Question: “I find myself wishing for something else to take away the pain even when I know only God can. What can we do to comfort ourselves when the pain {of being in a difficult marriage, of separating/divorcing} is so great?”

During my separation, I texted a friend, “This is how it’s going this week: let me just say it’s a good thing I don’t like the taste of alcohol.”

For a while there, pre-divorce, I was suffering from pretty regular migraines, heart palpitations, sleeplessness, occasional stress-induced eye-twitching, anxiety and depression. I was lonely and sad and angry and confused and worried. I was a hot mess, minus the hot. The pain I was in for years was emotionally and physically debilitating; I’m convinced my soul was dying a little more every day.

But even though I have never used alcohol or cigarettes or drugs or sex to numb my pain over the years (which seriously amazes me sometimes), that doesn’t mean I don’t have other vices that I turn to in an attempt to self-soothe and assuage my ache. Shopping, naps, television, food, just to name a few. These are my go-to’s, even as a follower of Jesus.

So what can we do to bring ourselves some comfort from the pain in healthy ways?

Turn to Jesus.
He is our Comforter. Spending time in prayer, in his Word, in worship heals us in ways that nothing human or of this world can. But it’s a different kind of healing…it might not be the instant relief you’re looking for; but that’s okay.

Tell a friend.
Fight the temptation to isolate. Reach out to someone you trust and tell them how you’re feeling. Everyone has felt this void, this lack of comfort, at some point in their lives. Let yourself be heard, let yourself be taken care of.

Ask for help.
Sometimes we need an extra measure of assistance. Seeing a counselor to talk through your feelings of pain and how they’re not abating is always a good idea. You will more than likely regret not talking with a counselor; but odds are you will never regret that you have.

Take care of yourself.
Eat better. Move more. Sleep when tired. Do something you enjoy doing. We are mind, body and spirit. Take care of the whole of you.

See the doctor.
If you’re finding yourself having hopeless or suicidal thoughts, or simply you just don’t feel like yourself and can’t shake the dark cloud hanging over your head, talking to your doctor about your options for medication is wise.

Comfort someone else.
In our pain, we can feel as if we’re the only ones in the world who are hurting. But odds are, there is someone in your life going through something really difficult right alongside you. Reach out…offer your help to someone, your listening ear, your support, your prayers, even in the midst of your own pain.

Get perspective.
Our pain will not kill us.  Sometimes it feels like it might, but it won’t.  It’s not the end of the world to be in emotional pain and not have reprieve from it for a time.  It strengthens us.  It builds character and empathy and compassion and perseverance.  It lines us up with Christ, as Paul says in Philippians 2, “There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.”

Our pain is a gift. I know, I know, you want to slap me. But it is. I bet that if you look back on your life, if you’re honest with yourself, you can see something good that has come from every single difficult thing that has ever passed through your life. A lesson learned, character built, deeper intimacy with a friend or with God. Life hurts, but God comforts.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…  -II Corinthians 1:3-4a

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.

Life isn't always how we want it. When change seems elusive, and we're stuck in old routines, a gentle push or some self-reflection can make a difference. Let these questions be that nudge to get you moving.

You have Successfully Subscribed!