Steps of Healing: Mourning

How does one recover from divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to make clear I have not arrived. I am still healing. If I had to write this when I was completely over matters, I doubt I would ever write it. My own DivorceCare leader even admitted something said in our support group recently showed him some matters he needs to work through. Saying you can move on and not be affected by this ever is like saying you can never be affected by the death of your child after awhile.

However, having said that, I do want to write about some steps that I have taken. After all, we’ve had a week of negative things not to say. We need a week of positive matters to do.

The first step I think is really to recover from divorce is to be able to mourn. You have a real loss. When the time came for me, I fortunately had a friend come over who was there as I was crying my eyes out. Now before someone tries to tell me that real men don’t do that, Jesus Himself did it and at the graveside of Lazarus when He knew He was going to raise Him from the dead.

Sorry, but I think Jesus was the most real man who ever lived. If He can do it and be a real man, so can I. I’m not ashamed to admit that that happened.

This has been a great benefit. I have real friends that when I am down in the dumps, I can call and talk to them about matters and it’s a great help. It reminds me that I’m not in this alone.

Sadly, I think we in the church have lost the art of mourning. We don’t know how to mourn. We treat sadness like it’s a disease too often that has to be cured. Many of our songs on Christian music stations aren’t songs to God. They’re songs to us. They’re meant to help us overcome. I don’t listen to a lot of secular music, but I don’t think secular music from what I hear has as much of that.

There are some exceptions. I remember hearing in Georgia a song on a radio station in a store with the lines of “Sometimes, I don’t want to be happy.” There are times like that. There are times where not only do you not want to be happy, you shouldn’t be. In Christian circles, Dallas Holm has a song called “I Just Don’t Feel Like Dancing.” I also don’t think that song has anything to do with whether or not he’s a Baptist.

If we had the death of a loved one and there was no sorrow and crying but only partying and celebrating, I would think there was a problem there. In Scripture, Paul tells us we mourn, but we don’t like those who have no hope. We are supposed to be sad.

What about those we know who are mourning if we aren’t? Well, Paul tells us to cheer them up. No. Wait. He tells us to also mourn with those who mourn. Again, do we treat sadness like it’s a disease that must be removed from the body of Christ?

This doesn’t mean never say anything encouraging or do anything fun with the person, but if some friends have me over for a game night and during the night I get a memory and just put down my controller and want to mourn, one of the best things they could do is come alongside me and let me let it out and mourn. Divorce is certainly a real loss for many of us. We have lost something very important to ourselves.

Now is a Christian supposed to have a joy still? Yes. We are supposed to know that God works all things for good to those who love Him, including divorce, but that doesn’t mean what happens is good and that the immediate effects are good. They can all be awful. It means that we realize it’s not the end of the story somehow. Of course, if any mourning does turn to suicidal ideation and activity, that is the time when something does have to be stopped. I don’t know anyone who has gone through a sad divorce who at one point hasn’t been tempted along those lines. I remember when my DivorceCare leader said about it that we’ve all been there.

However, we are not told to just put on a face. Sometimes, that might be necessary, but when we are with ourselves alone or with friends we trust, no. When I joined my new church here, I told the pastor beforehand that a requirement of me joining a church is eventually I want to serve somehow. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. He told me he wants that, but right now, I need to let myself be served.

There is a time to let myself be served indeed. There is a time to let friends be friends and come around me. Time of mourning is one such time. The best ones to mourn with also have been those who have gone through it. These people understand the best what it is like. They also assure me they have walked this road before. It’s also one reason I am writing this blog series on it. I want to help someone else who is going down this road.

Thank you, fellow travelers, who have mourned with me.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Things Not To Say To A Divorced Person #5: I Know How You Feel

Do you really understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is one of those statements that applies in so many situations, but it also applies to divorce. There is one exception to this like the others. That is with someone who has gone through a painful divorce. No two divorces will be exactly alike, but at least there is some relationship there.

So if you have gone through a break-up, you do not know what it is like. If you and your boyfriend or girlfriend have been lovers and lived together and broken up, you don’t know what it is like. If you have lost a spouse due to an unintentional and unmalicious death, you don’t know what it is like. All of these may bear some similarities, but they are still different.

What the intent is:

The intent is to show sympathy with the person. That is a noble attempt. The problem is that you can’t do that. If you have not walked in those shoes, you do not know how it feels. I hear across the board from people that divorce is worse than the death of a spouse. With death there is closure and you live on good terms. The love is never questioned. With divorce, the opposite is true.

I think of a friend who a few years ago told me of how his first wife died. Someone meant to have sympathy for him and said, “I know how you feel. My cat died recently.” The death of a pet is hard, but it is not the same as the death of a spouse.

