Divorced not Damaged

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Divorced NOT Damaged

For singles who have been divorced, it can feel like you have a scarlet “D” on your chest at all times for “Divorced.” The Christian community can often be the worst offenders of this, labeling you as “Damaged” but redeemed. Divorce was not God’s plan for any marriage, but it happens. Jesus even addresses it in Matthew 19:1-9, saying it was because of mans hardness of hearts that divorce even happens. This blog is not to debate the grounds of if a divorce is right or wrong, it is for those who are already divorced.

 


 

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I have been divorced.

It was not a marriage that lasted long and it ended with my spouse being unfaithful. The divorce was rather quick and settled within months and having no children it was easier to move on for me than others. It was hard to face my family, friends, and Church after the divorce happened. My commitment to the marriage was not reciprocated and somehow I felt punished in the church for my actions. I walked with God for years before the divorce happened, and I needed Him most after I left for good.

My parents encouraged me to go with them to church, try the singles group there and meet some friends. It took weeks to build up the courage to go into the singles class, I literally shed tears at the thought of meeting new Christian friends and how they would judge my scarlet “D.” Joining that singles group was just what I needed to get my faith back on track and be surrounded with love from friends as I built my relationship with Christ. Most people did not find my divorce to be an issue, however there were a few that judged my divorce as if it had obviously been my fault that the marriage failed.

As a follower of Christ, you are not damaged in God’s eyes. Your sins were washed away when you accepted Him as your Lord and Savior, Acts 22:16. As followers of Christ our sins are taken away and even cast to the deepest sea on the ocean floor, Micah 7:19. Christ’s love covers our multitude of sins, even divorce, 1 Peter 4:8.  When others judge you because of your divorce, be strong and take refuge in Christ and His promises of Love.

Regardless if your divorce is “Biblical” or “justified” you are not innocent in a divorce. Everyone is a sinner and makes mistakes or sins before God, Romans 3:23. Those sins do not have to define who you are, but you should be vigilant not to make them again. Divorce happens. Jesus knew this in Matthew 19:1-9 and He does not want you to feel damaged, He died on the cross for our sins so that we may have life and have it more abundantly, John 10:10. I encourage you to live life abundantly after your divorce and be free from the sins of your past to enjoy the blessings in your future. Just a few short years after my divorce, I met my husband. Had I never let go of the past, I would have never been looking ahead for the blessing of being married to a Godly man.

It’s Just Me This Christmas

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Regardless whether a person is completely content with being single or not, the holidays for older single adults reveal a somber truth. It is logical then to see when time marches on, things change, and those who are dear to us pass on. For singles, this can create a situation they never saw coming.

 

It is just me this Christmas.

 

Small families have some amazing abilities to do more with everyone since there are less people to logistically connect with. This also means less siblings, if any, and for most singles, one Christmas day they find themselves the last of their family. We know this sounds extreme, but for one single adult this was exactly what happened.

 

Robert was an only child. He had dated a few times but never really found a person that shared reciprocal interest in marriage. Holidays were spent with mom and dad at his house. In the span of three years, both parents had passed to be with the Lord and then it happened.

 

Robert was alone for Christmas. Years of traditions with family are gone and his extended family were too far away to travel to see them.

 

Where was the Framily?

 

Robert was active in his church and had several friends. Many were close as family, they were framily (friends considered family). But they all forgot that he was a single child and both his parents had passed away. His close network of friends forgot to reach out. In all fairness, Robert also failed to reach out and seek a place to go to on Christmas Day. But, he also didn’t prepare to spend it alone.

 

We Have to Pay Attention.

 

Singles, leaders to singles, and anyone reading this blog: We have to be observant of singles in our lives and make sure we reach out often to keep them connected. In this case, Robert may had forgotten he was going to be alone for Christmas due to the busyness of the holiday season. Robert may have wanted to spend the day alone, which would be fine. But, the issue is that everyone lost sight of their single adult friend and where he was going to spend Christmas.

 

Churches Need to Connect Singles.

 

Church, however you connect singles you need to make it a priority. Singles like this one and others make up nearly half of all adults in America and as more and more adults age without a spouse, this number and scenario is going to increase. Churches need to have a focus on connecting singles in whatever discipleship strategy they have to minister to singles all year. Some will still fall through the net you build to catch singles, but your strategy to reach them will connect more than it misses.

 

Being alone for Christmas does not have to be the saddest thing ever. This blog was not out to say everyone needs to be with people on Christmas. This blog is an attempt to shine light into an area of need for the Church to connect singles at some of their most critical life moments and for the Church to reflect Christ in those times.

