Playing To Win

How do you approach a challenge? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I know someone here at the seminary who was sexually abused as a child and now has a blog helping others to overcome this. You can see her work here. I read a new post she had yesterday and I started thinking about my attitude as I went through my own divorce.

Something I like about her blog is the idea of describing herself as a brave girl and to let the voice of a warrior be heard. That is a definitive choice on how to describe oneself. She had to make a deliberate choice at one point that she would face what she went through, be brave, and be a warrior and fight back.

I wrote about this before in how I had to make a choice. It would be foolish to deny that the impact of the divorce when it hit me hurt me greatly. I would also be lying if I said it doesn’t hurt me still every day, but I had to make a choice and I still have to make the choice. Will I be defeated by it or will I overcome it?

In looking at Life Is A Game, this book has resonated with me because I had that attitude. Some might think it to be frivolous, but the reality is, it works. We are often told that attitude is a big factor in how one overcomes. If two people of relatively equal health get a cancer diagnosis and one is positive about overcoming and one isn’t, all things being equal, the positive one is more likely to overcome it.

If you’re a gamer like me, you know the idea of what it is like to fight a boss. You enter an arena and all of a sudden this huge hulking monster that practically dwarfs you in ever way looms over you. In reality if this happened to us, most of us would probably be in a total panic. If you’re a gamer though, you can get nervous but you also think, “All right. Let’s do this.” That just ups the challenge level. It actually makes it more fun.

Why not live this way in reality more often? When a huge problem comes our way, why not see it as another challenge to overcome and we’ll be the better for it? Add in also that in the real world, we have the promise of a God in our lives that if we love Him, all things will work for our good. I have referred to this in gamer terms as the ultimate cheat code.

My friend had to make a deliberate choice that she would not be a victim all her life of abuse but would not only be an overcomer, but also help others to overcome. I had to make a decision that I would not be the victim of divorce. It’s why I made it a motto of mine to “play to win” and why I am here at seminary working on a Master’s and talking to a therapist here in person to help me with learning social skills. When I have friends here who help me with various things, these aren’t just friends. These are teammates on the journey. These are party members who are coming alongside and helping me fight my battles. Of course, I help them when I can in return, but I can only speak of what it is like from my own perspective.

To my friends who have helped me on the journey, thank you. I still have friends back in Tennessee and other parts of the world and I consider them helpers as well, and this includes my folks who I talk to every night on my Echo. To all of you out there also facing your own trial, play to win and while there’s no guarantee with someone like cancer or anything else, you can still fight with all your might. We are meant to be warriors.

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

Divorce And Rejection

On what level is divorce experienced as rejection? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was talking with a good friend of mine over the weekend about divorce and rejection and I figured this would be something good to write about. Divorce is a form of rejection indeed, but there is a deeper sense of it than any other kind that I know of. Divorce is a rejection that stings every day.

I understand being rejected by the opposite sex. That happens, and it stings, but the worst part of this rejection is that in this case, you have given everything you have to a member of the opposite sex and made a promise to honor them and have been living it out and you still get told it’s not enough. This is not to say there are not times where divorce can be a sad necessity, but this is talking about people like myself who strived every day to honor our vows.

I remember being in DivorceCare and hearing a girl say “Well, when the person who made a promise to you to honor and cherish you always breaks that promise, other rejections really don’t bother you.” Good for her, but I was on the opposite end. For me, every rejection reminds me of that one.

It is something that remains with you every day. I had an interview for a scholarship opportunity here over the weekend and in talking about it since the man wanted my story, and he told me if I wanted to know who all tends to hate divorce the most, the answer is simple. Divorced people. He’s absolutely right. We hate it.

Rejection is painful because you are being told you are not up to quality in some way. It hurts to the degree that the person has a place in your life. If it’s someone you have a crush on and ask out and they say no, it will hurt to the degree that you put a certain amount of hope in that person. If it’s a parent or family member, it will hurt to the degree that you wanted to have a good relationship with that person.

A divorce hurts you to the degree that that relationship meant to you. Considering it’s someone that you, if you’re in a Christian marriage, made a promise to God and man to honor forever, it can hurt all the more since this is the last relationship that should have ended. It was entered in freely with a promise and it has become shattered.