Why it’s wrong:

As said, you don’t know how it feels. Divorce carries with it a personal rejection and a breaking of the covenant. This is something that makes it different from other break-ups. A marriage covenant is a solemn promise to not betray one another and to stay with that person until death. This is not to say that no one can ever justifiably divorce, but I argue in those cases, someone else has already broken the promise.

Throughout the day now, I am constantly reminded of how I am divorced by so many things. A small event could remind me of a joke we shared together. Seeing a happy couple together can remind me of the longing. Going to bed at night and waking up in the morning reminds me that there is no one else there.

Being in society doesn’t always help much. My job is one of the most public places I go to and it can be one of the loneliest places of all. It’s a very real reality to be in a crowd of people and feel utterly lonely. I can say through the two other major trials in my life, I didn’t have the fellowship that I have now, largely through social media. The internet has been a great boon to me in developing relationships.

Do not try to relate if you cannot relate. Accept it. That doesn’t mean that you can do nothing to help.

What to say instead:

I thought originally of “Tell me how you feel”, but then that sounded too forceful. Instead, a simpler answer could be “Would you like to talk about it?” If it could help the person, take them out for a glass of tea or a slice of pizza and just meet and discuss it.

I realize this isn’t the traditional guy approach, but sometimes, I want my male friends even to stop telling me what to do in a situation. Instead, listen. Listen to my concerns and listen to my issues. Perhaps there will come a time later, but speak too quickly and it can seem like my concerns are being dismissed. I certainly realize that is not the desire, but it is what happens.

Sometimes, the best thing to say also could just be absolutely nothing. When my friends want to get together with a game night, that is just fine for me. I think one benefit of something like Final Fantasy XIV is for awhile when I am interacting with people on there, I am not the guy going through a divorce. I am the tank or the healer or one of the damage dealers. This is also one reason gaming can be so beneficial for me now. I get to play a different role for a time than the one I am in now.

Now for those who have been through divorce before, many of our conversations now are invaluable. Right now, I am dialoguing with someone in email who has another similarity to me in that his ex-wife had BPD as well. For those who have been divorced, the more similarities there are in the cases, the better. He too, was accused of abuse. That, by the way, is something that makes it even worse. Everyone who knows me knows I would be absolutely aghast at the thought of hurting her. Unfortunately, after years of giving, this is what I have been given in return. It’s betrayal on top of betrayal.

My plan now for this blog is to go through Scripture and see what it says about divorce. I don’t plan on this answering every question. People like Mike Winger and Craig Keener have done much more on this than I have. Still, I want to attempt to answer some questions people have for me, including about the Bible and remarriage after divorce.

Thank you again, fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Things To Not Say To A Divorced Person #4: God Will Send You Someone When You’re Ready

Can a promise of hope be more of a judgment? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am pretty sure I have been told this one a few times. It is one that when I think about it deeply stings. I remember talking to another friend who has been divorced and is now remarried and he told me the exact same thing. This is when people say “God will send you someone when you’re ready.”

The whole idea is to not be out there trying to find a spouse. Now I was told to wait at least a year, which I have done. However, the whole idea here is to not try. Whether one is ready or not is not the issue. Let’s look further then at this statement.

The intention:

The intention I think is to give hope. It is to talk to someone who wants someone to love and all the joys that come with that and to tell them that there is someone out there for them. It’s to invoke the blessing of God on the person. They are not abandoned. God will send them someone when the time is right, which is when they are ready. What could be wrong about that? Isn’t that good news for someone who wants a spouse?

Why it’s wrong:

Let’s start with an easy one. This is claiming to speak where God has not and promising what He has not promised. Now I realize that most people who want to remarry do and that means that the odds are in my favor, but that doesn’t necessitate it. For example, I could die in a car accident and then God certainly wasn’t going to send me someone when I was ready. I hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s a possibility.

We should always be cautious of people trying to speak the words of God when God has not spoken or trying to give divine authority to their actions, words, feelings, etc. This is one reason I have a problem with the idea of “feeling led.” It can be a way of thinking that our emotions come from God and have divine authority.

However, let’s look at the other issue. What you are talking about is a person who is going through something extremely hurtful and yet if they are thinking about remarriage, they have desires. Speaking as a man, love and sex rank right up there as strong desires. I am also a great admirer of beauty and I miss having the beauty of a woman in my life. I miss being desired. There is something about the male ego that we love the attention of women, starting with our mothers growing up and then moving on to a female partner one day.

A woman meanwhile could long to be provided for and cherished. She can have the exact same desires as a man. I remember well talking about the desire for sex that men have in DivorceCare and one woman saying “It’s not just men.” Yes. Women have desires as well. Therefore, let’s just look and say that whatever the reason, a person wants to get married again.