 

How does your church reach single adults? Do they do a good job trying to connect singles? Anything done to ensure the lone single is included during the holidays?

Sunday Single Selection

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It is Saturday night and you know you should go to church tomorrow, yet you have reservations in your heart about where to go or if you should find somewhere new to go. You want to Worship and hear the Word preached, but the church you go to does not seem to get being single or you can not find a church with a singles group. Many singles have this Saturday night emotion, wanting to go to church for all the right reasons, but still desiring more in community with other singles like yourself.

Many churches don’t have a targeted group for singles, if they even seem to acknowledge they are present. Those that do have singles groups may not feel like they are targeted at people like yourself. While the emotions are valid, your response to these issues should have only one outcome and that is to go Worship with other believers. Worship is not a self serving activity where you get something for doing something. Worship is about praising God for who He is and learning more about Him through that experience. So here are a few encouragements for singles with regards to church selection.

  1. Base your selection on if the church Worships God and honors His Word.
  2. Connect with a congregation close as possible to enhance your ability to participate.
  3. Look for churches with existing singles ministries listed, if none are found it may be time to start a singles ministry in your area. Chances are there are several people like you looking for a place to connect.
  4. Bring or invite a friend to help you select a church, it helps to debrief with someone over lunch after Worship.

Finally, choose! Go to a church where God is calling you, make roots and serve. Don’t spend all your time looking when you could be connected to a church and start building a singles ministry for people like yourself. Your efforts to do so will not return void and God will honor your commitment to serve Him.

 

Another Closed Door

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When my marriage of 14 years ended against my wishes, I drove to and from work, often not remembering how I got there. When I arrived home at the end of the day, I found myself staring at the television without registering what was on. I was a zombie. All I could think was, “What now? I’m alone.”

That feeling eventually dissipated but not without the comfort of Christ. I grabbed onto the promise of God stated in Deuteronomy 31:8.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;

He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

When relationships end, it’s easy to have a pity party. To relive everything said or done. To grow angry or depressed. To calculate how you need to change to guarantee you will not be alone again. Yet focusing and obsessing on all of these things can take the Believer’s focus off where it needs to be.

It may take some time to pull yourself out of the doldrums, but lingering in the darkness is not where God wants us to be. We are called to walk in His light, to be a light for His kingdom.

No matter what changes your relationship status goes through, one thing remains constant. Your relationship with Christ will never end! Be Complete in Christ! Hold fast to the promise. Your earthly relationships may change or end, but not His!

Not an Option

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When is the last time you made something “Not an Option”? Truly, 100% said to yourself that under no circumstances will I ever ____. Everyone has things that are not options in their lives, such as the clothes worn to work or the food we choose to eat that may cause allergic reactions. Everyone makes choices everyday that make things “Not an Option” in their life.  Yet, somehow, we are still tripped by the same sins.

Jesus, at the Sermon on the Mount, told people to be radical in their actions in order stop from sinning. Though He was being figurative, He suggested it is better to lose a hand than to keep it and continue a life of sin (Matthew 5:29-30). It is better to not have a hand and live for God than to have two hands and not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Single adults have a lot of time alone and, in those alone times, it is easy to slip into temptations. For any of us to be obedient to the Word of God and follow Him, we have to make certain things in our lives “Not an Option.” Doing so will glorify the One who sent His only Son to die on a cross for our sins and allow us to live a life honoring to Him.

What things in your life do you need to make “Not an Option”? Addictions? Gossip with friends? Temptations? Some may think you can’t change or overcome the struggle. That is not the case!

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13

God is on your side and will not let you be tempted, tested, or go through trials that you cannot have victory over! He loves you so much that He always gives an alternative for you to choose and make something “Not an Option.”

Separated or Single?

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He walked out on his marriage a month ago and comes to your church. He’s brand new and comes to the singles group. He seems nice and you greet him, talk to him, and connect him. Over lunch that week, he mentions that he is recently divorced. As the conversation progresses, you realize that when he says “divorced” he mean that he has left his wife and the “paperwork” is still “in process”. So then, is this person divorced? As a minister of the Gospel, how do you counsel him? Is he single or is he married?

A real world problem for singles ministries is dealing with a person who is separated but not divorced or, in our view, even single. Table for One Ministries defines divorced as “The papers are filed” for a reason. We believe that until a divorce is legally finalized that person is married. Marriage is a sacred commitment and by all means should be fought for until the end. Separated is nothing more than married but not together. It’s still marriage.

