R.A.D.I.C.A.L. Recovery: Boot Camp for those going through divorce (Jan-Feb 2008)

By Matt Dabbs

by Suzy Brown
January – February, 2008

My life has not turned out like I thought it would. My name is Suzy Brown, and I’m on a mission. I didn’t want this mission. I didn’t plan on this mission. And when God said, “Suzy, here’s what I want you to do,” I first said, “No thanks, I have other plans.” But, sort of like Jonah, here I am. I never considered in my wildest imagination that I would have a ministry committed to helping women find a new vision after divorce. But that’s where I am, and the need is overwhelming.

There’s a crisis going on in our country, in our neighborhoods and now, even in our churches and maybe in your own home. That crisis is the growing problem of divorce. Christians are divorcing at an alarming rate … a rate close to that of our unchurched neighbors. Even by the most hopeful statistics, one in every three adults in your local congregation is divorced, has been divorced or is going through divorce now. Every person reading this article has probably been affected by divorce. If not your own divorce, that of a family member, a friend, a co-worker, a fellow-Christian.

I have been a Christian all my life. When I was in the fourth grade I gave my life to Christ during a gospel meeting. My family not only did Church, my parents were excellent role models both within the church and within our neighborhood of actually being the presence of God. God has been the foundation of my life since I can remember.

I went to a Christian college and was married in 1967. My then-husband and I had a strong, solid marriage and wonderful children. Our friends looked at our family as a great family; a good family; a fun family. Suddenly, as my life was humming along, the unthinkable happened. My then husband got involved with another woman, and for more than three years would not end that relationship. So, after much sobbing, yelling, pleading and praying, I filed for divorce. With four fantastic children and eventually eight amazing grandchildren, I was divorced after 33 years of marriage and three years of heart-breaking earth-shaking agony and despair.

I was devastated on so many levels I can’t even describe them all. Divorce is not only a personal, but a very public, failure; and I felt like a spiritual failure as well. I wondered, “what influence can I have for God if the man I want most to please doesn’t think I’m worth being married to?” I considered myself a strong Christian, but during this ordeal, I was having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I wasn’t eating. I couldn’t sleep. I cried all the time. I was a mess. I kept wondering what good God could possibly have in mind with the destruction of my family. I had told my children all their lives … “just trust God, and he’ll work out the details.” I wanted to trust God. I was trying to trust God, but in the beginning, I had a hard time just holding myself together.

I guess this ministry really started when after more time than I want to admit, I finally fell on my face before God and said, “I hate this. I don’t want to be divorced. I have no idea what you’re doing, but I am going to trust you. I’m going to give myself totally to you, to do with as you will. Just show me what to do with this, and I’ll try to do it and be joyful about it.” Even though the “joyfully” part didn’t happen until much later, every morning, I would physically say something to the effect, “Okay, God, here I am. Show me what you want me to do today. Help me show my family and friends that your kind of life works. Help me shine your light today … and by the way; I think you could have been more helpful these last few years. Through Jesus, Amen.”

All I know is that God has his own agenda, and once you say those surrender words to God, you’d better really mean them and you’d better hold on! Since then, my life has taken a direction I could never have imagined. Instead of having no voice for God at all, like I feared, God is using my divorce in absolutely unexpected ways. He is using me to touch people in ways I could never have planned on my own. His purposes are being accomplished through weak, human, divorced me. I get notes like this: “I think your book really saved my life. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” Or this: “ … what stands out is your umbrella of faith and God’s presence in your work. It is so evident to me that you are His instrument in the healing of the many women who enter your life and you, theirs.” This isn’t my doing, it’s God’s. I’m just holding on trying to keep up every day.

R.A.D.I.C.A.L. RecoveryFor example, I started a support group of women in my neighborhood, and decided on the name R.A.D.I.C.A.L. Women. R.A.D.I.C.A.L. means Rising Above Divorce In Confidence And Love. We met for a couple of years and out of those meetings came my book Radical Recovery, Transforming the Despair of Your Divorce Into An Unexpected Good, published last year by Leafwood Publishers, who saw this problem coming. They published a divorce theology book, a book of divorce devotions and my “meat and potatoes” recovery book. There is also a Radical Recovery Workbook for individual or group study. I have been on radio and television stations around the country and have given lectures in California and Nashville. I have started doing Divorce Recovery Boot Camps.

The Catholic diocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph, Missouri wants to make the boot camps available to all the parishes in their diocese. I have calls from women all over the country needing help. With six or seven other experts, we provide a whole day of practical strategies for divorce recovery, and we have also begun offering a separate half-day program for men at these seminars. At the Avila event, we will be offering a 2-hour panel discussion for late-teen, early adult children of divorce, because often when I speak, young adults approach me and say that no one is addressing their issues. God calls us to shine his light. We cannot ignore the problem, and in fact we have an amazing opportunity. Never are people more willing to listen to what God has to offer than when they are in the middle of this suffering and pain.

I didn’t want to be divorced. I tried everything not to be divorced. In spite of all my prayers and tears, the divorce happened. But once I surrendered to God’s will for my life, I recognized his amazing faithfulness and experienced his total love for me. This R.A.D.I.C.A.L. surrendering doesn’t just mean Rising Above Divorce In Confidence And Love. It means facing every single life situation with God’s reassurance that he can transform it all into something good for me and in line with his purposes.

God says if we give everything to him … even what we see as our greatest defeats … he will do the rest. He says, “Try my radical way of living this adventure, and I promise that you will discover truths that will revolutionize absolutely everything. Your life in me will be beyond your wildest dreams!”

I am living proof that those promises are true.

More Resources

www.midlifedivorcerecovery.com site gives lots of helpful resources for divorce recovery including a Daily Radical Thought which I update every day except Sunday.

www.radicalwomennetwork.com is an interactive site with a way to form groups, post discussion questions, ask advice, list businesses and access recovery resources.

The body of Christ is commanded to comfort the broken-hearted. That includes people broken by divorce. We must provide the resources and support they need for healing. If we help them, they are inclined to get back into that circle of service in helping others. If we don’t help, they often leave the church forever.New Wineskins

Suzy BrownSuzy Brown speaks to women’s ministries, elders and preachers meetings, business groups, professional groups, Catholic leaders, parish groups and anyone who will listen. She has resources designed to help churches meet the needs of those in their fellowship and as an outreach to the community. Contact her at [suzysuccess@kc.rr.com] and she will send you helps to get started.

To contact Suzy or for more information about her divorce recovery ministry, go to www.midlifedivorcerecovery.com or call 816-941-4911 or e-mail her at suzysuccess@kc.rr.com.

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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1583 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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