What this is telling them is that God will get them remarried, but they have to do something to get ready and then God will bless them. Until then, their efforts will end in flames and they’d better not even try. What is this? They don’t know and the person talking to them doesn’t. Therefore, God is giving them some secret goal to meet and they have to find that goal and then meet it to get someone.

Imagine having that requirement for something.

When it’s put that way, it’s like God is dangling a carrot on a stick before them and not letting them get it until they do something that they don’t even know that they need to do. God is in a sense withholding from them a good blessing. Now God can do that and if He wants to withhold a spouse until they do something, that is His prerogative, but it’s quite another for one of us who doesn’t know to claim that this is what He is doing and outright stating it to someone.

I earlier stated this rule to imagine saying something similar to these statements to a Christian couple trying to naturally conceive a child. Imagine if you said, “God will send you a child when you’re ready.” If the idea is to not even try until then, well then the couple abstains from sex. I can guarantee you that they won’t have a child that way and odds are, they could start to break apart too as Paul did condemn withholding from one another except for a short time and by mutual consent.

In this case, it could be God wants to see them reach a certain point before He will open the womb and allow a woman to give birth, but we do not know that and cannot say that. I won’t rule out a bona fide word of knowledge coming to someone, but it needs to be backed by solid evidence. There is no wrong with the couple still trying to conceive a child naturally. I do realize a couple could adopt, but I am explicitly talking about natural conception through intercourse for a reason.

What to say instead:

Listen to the desires of the person first. Understand what they want and understand why they want it. Ask genuine questions if you want to understand and do not ask them in an accusatory fashion. Encourage the person to also seek therapy if need be, and I think most everyone who has gone through a divorce needs therapy to some extent, and yes, that includes me and I do have a therapist.

If the person wants to marry, help them out on how to improve on that path to be a better spouse. I have spent time talking with people to learn more about interaction with the opposite sex and reading books. When I talk to people now, I am making a lot more eye contact and I am smiling a lot more than I did in the past. These are small steps, but they are major ones for me, but I sure wouldn’t mind some other men coming alongside of me and helping me to understand how to interact with women even better.

Heck. If you think they are ready and you know someone who is fitting for them, you could even see if you could set up a date for that person. For some of us, it could be a struggle to ask someone out again because we are thinking about what the rejection was like from our last spouse. I can say on my end, it’s extremely frustrating to not have much income and be 41 and be on the spectrum and be having to look again. It’s never where I wanted to be.

For both sexes also, offer to help them maintain sexual fidelity too regardless. That means definitely no pornography. I can say on my end that I have avoided it even after being away from her, but I can also say there have been times I have been strongly tempted and I have had to just wait for it to pass. I can say there are times that I want to scream internally because maintaining the proper lifestyle can be hard. It’s probably one reason I’m doing so many other things.

While historically men have been the biggest users of porn, women are using it more and more nowadays. Both sexes need the help of that. I know that when I remarry, I don’t want any future wife of mine to have to compete with several images that I have seen in my head before. Part of abstaining from pornography and any other sexual behavior is maintaining faithfulness also to a woman I haven’t even married.

Overall though, when you see someone going through this, again, be Jesus to them. Expressing caution about a desire I think can be fine, but I don’t think any good comes from throwing cold water on it entirely. That desire can be something that is keeping them going. Find a way to help them please Christ with it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Things Not To Say To A Divorced Person #3: Why The Spouse Is Gone

Should we avoid speculation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Why? It’s one of the most common questions out there. Consider the lyrics to the classic Beatles song¬†Yesterday.

“Why she had to go?
I don’t know. She wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong,
Now I long for yesterday.”

Sometimes, we ask the question and we want an answer, but we don’t. If anything, we hope God would give us an answer to explain our suffering. However, when others who aren’t God, which are abundant around us, can attempt to answer our question, it doesn’t help.

The good intention:

If a divorced person is asking why they lost their spouse, many people want to come up with an answer thinking it will help the person emotionally. After all, if they knew why they were suffering, it could make the suffering all the easier for them. Besides, isn’t this the problem of evil and aren’t we supposed to give answers?

Why it’s wrong:

With the problem of evil, one can give general answers, but one cannot give specific answers without a divine word revealed to them. This is often given with events we’re not directly tied to. If someone is emotionally invested in some event, the last thing to do is to give pat answers.

I have told many a man in apologetics that if you’re ever serving in a church and a woman in the church comes crying to you because her teenage son died in a car accident just now and she’s wondering why it happened, you’d better not become a philosopher at that moment. She may ask why, but that is not the question to answer. The point needed at the time is that she needs a listener and a friend. Bottom line: She needs a pastor.

Now it could be that when she’s gone through the grief process that she can meet with the pastor and they can discuss the problem of evil generally. Even then, it is best to not try to give specific answers to the question as we do not know the specifics. Unfortunately, in our day and age, nearly everyone in Christian circles and their mother thinks God is talking to them and are more than ready to tell them what God says on the matter.