This is NOT to say singles ministries cannot help. The church can and must help in this situation, but singles ministry should be for singles not married adults. The problem is introducing a hurting, frustrated, married person to a group of happy, healthy single people does not encourage the married person to seek God’s strength to fight for their marriage. Instead, it encourages them to abandon their marriage and seek the “happy single life” they see in front of them.We can hear the criticism now:  “Every case is different and there should be exceptions,” “Divorces can take years,” and “Things are over, so why wait?”

We encourage the waiting to give God time to work. Emotions run high during separations, and they need to be given time to let God speak to BOTH people involved.

To those separated: marriage commitment is a big deal. Leaving it should not be a simple task. Allow God to move and even if that divorce takes months to sort out, take time to heal before looking to engage the single adult world. Leaders, protect your singles from getting involved with a married person, and encourage the separated adult looking to get involved in a married adult group first, giving God time to work in their life.

Being Dad Through Divorce

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Divorce is ugly.

 

Talk to anyone who is going through or has survived a divorced and unanimously they will say, even in the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. When children are involved in divorce, the stakes and emotions are even higher. From the day one spouse says the words “I want a divorce”, life and the marriage relationship will never return to the place it once was with unbroken trust.

Dads are by nature protective providers, and while not perfect, they strive to achieve the primal “hunter and gatherer” mindset. Maybe you are a dad reading this going through divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that led to this day, there are steps as a Christ follower that a father should take even in the challenge of a divorce.

 

Fight for Your Marriage

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:23

Defenses go up, feelings are hurt, and a once promising happily ever after might fade into a nightmare. While your marriage will be shaped by the actions taken, it can be saved by the One who has saved you. In the midst of a storm is not the time to go silent and walk away. Be just as vigilant in loving the one you chose to marry as the day you went engagement ring shopping. Just as Christ forgave you for your sins and offered salvation through eternal life, you can offer forgiveness in the difficult times.

 

Be Present with Your Children

“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Divorce can be embarrassing, humiliating, and defeating. All things men hate. This often causes men to retreat away from the relationships in the situation, including your children. They did not choose this path; do not punish the ones you held in the hospital the day they were born with the present situation. Custody battles are never “won”–only compromised like the relationship that was broken. Even if you no longer want to communicate with their mother, you need to love and respect her in the way Christ loves us.

 

Your Ex-Spouse’s Salvation Matters

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Ask yourself this question: Do I want to see my ex in heaven? To a Believer, this question should be a centering moment in how you proceed in your divorce and your life. Remember the reality of your present state in this world. The emotions are high, your anger may be running over, the circumstances may be out of control. However, as a Christ follower, you should still keep the Gospel in the forefront of your conversation and mind. Don’t “Jesus juke” to be spiteful, but let your actions be ones that draw people to God rather than turn from him. Your actions a Christian applies to your ex just as much as the believers who stand beside you in difficult times.

Being Mom Through Divorce

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Divorce is nasty.

Talk to anyone who is going through or has survived a divorced and unanimously they will say, even in the best of circumstances, divorce is hard. When children are involved in divorce, the stakes and emotions are even higher. From the day one spouse says the words “I want a divorce”, life and the marriage relationship will never return to the place it once was with unbroken trust.

Mothers are by nature the ones who nurture and care for others, being the solid foundation of the home for all family members. Maybe you are a mom reading this going through divorce. Regardless of the circumstances that led to this day, there are steps as a Christ follower that a mother should take even in the challenge of a divorce.

 

Fight for Your Marriage

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32

Emotions overrun reality with every communication that happens with your spouse. The one who once used words to show you love, uses them to tear you down. While your marriage will be shaped by the actions taken, it can be saved by the One who has saved you. In the midst of the storm do not retaliate harsh words with even harsher ones. Be just as vigilant in loving the one you chose to marry as the day you said “I do.” Just as Christ forgave you for your sins and offered salvation through eternal life, you can offer forgiveness in the difficult times.

 

Children Hear our Words

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.” – James 3:1-12

Words can be weapons. It is vital to your relationship with your children to take the high road and control conversations around your children. Let your words be ones that honor God and ones you will not regret. When the conversation becomes intense, steer your words toward love and deflect the conversation until little ears are not in hearing range. It will be hard. Nothing in divorce is easy, but you will be demonstrating to your children Christ’s love in the hardest of circumstances.

 

Your Ex-Spouses Salvation Matters

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Ask yourself this question: do I want to see my ex in heaven? To a believer, this question should be a centering moment in how you proceed in your divorce and your life. Remember the reality of your present state in this world. The emotions are high, your anger may be running over, the circumstances may be out of control. However, as a Christ follower, you should still keep the Gospel in the forefront of your conversation and mind. Don’t “Jesus juke” to be spiteful, but let your actions be ones that draw people to God rather than turn from him. Your actions a Christian applies to your ex just as much as the believers who stand beside you in difficult times.

