step by step, for moving from reeling to resilient.
1. Choose to Grieve
Grieving is a normal reaction to losing something or someone very important to you.
Choosing to grieve means you are willing to face the painful emotions that come with a shattered marriage. It’s finding healthy ways to express and work through all the emotions you experience, including anger, sadness, shame and guilt. Choosing to grieve means you don’t ignore or numb the pain with busyness, eating, shopping, spending hours on the computer or watching Netflix.
After a divorce, you not only grieve over the loss of your marriage, but all the other losses it brings. For example, maybe you lost your home, your lifestyle, health insurance, time with your children, or friendships.
You may prefer to skip the time of grief because the feelings are intense. I thought my sadness was going to destroy me and my anger would destroy somebody else.
Perhaps you think the pain will kill you, or grieving means you are not being strong in the Lord. Remember, however, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
2. Reframe Your Circumstances
It’s normal to focus on what you lost and all the problems you are facing. Reframing means as you slowly move toward accepting what happened, you focus on the present and what you still have.
After my divorce, I did not want to change my perspective. I wanted my situation to change. I wanted the hurt, pain and craziness to stop and my life to get better overnight.
But often what changes around us is not the change we want. Reframing means making a shift in the way you look at things—being willing to see things in a new way.
Maybe you have friends who have distanced themselves or disappeared from your life. Reframing is considering that perhaps your pain makes them uncomfortable, so they avoid it and you at the same time.
3. Transform Your Pain into Positive Gain
Isaiah 43:9 (NIV) reminds us, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
What you thought would destroy you, with God’s help, can transform you. When you choose not to stay stuck in bitterness and self-pity, your suffering can be the catalyst for a positive turning point. As you learn the skills needed to grow, you may notice you have an inner strength you never had before. You experience God’s presence and provision and realize you’re more empathetic and caring of others who are hurting.
4. Risk Making Changes
Loss brings pain, but creating a new normal can be uncomfortable, too. Taking risks to make changes means facing your fears and stepping forward into the unknown, even when you are uncertain how things will turn out. That can be frightening when life has hammered you down and you no longer have the invincible mindset of a teenager.
Although you might feel helpless, do not lose sight of the fact there are still areas where you can make a positive difference. Not only in your own life, but also in the lives of others.
Do not wait for your fears to disappear. Pray about it, seek wise counsel and then step out. One simple phrase that can make all the difference when you are stuck and convinced that rebuilding for you is impossible is the phrase, “Not yet.”
It’s not that you never get that college degree or job to support yourself and pay off your bills, it just has not happened yet. And if you do not give up, you will finally get to the last step of rebuilding.
5. Share Your Hope and Heart with Others
This step gives meaning to all the heartache you endured. Whether you share your story or your heart, you discover helping others gives purpose to your pain and hope to the brokenhearted.
You’ve learned what it feels like to be broken or in despair. And you know what it’s like to move beyond that to a new life.
How do you want to help others and live with a sense of meaning and purpose? Take time to reflect on what you care deeply about.
If you’re going through a divorce and are clueless how to move forward, remember these five steps for rebuilding: grieve, reframe, transform, risk and share.
Rebuilding is a process you do not want to go through alone. Rebuild after Divorce is a Biblically based coaching group that equips divorced and separated Christian women with the skills needed to move forward in a safe and supportive community. Learn how to handle the emotional ups and downs that come with a shattered marriage. As one woman in ReBUILD after Divorce said, “I love how our community supports one another and how we are growing together.”
If you are hurting after a divorce, I encourage to look at ReBUILD after Divorce, you can learn all the details and hear the experiences of other Rebuilders at www.GeorgiaShaffer.com/rebuildmembership