Someone going through a divorce can still be in the grieving process. They may ask the questions, but it is more of a venting process than anything else. Remember, Job’s friends were excellent friends, when they were saying nothing. When they spoke up, they actually added to Job’s sufferings and blamed him for what he was going through.

Not only that, but theologically, many of us take claiming to speak for God way too lightly. Even in things that seem mundane, such as when people say they are doing what they feel like God is leading them to do. I get concerned when a pastor says before a sermon that “God put this message on his heart.” Am I supposed to accept that this sermon is from God then and every word should count as Scripture?

Also realize that even if the marriage they left was a bad one, they are still grieving and do not need the pat answers. Very rarely is any marriage entirely bad. There are many good things that can be remembered. I remember yesterday on the job sorting through items people left behind and seeing a cross-shaped object with what looked like a small nativity scene on it and the saying “God bless this home.”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a good sentiment and something wonderful to share, but for me, I just thought immediately, “I used to get items like this and we had them in our house.” That was painful. One of the worst aspects of divorce is that good memories become bad ones. If a spouse is widowed, they can remember the good times, but the divorced person sees the good times tainted by a rejection the widowed person doesn’t.

When a person asks why then, don’t give vain speculation. That will do more harm than good. So what should you do instead?

What to do instead:

It’s simple.

Be quiet.

Seriously. There’s no need to answer the question. Instead, just be a friend to them. Take them out for a meal or a movie. Have a game night with them. Go for a hike. Do something fun and active with them. If they want to cry or even angrily rant, that’s okay. Just listen.

One of the oddities in our society today is we think we always have to say something. We don’t. Sometimes silence can be one of the best gifts you can give someone. It tells them they can talk to you without getting platitudes and without judgment. For the latter, rest assured people who are divorced get more than enough judgment.

Speaking can many times make matters worse. People who are going through divorce or have been divorced have questions, but not all questions are seeking answers. Giving wrong and/or hurtful answers can just lead to more questions which leads to more wrong and/or hurtful answers. It’s a vicious cycle.

Best thing to do then? Just be quiet and listen. It will be appreciated a lot more. Again, be Jesus to them. Don’t think you speak with the authority of Jesus. You don’t.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Things To Not Say To A Divorced Person #2: Work On Your Relationship with God

Why is it improper to tell someone what they should truly be doing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In continuing this series, I want to remind everyone that this is not saying anything about the intentions of people who say these things. When they are said, I fully think they are normally said with good intentions. However, they are usually not a salve to the pain of a person going through divorce, but if anything, they can actually make it worse.

So what is intended by this?

Someone can say that now that the person is single again, they can focus on that relationship with God. Didn’t Paul say he wished that everyone was as he is with the ability to be single? Isn’t this a great time to get one-on-one with God then and work on that walk with Him? What more could you desire?

Why it’s wrong:

First off, this doesn’t apply really to divorced people. Everyone needs to work on their relationship with God. Married people, single people who have never married, widowed people, and divorced people all need to work on their relationship with God. For some reason, the divorced person is being singled out this time.

Part of the problem is that it can often come with the idea that if the divorced person desires anything else, such as a new relationship, then they have the improper focus. They need to turn to God. How could they want anything else?

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work like that. Go look at the Garden of Eden. If anyone had the chance for a one-on-one relationship with God, it was Adam. No sin in the world. Adam was free.

And yet it was not good. He was alone.

Wait. Wasn’t God there with him? How could he be alone?

You know, it might be a bit dangerous here, but I think if God says it’s not good, I’m just going to agree with Him. God decided man needed something else. Man needed an earthly companion.

And some of us who are divorced long for that companion again too. Of course, you could point to pure sexual desire, and that’s certainly a part of it, but there’s something else too. I miss driving and having her by my side and especially if it was rough weather, she was an extra set of eyes for me. I hate going to bed at night and realizing I’m sleeping alone. I hate not having someone there who is watching me play games or who I can turn on YouTube videos and laugh with. I hate how many jokes I used to have with her that made me laugh now only bring me pain.

It would be a lie to say I don’t miss the physical aspects of our relationship, but it would be just as much a lie to say that’s all that I miss. It’s okay to say that you miss the physical aspects of interaction with another human body. We’re Christians after all, not Gnostics. We don’t see the body as a bad thing.

We can often look at the Psalms and see how the Psalmist says he desires nothing but God. Should that really be literal language? The Psalmist doesn’t desire to sleep when he goes to bed at night? He doesn’t have a longing for food? He doesn’t have a desire to go to the bathroom? Of course, the Psalmist is speaking in hyperbolic terms.

A divorced person should readily agree there. The desire for God should be greater than all other desires, but it’s foolish to say that those other desires don’t exist. For a divorced person, they have had many of these good benefits of a unique relationship ripped from them without their consent and are floundering wondering what their future holds.

