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Recovering from divorce? Be whole!

From the May 1984 issue of The Christian Science Journal

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Divorce is living breakage. It's a sad experience at best. Although it can sometimes involve a parting of the ways in relative stability, on other occasions it can be a most horrendous upheaval. But in either case, one may wonder where the courage and the energy to build a new life can be found.

It can come from discovering that Life is God—and not difficult living. "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly," John 10:10. Christ Jesus said. In Christian Science we learn that a break, whether of bone, heart, or relationship, points up the need to get a deeper understanding of God, Life.

God knows only the continuous radiance of Himself and His spiritual idea, man, who has never been hurt and who reflects God, divine Love—not failure. This spiritual self feels in heaven, so it can't feel pain. It's our true self.

Spiritual identity is never a divorcée

If divorce seems to shatter one's universe, Life as God and a self that is spiritual may seem remote. When one first emerges from divorce, the material world's assumptions of one's sexuality, loneliness, and need may be startling. These would divert one from character scrubbing and reestablishing deeper values for a better life. But what's coming at one is paganism's nervousness about life and love. Paganism makes people jittery, because love is so often seen as primarily sexual, and life as sensation in matter. The very word "pagan" is defined by Webster as "one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods." Paganism's emphasis on the need for sex, security, society, and material satisfactions may assail us.

But materialism is so unreliable after all—who can trust it really? A lasting solution to a new life is essentially a demand for greater spirituality.

In Christian Science we learn that God, Life, is Mind. Whatever is truly good and real is an idea in Mind, not an event in matter. Divorce may seem to shift home, supply, family relationships. But in spiritual reality, we can't be separated from good. Within our true, God-reflecting identity, we include all ideas in their perfection.

For this reason, a practicing Christian Scientist who is facing or has experienced divorce is frequently not to be found where society expects: in stereotypes of grief or giddiness, or seeking relief through frenetic living. He or she is more likely to be at home in Truth, engaged in prayer, in getting back to God, the source of all right ideas. It's healing to find our actual unity with God after separation from a person; to turn our sense of supply from alimony back to infinity; to discover that renewing a right sense of man as God's spiritual idea is more important than rushing around meeting new people.

Basic to an understanding of Life is the fact that God manifests Himself infinitely, and perfectly controls His creation. Nothing can change the oneness, wholeness, and order of our God-reflecting being. We feel this truth through the presence of the Christ, Truth, whether this presence manifests itself as specific guidance coming through many sources, or as a stream of differing directions (for example, in one's career, in church work) answering various needs. Gradually, we can release the sense of our problems as many and conflicting, and experience Christ's unifying influence. Our focus can shift from taking life as one problem after another, to living as the reflection of divine Life. We can see that finding ourselves means expressing our spiritual identity instead of getting absorbed in what we seem to be doing humanly.

In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains: "When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you, cling steadfastly to God and His idea. Allow nothing but His likeness to abide in your thought. Let neither fear nor doubt overshadow your clear sense and calm trust, that the recognition of life harmonious—as Life eternally is—can destroy any painful sense of, or belief in, that which Life is not."Science and Health, p. 495.

We need to live out from the heart of God's loving instead of into paganism's bitterness over what "life" has dealt us. The constant flow of Christly directions, which loving opens up to us, enables us to carry forward the impersonal Christian warfare so well described by Paul: "We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."Eph. 6:12.

Making way for newness

Paganism glues thought to person. Christian Science teaches us that the opponent is never really a person. Rather, it is an imposition of unhappiness, false character traits, aggressive loneliness. Whether one's troubles appear to come from within or without, spiritual strength helps the individual resist being pulled down into them. At first one may be hard pressed to stop thinking in terms of disappointment, hurt, guilt, memory, accusation, or loss. But when one lets all that go, the doors of our living open to that aspect of Christliness which is comfort in newness. Christ, Truth, convinces us that we can't be divorced from our oneness with God, from our self-respect, our supply, our capacity to love and be loved. We can't be separated from the good of the past, the dignity of the present, or the opportunity of the future, when spiritual peace enfolds us in God's now.

Christ-directed thinking can transform the blankness of a recent divorce. Christliness fills the role of a seed hidden in the sod—dynamic with new life as it pushes aside the earth of old concepts! Our thinking becomes increasingly calm and less confused, progressive instead of chaotic.

The more we embrace a Christly outlook, the more we start changing for the better. Increasingly we'd rather introduce harmony than hurt, look toward God and away from mistakes, live more in unity than divisiveness, look for spiritual man as proof of God rather than exclaim over material man as evidence of problems. Then one can find again what one may have believed to have been lost in divorce—the sense of one's self as shining, radiant, spiritual man, expressed humanly in fresh, alert, hopeful, expectant living. Our greatest resource in troubled times is our spiritual selfhood which, like Moses' bush, doesn't burn up in the heat!See Ex. 3:1-3.

