It’s been a long journey, but finally you are free. Perhaps you were in a tumultuous marriage and you are now looking forward to the new life God has in store for you. Or perhaps your divorce was completely unexpected and you are finally getting to the other side of the shock of your life. Either way, you’ve worked hard to start feeling good about yourself again.
But nothing could prepare you for what is going on in the very place that should bring you comfort—the church.
Instead of love and healing, you are being met with avoidance. You are not invited anywhere. When the congregants break off into groups you feel like the geeky kid in school who was picked last for sports.
“What is going on?,” you think to yourself. You have to think it to yourself, because no one else is talking to you.
Here’s what’s going on: You are attractive. You are divorced. Men don’t know what to do around you and women don’t want you around their men. Even at church.
I have experienced this first hand. Through my own journey and through speaking truthfully with secure women, I have come to find that attractive divorced women are a tremendous threat to them. I know you don’t mean to be. You just want to find nurturing, healthy relationships.
Having been married all those years, you probably don’t have the same group of friends you used to. You are used to being in a relationship and in relationships with couples. You feel like you don’t fit in anywhere. You don’t want to go back to that “single” lifestyle, but you’re not married any longer, either.
So now what do you do?
It can be a lonely place but I want to encourage you to hang in there.
You may be thinking at this point, “Forget it, people in church are no different than anyone else, I’ll just stay away from them too.” While this feels like a great way to protect yourself, this is not the option you truly want. God calls us to be in fellowship with like-minded people, so keep trying. Stay strong and don’t allow yourself to slip back into the world.
The first thing you need to do is forgive. Forgive all those “church” people who really don’t know how to handle you or your situation—you represent a reality that they don’t even want to contemplate, and they don’t realize how hurtful it is to ignore you. I know the pain firsthand, and yes, you should be the one receiving comfort and fellowship at this time. But you may need to be the one to extend yourself and maybe even educate people about your situation and your motives.
Know this: long term, your actions will speak far louder than your words. There are a few dos and don’ts for being accepted in the church when you are divorced and attractive.
- Start by approaching a few select “safe” women. Tell them your situation and what you are looking for—friends!
- I’m not going to suggest that you avoid men, but DO NOT make a beeline for them. There’s a good chance he is already someone’s man you don’t want to put her on red alert. Men won’t want to dishonor (or tick off) their wives and women do not want to have to look over their shoulder to see what you’re up to.
- Dress appropriately. Remember you are not trying to attract a man or show up the other women. You may even need to reevaluate what appropriate is, as I have seen some women’s ideas of what’s OK to wear to church, and trust me, it is not appropriate!
- Many will think this next thing is ridiculous, but please trust me on this. Do not be a hugger of men. This will be good practice for you to honor the next man the Lord brings into your life. In the mean time, it shows honor to the women they are with. If you are in a huggy kind of church and feel awkward in refusing to hug men, than I urge you to give the opposite shoulder hug. This means no face-to-face, full-body contact.
- If you have a question for one of the men, make sure there is someone else around. I go so far as to ask the wife first if they mind if I speak with their husband.
- And lastly, ladies, do not connect with these men from church on social media unless you are connected with their wives and they are ok with it.
Some of you out there may be saying to yourself, “Oh heck no, I’m going to be myself and if they don’t like it, that’s their problem!” But sadly it will become your problem too, as you could be missing out on some great relationships simply because you are giving the wrong impression.
It’s not enough to be able to say “That wasn’t my intent.” Show respect, be intentional about being an honorable woman and over time, I assure you, you will soon feel at home in church again.