When we hear we need to work on our relationship with God, we often think that all our other desires are being treated like they don’t matter. They do. It is not saying they have to be fulfilled, though that is desirable for many, but they can be there. Now there are some divorced people who have no desire for a new relationship, and that’s fine, but many do.

Sometimes, there can also be a hidden accusation here and this depends on the situation. It can be implied, “If God had been your main relationship, this wouldn’t have been taken away from you.” At those times, it can also look like God is the one who took away the person’s beloved.

This definitely does not help a divorced person. I said in my first post on this to imagine saying something like this to a Christian couple trying to conceive a child. What would be gained by telling them that instead of focusing on a child, they need to work on their relationship with God? Would you want to imply the reason they are not having success in achieving pregnancy is because they are not focused enough on God?

This adds to the problem by saying the divorced person is the one directly responsible for their own suffering. They neglected God and God let them have it by taking away the person they loved. I doubt many people would come out and directly say it this way, but that is the way it can come across.

So now let’s talk about what to say instead.

Last time, I said to be the love of God to the person instead of telling them about it and I think the same applies here. Be that person who walks with the one who is suffering. Want them to work on their relationship with God? Often to do a book study with them on a book of the Bible or maybe a good Christian book on recovering from divorce.

This is also why groups like DivorceCare are so helpful. People who are going through divorce can meet with others who are doing the same. We can all share our sufferings and questions together and yes, have a lot of laughs as well as we form friendships together.

If a person wants a new relationship, that’s also not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a natural desire for many of us to not want to be alone. There’s no need to just automatically pour cold water on the idea. Now you can talk with them and ask them how ready they are and give them your assessment, but be fair and listen to them. If they express desires, don’t get after them for it. Just listen to them about it.

Everyone needs to work on their relationship with God. Saying it to someone going through divorce can often leave them with guilt and can be very uncaring. Lead by example. Show how you are working on your relationship and guide the person in their walk with God.

Be Jesus to them instead of just talking about Him with them.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Things Not To Say To A Divorced Person #1: God Loves You

Is there a time to let a person mourn? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For this series of posts, I am going to look at things Christians say to other Christians going through divorce that is well-meaning, but wrong. I plan to say why it is wrong to say it and what can be said instead. Again, none of this is to doubt that people mean well when they say these things, but they do more harm than good.

I still remember it well. I was ringing up some customers at my store and well, going through a divorce, I wasn’t in the best of moods. It wasn’t anger. It was sadness. At the end, the customers said to me, “You should smile more. God loves you.”

I remember being hurt even more by that statement.

Why would that be?

Why you shouldn’t say this:

None of this is to deny the truth that God loves us and yes, a divorced person needs to remember that, but there is a time and a place to say that. I can grant these people didn’t know what I was going through, but in reality, that’s part of the problem. Had they known and said the same thing, it would actually be worse.

I follow a simple kind of rule for this. Let’s suppose we have a Christian married couple who have struggled for years to have a child and are not having any luck. Naturally, they are quite depressed by their bad luck. Would you say the same thing to them?

The intent is to no doubt remind someone of a truth that is good, but the problem is that it ignores why the person is sad in the first place. It ignores why they’re grieving and goes straight to the result. It’s treating the disease without dealing with the root.

I have said before that if your theology contradicts Jesus, it’s wrong. Go and look at Jesus praying in the garden and saying His soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Does anyone think for a moment that He doubted that God loved Him?

When a person is going through a divorce, they are grieving. It is a kind of death. Just saying “God loves you” doesn’t remove that pain. When I had my back surgery as a teenager, I could be told “God loves you” all day long, but I had to take medicine for physical pain. Why think it’s different with mental and emotional pain?

I don’t want to give false motives to people, but could we sometimes say this because we are uncomfortable by the pain of others and want to say something to alleviate our own discomfort? Could it also be we think a life of joy means being happy all the time? There is a time and place for a Christian to be sad.

What to say instead:

In this case, maybe nothing. We get on Job’s friends rightly for what they said to Job, but they did something right. At the start of his suffering when they visited him, they just say with him for a week and said nothing. Sometimes, someone just needs you to be there with them. They don’t want to hear platitudes meant to make them feel good. Those are often insulting.

They just want a friend.

One of the best gifts I have had is a friend who has had me over for a game night or gone to a movie. Why do I play Final Fantasy XIV with friends? That for a moment allows me to be someone who is not a divorced person so much as an adventurer traveling with friends. The fellowship is the gift.

This is not to say there is no time for words or solutions to problems or answers to questions, but let wisdom tell you when is and isn’t the time. Just saying God loves you comes off as saying that the reason for your pain doesn’t matter. Move past it. It would be nice if it was that simple, but it isn’t.

