At the very beginning of the divorce healing process, most women stay focused on the things that have happened to them or what their husband has done or is still doing. From my years of walking with women, and experiencing divorce myself, this seems to be a common first step in the processing of divorce healing and forgiveness.
Did you miss part one or part two in this series? Be sure to read those first. 🙂
Rumination refers to the tendency to repetitively think about the causes, situational factors, and consequences of one’s negative emotional experience. Basically, rumination means that you continuously think about the various aspects of situations that are upsetting. (Source)
Keeping yourself focused on all the negative aspects of your divorce will not help you move forward into healing or the forgiveness process. That is why we need to practice handing over justice to God. In return, God gives you the power to forgive as well as honor and a more peaceful life.
Instead of thinking about what we should do or what we should have done, we really need to focus on our own healing and what God has for us in the future. Continuing the forgiveness process is not easy but it is worth it.
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, “I will take revenge; I will pay them back,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:17-19 NLT
6 Ways You Can Continue the Forgiveness Process.
One of the nice things about divorce is that most times you’re able to distance yourself from someone that you may be holding resentment and anger towards. If you don’t have children together, you may never have to speak or see this person again, once everything is finalized.
If you do have children, then you should establish clear boundaries in order to keep space between yourself and your ex-husband at all times, especially during the healing and forgiveness process. To me, “no contact” with an ex also means limited contact. No contact is only having contact with my ex-husband when I have to – in the case of emergency or to discuss changes or visitations. Everything is business-like and done via email.
I told him several years ago that I would not respond via text message, and I haven’t.
I don’t believe we’re required to “get along for the sake of the children.” Be civil, yes. Get along and be friends, no! You cannot process through everything if you’re constantly being confronted by the person who abused you or sinned against you. The result is often rumination. And of course, it would be.
Distancing yourself allows you to process the pain, understand what happened, maybe even why it happened, and then let go of the hurt.
One of the reasons I talk about abuse education (hidden abuse) and abuse recovery, especially on YouTube, is because education is one of the ways to process what has happened. Understanding the abuse and abuser’s tactics helps you to realize you’re not crazy – but mind games being played on you. Understanding that adultery is abuse helps you to realize it wasn’t your lack of something that caused him to cheat, it was his lack of something or his issues, instead.
When you educate yourself you’ll see things in a totally different light. The fog that you were living in will disappear. And you’ll see things for what they really are instead of what you were told they were. You’ll see yourself as a victim and then realize you’re a survivor.
As you learn about abuse and divorce, you’ll see where you can grow as a person, have higher standards, rebuild your life the right way, and forgive all that has happened. You may even find that you’re better for all that you’ve been through. And you can take the newfound compassion and mentor others.
Through education, you might learn that you were targeted rather than ever being loved. Forgiveness is letting go so that you can free yourself. But it is also forgiving yourself for not knowing, what you now know. Not fighting back or standing up for yourself when you should have. Not leaving when you had the chance or chances. (This I can relate to!)
You can let go of all of the things you wished you had done, and just embrace what now is.
Use the anger you have towards yourself be a tool to help you now and in the future. You can’t change the past but you can direct your future. This is a new beginning, a new chapter, that you get to decide how it goes. You can walk in freedom from past hurts by forgiving yourself and others.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. – Lewis B. Smedes
Write out the offenses.
Forgiveness is letting go of something that someone “owes” us. We may feel that we’re owed a sincere apology or to see someone’s true repentance. But that may never happen. Holding on to our pain only hurts us, not that other person. One way to let it go and give it up to God is to write out all of the offenses. All the ways you’ve been hurt or sinned against.
I talk a lot about how journaling through my divorce healing has been very therapeutic for me. Many of my journal entries have been what I felt at the time when I was being treated with such cruelty. When I felt that I couldn’t forgive all of that debt, I would write it all down on one large piece of paper… and then tear it up or burn it (something I learned in Divorce Care – get a link to find a group on the resources page). This has helped me to process to forgiveness.
Writing out the debt helps you to see what you need to forgive. Then tearing up or burning this list is physically walking the steps of writing off this debt. You are tearing up this account and calling it closed! At that point, we hand over the judgment to God to collect. It’s no longer in our hands. And we can feel free from the heavy burden.
God can take that load. He is a fair and just Judge to reconcile and take care of it, however it needs to be taken care of.
It is God alone who judges; he decides who will rise and who will fall. – Psalm 75:7 NLT
Focus on the positive.
When we’re focused on all of the bad that has happened, it’s very easy to feel hurt, resentment, and anger. But when we focus on all of the good in our lives, how God has brought us out of the bad, into a better place, we can continue to walk in healing and forgiveness.
As much as divorce is a loss, there have been many positives that can come from this healing journey. When you find it really hard to stop ruminating on all that was lost, start writing down all of the things you have gained. Keep a running page, in your journal, to keep track of the positives and all of God’s blessings.
Writing it all out for me to look at, again and again, reminded me that divorce is not all bad. There are some really wonderful things – like this divorce healing ministry, my physical and emotional healing, and a peaceful home – that come out of my divorce. Even though I too experienced an unwanted divorce.
Prayer of Forgiveness.
When all else fails, keep praying for God to help you and guide you to forgive all that needs forgiving. Ask Him to show you the truth, the steps, and the way. God goes before you and is with you every step of the way.
After a time of heart healing, then you can start the forgiveness process. Before that needed healing might be too soon for you to begin. Keep reminding yourself that you want to forgive to lessen your burden, not anyone else’s. And in God’s timing, you’ll get to where you need to be. Truth Him.
What are you doing to walk in forgiveness and hand over the burden to God?
May God bless your healing journey,
Well written Jen. It’s about time there a blog teaching the truth about forgiveness 🙂
Jen Grice says
Thank you, LaToya!
Pam D. says
Good word Jen! I too kept a journal during the dark times before separation, during separation and divorce. Occasionally, I will reread some of the entries and I am amazed how far the Lord has brought me! In fact, I don’t recognize the person that I was then! It is a gradual process but so well worth the time it takes to heal and truly forgive.
Jen Grice says
Thank you, Pam! Yes, journaling is a wonderful tool in the healing process. And we get to see just how much we’ve really changed in the process. 🙂