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Divorce & Annulments

You’re too big for that, now. That’s something I have to tell my kids frequently these days as they are moving past their childhood phases into more mature years. Most recently, it was my youngest daughter who wanted to play on the crowded playground at Chic-Fil-A, simply because it’s fun. But she’s well past the age and height requirement to be in the room with a bunch of little kids.

You’re too big for that, now. It’s not something we necessarily like to hear, because it means we’re leaving something behind… something we like, something fun, something convenient or comfortable. But it’s something we all must do. Leave a particular phase of life behind and seek a new level of maturity. As adults, I think the time we most succinctly hear that call to leave the past behind and look toward the future is in the internal whisperings of the Holy Spirit; when He prompts us that it’s time to move forward. And for people who have been through a divorce, this call to leave the past behind can be a particularly difficult one to follow through on.

Most people did not want their divorce, and the emotional dilemma they find themselves in is almost too difficult to describe in words. The tragedy of the situation is, they are forced to accept a “new normal” they don’t want. The marriage may have been a disaster and filled with hurt, but after more than 19 years of personal and professional experience dealing with divorce, I find most people would have preferred to find a way to work it out (this excludes both men and women who suffered through abusive marriages). Most people would have jumped at the chance to fix what was broken, had they been either A) alerted to the fact their spouse was so unhappy, or B) been given the tools to do so. So many times, they just didn’t know how to fix it. They didn’t have the tools.

So if you find yourself in this position, you understand how difficult it all is. Now that reality dictates a new normal, you have to go through the phases of grief, and there’s no rhyme or reason to any of it. Anger, shock, depression, loneliness; it’s all a part of the experience and the emotions show up as they please, which can make rebuilding your life seem like a joke at times.

But time eventually puts distance between you and your marriage and as it does, offers you the opportunity to let go. God bestows graces upon you to strengthen you. New experiences with new friends start to fill in the gaping holes in your life and soon, the past—as painful as it is—begins to recede and a new life emerges.

By this time, what has happened to you should be changing you in a good way. Your divorce experience should be helping you to make wiser choices, not worse ones. It should be helping you understand how important it is to seek God’s will first, instead of seeking only pleasure in an attempt to deaden the pain. And when it comes to your ex-spouse, your experience should be shaping you into a more compassionate person; someone who is not out for revenge. The time comes when the Holy Spirit whispers, You’re too big for that, now.

For everyone who goes through a divorce, the time eventually comes to leave your anger and resentment behind. To give up the fight to cling to the life you had that now, lies in the past and trust God with your future. To realize how precious a gift it is to be able to say, “I have loved” and be able to pick up and move forward.

Let’s always keep two words at the forefront of our day-to-day existence: time and eternity.

Time, because each moment of the day you spend looking backward, you waste. You will never get those moments back. You need to look forward because God still has many good things He wants to show you, things He wants you to experience that will make you happy.

And eternity, because everything we do here on earth, counts in eternity. Let’s make everything count.

You can reach me at asklisa@catholicmatch.com.

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6 Comments

  1. Brian-987904 July 8, 2013

    Very good story.

  2. Melanie-389078 July 11, 2013

    Yes, I’ve made wiser choices, by not having anything at all to do with dating (I received my annulment in 1999, two years after I sloughed off the major irritant). I do not want to be suckered into anymore lies from a person enamored of my looks so that he can use me and control me forever. I want to be free to live my life my own way without having to worry about whether a male person is going to turn on me and erupt and blame me for everything and nothing. I am poor and alone and that is much better than being stuck with him.

  3. Maria-930320 July 13, 2013

    @Melanie….you are a big girl now! Congratulations.

  4. Maria-930320 July 13, 2013

    Nice article
    Time and eternity….perspective…
    I like the reminder not to look back for it is wasteful of precious time…but I must admit it is very hard not to continuously languish as a Catholic about the plight one is left with in the wake of such disappointment. But as I remind students….a mistake is only a mistake if you do not learn from it, otherwise it is a lesson. Learning particularly involves surrendering all of it to Jesus, becoming closer to Our Lord, the saints, and especially Our Lady, and asking for the Grace we need to move forward and the Gifts of The Holy Spirit for use as we journey into a brand new calling, which may not even reveal itself presently. Trust, faith and oh yes….eye on eternity.

  5. Kevin N. August 13, 2013

    Melanie: I am sorry you were lied to, controlled, blamed and left poor and alone. There is a better, richer, warmer future in front of you. Step out and meet it. Do not remain alone for long periods.

    Maria: Thank for this wisdom; a mistake is only a mistake if you do not learn from it, otherwise it is a lesson.

  6. Rachel-996024 July 8, 2014

    These discussions are helpful to me as a reminder that I am not alone and can be surrounded with the Catholic faith and love. As long as I get up and keep trying. My biggest issue is that I cannot find any support for my daughters. There are no Divorce Care for Kids classes anywhere. I want them to know they can get through this with support (other than me).

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