As we increasingly understand and accept our actual spiritual wholeness, we begin to see that many of the deep, private hurts of the "singles" stereotype—of incomplete mortals searching for other mortals—come from "walk-away" habits. These would rather desert problems than solve them. They would influence us to treat relationships like worn-out consumer products. Walk-away habits always ignore the fact that the stronger influence of an experience is the thought it leaves with you. These unhealed remnants can spring once more into action in new situations. You can divorce unhappiness only to remarry misery if patterns and causes of error aren't corrected within consciousness.

Forgiving the opposite sex

For example, the praying one does about divorce should include emphatic denial of the popular notion that a bad time with someone can distort one's view of the opposite sex. One does this not just to ensure a better experience the next time, but to overcome the belief that man is someone "out there" or just another person to meet. Man is the image and reflection of God, the evidence of Love's presence. We cannot be separate from spiritual man, because in reality we are that spiritual man and nothing else. Establishing this fact firmly in consciousness is the spiritual base for new and deeper human relationships.

Divorce may force one to gain a clearer perception of true spiritual completeness, which includes the expression of both male and female qualities. This understanding is invaluable when one is coping with the change in life style that may result from divorce. A woman may have to go out into the marketplace. A man may have to come home to laundry and the dishes. However, when spiritualized consciousness inspires us to learn about our manhood and womanhood from God and not from human roles or chance reactions, we find a much deeper experience, a more embracing radiance, a more fulfilling self-acceptance. We may be surprised to learn that manhood never was "moneyhood" (earning pushed by will and goaded by competition). Our actual strength depends not on muscularity but on the purity of our spiritual understanding.

Expressing true womanhood is not leaning on others or bearing a burden. It is spiritual receptivity, the bliss of conceiving and nourishing new spiritual ideas. Expressing true womanhood is so well described when Luke's Gospel tells how Mary rejoiced with Elisabeth and praised God.See Luke 1:39-56.

And through spiritualized consciousness men can discover more of the qualities of true womanhood that all of God's ideas express in their spiritual nature, and women can learn more of the qualities of true manhood their real nature includes.

Expressing spiritual wholeness, then, is not the strain of an impossible effort to "get it all together." Wholeness combines the ability to understand a situation with the spiritual conviction and energy to transform and heal it. We're not stuck in commutes between the different sides of ourselves. Through inspiration, we can know that in our spiritual wholeness, sensitivity can never weaken strength, nor can power overrun gentleness.

Spiritual strength enables one to exchange the turmoil of divorce for heavenly peace, and Christly love keeps one from being lonely. We need to understand that sensuality and loneliness are material impositions on living, and not realities.

When we're feeling full of love, we don't become obsessed with sexual conduct. When we're inspired with fresh ideas from God, we don't search for a material stimulus. When we're on tiptoe with the wonder of new moments of spiritual inspiration, we don't have to run after youth. When we're plumbing the depths of God's wisdom, we don't need to race away from age. And we're lifted above the whole rat race of paganism as the truth of God's spiritual creation shines through and frees us to endlessly explore His kingdom!

At home with the children in truth-knowing

The more you identify yourself as spiritual, the more you discover that home isn't a mansion, an apartment, a hut, a hovel, or a street corner. It's found in prayer—thought that is safe with God. And what is more precious to take with you into this spiritual consciousness of home than your children, whether they are physically with you or not? Home is where you unload the effort of trying to be two parents in one to them, and instead affirm and know God to be their real Father and Mother. They can't be deprived in any way of proper fatherly guidance or motherly love when you untie the apron strings of thought and give up the belief that they can receive this care only from the specific people you have in mind. The more you claim for them their parentage in God, the more you'll see God's qualities and not yourself or a former mate when you look at them.

Rescuing past good from pain

The expectancy of good that comes with wholeness lets you get straightened out about the past. The giving and receiving of alimony doesn't need to be an ever-lengthening umbilical cord to bitterness or self-justification. Nor should you get so trapped into the suggestion of being at war with persons that you deprive yourself of the enriching experiences shared with them in the past. Refusing to build up negative elements of your relationship with your ex-mate also helps to restore comfort to children.

We can get so busy solving problems through prayer that kingdom of heaven experiences start happening all around us. We're changed! Our sense of life is moving from mortality to divine Life. God's truths are washing away unhappy memories in a burst of new living.

What has happened? If you look back, you may discover that first you let go unpleasant memories. Then you let go the sense of a mortal, hurt self holding on to the memories. Increasingly you have gained an understanding that you are actually the expression of God, Life. Loving the fullness of His own reflection, you are lifted right into wholeness!

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