I have been inspired to write another post on Singleness, due to the amazing way God has used the previous one; Christian Singleness ~ 12 realities. I have chosen to focus this time however on the realities I went through in the early days of my new found, and unwanted singleness. I truly hope that this post will bless you, and encourage you to seek The Lord in this extremely difficult time, as He is the true healer!
If you have a friend who urges caution, and waiting for more confirmation from God before you make a major decision, try not to get your back up…Take a deep breath and appreciate that you may possibly not be your usual self.
2. Attention Seeking: When you have been deeply hurt, a natural reaction can be a knee-jerk one, like publically shaming the other person. I can tell you honestly that I have felt like doing this many times (even still today), as a way of getting pay-back. However it is not the healthy, healing option. Most of you unfortunately, will have Facebook acquaintances who air all their dirty laundry via their public status updates…And you and I know, that the reality is, they actually just damage their own reputation. If you need to vent, you could; do it with a trusted confidant; write a letter to God; write one to the person, then burn it; or take a LONG walk.
Attention seeking can just be another way of distracting yourself from dealing with the hurt. Working through your hurt, acknowledging it in a safe, private way, and seeking God’s help to forgive the offender is the way to truly be set free.
3. Identity: Loss of your identity is a very real possibility. I remember feeling hurt, lost and angry in the early days that I was no longer a ‘wife’ or ‘married woman’. Sometimes you may feel so hurt that you feel lost, like your identity or life purpose has been stolen. You may be angry at the injustice, or not feel like getting out of bed each day. I am grateful to God that I had permanence in my role as a mother; this helped me to get out of bed each day. For others it may be their role at work. I would strongly urge you to persevere in whatever role that you have remaining, while you re-group and find your new identity as a single person in Christ.
The loss of your role as a life-partner can truly impact your self-identity, even for a Christian. Spending time getting to know yourself as a single person in Christ, will allow healing from this loss.
4. Other People: This is a difficult point, but I believe that it is one that needs to be acknowledged, no matter how painful. We cannot control other people, or how they will react to our change of circumstances. Some of the awfulness of separation is that its effect is so wide spread. Yes you are affected, but so are your children, parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, nephews, friends and extended family. No wonder God hates divorce! So many people get hurt. In my experience I lost some friendships, and some connections with family members from my ex-husband’s side. These losses did hurt, some people never even phoned to see how the kids and I were. I have needed to forgive those who have hurt my kids and I. Honestly, I don’t even know if they know how their reactions hurt us…The reality is that people just react, good or not. During the painful early days, I reached out to my nearest and dearest, and decided that I would let any others reach out to me if they chose to do so. Sadly, not many did, and my kids and I walked the most painful days with not many people by our side…Although we were not alone or abandoned by God!
People will disappoint you, but God never will. When hurt by others, don’t take it out on God. Appreciate the true family and friends He surrounds you with.
5. Projects: There is only so much time you can spend processing. You may find yourself going a bit stir crazy at times, or unable to cope so well with new feelings of loneliness. This type of emotion can lead people jumping into re-bounding relationships, when they are totally not ready. They then end up hurting another person loved by God. Short projects, classes or a new hobby can be a great healthy option to keep your mind and hands busy, and to build your self-esteem back up. I began sewing handbags, and later I took some art classes.
Alcohol fueled partying at nightclubs is never going to change. These places will always be seedy, accommodating broken and desperate people. Christian people won’t bother with these places, as they know their worth is found in Christ, (not in another human) and they will value themselves as a beloved, child of God.
6. Time: I remember not liking people saying expressions to me like; ‘It just takes time’ or ‘You’ll feel better in a year’ or ‘In time you’ll meet someone else’ and so on. I didn’t really want to think too long term, as I was just getting through one day at a time. Sometimes people don’t realise how raw your emotions are, or where your thoughts are at. They can struggle with trying to comfort you; try to remember that they are human, and are trying their best. It is okay to say to people that you are not up to thinking too long term as yet. When single milestones come up, be kind to yourself on these days, and put some time aside to process your emotions at that time. Personally, for about the first six months I needed to process on the 13th day of each month, then it became the first year and 18 month mark. Today marks two years, and I am grateful to God that I have not had to process too much today, and know that I am healed from the hurt of abandonment. As for how much more time I need remaining single, only God knows that. Don’t try to push your healing to fit other people’s time frames, as that is unrealistic; we all are individuals and this will only restrict your healing.
Sometimes hearing "time is the greatest healer" is not a comfort! The truth is actually God is the greatest healer…People can stagnate over time when they don’t seek God.
7. Cycles of grief: You may have heard of 5 stages or 7 stages of grief. This psychological model helped me to better accept my feelings. Personally I feel the 7 stage process is a better model, as it is a more comprehensive progression. Separation/divorce is a substantial loss, and I have found that I followed the grief process over the death of my marriage. I found I did not necessarily progress through the model in the listed sequence, and that I also moved back and forth through stages due to new traumas which arose when secrets came out, and new hurts occurred. Here is a link to the seven stages: (http://www.recover-from-grief.com/7-stages-of-grief.html). If you feel stuck in a stage, or overwhelmed in your grief, Christian counselling is a real option for healing. Previously in my life I had tried counselling (with non-Christian professionals) and my personal experience was that it was not beneficial. However I did seek Christian counselling in the early days and through the first year, and it was amazing. My professional counselling priest, made me process things in a new way (which was so different to talking with friends, which I also did), and always prayed with me at the end, which gave me so much peace.
Before you accept yourself as a Christian Single, you will need to grieve the loss of your relationship and identity as someone with a life partner.
Remember all things are possible with God (Luke 1:37)
God bless you, Melanie.