Peter Kreeft has said divorce is like a suicide and a murder at the same time. You take the one-flesh union that has been built and you kill it. It is destroying another person, the other one in the covenant, and yourself as well. Of course, it’s up to the parties involved how they choose to live from that point on.

For all concerned about me, as I said in the interview, I am still playing to win. It’s why I’m still looking to remarry again someday. It hurts every day, but it’s up to me if I am going to have the hurt conquer me or if I am going to conquer it. I have deliberately chosen to do the latter. My writings on this are mainly to let others know what it’s like and to encourage those in this situation.

When you talk to people who are divorced or going through it, remember what you say. The only people who really understand it are the ones who have gone through it. Others can have compassion, but it will be one that doesn’t see what it’s fully like through no fault of their own, and hopefully, they never will see it.

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

 

Thankfulness And Silence

Are we to have a Happy Thanksgiving? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been writing this week in response to the news of Tyler Vela about divorce and silence. Today, being Thanksgiving, I don’t have to work and there are no classes. Naturally, I turn off the alarm and choose to sleep in as long as I can.

Yet early in the morning when I start to wake up, who is right there waiting for me but Shiro. So what do I do? Stay in bed for just a little bit to hold him and pet him and get some kitty kisses from him. Starting Thanksgiving with my little kitty is certainly a great way to begin the day with thankfulness.

Honestly, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday of all. I’m not one for meal situations and I don’t like a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The only exception for me is pumpkin pie. I am fine with not going to Thanksgiving meals at all. (Although I’m sure Shiro would be thrilled if anyone wanted to bring by a bite of turkey for him.)

Today, I was intending to just write about Thanksgiving, but as I thought about it, I realized this has relevance to the silence of God. Years ago, I read something from Tim Keller about thankfulness. It was a portion of Scripture that I had read several times and yet, a few key words in that Scripture I had never taken the time to consider.

Let’s look at Romans 1.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We can get caught up in so many debates about this passage. It can be classical apologetics vs. presuppositionalism. It can be about the nature of design arguments. It can be questions of if someone can truly be an atheist or not.

Fine questions and worth discussion, but did you notice that part at the end? This is about people who the text says know God and they didn’t glorify Him, but also, they didn’t give thanks. They were not appreciative of God. They didn’t show gratitude.

If you don’t appreciate something and you’re not thankful for it, it can lead to a resentment or it can lead to an entitlement attitude. Here in America, if you live here, you are generally a rich person. You might think you’re poor, but compared to the majority of the world, you are rich. What do we want? More. We mourn about how little we have so often.

I also think this does contribute to divorce. Where does this idea come from that the grass is greener on the other side? As a nerd, I was amazed most every day that I was actually married and I do long for that again. If you think something is owed to you, you will not be grateful for it. There’s a reason the entitlement mindset is causing so much damage in our country.

So what about the silence of God?

Too often, it’s likely that God has already spoken and we have not appreciated what has been said. Skepticism is one thing and if it’s purely intellectual, that can be worked on, but if emotion is driving it, the most powerful intellectual arguments won’t do a thing. Why do you think I get concerned with so many of our younger generation demanding more and more and more?

However, what if we are really saying to God, “What you have done is not good enough?” If we do not appreciate the ways God has spoken, should He really say anymore? If we do not appreciate whatever God has given us, why would He bother giving us more?

The Jews have a Passover song called Dayenu. The lyrics are much longer and interspersed with a chorus, but they go as follows talking about the Passover.

Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would’ve been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would’ve been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would’ve been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would’ve been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would’ve been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.

What this is saying is that every step would have been enough. God owed nothing more. God owes us nothing more. The only thing He has to give is what He promised. It’s often asked about the problem of evil, “Why did God kill so many?” It’s never considered how many He let live. He had no obligation. It’s as if we are saying “God owes us life.” No. He doesn’t.

If you are owed nothing, and you are given everything, what is that? It’s not payment for something. It’s not God is in debt to you. It is all a gift. All is grace.

I am thankful for many things today. My family and my friends are high up there. I am thankful to be in the city of New Orleans, a city I have come to love, and working on my education at a school I love with a job that I thoroughly enjoy and meeting new people. I am thankful I can rebuild my life and remarry someday. I am thankful that I have got to be a person of influence somehow through the internet. I am thankful I am making it through my divorce bit by bit. I am thankful for the people who have donated to me through Patreon or Risen Jesus to show their support for me. I am thankful for a cute little kitty currently sleeping on my bed. I am thankful I have so many books and games here to keep my mind active. All is grace.

