Should you be sad?

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How does one recover from divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to make clear I have not arrived. I am still healing. If I had to write this when I was completely over matters, I doubt I would ever write it. My own DivorceCare leader even admitted something said in our support group recently showed him some matters he needs to work through. Saying you can move on and not be affected by this ever is like saying you can never be affected by the death of your child after awhile.

However, having said that, I do want to write about some steps that I have taken. After all, we’ve had a week of negative things not to say. We need a week of positive matters to do.

The first step I think is really to recover from divorce is to be able to mourn. You have a real loss. When the time came for me, I fortunately had a friend come over who was there as I was crying my eyes out. Now before someone tries to tell me that real men don’t do that, Jesus Himself did it and at the graveside of Lazarus when He knew He was going to raise Him from the dead.

Sorry, but I think Jesus was the most real man who ever lived. If He can do it and be a real man, so can I. I’m not ashamed to admit that that happened.

This has been a great benefit. I have real friends that when I am down in the dumps, I can call and talk to them about matters and it’s a great help. It reminds me that I’m not in this alone.

Sadly, I think we in the church have lost the art of mourning. We don’t know how to mourn. We treat sadness like it’s a disease too often that has to be cured. Many of our songs on Christian music stations aren’t songs to God. They’re songs to us. They’re meant to help us overcome. I don’t listen to a lot of secular music, but I don’t think secular music from what I hear has as much of that.

There are some exceptions. I remember hearing in Georgia a song on a radio station in a store with the lines of “Sometimes, I don’t want to be happy.” There are times like that. There are times where not only do you not want to be happy, you shouldn’t be. In Christian circles, Dallas Holm has a song called “I Just Don’t Feel Like Dancing.” I also don’t think that song has anything to do with whether or not he’s a Baptist.

If we had the death of a loved one and there was no sorrow and crying but only partying and celebrating, I would think there was a problem there. In Scripture, Paul tells us we mourn, but we don’t like those who have no hope. We are supposed to be sad.

What about those we know who are mourning if we aren’t? Well, Paul tells us to cheer them up. No. Wait. He tells us to also mourn with those who mourn. Again, do we treat sadness like it’s a disease that must be removed from the body of Christ?

This doesn’t mean never say anything encouraging or do anything fun with the person, but if some friends have me over for a game night and during the night I get a memory and just put down my controller and want to mourn, one of the best things they could do is come alongside me and let me let it out and mourn. Divorce is certainly a real loss for many of us. We have lost something very important to ourselves.

Now is a Christian supposed to have a joy still? Yes. We are supposed to know that God works all things for good to those who love Him, including divorce, but that doesn’t mean what happens is good and that the immediate effects are good. They can all be awful. It means that we realize it’s not the end of the story somehow. Of course, if any mourning does turn to suicidal ideation and activity, that is the time when something does have to be stopped. I don’t know anyone who has gone through a sad divorce who at one point hasn’t been tempted along those lines. I remember when my DivorceCare leader said about it that we’ve all been there.

However, we are not told to just put on a face. Sometimes, that might be necessary, but when we are with ourselves alone or with friends we trust, no. When I joined my new church here, I told the pastor beforehand that a requirement of me joining a church is eventually I want to serve somehow. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. He told me he wants that, but right now, I need to let myself be served.

There is a time to let myself be served indeed. There is a time to let friends be friends and come around me. Time of mourning is one such time. The best ones to mourn with also have been those who have gone through it. These people understand the best what it is like. They also assure me they have walked this road before. It’s also one reason I am writing this blog series on it. I want to help someone else who is going down this road.

Thank you, fellow travelers, who have mourned with me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)