Death, Divorce, and Heartbreak Part 4: Allow the Space to Become More God-Like

images (8)How to deal with Death, Divorce and Heartbreak

Dealing with suffering is not a new topic.  I’ve read and listened to wonderful books and teachings on dealing with grief, divorcing with integrity, and what to do after a bad break up.  Much of them say the same thing and where brought forth in Part 1 of this blog series:

  • allow the space to grieve
  • see the relief and joy
  • be accepting of what is
  • look for the blessings
  • embrace the excitement of creating a new life
  • learn from the person and experience
  • honor what was
  • believe and hold on for the rejoicing to come

Often when I see the word “God”, I will read it as the word “Love”.  The pain of death, divorce, or heartbreak can increase our spiritual connection with GOD, it can grow our LOVE, if we choose.  This is where FREE WILL, our ability and gift to choose, can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

Love is a choice.  God is a choice.   We can choose Love/God when we are facing painful experiences.

The foundation of a wholehearted life is to choose Love/God in the context of all our experiences—good ones, painful ones, everyday ones.

So how do you choose Love/God in the midst of painful experiences like death, divorce and heartbreak?

Looking at the list above, there are several things on there that seem totally impossible in the initial stages of deep sorrow and heartbreak.    I want to touch on the importance of the first one.

Allow the Space to Grieve

Allowing the space to grieve, to feel the pain of the situation, is so important.  It is not in our nature to turn towards pain. We can engage in many activities physically, emotionally, and mentally to avoid it.  Ultimately, however, any tactic we use to avoid pain will only cause us more pain.   And that pain will disconnect us from others.  It will not allow the love and our true self in God to come through for our self or others.

Brene Brown, one of my favorite authors and researchers, has a cute video that explains the difference between empathy and connection versus sympathy and disconnection (Click here to see video).   When we feel our pain we grow in empathy.  When we can empathize with others, we are connecting with others.    Most people who sympathize, who try to make us see the brighter side of things too soon, are avoiding their own pain and yours thus producing disconnection.   Connection was God’s ultimate goal for us through Jesus death.  We can’t connect if we are avoiding our own painful experiences.

Ultimately, allow yourself to feel your pain so you can empathize with others—so the true you, the love in you, the God part of you can grow, be shared, and connect you with others.  This is a choice to love.  This is a choice for God and to be more God-Like.

Recently I heard someone say that we need to deal with painful things in “skillful” ways–ways that are non-harming to self or others.   What does it look like to allow yourself the space to grieve or feel the pain in “skillful” ways?  Here are only a few (I’d love for you to share more “skillful ways” in the comment section):

  • Cry when you need to. Rage when you need to. Just do it in kind ways—kind to yourself and others.
  • Find a friend who won’t get tired of you talking through the things that bring up the pain. Seek a counselor if you feel you are wearing your friends out.  When my mom passed, I found certain things triggered my grief.  It might have been a significant date, a holiday, finding a note she wrote, or a time I wished I could have called to talk over something with her.   With divorce and heartbreak the same is true.  It will take awhile for all the triggers to come and go.  Dealing with the triggers will help them recede and lessen more quickly and thoroughly.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings. Grief is often accompanied by anger, guilt, shame, fear, anxieties, and other emotions that effect living fully.   Journaling is a safe way to get those feelings out without them being projected on to others potentially hurting yourself and others. I often see journaling as praying to and talking with God who is big enough and empathetic enough to hear and hold our pain as often as we need to say it.  Write to God every hour if need be.
  • The pain from grief and heartache often bring up big spiritual questions. Find support in your church or community of believers to ask your questions.
  • Read your bible and/or pray. When I have been in times of deep pain and choosing not to turn to other things to deal with it, I found myself restless and unsettled.   The last thing I thought I could do was sit still and read the bible or pray.  However, when I finally choose (and, honestly, made myself) get in a chair to read the bible or pray, it only took that one time to experience its soothing, calming, and healing power.  My chair is the first place I turn to now.

The ultimate goal of dealing with any kind of painful situation is to come out on the other side with more love, more God, more connection, more ability to connect with others.

Recently I read this definition of hope:

Hope is the fruit of a learned capacity to suffer wisely and generously.

“Suffering wisely” is dealing with your pain in loving ways leaving behind any tactics to avoid it.  “Generously” is the ability to empathize with others because you understand and know pain.  By not avoiding it, you become a Godly, loving support and a beacon of hope for others.  In addition, the fruit of hope you gain from suffering wisely makes the other things on that list above possible.


Many times I’ve heard that if I trusted God more, believed the promises of the bible, or loved God more than anything else that I would not feel pain.  That is a bunch of hooey!   Jesus believed, trusted, loved, and even was God and He felt pain.

John 11: 33 (Voice) says:   When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief and the moaning and weeping of her companions, He was deeply moved by their pain in His spirit and was intensely troubled.

A few verses later “…Jesus wept and everyone noticed how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus.”

Jesus was grieving, feeling, and empathizing.

Allow yourself space and time to feel your pain.  This will grow you in love and being more of and for God.