And I’m definitely thankful for grace. It would have been enough, but the one who said it wasn’t enough was God Himself. He looked at all the ways He had loved us so far and said “It’s not enough.” Ephesians 2 even says it’s still not enough. He will spend all of eternity showing us how much He loves us.

I don’t deserve it. Neither do you. It’s all a gift. It’s all grace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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

Silence In Divorce

Is anybody there? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I did a discussion with the Mentionables over the situation involving Tyler Vela. This involves an apologist having a deconversion of sorts. I really wanted to speak on this because something that Tyler and I also have in common is that we’ve both gone through divorce.

Something Tyler wrote on his Facebook about this was talking about the silence of God. Now in all of this, he was praying and memorizing Scripture and doing things like that all the more. Those are good things, but I don’t think that addresses really the so-called silence of God.

I saw so-called because a major error of our Christian culture today is the idea that God is always speaking to us on an individualistic basis. Usually, this is said to be done through our emotions. Don’t believe me? Just see how many times you hear in a church service talk about being felt led to do something. Now who is leading you in this idea? God. How? Through how you feel.

Does that sound like a recipe for chaos?

How do you know God is leading you somewhere? You feel Him leading you. We also take it further. How do you know the favor of God on your life? You feel it. How do you know God loves you? You have those feelings also.

If we applied this to any other area in our life, it would lead to chaos.

What is one reason we have a major increase in divorce? Because we base our marriages more on feeling in love than on love itself. If you had to divorce your spouse every time you didn’t feel love, you would divorce a lot. It’s not just there either. I’m sure a mother having to get up at 3 AM for a fussy baby to change a diaper and everything else and knowing she has to be up again in a few hours is not overflowing with love at the thought. Some of you might be, but I’m quite certain you’re the exception.

No relationship should be based on your emotions, not even your one with God.

This is not to deny there can be emotions in these relationships, but one should not make a diet out of them. One should enjoy the good ones and work through and understand the sad ones. Every life has its ups and downs. Not even our Lord could escape sadness on this Earth and we have intense pride if we think we are the exception still.

That still doesn’t address the problem about the silence. However, we have to start at the beginning and say it cannot be based on your emotions. Otherwise, if you feel the love of God, well God loves you. If you feel that God is distant and not there, well you have to deny that feeling. It becomes an exercise in question-begging. Bad emotions? Not good. Good emotions. Good.

Consider it like the test the Mormon missionaries give you. Do you feel the burning in the bosom? Good emotion. God. Do you not feel it? Then the problem is you.

If we seek that feeling more, then we can be in the case of not that we are seeking God, though we think we could be, and maybe to some degree we are, but we’re really seeking a feeling. The confirmation we have found God is that a feeling occurs or something similar. If God doesn’t give us that feeling, then He just doesn’t care about us.

Let’s be clear. Even though I don’t think God is obligated to speak to us or to give us feelings, that quiet is still painful. It is hard to feel like even God has rejected you.

In divorce, you are rejected in every way. The biggest analogy I can come up with to a guy feeling rejection in marriage is the way a wife can say “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.” Divorce is a way of not just that rejection one time, but that and every other rejection for life permanently. In every way as a man, you are not the man. You are rejected.

You lose your best friend. You lose your love. You could lose your kids if you have those. You lose your relationships as they were. Sadly, too many times if your friends were other couples, it’s hard to have that now.

Loneliness is a major problem. When you go to bed at night, you sleep alone. When you go to a church service, it’s other couples that you see and people talk about their families and every instance of seeing that is a little stab to the heart reminding you that you’re alone.

The church can be one of the most painful places to go and the worst part is the church is often not very therapeutic. People want to cure your negative feelings instead of just listening to you about them and working through them with you. Everyone at church is expected to be happy and joyful. People often treat Christianity like a neverending adventure of joy.

We also put on our spiritual faces in church. You hear of people who pray for hours and get endless joy from reading their Bible as they learn something new every day. People talk about how God is speaking to them and answering all of their prayers so very specifically.

If you don’t have those experiences, well, you’re just not a very good Christian.

