How can we pick up the pieces again and find hope after divorce or other life-changing events? Today we are continuing our series on how to manage our thoughts and emotions while walking through life trials and big challenges. I have brought on my friend, best-selling author Tracie Miles, to talk about her divorce journey and how to maintain a healing mindset after divorce.
Discover how Tracie cultivated a healing mindset and a vulnerable relationship with God despite the trauma, grief, fear, and anger of divorce.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:
- [4:50] Tracie’s Background and Her Experience with Divorce
- [9:37] Grief as a Necessary Season to Nurture a Healing Mindset After Divorce
- [14:08] Normalizing the Grieving Process After Divorce
- [16:51] How the Church Can Support Someone Who is Walking Through Divorce
- [19:33] Bible Verses That Speak to a Healing Mindset
- [24:40] Balancing Fear and Hope After Divorce
- [30:33] Avoiding Isolation After Divorce
- [34:51] How to Maintain a Healing Mindset When it Feels Like the Sympathy Has Stopped
- [37:07] Tracie’s Words of Encouragement for Someone Going Through a Divorce
[4:50] Tracie’s Background and Her Experience with Divorce
Tracie was married for almost 26 years, and she had three children. It seemed like life was going the way that it should. There were a lot of things in her marriage, however, that she was unaware of. Things began to come to light right before their 25th wedding anniversary, regarding infidelity and addictions.
While Tracie understands the desire to take the path of forgiveness, she eventually realized that you can transfer from forgiveness and acceptance into enabling. That was where she found herself, and that was the last straw. Her marriage fell apart, and she really felt like her entire life was over.
With divorce, or other life-changing events, there is so much grief and there are so many challenges to overcome, Tracie shares. Divorce was a very difficult journey for her and for her children. Out of that divorce journey, however, God birthed three books. He has done so much in Tracie’s life to take her from the depths of sorrow, devastation, and hopelessness to really seeing how He can use even the worst of circumstances for good. God can heal our hearts, and anything is possible with Him.
[9:37] Grief as a Necessary Season to Nurture a Healing Mindset After Divorce
Tracie shares that the journey of separation and divorce is a huge grieving process, because you are mourning the death of a spouse in your life. You are mourning the death of the life you once knew – your financial security, your friend group, and everything you knew has basically died. Divorce, however, does not spark the meal train of casseroles and the greeting cards in the same way as the death of a loved one, but it is the same grieving process. You still go through the stages of shock, denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance.
People will often ask Tracie how long they should be in any one stage, or how long they should grieve after divorce in general. God puts no timetable on our grief, and Tracie shares that it is different for every single person. To this day, she can find herself falling back into a phase of grieving. It stays in our heart because it is a wound. It eventually becomes a scar, but it is still there and we have to work to cultivate a healing mindset after divorce.
No matter how long it has been since a separation or a divorce, triggers can still pop up. There is an ongoing process of healing, but God never leaves our side. Tracie advises others to keep pushing forward, and to surround yourself with people who love and support you.
[14:08] Normalizing the Grieving Process After Divorce
Tracie reminds us that God did not create us as robots with no feelings. We were created as emotional beings, and as women especially we are nurturing and we care about others’ feelings as well. In the wake of Tracie’s divorce, she remembers being so worried about her children and her family. She experienced a tangled web of emotions on top of all the sorrow, disappointment, and concerns about the future.
It is okay to grieve, but we do not have to let those feelings be our boss, she says. We can control our grief and we can capture our thoughts as the Bible tells us to. It takes practice and intentionality, but it can be done. Shaming ourselves, feeling like we should be getting over it by now, or discouraging use of medication, however, can be really counterproductive. First and foremost, we need to give ourselves grace to grieve whatever it is that has broken in our hearts, she says. Regardless of how long the grief process takes after divorce, we can still find that hope, joy, and peace in our lives. We can be content with where God has us and we can choose that contentment rather than letting ourselves stay sunken in grief all the time. We can be intentional about our healing mindset in order to find hope after divorce.
[16:51] How the Church Can Support Someone Who is Walking Through Divorce
After her divorce Tracie recalls sitting in the pews in the church where she sat with her spouse for 20 years, and feeling like she no longer belonged. She felt like she did not have a support group, as she was not a single or a senior. She couldn’t go to the couples’ Sunday school class. People don’t know what to say when someone is walking through a divorce.
Tracie wanted to create a place for women to feel safe in their church, and to have that kind of support from pastors or the women’s ministry team. While divorce is never desirable, churches should have an outlet to support women going through divorce, she says.
From a friend's perspective, the most important thing is to be present for a person walking through a divorce journey. Some people will stick by your side through it all, but you may lose some friends along the way. A lot of people distance themselves when someone goes through a divorce simply because they don’t know how to deal with it or what to say. The presence of friendship and support is the most important thing, Tracie shares, because you can feel very alone and detached from the life that you knew before.
[19:33] Bible Verses That Speak to a Healing Mindset
In Tracie’s book Living Unbroken: Reclaiming Your Life and Your Heart After Divorce, she shared a couple of Bible verses that really spoke to me.
Psalm 34:18, The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalm 147:3, He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
She uses those verses as evidence that it is not a question of if God is going to heal us, but when he will heal us – when he will bandage our wounds. Believing in that truth that we may not see the healing right now, but it is happening can bring comfort and hope during some of the darker seasons of walking through divorce.
