Clinical psychologists estimate that 80 percent of those who encounter divorce also experience severe emotional trauma as part of the marital divide. The first couple of years following a divorce, therefore, are an especially important time frame to find healing and support. Unfortunately, it’s a natural tendency for many during this tender transition period immediately to seek out unhealthy romantic relationships that end up compounding the hurt and pain instead of approaching it as a season of recuperation and spiritual strengthening.
Dr. Harold Ivan Smith, a pioneer in the divorce recovery and single adult ministry movement, has experienced divorce himself first-hand and offers some valuable advice about the readjustment period accompanying the end of a marriage. The following is excerpted from Dr. Smith’s book “Singles Ask: Answers to Questions about Relationships and Sexuality” (Augsburg, 1998):
“As a divorced single adult, I know some of the struggles of readjustment. Here are my suggestions for successfully readjusting:
I enjoy running. When it’s sunny and hot. Not warm, but hot. 95 degrees not 65. But recently in North Carolina, it seems as if we’ve inherited Florida’s weather flow. With humidity prevailing and storms emerging almost every evening. Which doesn’t bode well for someone who likes to run of the late afternoon, when it’s still sunny and hot. Exceedingly hot.
And so what that means for me is that when I’ve been out running recently. I’ve suddenly been caught in the middle of a rainstorm. Or two. Not according to plan. But that’s what happens when the weatherman can no longer predict raindrops any better than you can. You get caught. In the middle of unexpected storms.
Interestingly enough, unplanned downpours have taught me something. I’ve discovered that it’s really not that bad running in the rain. As long as it’s not thundering. Or lightning. That running in the rain can actually be refreshing. Not that I prefer it. But given the alternative of not running at all (or even worse, having to settle for a treadmill!). It’s really not that bad. In fact, it can surprisingly be quite nice. If you can get past the stares of those who drive by in dryness. Windshield wipers on. Avoiding the rain. That I’m enjoying. But looking at me. As if I’m running from something. Or as if I’ve lost something. Like my mind maybe.
Working with single adults over the past few years. I’ve found that when you’re single, it can feel a lot like being caught in the rain. Unanticipated. Misunderstood. Not the norm.
Not all singles have a problem being single. But some, perhaps many, do. They’d rather not be caught out in the rain. Alone. At all. They’d much rather be behind the windshield. And the wipers. With someone in the passenger seat. Sitting next to them. Together. Safety in numbers. No strange stares.
Relationship red flags wave everywhere. You’d think we’d learn to see them. And to heed them. But if it’s the right person who captures our attention. At just the right time. In just the right way. Then all the relationship advice about red flags that we’ve been doling out to our friends. Seems to fly out the window. As if we’re not susceptible. As if red flags don’t apply to us. At least not this time around!
Sunday, June 23, 2013 – “Starved for Love” (Dr. Stanley, “In Touch” Broadcast)
NOTE: The following is a partial transcription of the “Starved for Love” message delivered by Charles Stanley as part of the “In Touch” telecast on June 23. You can watch/listen to the message at the following link, which was active at the time of posting: http://www.intouch.org/broadcast/this-week-on-tv
What statements by Dr. Stanley stand out the most to you? Feel free to comment.
SUMMARY: “Have you tried to fulfill that empty place in your life with things, but continue to be unsatisfied? Perhaps you feel starved for love. It’s not the will of God for His children to feel empty, alone and without love. He has made provision for you to be fulfilled and live with joy.”
TRANSCRIPTION: Sometimes we try to fulfill the empty place in our lives caused by lack of love by accumulating things or through repeated relationships that didn’t work out. Continue reading
“Trusting God’s goodness can be difficult. Surely if He knew me, we say, He would know I don’t want to stay single the rest of my life. If He were as loving and concerned as He says He is, He would guide us to the person we want to be with. . .
The issue of singleness and marriage is big enough to make or break our faith. We find it difficult to accept that we’re precious to God when He doesn’t give us what we think we need. We find that our will collides with God’s. But God has planned our lives carefully and intimately. Are we willing to surrender our will to His? Even though we wrestle, it’s possible to come to appreciate God’s will and presence in our lives, and to find that Abba knows best.”
– Skip McDonald in “And She Lived Happily Ever After: Finding Fulfillment as a Single Woman” (InterVarsity Press, 2005)
“Given the fact that 46 percent of the United States population over the age of fifteen was single at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the neglect and distortion of the state of singleness by the Western church is anything but justified. Although most will eventually marry, statistics indicate that a growing number will never do so, and many who do will find themselves single once again because of divorce or the death of a spouse. For these reasons, and in light of the fact that many of the heroes of the Christian faith have been single (including Jesus) — not to mention the scriptural teaching that singleness can be a gracious gift of God (Matt. 19:11-12; 1 Cor. 7:7) — the contemporary church stands in urgent need of reappraising its stance on the issues of singleness.”
– Dr. Andreas Kostenberger (Professor of New Testament, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) in “Marriage and the Family: Biblical Essentials” (Crossway, 2012)
“Let’s be honest. Many of us at some time in our lives have felt as though something is missing. All of us have struggled with loneliness. We’ve all felt detached, unaccepted, separated from the group we’d like to be part of. And when we find ourselves in this empty space, we typically search outside ourselves — often compulsively — for something or someone to fill it. We shop, we drink, we eat, we do anything and everything to distract ourselves from the pain of feeling alone. Most of all, we tell ourselves, If I find the right person, my life will be complete. Too bad it’s not that simple. If it were, we’d have friends that never failed us and marriages that never fractured. The truth is, the cause of our emptiness is not a case of missing persons in our lives, but a case of incompletion in our soul.
I order to build healthy relationships, you must be well on your way to becoming whole or complete. You must be establishing wholeness, a sense of self-worth, and a healthy self-concept.”
– Drs. Les & Leslie Parrott in “Relationships: An Open & Honest Guide to Making Bad Relationships Better & Good Relationships Great” (Zondervan, 1998)
“My most earnest of all pleas to singles is abandonment of the self, surrender to Christ of all unfulfilled longings, an unequivocal willingness to receive whatever God assigns, and a determination to practice the sacrificial principle of Isaiah 58:10-11. Life becomes not only far simpler, but surprisingly joyful and free.” — Elisabeth Elliot