Not only that, you can get the Gideon response. When Gideon was told the Lord was with him as a mighty warrior, he asked then why Israel was being defeated by these armies? We know it was because of the sin of the nation, but Gideon did ask a real question. Someone going through suffering can say “I know God loves me, but why am I going through this?” The Christian in response answering this can too often try to divine the will of God, which will only lead to pain.

Ultimately, instead of just telling them about the love of God, one of the best things you can do is be the love of God. For me, it’s been the support of friends on Facebook, donors to the ministry, people around me wanting to do fun things with me, etc. I understand that for some of you on Facebook and other places, words can be about the most that can be given, but many of those words have been kind and uplifting and just expressing sorrow for me and doing what Paul said to do, mourn with those who mourn.

I can tell you on my end, something has died. It is in a way the past, present, and future. The past has died in that I have to look and say “What was true and what was a lie?” The present has died in that I deal with the divorce constantly throughout the day and wish my station in life was different. The future has died in that what I had hoped to be will not come to pass and I wonder if I will ever find love again.

None of this is permanent. I realize I do not live in a hopeless situation. Plenty of people recover from divorce and plenty remarry and find love again. I am just saying that this is the way the situation looks for the time being. Those of you who have come alongside of me have acknowledged that knowingly or unknowingly.

In essence, just knowing people are there can be enough. Divorce can hit you with an emptiness because someone who was part of you, someone you were one flesh with, is gone suddenly and it is forcefully and by intention. That makes it different from death, unless the death is suicide. Friends tell you that you are not entirely alone. They are different from family also in that friends are people who have no blood obligation to love.

So my friends, I know that God loves me, but right now, what I have been grateful to have is not theology in words, but theology in actions. Don’t just tell me and others going through divorce that God loves us. Be God’s love for us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Divorce And What Lies Ahead

Where is the blog going? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As we near the weekend, I am doing my last blog of the week. So what lies ahead? One first series I want to write on is what to not say to someone going through divorce. Some of these I have heard in some variant. Some I have heard from others. I do not doubt that many of these are from good people who are well-intentioned, but they do a lot more harm than good.

After that, my plan is to look at what Scripture says about divorce. Many people have seen me posting about a desire to remarry and have asked if I have biblical approval to do so. Please understand that I am also doing this from a classical Protestant perspective. How the Catholics and Orthodox handle this will be different, although I have friends in both camps who do agree I can remarry within Scriptural grounds.

I have gone through the three views book on divorce and remarriage and I have gone through Mike Winger’s series on this on YouTube. I do plan on reading Keener’s book on one who marries another. I hope I will deal with most questions on this topic by the time the end comes.

From there on, I plan to go on the route that I have been taking in healing. Now I have heard that we who are on the spectrum respond to trauma better than others because our brains have a higher degree of plasticity. We do learn to adapt, but that doesn’t mean it’s always healing. Just a couple of weeks ago my DivorceCare leader who has been remarried for several years and had his marriage ended years and years ago based on a comment said he found some memories he needs to heal of. Thus, if anyone ever says you need complete healing before you move on, I don’t think so. There are some events one never completely heals from.

I hope that while doing this, it will help you out as I am writing this when I am going through the process. I am not just reflecting on this years later and what it was like. We can consider it a kind of real-time.

I also do plan on doing what I normally do in writing my candid thoughts out. Many of you have said that you appreciate that because it is real. One advantage of dealing with me on the spectrum is I can be an open book. That can be a disadvantage at times, but my hope is one of you will read this and be able to say, “Yes. Someone at least understands.” When that is encountered, it can tell a person that they are not alone in what they are going through.

I do want to thank so many of you who have reached out to me in this time as well. I also like knowing that I am not alone through every aspect of the divorce process. We have been fellow travelers on this journey and it means a lot to me.

Thank you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

 

Divorce and Daily Life

What’s the daily life like after divorce? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

How do you go about every day after a divorce? For me, it has been a difficult process. For one thing, i don’t really like where I am at right now. It’s nothing against my parents, but what man who is 41 wants to be living with his parents?

There are times they tell me how much they like having me here. I ask them to please stop. It makes it much harder on me. I know they mean well, but my therapist and another good friend have said that it would be best for my own well-being to be out on my own. I aim for this every day.

On the other hand, my diet is being allowed to be more healthy now so my weight is closer to a healthier one I suppose in the odd way since I have actually gained to about 135. When I was with her, I would have to sacrifice my own desires often because I wanted her to be at a healthy weight. My mother remembers a time we visited together and she fixed a dessert I really like and I turned it down because I knew if I had some, that my ex-wife¬† would have some and that wouldn’t be good for her.

