There's more to marriage then love. There's definitely more then chemistry. When my house that was build on the sand crumbled, I had to dig deep into the Lord to figure out why, what my part was in the destruction, and how to do it better in the future. And I'm still in progress. This girl is still single! But very happy, because I've found not just contentment, but joy in my season of singleness!
This is an overview. You need to dig much, much deeper then this article has time for in order to accomplish these steps. Keep in mind that the healing process takes years and I don't say that to daunt you, or cause you to rush. I say that out of experience. I was with my husband for eight and a half years. Married for six and a half of those. It's been three years since the divorce and I am still a work in progress. We are all a work in progress. We will never fully achieve perfection. After all, if I was perfect, I would be god and I wouldn't need God. No, to be imperfect is to be human. To continue to grow is a calling on all of our lives, but don't let the amount of time daunt you or cause you to rush through the process. The goal of this process isn't to get to the end. The goal is to go through the middle of it. To grow through and learn through it. A seed planted doesn't rush the process of growth. It goes through the process to become something beautiful. In fact, rushing a seed (over watering, giving it too much sun, plucking it to see how the roots are) would damage it further and cause the process to take even longer.
Please check out our resources at StandingForSalvation.com bookstore if you would like some recommendations on books that will help you. I also recommend "Planted not buried" by Michael Todd at Transformation church and "Rock and Soul" series by Levi Lusko at Fresh Life Church.
So, how to get a divorce, heal, and rebuild.
Step 1. Grieve
When a house crumbles, there is a lot of loss. Marriage is like a house. The marriage is broken. Grieve it. Grieve all of the losses that come with it. Revisit it as often as you need to, to be sure that you've given yourself enough time to hurt.
As I've been teaching Divorce Care now for the last three years, I highly recommend taking the class. It is thirteen weeks in the emergency room in my opinion, but its definitely worth the time.
Make connections with God-filled and God-fearing people walking through the same pains as you. They can understand your grief. They can help you look at losses you may not have realized you had.
I hadn't realized that I was going to lose my in-laws when I filed for my divorce. In fact, even two years after my divorce, I was still trying to maintain those relationships, which ultimately failed. I still pray for them and love them, but I had to let them go.
Press into the Lord above all else. People are a good voice for the Lord, but nothing can replace His Word. Crack your Bible open and start reading. Start praying. Listen to worship music. Listen to sermons online. Go to Bible Studies. Stay late at church for prayer. Actually, get up and get dressed and go physically sit in the church in the presence of other believers and watch the Presence of the Lord show up for you. He is the greatest comfort you will have in your grief.
Jonah 2:2 In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry.
Step 2. Clear the rubble - heal
Many people in my classes say "I did everything right". I can't always explain why a house crumbles, but I will say that when it does, you have to start over from the bottom. This means clearing away all of the rubble of the previous house; the previous marriage.
A bulldozer should be the first tool. Clear away all of the major problems as you can see them. Going to a therapist helps, as they can observe and point out things in your life that are unhealthy. Having those godly connections helps too. Friends see you from different perspectives. They can look at the rubble in all sorts of ways and say what needs to be cleaned up and what can be saved. Bulldozer items in a divorce are things like finances being split, custody battles, division of assets. Things that need to be bulldozed in our own personal lives will also be things like learning to forgive, co-parenting, dealing with anger and hurt, confronting our own guilt and shame, facing our depression and loneliness.
After the bulldozer, you go back with a broom. Finish cleaning up the space to prepare it for what God has next for your life. Cleaning up with the broom, means taking a close look at yourself. Becoming the person that the one you are looking for is looking for. Sometimes it means getting rid of relationships and friendships that are not beneficial to the healing you need to do and the direction Christ is leading you.
One example in my life is that God is clearing away this tendency toward idolatry in me. I often center my world around the person I am with, leaving close at hand, but not at the center. He's working that out in me right now, making sure my eyes are fixed and my feet are firmly in love.
Isaiah 57:14 And it will be said: "Build up, build up, prepare the road! Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people."
Romans 16:17 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
Step 3. Get a builder, a plan, and lay the foundation - Identity and Purpose in Christ
Get a builder means to go to God. He is the one who created you. Therefore, he knows better then anyone what you need, even if you don't. He is the greatest builder available and He has your best interest in mind. He is an architect who works out a plan and designs your perfect home, based on who He knows you to be.
Psalm 18:2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. He will begin to show you who He created you to be. He will start to put a new purpose in your heart. You and Him together will be able to lay an unshakable foundation, because you've found your dependence on the Rock.
Step 4. Workers
My architect-builder knows who needs to do the work. I do. My God does. But God also knows people. Like a good builder, he has good workers. God knows, if He has someone who will help me build this house, after the foundation has been laid (my identity in Christ) and the plans laid out (my purpose in Christ), who it should be. What qualities would a good worker, who will build this house with me, have?
a. His own personal relationship with the builder. With God. God, the architect, couldn't possibly recommend to me a builder which He has never spent any time with or had any personal relationship with. There's no quality in that person. They're all talk and no action. No, when God has decided to bring me the person who will help build my house, it is because He has seen and participated with this person. He knows this person well and they are a good fit for me. Let the builder bring the worker to you.
b. My worker knows how to read the plans, agrees with the plans, because the plans are in agreement with what God has given him. What I mean is that someone could be an excellent worker (have a good relationship with God), but if their purpose and plan that God has given them is to build a mansion, while God has given me a plan to build a cabin, we are not going in the same direction! The worker God gives to join me on the project will have the same plans as me. We will both be working on a cabin. On the same foundation, which is the Rock of Christ.
c. The worker God has planned for me will be someone I am happy to work with. There will be chemistry. We will enjoy each others company as we work toward the same goal that God has placed on our lives.
John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Step 5. Build
Do the work together to build. Building takes time. There will be problems and issues that rise up as you being to put up your house. Take your time, use quality materials, do it right, by the specifications of the plans laid out by the builder.
Just as an example, my builder has given me plans to not have sex with anyone until I am married. The man who works with me towards building the house that God has planned will also follow those instructions. You have to do God's plan in the right order. Of course, we are humans. There will be problems, because we are weak, we fall into sin, and we require grace. Our builder needs to stay as the foreman on this project always, so that He can correct us and show us how to correct those problem areas. So we do things according to His plan.
Secondly, as we build, we do things in the right order. Don't start decorating, before you've put up the drywall. Don't start planning a wedding (yes, I did that), before you've discussed finances, met their family and friends, they've met your family and friends, etc.
The last thing I've started doing is observing the qualities that I want to see in my future husband in the men of God around me. I watch many different sermons and observe the pastors and how they treat their wives. I listen to podcasts, watch movies, and take note. Beyond that, I look to Jesus himself to be a guide for what a man after God's heart will look like.
Psalm 23 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.