I recently met with a mother of young children whose husband has left.
He has a girlfriend and has filed for divorce.
Her heart and life are ripped to shreds. She is looking directly into a deep and rugged path through a long valley.
If you are in such a place, realize that you are facing a rough path, and prepare yourself. Gear up as if you were about to embark on an expedition. You may want to flee, run away or hide. Running away into the woods or starting another relationship will only make it more difficult to ever get out of the valley and onto the mountaintop.
I know because I’ve traveled that route myself.
Perhaps you are facing a divorce or another major life disappointment. Maybe you are overcoming an addiction or coping with escaping an abusive relationship. You are entering and traveling through a valley. It’s time to gear up. In the same way that you would if you were about to go on an adventurous hike through a rugged valley. You need gear that is suitable for the journey.
Protection to Shield You
Approach this as if it were an expedition that required planning and preparation. How you feel about it will attempt to consume you. Don’t let it. Surely you should recognize and experience your emotions. Realize, however, that you are not your feelings. And you must make plans. You must protect your heart. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).
In order to do this, you will want to gather information from experts. Be alert. Do not trust everyone you contact. Use discernment. Gather resources about the trip you are taking.
A counselor will keep you from sinking into the quicksand of despair. Choose one carefully. Don’t pick a name off the Internet. Do some homework, ask around. Call and talk with the counselor to get an idea of how you like the person and if you feel comfortable talking with her. Use your initial appointment as a sort of test to see if she is a good match. Commit to seeing the counselor regularly throughout your traveling this valley.
Research for Wisdom About the Journey
Visit a bookstore or library for books about your situation. Devour the one that jumps out at you. Make it your own personal ritual. Have a cup of coffee or tea (my preference) and read, take notes and study.
Perhaps you can attend a women’s Bible study or a support group. Gain wisdom from women who are older than you. You may consider seeing a spiritual director or life coach who specializes in divorce or transitions. There is a cost for this, so if you can’t fit either into your budget, use books, friends and pastors.
Use your mind to enrich your life. Keep your devotional on the breakfast table and read it. This would be a good time for you to show your children this exercise as an example of the way to live a Christ-centered life.
Build Your Stamina for Strength as You Take Steps Forward
If you were about to embark on a long, arduous marathon you would prepare. You would build your strength. Take care of your physical health even more so during this stressful time of your life. Make it a point to buy healthy foods when you shop for groceries. Keep healthy snacks in the house.
Exercise daily. A doctor advised me to put my walking shoes by my bed and set my alarm fifteen minutes earlier than usual. Get up and take a brisk walk before doing anything else. I was amazed how much better I felt when I did this. Another time I took long walks with a friend every day after work. Your children will learn a lot from your example.
A gym membership will provide additional motivation, but isn’t necessary. You can do this on your own.
Nourish Your Spirit for Endurance as You Go Forward
Most important of all, feed your spirit. Surround yourself with uplifting and inspiring music. Sing.
Go outside and observe the clouds, the grass and the birds. Enjoy God’s creation and breathe in fresh air.
Attend and participate in worship. Pray on your knees, in your room, in your car, as you work, when you are with your children and when you are alone. Even when you don’t feel like it, pray. Even when you don’t have the faith, pray. Even as you stumble, pray.
Take Time in the Valley
This trip will be a treacherous trail on a tear-stained road. Acceptance is powerful, and accepting this fact will give you courage to face each day. Some stay overtime in the valley. Some remain there. They may find comfort there as they avoid the challenges of a life of challenges and growth. The idea is to make it out of the valley to the mountaintop. Living in a valley is possible, and there are beautiful valleys, but you will have to leave for the essentials or to associate with people who will broaden your circle of life. Traveling out and into the world is your goal. And the proper gear will make the road much smoother and easier to maneuver.