Many years ago, I found myself in an unpleasant situation. I had to face the challenge of separation, divorce, and raising my teenage children alone. My household grew empty and quiet. I had been going to college and now needed to stop so that I could work full-time. I grieved the loss in cycles.
We all face difficulties in our lives, but our thoughts and attitudes reflect our reaction to what is happening. The dividing line, I’ve found over and over, is: Am I going to sit and wallow or analyze or whatever mode I’m used to using, or am I going to be proactive and positive? I have tried to choose the latter.
That’s what you do in the last chapter of your life. You try to make peaceful resolutions. You learn there is another way. I’ve been blessed to know the better way. Here is some wisdom from the pages of my life story.
Change from Within
It is not known what choices we make which will produce positive results. As I moved through divorce into a new season, I did know that negative thoughts produce negative results. In the midst of turmoil, I had to make more positive choices.
I could see some things in me that were contributing to marital problems. I thought I could fix those problems, but I couldn’t.
You grow up with certain family dynamics and environments. As you get to be an adult, you realize that you have a choice about how to change things. It starts with yourself. Growth may be very small in the beginning because most of us are not comfortable with drastic changes. In time though, the little changes become bigger. The environment gets healthier.
We can only make intelligent decisions with limited vision. The good news is that our Creator knows the intentions of our hearts, and is always there to guide us in making better choices, if we but ask Him.
Veering from old ways of thinking was challenging at first. I have since learned that it has becoming freeing. Letting go of pride, control, self-centeredness, fear, resentment—all character flaws—opens the door to new solutions. Once we begin to let go, our lives do flow in a more positive direction.
As part of this, our health may improve. Very often the way we think can harm the body. Harboring anger over prolonged periods of time releases cortisol into the body, which is not healthy over long term. In Dr. Don Colbert’s book, Deadly Emotions, “When a person begins to pack powerful and devastating emotions into the closet of his soul, he is setting himself up for trouble”.
Helping or Hurting?
Dr. Seuss wrote, “To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
We do not know the impact we may have on another person. During and after my divorce, I wanted my children to feel loved and not to blame for their parents’ problems. They needed to grow in a healthy environment. To protect them, I shielded them from much of my pain.
Today, I ask myself this question when helping others: If we choose to help someone, how much is appropriate without usurping that person’s opportunity to develop character or maturity?
In the past, I found people often gravitated to me with their problems. I was helping them but nobody was ever helping me. That’s a good way to do yourself in.
I’ve altered the way I help people now. If you try this, some people may look at you the “old way.” When you start to make changes, they may fight it. But I am glad I set healthy boundaries.
Help from People and Above
As I look back over the years, I see the help I received along my journey. There were times I did not realize that God was sending me the assistance I needed through another person, who may have talked me through heartbreak or rejection. The day I received divorce papers, God sent the Pastor of a local church to “check on me.”
The lesson was: Light always follows darkness. I could not see beyond darkness that day. Yet sometimes my disappointment in circumstances was followed by joy.
I did not believe I would ever find joy after the death of my marriage. In time, I was given another chance at finding love. My limited vision couldn’t have predicted what happiness was ahead for me. I have been happily married for thirty years.
After darkness, there is light.
Winter is always followed by Spring.
Light can shine through despair.
I have come to know that my Creator is always there for me to impart wisdom or guide me in the right direction because of my personal relationship with Him. I have just to ask for help and choose life. Choose good! Every day is an opportunity to be thankful for all those blessings given to me. My list of things to be thankful for is growing abundantly.
I am so lucky to have this day given to me. Although the years are waning, I know I will see God’s light shine through in the days ahead. For this, I am so grateful.
Editor’s note: Our featured author is a vibrant 70-something and has been happily married for 30 years. She has two daughters and four grandchildren. Her hobbies include playing the piano, singing, reading, and spending time with family and friends. She is happy to share her story (in anonymity) to encourage others as they navigate difficult seasons in life.