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

I’d love to hear your heart on this topic or any “skillful” ways you’ve used to deal with pain from death, divorce, and heartache.


Death, Divorce, and Heartbreak Part 3: The Pain of Free Will

images (6)“What makes heartache through divorce or break ups so much more difficult for me to deal with than death?” 

This was the big question I asked in last week’s post (click HERE to read last week’s post).   It is the questions I’ve been asking God for years.  Death never brought me so much despair I wished for death but heartbreaks have.    (This is not written from the perspective of suicide or violent deaths or relationships that had to end due to harmful abuse.)

The Pain of Free Will

Death is not a choice.

Death is beyond our FREE WILL. Our bodies will die.

Love is a choice. 

We have FREE WILL to love what and who we want.  We even have free will to choose how much will love others or things.

Love is a commitment to spend time, energy, resources, care, and share life with someone. There are different levels of this commitment in our lives with different people.  Those are needed and healthy for us.

The level of commitment that we are finding in marriages (and most relationships) today is dismal.  How easily we seem to turn on and off our love for people we have promised to love, honor, and cherish for the rest of our lives.  How easily we say “I love you” to people and then run out the door at the slightest hint of a problem or expression of a need.

In relationships there is always a choice.  Death isn’t a choice, it’s an inevitable fact. 

Yes, when someone dies the relationship is not what it was.  The physical presence of that person is gone.  The acts of love that were readily available with them in body form are no longer there.   There is, however, no grappling with someone’s choice of who and where they turned their love.

When someone leaves the relationship through death, it is not because they no longer loved the people around them.

They did not go because they chose to love someone else or chose not to be committed anymore.

When someone chooses to leave a relationship, they have chosen to stop directing a certain level or all of their love toward another.

When it happens in the context of a committed relationship, it can be very painful.

We all have the freedom to UN-CHOOSE someone.   A big fear we all face in relating to others is rejection.  Being un-chosen is rejection.  We tend to put up all kinds of fronts,  play relational games, and squelch ourselves emotionally so we won’t ever feel this terrible hurt.

For me, when someone chooses to turn their love off, I can panic.  I get fearful and start doing things I wish I didn’t.  I may find myself running away, freezing all my emotions, or fighting back in an attempt to control.  There is no peace in taking control.  And no amount of fixing, controlling, or manipulating will bring me my heart’s desire, which is for the other to freely choose to love me.

As hard as it is, I must accept that if someone chooses to not love me, I cannot MAKE THEM love me.  True love is the kind that God wants from us.

God’s deepest desire is for us to freely choose to love Him.  He has been working to reconnect with us since Adam and Eve freely choose to eat that darn apple.   It has taken thousands and thousands of years for Him to tell us how much He loves us.  It has taken wrath, floods, laws, stories of sinful people, a big book of His Word, hundreds of promises, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the death of His son.  Still, He is waiting for so many of us to freely choose to love Him.

He has the power to build universes and raise the dead, but He will not MAKE US love Him.

And despite our choice, He keeps choosing us–to love us, to be committed to us, to care for us, to listen to us, to meet our needs.

If you have ever felt the pain of unrequited love, divorce, or heartbreak, this is what God feels….all the time, day in and day out, a million times over.

Longing. Heartbreak. Crushing pain. Stomach aches and turnings.

And yet, despite the pain, He will love us even when we don’t love him. 

God never finds us unworthy, too much, or too sinful to keep loving.   As I heard in church this Sunday, God even said NO to Jesus when he prayed for the “cup to pass”.  God wanted us to know His love. He wanted us to be able to come to Him.  God found us worthy of a huge, heart wrenching sacrifice with a giant NO to His beloved son.

God feels every day what I have felt when I’ve been un-chosen.

God totally gets what I’m going through because He knows what happened in the garden and He knows how to fix it.  It is not His fault I’m learning or going through what I am.   I’m not being punished or taught a harsh lesson.   I have just experienced the world of Adam and Eve–the world of free choice of love and commitment.

If I had not gone through some break up experiences, I’m not sure I would fully understand how much God feels when we choose to not love.

God, in His own awesomeness, just keeps on loving despite the rejection.  This is a good reminder to keep choosing love in the face of other’s free will choices and the potential pain of love.

Death is easier for me because love is still there.  I don’t feel un-chosen when someone dies.

I have not lost love, I have just lost the body the love was coming through.  

I will miss the person greatly and yet still feel loved.

With divorce and heartbreak the body is still there but the love is gone. It’s hard to watch a body that once flowed with love toward us still be alive and choose to flow love somewhere else.

The truth of free will is I have no control over another’s choice to love or not love.  I do have a choice in how I will choose.

I can continue to choose love. I can choose to respond like God does and in ways the bible says is best.  I can choose peace.  I can choose to remember that I am never really UN-CHOSEN or UNLOVED because God will always choose to love me…and that is a soothing reality when a heart is troubled.

Free will is a great gift from God—for pain or peace.

It is a huge responsibility knowing our choices can have a painful effect on others…and God.  And, still, we get to choose.

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Choose FREELY to leave a comment…or not!  But I’d love to hear your heart on the above.