Many people going through divorce are reluctant to ask for or accept help. Three main reasons for this are fear of being judged, desire for privacy and a need to prove yourself capable. However, most people would benefit from help while ending their marriage and being open to that help is often a growth opportunity.
My current guest, Missy says you cannot separate her from her faith. Her faith guided her through the end of her marriage and it would have much harder without the help from her faith community. Here’s Missy:
I was initially, not fearful, but hesitant. I just didn’t know the community would respond to myself going through a divorce.
It was very false fear, because honestly I knew many people in the church who had been divorced and remarried and who knows whatnot. They were well accepted. They were not ostracized in any way. But it was just a false fear that I had probably because it was something I hadn’t experienced.
They were very supportive when I was hoping the marriage would work. They were very supportive in that circumstance, of myself and of my former spouse which was very refreshing. They did not ostracize him because of the infidelity, which at that point people knew pretty much and yet they were still willing to accept him. Many called and would encourage him and just say, “Don’t give up.” That I expected. That was not as much of a surprise.
Prior to going through such an experience, I think I may have been one who looked down upon it or thought, “Well, they should have tried harder,” or “They should have done something different.”
When I first asked him to leave and I had to go back to work full-time, it was the church that came around both of us and helped us through that situation. They supported us financially. They supported us in person. There were women from the church that volunteered to babysit everyday for a month until I could get my feet underneath me while I was going back to work full-time.
There were people that would just stop by with a salad. Church people don’t always know what to do but they seem to try to do something. They’ll often bring food. I’ll never forget, all of these ladies had brought breads and desserts and all of these goodies. It was wonderful. Then, this one woman brought this lovely salad. It was just beautiful. She said, “I imagine that you could just use something healthy right now. You don’t need to be gaining weight on top of all of the other issues.” It was just very, again, practical and thoughtful; very hands-on.
They didn’t take the stand-offish approach. They didn’t wait for me to ask in many of these circumstances. They just stepped in, in very practical and very helpful ways and I just never expected that.
One thing I would say is I don’t think I would’ve experienced that kind of camaraderie had I not already been plugged in to a faith community. That’s one thing I would say to anyone. We don’t know when we’re going to have some really challenging times in our lives and so we need to already be establishing those support systems and be there for others when they hit those times.
Inevitably, whether it’s a death or an illness or in my case a divorce, we all do run into those unexpected times where we need others and we need the support of other people. It’s easy to isolate and that’s the opposite of what I think needs to happen in challenging circumstances.
You have to be prepared to let down that false front of, “I’ve got it all together and I don’t need anything.” For me, a great portion of my married life, I had definitely built up that front of, “Don’t get too close. I don’t want anybody to know the details of what I’m really dealing with on a daily basis here,” because it was ugly. I didn’t want to confront it and so I didn’t want anybody else to see what was going on.
Yes, you do have to be willing to be vulnerable, yet not spill every detail or every gory thing. You don’t want all of that out. There will come a day whether the marriage survives or not where you don’t want to be defined by what happened in that season. Life does go on, but you do have to be willing to say, “You know what? Things aren’t great right now and we’re struggling.” It’s OK to say that.
It does require letting people in. In a very real sense for me, I had to let people in my home. They saw that our beds weren’t made every morning and they saw that my kitchen didn’t always get cleaned. But by allowing people to see me at my most needy, I was so refreshingly aware that there were others willing to come along side me and lift me up through that rebuilding process.
The Divorce Coach Says
Missy does a great job of articulating what I think may of us have experienced. We’re reluctant to ask for help or be open to receiving help because we’re afraid of what others think. BUT what we think others will think of us comes from our own beliefs and expectations. Understanding where they came from, how you formed your own opinions and then seeing how your experience challenges them, is a major personal growth opportunity.
Try my Seven Rules For Asking For Help for more practical suggestions.
Did you get help from unexpected places? Were you willing to accept help?
Missy blogs at Far From Flawless where she writes about leading a Christian life with a blended family hoping that sharing her journey will empower others to shun the mask of imperfection and open themselves to authentic living.