By Gretchen Smith, LMFTA, Seattle Christian Counseling, PLLC
Divorce, while often very upsetting, does not have to signal the end of a life worth living. In my previous articles in this series, I provided several suggestions for picking up your life after a divorce. You can move forward into the hope and future that God has planned for you. (Jeremiah 29:11) If you haven’t done so already, read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 to learn how surrounding yourself with supportive people, allowing grief to happen, connecting with God, and practicing healthy self-care can assist you on your path to overcoming divorce and healing emotionally.
This fourth article provides three more tips for triumphing over divorce. These all have to do with activities and suggest ways in which you can get involved in something to create a life that is full, pleasurable, and meaningful.
Do Things You Used to Do
Sometimes you may have given up a hobby or a favorite pastime in your marriage – maybe even more than one. This can occur for a variety of reasons. Perhaps one of the hobbies you used to enjoy was expensive and your financial priorities changed when you got married. Perhaps it was time-consuming. Or perhaps it was something that your spouse did not enjoy, or which was more appropriate for a single person. It’s possible that you lost interest or just stopped looking for or finding opportunities to indulge in it. Now may be the time to resurrect activities and pursuits that you once enjoyed but haven’t engaged in for quite some time, perhaps even years.
What did you love to do? Hike? Ski? Go to concerts or plays? Drive in the country? Put together model cars? Motorcycle riding? Scrapbooking? Participating in a club? Attending Little League games? Sailing? Make a list of all the activities and hobbies you can remember ever enjoying in your life, and pick out one or more to bring back from the dead.
Try Something New
Even early on after divorce, you should take breaks from grieving.
Have you ever thought about taking a class or exploring something that has piqued your curiosity, but didn’t follow through on it? When depression, apathy, and isolation loom, it can be an excellent time to nudge yourself and commit to something such as a painting class, dance lessons, or horseback riding.
If a friend or acquaintance invites you to do something you’ve never done before, or are not sure you’re really interested in, instead of automatically declining, why not give it a go in the spirit of adventure? You just might discover a new passion and make new friends along the way. And you won’t be sitting home mired in your memories and hurt.
Get Involved in a Ministry or a Cause
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)
All believers are called to serve. The Bible does not say that we should only serve when things are going well in our lives. Often, to get out of a funk, we need to get out of ourselves. One of the ways to do that is to find or start a ministry or cause that we care about and to get involved.
Most, if not all churches, have in-house ministries, such as greeter, worship team, or children’s department, as well as outreach ministries such as missions, clothing the homeless, or distributing food baskets at Thanksgiving. Some ministries require weekly participation, while others are seasonal or a one-time deal involving a day, a weekend, or some other limited block of time.
Give of Yourself
The world is also full of important and impassioned causes and the funds are often low and the workers few. Consider the many possibilities available, such as tree planting with the Audubon Society, becoming a Boy or Girl Scout leader, volunteering in an animal shelter, distributing toys to sick children in hospitals, visiting the disabled and elderly in nursing homes, joining a search and rescue group, getting involved in a political campaign, or becoming an activist for social change, just to name just a few. There are countless opportunities for you to give of your finances, your time, your skills, your labor, and/or your knowledge in order to benefit others and the world we live in.
In Acts 20:35, the Apostle Paul quoted Jesus, saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” When we give, there is a blessing that comes both to others and to ourselves – it feels good to give. When you experience a dearth of positive feelings, giving of yourself is one way to produce some.
Christian Counseling Can Help You Heal from Divorce
If you have been following this series, you now have several specific strategies for getting through and past an exceptionally painful life crisis. In the next article in this series, I provide further suggestions that can help you to triumph over divorce. However, you may also benefit by working closely with a Christian counselor, especially if you are still reeling from divorce and not feeling yourself. A trained Christian counselor can be a vital support at this time and will listen with empathy as you sort through your thoughts, feelings, and concerns. If you or someone you care about is going through divorce or struggling with its aftermath, I have personal and professional experience to help. Together, we can explore ideas and strategies for getting through such a painful experience, regaining clarity, and moving toward goals for a fulfilling future. To reach out for understanding and compassionate care, feel free to contact me.
Flickr Creative Commons provided the following photos: “Clouds at Sunrise,” bySusanne Nilsson, (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Skiing to Victory” 1st Lt. Jennifer Wygant, courtesy of Tim Hipps, US Army, (CC BY 2.0); “Royji Koie Workshop” courtesy of Yuya Tamai, (CC BY 2.0); “14 OiledBirdCleaning-1” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (CC BY 2.0)