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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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THE WATCHTOWER (STUDY EDITION) JUNE 2014

Assist Divorced Fellow Believers—How?

Assist Divorced Fellow Believers—How?

You likely know someone who is divorced—perhaps a number of such ones. That is because divorce is quite common. For example, research in Poland revealed that 30-year-olds who have been married for from three to six years are most likely to get divorced; and divorce is not limited to that age group.

In fact, “statistics show that [in Europe] half of those who get married will divorce,” reports the Institute for Family Policy in Spain. In other developed countries, the picture is similar.

THE RUSH OF CONFLICTING EMOTIONS

What is involved in this common outcome? One experienced marriage counselor in Eastern Europe observed: “Divorce makes official what has already happened—the breakup of a relationship and the consequent separation, something that is emotionally very painful.” She added: “A storm of powerful, extreme emotions—anger, regret, disappointment, despair, and shame” often follows. Sometimes this gives rise to thoughts of suicide. “When the divorce is made final by the court, the next phase begins. Dominated by feelings of emptiness and alienation, the divorced person may wonder: ‘Now that I am divorced, who exactly am I? What is my purpose in life?’”

Recollecting how she felt some years ago, Ewa says: “I felt deeply ashamed when, after the divorce was made final, my neighbors and colleagues would label me ‘a divorcée.’ I was full of anger. Left with two young children, I had to become both mother and father to them.” * Adam, who served as a respected elder for 12 years, comments: “I have lost so much of my self-respect that at times I’m filled with anger, and I’m tempted to distance myself from everybody.”

THE STRUGGLE TO REGAIN BALANCE

Plagued by anxiety over their future, some have struggled to regain their balance—even years after the divorce. They may conclude that others are not interested in them. Furthermore, says one columnist in the field, they now have to “change their habits and learn to cope with problems on their own.”

Stanisław recalls: “When we divorced, my ex-wife prevented me from seeing my two little girls. That led me to feel that no one cared for me anymore and even that Jehovah must have abandoned me. I lost my desire to live. In time, I realized how wrong my thinking had been.” A feeling of uncertainty about her future also troubled Wanda, who was divorced: “I felt sure that after a while, people—including fellow believers—would  not show any interest in me and my children. However, I can now see how much the brothers rallied around us and helped me as I endeavored to raise my children to become worshippers of Jehovah.”

You can discern from such comments that after divorce some are engulfed by negative emotions. They may develop a poor image of themselves, thinking that they are of little worth and not deserving of attention. Along with that, they may become critical of those around them. As a result, they may begin to think of the congregation as being cold and unsympathetic. Yet, such experiences as those of Stanisław and Wanda show that divorced ones can come to realize that their brothers and sisters really do care about them. In fact, fellow Christians have provided exceptional care, even when their help has not initially been noticed.

WHEN FEELINGS OF LONELINESS AND REJECTION CREEP IN

Bear in mind that despite our best efforts, divorced fellow believers may from time to time be beset by loneliness. Divorced sisters particularly may get the impression that few are interested in them. Alicja admits: “Eight years have passed since my divorce. Yet, I still sometimes feel inferior. At such moments, I am inclined to isolate myself and give way to weeping and feelings of self-pity.”

While the emotions described here are not uncommon for someone dealing with a divorce, the Bible counsels against isolating oneself. Acting contrary to this counsel could lead to the rejecting of “all practical wisdom.” (Prov. 18:1) The one feeling lonely should understand, though, that it is an evidence of practical wisdom to avoid repeatedly seeking counsel or comfort from someone of the opposite sex. Thus, there would be no inducement to develop inappropriate romantic feelings.

Our divorced fellow believers may be buffeted by the winds of challenging emotions, including anxiety over the future and feelings of loneliness or even rejection. Recognizing that such feelings are common and at the same time hard to overcome, we should imitate Jehovah by giving such brothers and sisters our loyal support. (Ps. 55:22; 1 Pet. 5:6, 7) We can be sure that any help we offer to them will be much appreciated. Indeed, they will find within the congregation assistance from true friends!Prov. 17:17; 18:24.

^ par. 6 Some names have been changed.