Two years ago I agreed to co-lead a “small group” Bible study for my church focused on ministering to those who are separated or divorced. Our first meeting had close to 20 in attendance. Within 8 weeks, 45 were on our roster and I had to “close” the group to new members. So much for a small group.
Since my own divorce in 2010, I have watched this relational epidemic sweep not just the nation but the church. More and more people (regardless of age, socio-economic background or color) are entering this pool at an alarming rate with no signs of it slowing down. With sadness I watch these vulnerable brothers and sisters in Christ make some very costly mistakes (post-divorce), some of which I made myself early on.
With eight years of divorce behind me and as many years helping countless others through the painful process, I have seen the following mistakes repeated, with devastating consequences. If you are going through a divorce or have been through one recently follow these eight steps if you’d like to remain as unhealthy and hurting as possible.
1) Avoid counseling. Do not get help from an educated professional. Do not share your pain with someone qualified to help you. Do not take any advice from someone highly trained in the area of relationships and conflict resolution. How can unpacking years of dysfunction help you understand the many dynamics that got you to where you are today? Just because they have years of experience in this area and can share nuggets of wisdom with you, so what? You owe it to yourself to remain as miserable and unhealthy as possible.
2) Pick up a vice. You haven’t smoked in 10 years? You should start again. Drinking large amounts of alcohol to numb your pain is totally acceptable and could not possibly lead you into poor choices. Also, you should gamble. What faster way is there than to take the precious little you have and make it even less? Bottom line, drown your pain into something that will absolutely guarantee you to feel worse and ensure you will avoid personal growth at all costs.
3) Date as many people as fast as you can. Statistics show that you will have your best chance of finding true love while you are emotionally unavailable and relationally devastated. Two people who are at the lowest seasons of their life and carrying massive baggage from their previous relationships is the key ingredient to happiness. Be sure to find someone else who is also following these steps as well. I mean, you don’t want to be unequally yoked, right? To achieve bliss even faster, marry them soon after meeting them.
4) Tell your kids everything you know about your divorce. Since kids are just mini-adults, they deserve to know all the things you know, especially about their other parent. Forget the fact that their little souls can barely handle the weight of the pain, sharing all your juicy adult stories is the best way to help them grow up the fastest. Read them your divorce decree before they go to sleep at night. Show them all the text messages and emails you receive from your ex-spouse. Sharing all your divorce details with them is helping them learn the truth, not at all revealing your ignorant selfishness and insecurity.
5) Do not register for a DivorceCare.org group in your area. Why would you want to meet with other people who could support you during this difficult season? What good could come out of a 13-week study where you hear from divorce and relationship experts? Making new friends who will encourage you during this difficult season is one of the worst things you could do. The best course of action is to be alone, with your thoughts, and not invest 2 hours per week trying to improve your situation.
6) As you struggle with the worst pain of your life, do not read any books that will help you cope or give you strength and encouragement, especially the Bible. Do not read the Psalms. Do not read any of the New Testament. Do not go to websites like this one (www.divorceresourceusa.com) for resources to help you. Do not try to learn from the dozens of people who have gone before you. Instead, spend countless hours alone watching Netflix movies as that is obviously the best way to help you through this season.
7) Do not exercise. In spite of the years of studies and scientific proof that exercise improves your mood, attitude, and body – don’t do it. Stay at home. Sit on the couch. Eat the whole bag of Doritos. Stress reducing activities like exercise are overrated. Why improve your heart and do something that is proven to make you feel better about yourself and outlook on life? Just because the Center for Disease Control mentions 8 reasons why physical exercise is beneficial for you, who cares? What do they really know anyway?
8) Do not help others. Looking after “number one” is in your best interest. Obviously, you are too broken right now to serve others. What could you possibly offer someone during this season of your life? Just because love, attention and time are free doesn’t mean you have any left to give. Trying to ease someone else’s burden will only keep you from feeling your pain longer. Giving your time or attention to someone else in need will only cause you to lose your focus on your misery. You have been given a victim card and you should play it as long as possible.
My friends, follow these eight steps religiously and I promise, you will still be in the same miserable position a year from now (or longer) than you are today! Divorce is one of the hardest, most painful experiences one can go through and you owe it to yourself to try not to recover from it too soon.