Also, add in that if you’re divorced, too often you are really looked down on. I am thankful I have not experienced this from churches for the most part, but I know I am an exception based on what I hear from others. Even if it was a sin of yours that ended your marriage, you are still in pain. There are many churches that will not let a divorced man in the pulpit. Never mind that a large portion of the New Testament was written by a guy who was a murderer.

Now you get the silence of God on top of that.

No wonder it hurts!

Still, turn back to Scripture. Is God speaking the norm? No. Abraham, the friend of God, had the heavens silent for well over a decade and he’s even an exceptional case in God speaking. Those times that God speaks are recorded not because they are normative, but because they are exceptional.

Look at the Israelites with Moses. They actually beg Moses to have God NOT speak to them, and when He spoke, it was not a feeling in their hearts, but a booming voice from the mountain. Moses was the one exception.

If people were really experiencing this regularly, they would not need the prophets. What about the New Testament? We could say the same. What did they need the epistles or apostles for if they had the Holy Spirit just telling them everything? We have taken something exceptional and made it normative because we’re just so special.

The idea of the silence of God is the result.

My idea of the love of God for me is not based on my feelings, but based on what He has said in Scripture. The cross and the resurrection tell me God loves me. How do I know I am one of His? Because I am trusting Him and seeking to live a holy life.

These truths are what kept me going in my divorce and still keep me going, even when temptation comes to give up. I’m still battling and I have been told that it could be the only real end of the battle this side of eternity could be remarriage. That’s why I’m in therapy over here as well to learn social skills and even the dreaded small talk. I really want to get remarried again and I know I have to work for that.

If you are struggling and experiencing so-called silence, it doesn’t mean God is not there. Now I do realize there are some Scripture passages that people use. Isn’t God near to the brokenhearted? Doesn’t God say if a boy asks for a fish he will get it? God willing, I plan to handle this next time.

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

 

To A Friend Struggling With Faith

What do you do when you want to throw it all away? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

People on Facebook have been talking about someone who has said they just can’t believe in Christianity anymore even after years of being in apologetics and producing media on this. Now a number of people are coming out with their own views on the matter, which I understand and I don’t condemn. Some are blaming Calvinism, which I don’t care for, or presuppositionalism, which I also don’t care for, but i think there is something else going on here.

Now with so many people entering into this discussion, why am I jumping in? Do I think I have something to contribute that others do not? Indeed, I do, and this is not because of anything arrogant, but it is because of similar life circumstances. I can contribute that I have been through divorce as this person has.

Divorce is betrayal and rejection through and through. It is a pain that stabs at me every day still. Imagine what it is to think someone loves you so much that they want to share every aspect of themselves, nay, their very lives with you, and then in the end they reject you. You, the totality of you, all that is you, has been cast aside. You have been declared no longer worth it.

Now we all know theoretically that our identities should not be determined by other people, but you are a fool if you think that this doesn’t hurt. This leads to pain. Intense pain. I have said before there were times I would be ready to go to bed at night and see a bottle of Benadryl and briefly think, “You could.” I never came close, but it was there. There were some times I did think maybe I should check myself into a hospital for a few days. Again, never did.

I can say on my end, that I have a hard time today trusting people. I can say my thinking gets caught up in difficulties from time to time. I plan to date other women, but I also worry about self-control now seeing as I have been there before and as a divorced friend told me, “It’s easy to move on auto-pilot.” This is all real.  I also realize some people will look at me with a scarlet letter.

I fully understand if at those times it feels like God has abandoned you.

My friend wrote also about the Christian subculture and this is something I have the biggest problem with. People treat prayer like they can pray for an hour and it just comes so easily. People treat Scripture as a magic book and it’s such a joy to read every day and you learn something new. People talk about how you are supposed to feel as a Christian and that you are supposed to hear from God regularly and speak as if you have some secret hotline to God.

It’s individualism, and it’s a cancer in the church.

When people talk like this and suffering comes, they don’t know what to do then. After all, if your Christianity has been based on your emotions before, what happens when those emotions turn negative? When you don’t have them, what do you want? Do you want the emotions, or do you want what the emotions signify?

When I was married, there were times I had a deep feeling of love for my wife. There were also times that I did not. However, I always had a deep love for her. Today, I still want the best for her. The feeling was nice when it was there, but it wasn’t part of my diet to be expected.

