A Letter to the Brokenhearted

I’ve been asked several times, “what would you say to someone who you just found out is going through a divorce?” I’ve thought about it a lot. Of course every situation is so unique, but there are some universal experiences in heartbreak. So, I’ve put together this letter. Feel free to share it with the hurting people in your life.

Dear brokenhearted one,
Today is painful. Unspeakably so. Your heart is in shreds. Your life feels hopelessly broken. You can’t see your way through the next ten minutes, much less imagine anything beyond that. I know. Because I was you. One year ago, I was you. Everyone kept telling me it’ll get better. Hearing songs on the radio won’t always hurt. Sitting down as a family of four, instead of five, won’t always feel like daggers. Things will eventually settle in and you will be okay. Since everyone else is telling you that, I won’t. Because it doesn’t help with right now. Right now sucks.
Today, just breathe. I don’t know that anything will help ease your pain, but I know your lungs keep steadily working and your heart pounds in your broken chest. Let your body go on for you, for now, it will keep taking the next breath when you feel like you can’t. Everyone will also tell you to let yourself feel the pain. That sounded idiotic to me at the time. How can I not feel it? It is shouting at me and drowning every other thought in my head! These are the days to just let the pain be. There will be days when you want to figure out a purpose, a way forward. This is not that day. Today, let your grief be loud.
I don’t know the circumstances of your heartbreak, but I know the only one who can give you comfort. It isn’t a piece of chocolate cake or in drowning yourself in a bottle of pinot noir, though give yourself grace dear one. I know Jesus feels far away. I know it feels like the empty space next to you in bed will swallow you whole. I remember begging Jesus for some tangible comfort, to feel his arms around my tear wracked body. But he wasn’t there in that way. But he was there. He never left my side. I didn’t feel like I could pray or read Scripture when I was at my lowest, and I want you to know there is grace for that. Ask people to pray for you if you cannot do it yourself. He will listen to your angry cries, he will take whatever you throw at him. Just lean into him, whether in pain or anger.
I want you to know that there’s a reason you feel like violence has been done to your soul. It absolutely has. You were once one flesh with another human being, and that union has been ripped asunder. God describes his relationship to us in the terms of marriage. He also describes the unfaithfulness of his people in terms of adultery, and goes so far as to divorce his people. God, your God, is divorced. You are not alone. You are not hopelessly irredeemable. Your God wears the same label that you do; do not let this title become a weight around your heart that sinks you into shame.
I can promise you that in one year things will not be the same. You may not have had a choice in your divorce. It could have come unexpectedly or with years of warning, but either way, you do have choices now. You have a choice to survive. To allow the pain to make you bitter or better. But today is not for making choices. Today is a day to survive. To cry. To wail. To find comfort in friends. To sleep, feed your weary body, and to care for yourself as you can. The best thing anyone said to me during that time was this: “you cannot possibly give yourself too much grace right now.” Be patient with your wounded soul, dear one. Don’t expect anything from yourself but to keep moving forward.
Expect to cry a lot. Expect to need a lot of help. Expect to feel insane at times. But as the days go on you will find a way. Write your feelings — it really does help. Take care of the needs of the day, and you will be overwhelmed at the number of them, and then fall into the arms of your Savior. He can and will sustain you. Entrust your fears and anxieties and pains to him, you can rest because He never stops interceding for you. And know that this promise is for you: “I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Tomorrow will be better, eventually.

A previously brokenhearted woman