Many divorcing families “keep it together” for appearances to extending family during the holidays, only to announce in January that they are divorcing. Then the persons hit with the devastation of that announcement the most (the divorcing families) have to deal with the culture’s obsession with romance and dating on Valentine’s Day.
What do divorcing people need?
1. Structure. Divorcing families can find that a regular structure of simple meals, planned a week ahead, can help them get through an otherwise hectic week. When a church hosts a divorce recovery workshop, it can help with the provision of a meal each week, an educational presentation about the emotional upheaval of divorce, and a supportive small group with trained leaders who understand the divorce experience. This structure, especially when it is a workshop that ministers to those affected by divorce of all ages (both the adults and the children of divorce) can help people experiencing this tragedy to know that they can make it, one week at a time.
2. Education. A person who has built their whole adult life on their identity as one half of a couple needs to hear about resources available for those who are newly single-again. Persons going through a crisis need expert guidance from an objective point of view. Books such as Jim Smoke’s Growing through Divorce (Harvest House), Harold Ivan Smith’s A Time for Healing (Lifeway), and Overcoming the Death of a Dream (Serendipity House) are great Christian tools for self-help for those going through divorce, as well as great resources for support groups.
3. Support. Theologian/psychologist Henri Nouwen’s concept of the “wounded healer” applies to the subject of divorce. People going through a crisis need to be surrounded by healthy people who have “been there” and have survived and even thrived after having experienced a similar crisis. The energy that it takes to go through a crisis means that one has to depend on the support of others in order to function in life’s various responsibilities.
A divorce workshop or support group held in a church can be a great place for newly singled people to find community that models the unconditional love of the early church in the book of Acts.
4. A Place to Process Forgiveness. The Bible’s teachings about divorce, about forgiveness, and about prayer, are all in the same section of scripture (Matthew 18-19). A church workshop that allows people in small groups (where two or three are gathered in his name) to process forgiveness related to divorce is a gift to the Body of Christ and a loving outreach to the world that needs to hear the liberating message of John 8, “neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
Divorce Recovery Workshop is a program that Dr. James Stillwell has led since 1993 in Lexington that has reached over 3100 families with hope and healing since 1993. This semester the workshop moves to the Frankfort-Midway area, meeting at the Forks of Elkhorn Baptist Church on Thursday nights, 7 to 9 p.m. beginning February 25. For more information see http://drjamestillwell.com or http://divorce-recovery.net.