What happens though if I focus more on the pointer instead of the reality the pointer pointed to? I am pursuing a feeling. It is like an addiction. If I have that feeling, then I love her. If I don’t, then I don’t. That leads to chaos. Would I want my love for my ex-wife to be based on a feeling?

The same can happen when we look at it in reverse. How do I know God loves me? If I base it on a feeling, what happens when that feeling goes away? Does God no longer love me? In the end, am I pursuing a feeling as a way of certainty?

I understand when my friend spoke about how if his son wanted comfort and to know that his Dad loved him, he would give it in a moment. I get that. It makes sense to us. It is easy to look at Matthew 7 and see about a son asking for bread or a fish. Doesn’t that apply here?

No. In Matthew 6, Jesus had been talking about food and clothing. The same is still going on in Matthew 7. Jesus is talking about provision for daily staples. This is not to say that God cannot give other things and that He doesn’t, but those are not promised.

So what if God did do what we ask and provided for us an experience of His love every time? Could we not get caught up in ourselves more? Could we not get caught up in experiences? What happens when that experience fades into the past? Do you need another hit.

The thing is, if I want to know if God loves me, and I understand that struggle, I need to trust what He has already said. It is written large in Scripture. How do I know I am one of His? Because I am trusting Him. I am not perfect, but I am striving.

What about pain? Pain can be the crucible that gets us more like Jesus. I can say that every pain I went through was horrible, when I was going through it. Years later, I look back and I am thankful I went through it. I suspect some time in the future, I will say “That divorce was horrible when I went through it, but I am a better and more holy man for it.” Hopefully, that will be when I am married to someone else. Maybe I will even have some of my own children with her.

I do want to say though that I get the silence of God. The problem is not really God, but it is a Christian subculture that is rooted in experience. Let’s also point to another sad reality about divorced people. We are quickly often isolated.

You used to do things with other people as a couple. It wasn’t you got together with your friends so much as you and your spouse got together with other couples. Those couples can like to hang out with you then, but, and I’m not saying everyone did this, when you become single, those couples can go away. Christians can also look at you in church as a lesser Christian.

Not only that, you have to explain your divorce so often to everyone. Divorce is treated like it’s the unpardonable sin and every time you have to repeat it, you live it all over again. The church is too often ready with condemnation instead of consolation. We are to mourn with those who mourn and weep with those who weep and when you are going through divorce or suffering with it, you are mourning and weeping. I am thankful some people did just that. I am thankful that I found DivorceCare. I am thankful I had people who had been divorced who walked with me through it and I hope someday I can do the same for someone else walking through divorce.

To my friend, I hope I got a lot of what is going on correct, not because I want to be right, although I do, but because I want you to understand that I can relate. I also see you are asking the question about Jesus and who He is and I think that is a great place to go. It’s really hard to say anything negative about Jesus and I think really looking at who He is is the way to go.

I also encourage you to not believe anything just to believe it. I have not done that with my Christianity. For every position I have a strong stance on, I have a litany of reasons for why I embrace it. There are some issues I don’t argue and I just don’t care about. (Calvinism vs. Arminianism being one of them.) Don’t believe anything just to be consistent or to fit in with the people or look good in popular culture.

Be real. If things suck, say they suck. If you are angry with God, be angry. No sense hiding it. If you want to cry, then cry. Mourn. I had a friend come by on my next to last day in Georgia who was in the area when I found out I had to clear out because of the divorce and he saw me bawling my eyes out and never thought less of me for it.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out and talk if you need it, and I encourage this to everyone else. Before trying to win someone back to Christianity, just be a friend. Listen. Care. Besides, I suspect if you do this right, the Christianity will fall back into place anyway.

I understand the crickets, but I am also thankful for them. They have caused me often to go back to what is more foundational and not transitory. They have pointed me to what I really believe and what it is rooted in and not being based on feelings means I have a firmer foundation I can rely on when things get hard, and they do.

Here for you, if you need me.

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

Book Plunge: Spiritual Friendship

What do I think of Aelred of Rievalux’s book on friendship? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I know someone here who has also gone through divorce and he knowing my struggle with it let me borrow this book from him and recommended that I read it. I don’t remember entirely if Aelred ever mentions marriage in it or not specifically, but even if he does, it is not the focus. This is about friendship and is men discussing with themselves what friendship is. Aelred lived in the 12th century, one before my favorite of Aquinas, but his words still speak deeply to us today.