After her separation, Tracie started journaling. She felt so weighed down by her thoughts and emotions, and she felt like she couldn’t express them to anyone. In addition to her feelings, Tracie would journal about the tiny things she could see God doing. Any answer to a prayer, any call from a friend or show of support, was proof that God is close to the brokenhearted.
When going through divorce or other life-changing events, it can feel like God has forgotten us. Tracie had prayed for her marriage, prayed for her husband, and prayed for their future, for years. It felt like God had taken a backseat. The more she journaled, however, the more aware she became of how close He was to her. She could see God at work, despite the pain of her divorce journey.
Through her divorce book and teaching series, Tracie set out to help women realize that they are not broken. God pieces our lives and our hearts back together. Those verses go hand in hand, and grief is a journey that we can overcome.
[24:40] Balancing Fear and Hope After Divorce
One day while Tracie was journaling, she realized she was feeling weighed down by fear. She felt like it was a nudge from God saying, “This fear is controlling you.” Tracie asked God why she couldn’t move forward. She wondered why she couldn’t stop crying, and why she felt so anxious and stressed. She wanted to trust in God, but she was struggling to shake the heaviness.
In that moment, she felt God tell her that it was because she was so afraid and she was not trusting Him. She decided to write down everything she was afraid of, and she listed 33 things. She stared at the list and realized that she was not trusting God in all of these things. Her mind was full of fear, worries, and worst-case scenarios keeping her from God’s peace.
It was a huge revelation for her, and she prayed and turned those things over. Over a short period of time, Tracie felt such relief. Some of these scary things might happen, but others were completely irrational. Her fears were all-consuming, and they were sucking every bit of joy and keeping her from seeing the blessings and the wonderful people she had in her life. It is so important not to let fear control your life, she says, and to truly make a commitment to trust God and to ask for His peace. There comes a point where the only choice you have is to trust God.
[30:33] Avoiding Isolation After Divorce
It is completely natural to want to isolate yourself after divorce, Tracie shares. It can be hard to talk about your problems, and your emotions are so fragile. It is easier to retreat and to stay alone. Tracie did that for many months, as she didn’t want to face anyone. You deal with shame, and wonder why this happened to you and not someone else. There is also guilt, and wondering what you could have done differently.
Retreating, however, can be detrimental, Tracie says. Yes, we need to have solace for ourselves and with God, but we also need to force ourselves to get back out there. Tracie’s book, Love Life Again, was born out of her journey as she realized she has one life to live. The book goes through the things she did such as going to meet-up groups, returning to church, starting a hobby, and inviting a friend for coffee. After a divorce you might avoid these things because you are worried about what people think. If someone invites you to do something, don’t turn it down. Make yourself do it, and you will be glad. We are meant to be with people, and allowing people to support us is part of healing after divorce.
[34:51] How to Maintain a Healing Mindset When it Feels Like the Sympathy Has Stopped
We get one life to live, and that really kept Tracie and her children going. She had one life to be there for her children, to be involved and happy, to hold the family together, and to maintain some traditions rather than be sad about how the traditions had changed. Life is short, and we can either live in constant solitude or we can decide to embrace the new path God has us on. Forcing yourself to do things that might seem uncomfortable can contribute to your healing mindset after divorce. Eventually, you will get back and rediscover the woman you used to be – and maybe even a better version of yourself.
[37:07] Tracie’s Words of Encouragement for Someone Going Through a Divorce
Tracie would want someone going through a divorce to know that it will get better. When you’re in the midst of it and feeling broken, devastated, and afraid, it seems like it will never change. God never leaves your side, and He does heal wounds. He can even bring good out of these life-changing situations and allow you to pour into the hearts and lives of others. You will get to a place of healing, peace, and joy. Your heart will change, and you will find hope after divorce.
[39:00] Holding on to God’s Truth and Finding Hope After Divorce or Other Difficult Times
One of my favorite parts of that interview with Tracie was her highlight of the lifeline she found in the scriptures. She was honest before God and shared what she was walking through, but she also held onto that truth that God is with us. He is close to the brokenhearted, and she was able to notice how He was there with her. I think that is a very practical skill that we can practice no matter what difficult journey we are on. We can choose to take care of ourselves and lean into God. Honesty and allowing the feelings to come are incredibly powerful tools. It is possible to hold onto your faith and to hold on to hope. God is not done with you, and He has great things ahead for you. These beliefs are part of cultivating a healing mindset.
If you are specifically walking through divorce, check out Tracie’s materials and see how they can help guide you through this process while letting the Lord speak to you through them.
CONNECT WITH Tracie on on coping with grief:
OTHER PODCAST EPISODES ON CULTIVATING A HEALING MINDET:
- 69: What’s Going On Inside? Learning About the 4 Parts of Self
- 75: 2 Secret Weapons for Daily Self-Care: Noticing Cues and Setting Boundaries
- 83: Mindset Matters: My 3 Step Tool to Manage Your Emotions for More Calm + Confidence
- 90: Finding Joy + Peace When You Feel Stuck
- 101: Transformation Stories: Finding Spiritual Growth, Confidence + Healing with Kelly, Lakeisha, Sam, and Tirza
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