No two divorces are the same. Just as no two people who might have taken that gut-wrenching path through divorce are the same. Still, I found, in having spoken with and listened to an unfortunately large number of people who have experienced divorce as I have, that there are some commonalities that we all, or most, have battled or fought hard to avoid once the “till death do us part” is done.
So, with a humble warning that, again, no two divorces are the same, I suggest these stages that many trek on their journey from what feels like H-E-Double Hockey Sticks to healing. The point in which some of these stages comes varies from person-to-person. How long the stages last vary from person-to-person. Whether all the stages are endured, or some are able to be avoided vary from person-to-person. The ABILITY, through the grace of God to overcome them all is available to ALL. (Just ask me how I know!)
Shock and Pain-This stage is the initial revelation that the marriage is in jeopardy or ending. You’ve seen it. It is not pretty!
Revenge and IrrationalityThis stage is where many have spent nights and days plotting how to get back at the other spouse, engaging in unhealthy relationships, not eating, not sleeping, drinking, straying away from the church and from those who should be present to love and support them.
Fear and Grief-This stage is very similar to mourning experienced with the physical death of loved one and is often clouded with hopelessness, and for some depression and other mental or emotional illnesses.
Fighting For Mine (not literally)-This stage is bogged down with the legal aspects, and dismantling of the lawful arrangements of the marriage that often includes screaming, yelling, “private eye-like” investigations, heavy documentation (in case you need to prove him/her wrong in court) costly lawyers, custody battles, or property battles.
Figuring Out and Sorting Through-This stage is a sign of progress where the dust begins to settle and clearer thoughts prevail with how to handle things maturely and more appropriately. It’s still a struggle though, teetering on the brink of rational and irrational far too often for far too many.
Faith It for the Sake Of-This stage is where the spirit of the Lord equips a person to smile when they feel like crying, dress up, eat again, re-enter healthy social circles even if it pains them to do so, comb their hair, return to their regular hygiene routines, and speak in faith even when they don’t see it yet.
Compassion, Civility and Forgiveness-This stage is where forgiveness shines. A person is able to speak calmly to those who they feel might have led to the divorce. It’s the stage where rational thinking and a Godly outlook return, and they’re no longer consumed with the negative pains of the past. The person can grow during this stage to be able to pray for the other spouse or those who they feel might have contributed to the demise of the union, and be kind to them (whether they reconcile or not).
Platforms and New Purpose-This stage is where the Lord can trust a person to be able to use what he or she has been through to help others. Often people write, speak publicly, start ministries, form non-profit organizations, or launch support groups.
Connecting the Dots-This stage is where the Lord begins to show the good that has come out of the bad. It’s a tricky one that can also include having to face the ex-spouse in his/her new life and deal with any emotions that might come as a result to show you areas that still need to be healed. It is where God allows the pains of the past to be viewed from His point of view with the ability to look back and see how He was working for good all along, even when it didn’t feel like it. This is the stage where the belief that BETTER is the only option is all that matters.