The book can easily be seen as a guide for relationships and what kind of relationships you can enter in to, what kind you should seek out, and how they end. It is also about how you are to be a friend to someone and ways to tell if someone is being a true friend to you. One such example of the latter is normally if you are friends with a poor person, it is genuine. I have friends who have money and some have told me to reach out to them if I am in a bind, but I am hesitant to do so. I love the gifts and generosity when they come, but I don’t want to risk being one of those people who is seeking that out.

Aelred argues that we should love everyone, but we should not seek to be friends with everyone and not everyone is suitable for a friendship. (p. 89) After all, a friend is someone you can trust and bare your heart to. You shouldn’t do that with everyone. This is one reason to not speak out everything on social media.

On the next page, he says that nothing is more detestable than one who harms a friendship and nothing tortures the spirit more than abandonment or attack by a friend. How true! If a random jerk I don’t know mistreats me, that hurts, but if someone is a friend and they do that, that really stings. It happens from time to time and I am sure I have done it sometimes to my friends. I do try to mend the relationships where I can.

He also calls us to a higher standard. If a friend doesn’t love you, love him still. If he withdraws his friendship, do not withdraw yours. (98) It is easy to love someone when they love you and be kind when they are kind to you. It is not so much when they do not love you and are unkind to you.

All of these come from the third book as this book is divided into three books. I found this one to be the most beneficial as did the person who let me borrow it as he has multiple lines underlined and many notes written on the side. Aelred writes with practicality as I don’t know a single person who doesn’t value friendship. It is strange that we value friendship so much, but really, there does not seem to be much being written on friendship from a scholarly perspective.

When I was allowed to borrow this, it was also with the hope that as I enter into other relationships here, dating and friendships, I would be mindful of who I would let into my world. We all should be. Perhaps we could refer to Aelred as the Boundaries writer of the 12th century.

Aside from the language that is used often, I recommend you get this book. Much of it could be read as if it was written today. I hope someday to get my own copy.

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

What Really Hurts Children

What is the real danger to children? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I wrote about the hysteria that comes whenever any new piece of technology comes out. It’s always argued that this will lead to the children being corrupted. The reality comes and goes and there’s no major change. Most of us look at what happened with comic books in the past as silly today. Odds are years from now today’s fear will seem silly.

But yet, no one can deny that children are being hurt. Yes. We do have problems with children committing violence and we do have problems with sexual promiscuity in children. Children often do drugs and children struggle with suicide, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide.

It’s really easy to blame this on the surrounding culture. It’s comic books! It’s TV! It’s movies! It’s music! It’s smartphones! It’s video games! It’s the internet! I am not denying that some of these can play a part, but there is something far more influential that comes beforehand that if this gets wrong, the others are far more likely to be hazardous to children. If this gets right, they are far less likely to be hazardous.

What children most need right is a stable family.

By this also, I mean that children living with a mother and a father both, and preferably their own biological parents. I realize that sometimes this can’t happen. I have a wonderful friend who’s a widower raising children on her own which is wonderful. A cause like being widowed suddenly due to a tragedy often cannot be helped.

Technically on my end, my sister is my step-sister as we have the same mother, but my mother left an abusive marriage and remarried my father and I come from that one, but my Dad has never treated my sister like any less of his own flesh and blood. I never got preferential treatment growing up that way. You could ask my sister and she would say the same thing.

Today, divorce is often prevalent because if the parents aren’t happy, well surely the children aren’t. Often, with a bad divorce, it doesn’t change the happiness of the children. Sometimes what they want most is their parents to work matters out and it can set the path for them to do the same.

If anyone thinks that’s what happened on my end, no. You can ask most anyone and I fought tooth and nail for my marriage and this was even when wise people told me I should seek divorce. I always said no. If it ended, it would be on her end, but I also told her when she was telling me she was going to divorce that I didn’t want her to do that, but if she sent me papers I would sign them. I wasn’t going to hold her hostage or anything.

Children can wrestle with abandonment over divorce and issues of trust. One reason I am sure of this personally besides my own reading on the topic is I am 42 and divorced and I still wrestle with this as a result of my divorce. It’s far harder when you’re a child who doesn’t have a fully developed cognitive faculty to know how to handle this or a whole worldview behind it. I remember the story of a man in his senior years who at the age of five had his Dad kill himself and he still wondered why his Dad didn’t want him.