When I get my own place also, I want to begin a workout regimen as well. If an apartment complex is where I live, many of them have a gym room so no problem. If a townhouse or a condo, then I can join a gym. It couldn’t help me in my quest for remarriage to work on my appearance anyway.

Work is work. I am planning on going to Colorado Christian University online to get my Master’s and eventually a PhD, but until then, I have to be doing something. If I am given a task that I find much more conducive to me, such as handling the needs of customers with money, I can function much better. Give me something that makes me more social or leaves me bored and, well, I brood, and that’s not good. I try to tell myself this is just a stepping stone. I will either be victorious or be defeated.

Besides that, I look at the lives of others around me who are my age and want what they have and wonder if it will happen. It can be really hard when I see couples come in together who I can tell are living as husband and wife, but they haven’t got married. I wonder why. I played by the rules after all.

This is not to accuse God, but it is to say like Jeremiah, sometimes I have my complaints. You find these in the Psalms as well. We all have them at times. Paul spoke about His thorn in the flesh and it’s clear Jesus would have preferred to bypass the cross somehow if it were possible.

Physical desires are also something I have to manage. I would be lying if I said I have never been tempted since being here to go the route of pornography. Thankfully, by the grace of God, I have resisted. Sometimes, I just have to put away the computer and do nothing for a time. The intense desire then passes and I wonder what it was all about. It has been awhile since that happened, but in a way, I wrestle with it daily.

I also have my cat Shiro to think about. I am sure he is better off with me, but I do wish I could give him an apartment, townhouse, or condo that he could run around in. My folks have a cat already so he is just stuck in my room since the two of them don’t get along.

Church life is good. I have a pastor who is academic like I am, even preaching a sermon last Sunday on the destruction of the Canaanites as we are going through Deuteronomy and got to chapter 7. I have a supportive DivorceCare group and I am super thankful for my friends.

For my hobbies, I am thankful I have Final Fantasy XIV to do with friends. It means there is always something new. I have been blessed with an abundance of games so I always have a challenge available. I try to read and I still do that, but sometimes, it seems hard. It’s easy to wonder why I am doing what I’m doing. Maybe if I had another debate or speaking engagement coming up as those give me something to aim for.

I’m still working on books. Not just reading them, but writing them. That’s one benefit of a laptop. I can take it anywhere and write. I hope to get in some writing when I go to ETS as well.

I am still looking for some adventure everyday. I have never really wanted to live an ordinary life. I have many people speak well and say that God has a plan for me and my suffering won’t go to waste. Somewhere I know that, but while you’re in it, it’s hard to see. You do wonder what the future holds. Will I be independent again? Will I get the education I want? Will I find love again? Where do I go from here?

I do not know, but in reality, when have I ever known. Unless you are a prophet, when have any of us ever known? Ours as Christians is still but to serve and that I still try to do. It’s really hard sometimes, especially when you can feel alone, but it’s the right thing to do.

And for any wondering, in all of this, I still want the best for her. I still want her holiness, but I have no control over that. That is all about what she decides to do with her life. I have to decide for myself and for no one else.

Thank you for being with me on this journey, fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce and Family

How do your family relations change? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

All relationships change to some extent when divorce takes place. Some are minor changes and some are major. This can include changes with both family relationships that you have.

I am glad that it has not been that I have ceased any contact with my former in-laws. Normally when a divorce takes place, it is easy for each set of parents to side with their own child. The other child becomes the bad guy (or girl) and becomes the one responsible.

That hasn’t happened yet, if anything, they have assured me that I will always be a son to them. Her brother has assured me that I am family. Her Dad helped us pack that day when I had to leave Georgia and he did assure me that they will always see me as a son. I am grateful.

At the same time, communication becomes awkward. We have talked some, but not as much as we used to. I suppose this is natural. If anything, whenever I remarry, things are likely to be more different as I will have a new set of in-laws.

I can assure anyone that there is no bad blood between us. Mike and I will even be rooming together at ETS this year. They would not say I was a perfect husband, as no one is, but that if anyone was wronged in this one, it was me.

That’s one family. What about my own?

My family’s love for me has never been called into question. We have had our difficulties and our struggles, but they have always been there for me. That also includes my sister in Nashville.

Still, there is something different. Since I have had to move back in with them, family relations are here and really, I am so independently-minded I don’t care for it. When I moved out, I meant for it to be a permanent thing and to be on my own. Returning back here was not what I wanted.

Disability has always been a part of the relationship seeing as I am on the spectrum, but now you can add divorce to that. Every now and then, something will be brought up to remind me of that as I try to work through it on my own. Shortly after the 24th fo July, my Dad actually said to me, “Did you realize that was your anniversary?”

No. It never once occurred to me all day long. Not a bit.