End of the Rope with Addiction

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Do you ever feel torn between doing what you know is right, and then doing the wrong thing anyway? Choosing to continue in a sin that you should be able to be free of, yet you keep making the same mistake. We have some comforting words for you, the apostle Paul had this same struggle in Romans 7-8 regarding the Law. The Message translation Bible is not intended to be an everyday Bible, but what it is great at is expressing things in a new light with the same Biblical meaning. This could not be more true of this passage! Here are the phrases Paul uses in his struggle with sin.

  • I need something more!
  • I know the law and yet I can not keep it
  • Sin keeps sabotaging my best intentions
  • I obviously need help!
  • I have the will, but I can’t do it!
  • The moment I decide to do good, sin trips me up
  • I have tried everything and nothing helps, I am at the end of my rope

You should take time and read this entire chapter out loud and hear the urgency and distress in Paul’s voice. Go ahead, read it out loud.

Romans 7 Message Translation

Have you ever felt that way? When it comes to sin in your life like getting drunk, sex before marriage, drugs, lust, porn,and on and on? Have you been at the end of your rope with sin? Do you feel like there is nothing anyone can do for you? Well, there is great news! Romans 7:25-8:1-4.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.”

Struggle with your addictions and then give them all to God. Make a stand in your life for sin to be “Not an Option!” Have you reached the end of your rope with sin?

Maybe It’s Your Fault You are Lonely

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We all see the Facebook posts of a lonely person.

Whether married or single, you have friends who post and post, and then post some more. It seems every time you check your feed, you know the last meal the ate and how food was!

Then there are posts of loneliness and clear cries for attention and help that break your heart. You want your friends to not feel alone, so you try to get them to engage in activities but to no avail.

For singles this is more common as they often live alone and even those with a roommate spend time alone. Alone time does not equal being lonely. Being lonely is the feeling of abandonment or low self worth that makes a person feel like no one else knows how they feel.

Here is the thing with loneliness: you have to own some of the responsibility yourself. To be a person who is not alone, you have to be the instigator to say yes more often to social engagements and sometimes that means spending money to make things happen. It is not a matter of being an introvert or extrovert.

To avoid feeling alone, you need to be proactive to stay engaged in life.

Below are a few ways you may be responsible for feeling alone.

 

Not connecting with friends.

Friends are a great base of social interaction and companionship for anyone. Some friendships, like David and Jonathan’s in the Old Testament, can be deep and meaningful. (1 Samuel 18:1-4) You have to own half of the responsibility to establish relationships that can be deep friendships. Connect with others that share a common interest and resist the urge to stay home all the time.

 

Not doing social things with others.

We hear the uproar to this comment. Yes, we know it can be difficult to afford being social all the time. Singles are on a tight budget and every dollar is important. But, social things are important. Even for the introvert. You need to find social things to do. They do not have to always be a singles event. Sites like www.meetups.com offer a way for you to find a interest and share with others. Go out with co-workers. Say yes to lunch on Sundays, even with that married couple that asks. Being connected is worth every penny.

 

Not reaching out to others in time of need.

Nothing is more frustrating for a leader or minister than to find out a person in their group was in need and did not let anyone know. It is hard for anyone to admit they need help. But, if you are fighting against being lonely, not reaching out will not fix it. People may offer to help you from time to time. If you say no every time you become more distant from others, which leads to our next point.

 

Not allowing people to love you.

In his book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman believes everyone has a “love tank.” We agree! Singles, you have a love language and you need to know how you prefer to be loved so you can allow people to love you. You have to let down some guards and take a risk from time to time. Friends are there to help you and love you. It is hard, but it is worth it! (Click HERE to take a test to find your love language.)

 

Not establishing a FRAMILY.

Friends who are family, Framily! You need to have a few 1 a.m. friends, framily, or whatever you call them in your life to walk with you. Unfortunately in this fallen world, the older we get, the more family is lost to tragedy. The principle here is to surround yourself with people you love and who love you enough to invest in your life. That way when hardships comes, you have a network of people to call–not just one or two family members.

 

Lastly, leaders to singles, never stop reaching out to those who are lonely. One day they may let you into their Framily. It may take years to break down their walls and let you into their world, but it is worth it.
Singles ministries that thrive are ones who create a sense of community for one another and those that flourish are based on the Word of God. That is why our missions statement is to Build Community for Single Adults Through Discipleship. Keep loving the ones who fight your love the most. These people are the reason we started this blog. The one on Facebook who is lonely and looking to connect with others.