Don’t think that just having the right parents is all that matters either. No. Invest in your children. If your children are engaging in media you think is harmful, talk to them about it. Find out why they like it. What are they really gaining out of it?

Don’t think also that if you’re in ministry, you can bypass this. You can’t. Some people can be so committed to ministry that they fail to be committed to their own families. I hate saying it, but Billy Graham was even like this. There’s an account of how he left his wife behind sick once because he had to preach somewhere. If children think your ministry matters more to you than they do, they are more prone to resent your ministry and the God that ministry is about.

Children need to be invested in. We can often think that if we take them to church every Sunday, which we should, then we’re okay, but it needs to be more. Christianity needs to be lived in the home. It needs to be shown. Christians need to do actions that will speak love to their children.

If this is actively going on, you have far less to be concerned about with the media around them. I have been in the world of video games since I was in kindergarten, and yet I have never had a violent streak or anything like that. I was a virgin until I married and will be one, God willing, until I marry again. I never use profanity and I have never had a drug problem. I have struggled with anxiety and depression, but overall, my upbringing has been very helpful for me.

Also, if you are someone alone raising a child, get them involved with someone who can be a role model of their own sex. If you are a man raising daughters, find a woman who is a role model for them and vice-versa for a woman raising sons. Let them know how they are to be.

Your children are yours and they are to be a great investment. You will be the greatest influence on their life. Use it well.

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

 

Book Plunge For Fun: Mollie McQueen Is Not Getting Divorced

What do I think of Lacey London’s book published by SSO Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m looking through my emails with Kindle books on sale and I see this one with the book Mollie McQueen Is Not Getting Divorced and read the description about a lady who after another sexless night with her husband decides she’s 30 and wants to move on with her life so she’ll get a divorce and about how a journey starts from there. The price is free, so you can’t beat that, but I am a student at a seminary with books to read otherwise, even though I still do get in fun reading. Will I or won’t I?

Eventually, I decide I will and start to read a chapter a day. As I get into the book, I sometimes am tempted to break that rule. I want to go through more to find out what is going to happen in the story. I had bought the book originally to also see what a more secular perspective might have to say. There is nothing explicitly Christian in the book, but at the same time nothing explicitly non-Christian really, and the book is not filled with profanity and incessant dirty talk. Descriptions are rather tame.

Not only that, but I did wonder if there could be some secret Christianity in there due to one of the main good characters in the book who is a voice of wisdom being named Evangelina. That’s certainly not a common name to have. Something that makes me hesitant to say that is that the book is from a British author and I know that Christianity is a minority position there. Still, there are some devout Christians over there. (N.T. Wright anyone?)

Anyway, I don’t want to give spoilers since this is really a great book to read and part of a series. (Yes. I’ve already got the next one in the series.) However, as Mollie goes through her journey, she does start to learn a lot about marriage and much of the marriage advice in the book is incredibly solid.  This is a book that admits that marriage is hard and also that marriage is worth it. It also does what it can to dispel the idea that marriage can be absolutely perfect as all marriages have flaws.

What is most helpful is as Mollie goes through her journey, she had originally started complaining about her husband Max and all the things that he needed to change. As she goes through her life and her path to divorce, she comes to realize that she’s quite the guilty party as well. She starts actually learning to see things from Max’s perspective and how to better communicate with him.

I wound up actually telling my therapist that I’m reading this book and sent a link to him as he is helping me work through and process my own divorce. It’s the kind of book that if I was doing marriage counseling or even pre-marital counseling for a couple, I could have them read this book and see what they think about it. There’s good advice and Mollie is a very engaging character and not only that, it’s just fun.

If you want to get the book, you can do so here. On Kindle, it looks like at this moment, the first one is still free.

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

 

Repeated Forgiveness

How many times do you forgive? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yes. I know about what Jesus says with seventy times seven and still more, but there is another aspect I’m getting at here. What I normally have in mind is someone wrongs me, they come to me and repent, I forgive, then they go off and do the same thing again and come to me again. It keeps going until they finally stop overall.