There are also aspects of your life that you don’t want to talk about with your parents. One reason I definitely want to get out on my own is that I think that will make future dating easier. After all, unsolicited advice is problematic. That’s not the only reason naturally. As I sit here, I see Shiro and wish I could give him a whole new apartment that he can run around in instead of just one room of the house due to my parents already having a cat.

For my sister, I’m not sure how much change there has been. We have talked some, but my sister and I have a relationship where we are committed to one another, but we also only talk when there’s something that needs to be said. We don’t talk to talk. This is something my mother hasn’t really realized about us.

Note that none of this indicates any animosity with anyone in this post. It just means that it’s different. If anything, I think the difference with my own blood family stands out the most, but that’s because I live with them. Things will be different I’m sure when I get the extra income to be on my own.

Thanks for being there, fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Divorce and Friends

Do I get by with a little help from my friends? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If there has been one great blessing in all of this, it has been friends. Sometimes, when I post a message of sadness, my friends are right there. So many of you I wish lived nearby. It’s very hard for now to find people in this area I can hang out with and yet another reason I want to earn enough to move out.

Friends have been there and I’ve had to rely on them in ways that I never have before. I remember well a friend around here taking me out for Mexican one night and talking about things in life, especially my desire to remarry someday and how he had to tell me, “Nick. You are a guy. Stop beating yourself up for being a guy.”

Many a friend I have called when I have been in a bout of depression and not known what to do. When I first found out she had the money to file, I was crying my eyes out and had to call a friend from DivorceCare. My friends have accepted that I have been weak.

Sometimes I fear that people not in ministry look at those of us who teach and/or lead in some capacity as people who have all the answers and our lives are just great. This is not always so. Many a time, we struggle. I do not have all the answers. My life is not always together. There have been times I have had to take multiple medications to get to sleep due to anxiety attacks in all of this and since I should be getting health insurance through work soon, I plan to go see a psychiatrist.

I also do not have shame in saying that. I know when I need help. I know my emotions can get out of control at times and my anxiety can be overwhelming. If I have to be on something, even if it’s for a season as I work through this, that is fine. Too many Christians in the church look down on this way too much.

Speaking of which, not all my friends in this have been Christians on here. Some have been non-Christians who are still showing love and support. I know a number of intellectual opponents could be tempted to use something like this to make a cheap shot against me. I am thankful that these skeptics of Christianity have not and I hope they are seeing Jesus in me in how I endeavor to treat my ex-wife in all of this.

I have a small group of friends who have experienced divorce and I call them regularly. Many times I can be at work and need to talk to someone on the way home. You see, my job doesn’t do much to challenge me intellectually and so I spend a lot of time brooding over matters. I wind up being more depressed and I am not pleased with where I am in life.

Fortunately, I also do have others to call and I plan on trying to do that more often when I’m not listening to audio books. I also have a friend who I knew in Elementary School who wants to get together with me again. I would like to do some meetings with a group of 30+ Christian singles here I just joined on MeetUp, but unfortunately, it looks like the days that they meet are the days that I work.

At the same time, sometimes matters seem different. I have friends who I think don’t really know what to do with me. Some of my friends still want to get married and thus can’t entirely grasp what it means to be married and lose it to divorce. There are some aspects of life I know I can’t talk about entirely, such as dealing with issues involving sexuality.

I wonder about new people also. I can tell co-workers that I have been divorced and they don’t believe it when they hear I was accused of being abusive as I am nothing like that, but I am still hesitant. After all, there was someone I trusted once and that ended in tragedy. I don’t doubt that I have serious issues now involving rejection.

I am thankful also for friends that I can do online gaming with, such as Final Fantasy XIV, and if you do play just look up Phoenix Skywing. I have a friend who donates to my ministry and says that part of his donation has to go to keeping my account running. For him, World of Warcraft was the big deal when he went through his divorce. Gaming has been a great way to keep my mind off of things. I have now decided that in addition to prayer before bed, I’m also going to get out my Switch and game or 10-15 minutes. If I have panic attacks at night, I could consider doing the same as well.

Part of this also is all of this is bringing to mind about how hard it is to relate to people. I don’t understand social cues and in some banter meant to be humorous, I have no idea what to say and I get caught flat-footed. These are areas I am trying to work hard on as I don’t want to get married again only to have it end in flames. I never want to go through this experience again.

Thus, there is still one positive in all of this. You learn a lot about your friends and who’s there for you. Being a gamer all my life, I have learned the value of friends seeing as in most RPGs, your main character having friends is essential to defeating the enemy. Yes. I still want to find someone special again one day, but I am thankful that until then and even beyond then, I do have friends.

When I signed up for DivorceCare and was going through the book, we were asked what can you not live without. I gave the Jesus answer, but I also added in one other answer. Friends. Not even Jesus was without Him when He walked this Earth. Who am I to think I want to be without them.

Thank you friends and fellow travelers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)