Divorce is scary.
And for single fathers, the changes that result from divorce can feel like a massive stormy whirlwind of uncertainty, heartbreak, and overwhelm.
I understand the feeling of loss that comes from feeling disconnected from the Holy Ghost. I understand the confusion that comes from the loss of purpose after a traumatic divorce. Divorce brings physical separation as well as emotional trauma. Even in cases where divorce is favorable, the loss of companionship is overwhelming. We struggle to find a new normal in the chaos of change and come to grips with the realities of life. The soft giggles and warm hugs that once filled our home are now replaced with the painful realization that nothing will ever be the same. Uncertainty, loneliness, anger, resentment, and anxiety can find an unwanted place in our hearts.
As single fathers in the Church, it can be easy to feel hopeless that an eternal companionship didn’t work out. How can we find peace through the fears of divorce? Does anyone understand what we are going through? Is peace even possible?
In the last few verses of Mark chapter 4, we learn of our Savior, Jesus Christ, calming the tormenting conflict of stormy seas:
“Peace, be still” (verse 39).
We read in verse 41 the response of His Apostles to this miracle: “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
As a divorced single father myself, I know the fear and challenges that divorce brings, but I also know the healing and peace that Christ can bring.
Here are three tips that have helped me navigate the pathways of change, come closer to Christ, and thrive as a single father:
President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) wisely said, “Just as a flood-lighted temple is more beautiful in a severe storm or in a heavy fog, so the gospel of Jesus Christ is more glorious in times of inward storm and of personal sorrow and tormenting conflict.”1 In those verses in Mark chapter 4, Christ calmed the seas. Sometimes He calms the seas and storms in our lives. Other times, He calms us while the storms of life continue around us.
The temple is our key to calming the storms of life. As we attend the temple, we bring our challenges and leave them at the door. We find peace therein. When we leave, our challenges are still there, but we pick them up with an added measure of peace and a new perspective. Regular temple attendance is the linchpin to lasting healing from the painful effects of divorce.
Your knowledge, beliefs, and convictions shouldn’t be saved for Sunday services. We preach the gospel best with our examples of faith—and this includes the bearing of our testimonies. But what if I don’t feel like sharing my testimony? What if my faith has been damaged by the divorce?
As President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) taught, “A testimony is to be found in the bearing of it.”2
When we bear our testimonies to our children, we are inviting truth to enter their lives—and ours as well. Truth is an essential component of the healing power of the Holy Ghost. Examples of sharing our testimonies include:
Reading scriptures out loud to our children.
Bearing our testimonies in fast and testimony meeting or other appropriate settings.
Giving father’s blessings to our children at the beginning of the school year, on their birthday, or at the beginning of a new calendar year.
As our children face new challenges that come along with having divorced parents, we need to do our best to help them through those challenges. Their heartache will be prolonged if we seek healing through the ways of the world. You likely don’t have as much time with your children as you did before. So while the quantity of time is limited, we can improve the quality of the time we do have together.
Implementing these truths in my life has made all the difference. The truth is that when you try to be more Christlike in your daily life and behavior, you begin to notice His presence more fully. As Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “As we seek to purify our lives and look unto Christ in every thought, everything else begins to align.”3
I have specifically felt peaceful in times of strong grief and sorrow as I’ve tried to become more like Him. I felt mental and physical strength be given to me at times when I needed it most. Living on the covenant path as a single father has become a joy and a blessing, and He gives me hope for the future. He knows you, and He has prepared the way for us to overcome all the trials we encounter before us.
I know the Lord will bless our families as we keep our covenants. I testify that our Savior loves us an incomprehensible amount. May our Father in Heaven guide your path as a single parent as you trust His ways.