After a divorce, your self-esteem can really take a beating. Infidelity, painful words exchanged between you and your ex-spouse, and the never-ending court battles can spur a barrage of doubts about your own self image.
Now, we all have our faults and in every divorce, both spouses contributed somehow to the breakdown of the marriage. So, to reflect on your actions and words and find a way to correct bad behavior is always a good thing.
But this mind-boggling experience of trying to figure out what-in-the-world made my spouse leave me? becomes a neurotic diatribe that can be difficult to disengage from and is damaging to your healthy sense of dignity as a person.
Is my personality hard to take?
Is my physical appearance unacceptable?
Did my spouse fall out of love with me before I noticed something was wrong?
Did I make sexual intimacy unsatisfactory?
Am I boring?
What is wrong with me?
People who have lived through abusive marriages and get divorced don’t always struggle with these questions. Many times, they were able to diagnose the problematic behavior of their spouse and recognize it was not their fault or something about them that was wrong. There is often a feeling of freedom that comes with not having to continue to endure the terrible things that happened during the marriage. But for many, it becomes a never-ending blame game.
To make things worse, it is easy to allow the label “divorced” make you feel ashamed and unworthy. I remember one woman in particular who was attending one of my Journey of Hope parish programs who came to me and said, “I just want to know that God is not ashamed of me because I am divorced.” This is a terrible, emotional place to be in but certainly one that is a natural part of grieving a failed marriage.
It’s really hard to go to Mass and see all the happy couples and families who attend. It’s hard to look at the Crucifix and wonder, “What good can I take away from Mass today when I feel like I just want to lay down and die?”
It’s at precisely this point that you need to stop and try to see yourself as Jesus sees you. You are His pearl of great price. You are beautiful and precious to Him. He loves you so much that He gave everything for you – He gave His life for you – so you could be with Him.
When you lose something valuable, it could be that God allowed it to happen because it was an obstacle to having a closer relationship with Him. And now that you are outside of that relationship, He is trying to draw you near to Him. He has seen every fight. He’s heard every painful word spoken. He knows when you fought valiantly to save your marriage and when you grew tired of trying. He knows your struggles and wants to take your burden upon Himself.
You Will Experience No Greater Love Than God’s Love For You
Mother Teresa said:
“Let us understand the tenderness of God’s love. For he speaks in the Scripture, ‘Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you on the palm of my hand’ (Is 49: 15-16). When you feel lonely, when you feel unwanted, when you feel sick and forgotten, remember you are precious to Him. He loves you!” (No Greater Love, Mother Teresa).
Her words are soothing, truthful, and important to remember because with God’s gift of your life and His love, comes a mission…
God created you with a specific mission in life, one that no one else can fulfill for you. So don’t doubt yourself because you were created for great things! Despite your divorce, there are still great things that await you. Be magnanimous! Don’t let someone else make you feel unworthy or unlovable because in Christ’s eyes, because you are His beloved. He has bestowed talents and gifts upon you that are your own and He wants you to use them.
It’s not by accident that you are who you are. You have many gifts and talents to offer. Your divorce places such heavy burdens on you that you may be tempted to give up hope and become discouraged. But in those times of feeling defeated, remember all He’s given you. Remember He still has great things waiting for you. Remember all that He suffered for you. Find your self-worth in Jesus.
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