In my Voices of Hope DVD, part of the successful Journey of Hope program for divorced Catholics, there is a chapter about letting go. Letting go is often equated with forgiveness, but the two issues aren’t entirely similar. Forgiveness is more of a moral act, and letting go, more of a practical/psychological issue.
One of the men featured in that video was Marty and he gave his very candid explanation of being a 40-something dad going through a terrible divorce…
“So, one night, I couldn’t sleep, and I had all these fears. My company was down-sizing so I was fearing losing my job. I’m fighting for custody. I want my kids back. My ex-wife was being very deceitful and she can play all those things against me in court. So I actually woke up that night and said to God: “I am frightened out of my mind! I don’t know what to do! I’m scared.”
I’m sure many men and women who have gone through a divorce have felt this way before. Marty went on to describe how God sort of instant messaged him and gave him the grace and hope he was praying for:
“On Sunday at mass, the priest – in the middle of his sermon – just suddenly stopped talking and after a pause he said, ‘I have a message. For those of you who are afraid… God can’t get to you unless you release your fear.’ And then he went back to his sermon. It was like a commercial break.”
Marty realized something that is important to acknowledge for whomever wants to heal from their divorce and the surrounding circumstances: and that is, the only thing you have control over is yourself. You can’t control your ex-spouse. You can’t control your in-laws. You can’t control the judges presiding over your case, the lawyers representing you and your ex-spouse, your neighbors, your witnesses, etc. You can only control your own thoughts, words, and actions. Once you realize this, you have control in a way society doesn’t understand.
Self-control is freedom. Being in control of yourself and releasing the fantasy of being in control of others brings true freedom. It brings great peace. It paves the way for you to do great things with your life.
This is why it is so important to pray and stay close to God during your divorce, or really any relationship breakup. Is it easy? No, not at first because society conditions us to the contrary. But it’s essential. Without that connection to God, fear takes over. Fear of being humiliated, fear of being alone, fear of losing everything, fear of not being loved. In summary, fear of the unknown.
If you are struggling with fear of the unknown because of the circumstances surrounding your separation, divorce, or relationship break-up, take some time to reflect upon this beautiful scripture passage:
“Never worry about anything; but tell God all your desires of every kind in prayer and petition shot through with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond our understanding will guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus” (Phillipians 4:6-7).