As a divorced man now, I’m thinking there might be more to it than that. For instance, there’s no way really my ex can come to me now unless she does it through others. For my own personal sanity, I had her blocked. I don’t delight in saying that. In reality, I hate it. I hate that things came to that level, but I needed to keep my own sanity.

However, I do believe in having an attitude of forgiveness. Now with forgiveness, I do believe you should let the other person come to you first. However, while that does not happen, many times, when I do think about her, I have to be ready to be in an attitude of forgiveness.

It’s not easy. Now I am in seminary now and as I write this blog, I am in the student center and generally, I’m in a good mood most of the time. I do like seminary and I like the field of education gripping me and getting to know students and professors both. However, I would be lying if I said there are not still times of sorrow.

I can see a happy couple on campus and think “I wish I had that.” I can have a flashback to something of my ex and I based on something I see or hear briefly. Sometimes, I can be climbing into bed at night and regretting that it is just me in that bed, despite the fact that I have woken up to see Shiro at my feet in the morning. Sometimes there is still a tendency to want to cry a little bit over the pain.

This is what I have in mind by forgiveness. I find myself having to be willing to forgive the same offense done repeatedly not at different times per se, but still ongoing. I am still deeply hurt by what has happened to me and I understand that such hurt never goes away entirely, even if one remarries. There is still a sense of rejection.

As one who is looking to date now, and I do plan on writing about that sometime, I still feel the sorrow when I send out numerous likes and don’t get a nibble back even. The one conversation that got started ended with me being ghosted. I keep having a longing and a hope. My therapist has referred to someone who is looking for me as much as I am looking for them.

But still, I have to forgive either way. Holding on to anger towards my ex despite what she did to me does not help me at all. I have seen what bitterness does to people and I don’ t want to be one of those people who is ready to spew venom at the very mention of my ex. If anything, I pray for her repentance and for her to know God better. Her suffering won’t improve me in any way and I should certainly not take joy at it.

It’s not always easy though. Sometimes, the temptation to go the other way and hold on to resentment is strong, but that is a cancer that doesn’t do anything to her and destroys me in the process. Why bother?

So right now, I am also learning forgiveness. I also figure if I can learn to forgive this, most anything else in my life will be much easier by comparison seeing as this is the most painful rejection and betrayal of all.

And if you’re struggling, join me in the journey. It might not be an ex, but it doesn’t matter. Holding on to hostility will do you no good.

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

Book Plunge: Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Starts

What do I think of Les and Leslie Parrott’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is the kind of book that I’m really thankful is out there, but I also wish I didn’t need to read. Like I have said, divorce is awful. I was actually relieved to read in the book what I have heard said several times, that you spend a lifetime recovering from divorce.

Here’s something else that struck me about this book. This book is great to read even if you are on your first marriage or getting ready for your first marriage. The advice in here is still thoroughly practical. Sometimes as I was going through, it was hard to remember that this was a book that was meant for a second marriage.

Also, the Parrotts wrote in a way that it doesn’t matter what you went through to get to your second marriage. You could be a widow or you could be divorced. The same concept applies. About the only real difference, though even still not so much today, between this and a first marriage is the talk about what to do if one or both of you have children.

If anything, I wish there had been more different material about learning from the first time more. That is in there, but so much of the material was not unique to second marriages. I do remember one question I was curious about that was talked about but never answered was about what to do when it comes to sexual intimacy and a second marriage.

One statement that was made is that the ghost of your ex will always be around. I do have a friend who has been married before and is on his second marriage. He told me about buying some computer equipment early in his second marriage and getting scared that his wife would jump all over him because that’s what his first wife did. Nope. She instead got really excited about it and just wanted her husband to enjoy himself.

It is said to never talk bad about your ex and this is something that I try my hardest to not do. If I have to say something negative, I still affirm always (The virgin birth, but that’s another point) that I still want the best for her and I pray for her regularly and I mean the true prayer for her well-being, not the prayer some exes pray sadly of “May she die in a hideous car accident.” If anything, I would be devastated if I heard such news today.

I really wish this book wasn’t needed today, but sadly it is more and more. It would be great if the times it was really needed was for people who were widowed, but too often now, it’s divorce. For those of us who want to have another try at the world of marriage, I am thankful that this book is here. I wish I didn’t need it, but I sadly do and I hope that assuming such a marriage comes, I will be the better for preparing beforehand.

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

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