Several years after my divorce, I explained to a friend of mine that I wanted to move past the pain of my divorce but the memories were holding me back. Something would trigger a memory of what happened and I would become overwhelmed by emotion. My entire day (and sometimes my entire weekend) would be shot. I didn’t want to live that way, but I couldn’t figure out how to change that phenomena.
My friend replied, “Lisa, I guarantee you that one day ten years from now when you are remarried and very happy, you will hear a song, or see a movie, or find something in a box that brings back a painful memory from your divorce and you will cry.”
Well thanks for those extra special words of encouragement, friend.
He continued, “Yes, even though you are happy and content in your new life, the pain of that memory will still effect you. But how it affects you is up to you. If you start managing your emotions instead of allowing them to manage you, then when you are confronted with a painful memory, you will feel it, react to it, and move on.
And you know what… he was absolutely right. I’m remarried, I’m happy, and from time to time, I come face-to-face with a painful memory that brings back all that sadness I used to feel. But, its okay. Time has helped the memory fade somewhat but because I know how to control my emotions now, the memory has no power over me.
The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Managing your memories and emotions after divorce can be a quite a challenge. It can be a constant battle, especially if you have to have direct contact with your ex-spouse on a frequent basis. But this is a critical step in the healing process and is not only an indispensable tool for your future, but also helps to bring back your self-confidence.
If you have a vice grip on bad memories and are not letting go of them, you obviously need to release them. It’s part of the forgiveness process. The key to making this happen is praying for God’s grace to help you let go and praying for the ones who have hurt you. This is not easy to do at times, but the old adage is true; it’s difficult to remain angry at someone when you are praying for them. God’s grace can soften any heart and heal all wounds. That takes the sting out of the bad memories.
But you can also use your bad memories for the good. Everything in your life could (and should) bear fruit, even reminiscing. Instead of daydreaming with no purpose or dwelling on the negative memories, simply put the memories to good use and learn from your past.
Learn from the good and the bad. Learn from the arguments, the surprises, the poor choices, the trials, etc. Learn through reflecting on the decisions you’ve made, how they have affected you and the people around you. Reflection with good intention and the help of God’ grace is a great way to turn a negative into a positive. Oftentimes you must dig through a lot of garbage to find what’s hidden. But when you unearth that treasure, you can experience a new level of faith in recognizing that “God works all things for the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).”
It doesn’t mean that suffering doesn’t hurt and life challenges aren’t complicated. But you can take a supernatural attitude toward it all and use it for personal growth. Then, you can use it to serve. So many people are suffering, and you can use your suffering to help someone else.
Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” I hope you can use your memories of your Good Friday as a way to experience a resurrection to new life for yourself and hopefully, pass it on to others.