To The Broken Up Girl

What do I have to say? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Hello.

You might remember me. I was working behind the counter and you came in for your return. I had to ask you why you were returning the items per our requirements and you told me they were for your boyfriend and after three years he had broken up with you and you didn’t want them.

Then you mentioned about going home and crying. The lady next to you, we’ll call her L so there’s no confusion between you and her, told you he’s not worth it. It’s his loss. Now L could be entirely right in that. However, I told L you have still experienced a loss and you need to cry. Then i said to cry, but if you have thoughts about self-harm or worse that are lingering, get help.

From there, I told you about my own divorce. I lost someone special after ten years with them and they had made a promise. I assured you a divorce is worse than a break-up. I didn’t get to tell you that break-ups hurt, but divorce is worse. Divorce is when someone has made a promise before God and man and has broken that promise.

You told me about how your boyfriend went to a strip club for a bachelor party of one of his friends and shortly after told you he wanted to move on. That must have hurt. I am sure you felt like you were being compared to some girl dancing on a stage that he didn’t even know.

Can I say this? I really hate to say it, but a lot of my gender consists of jerks sadly. Most of them are just looking to women to see what they can get out of them. This is why I was sure you were living together and wanted to encourage you to not do that. I told you to not give a man what he wants until he fulfills his covenant promise to you.

You see, in essence, what you are saying with the living together is “I might want to get married, but I want to keep my options open in case someone better or comes along or unless I just want out.” The other person says the same thing. In marriage, you say “There are no better options and I don’t want out.”

At least you’re supposed to.

Remember also the urge I told you that if you think about hurting yourself seriously, do something about it. That can happen. My DivorceCare leader once said in a meeting unprompted by anything I had said that everyone who goes through this, normally on the side of being divorced, thinks about suicide at least some. I know I did. Sometimes I saw some benadryl or something I could take for allergies and to help me sleep and thought, “You know you could and no one would notice until morning.” Never did, of course, but I understand the thinking.

Sometimes people might look down on you if you seek therapy. They shouldn’t. We all have problems. We all have issues that we need to work on. Asking for help when you need it is not shameful. It’s not asking for help that’s shameful.

You have been rejected and that sucks. You have been rejected as a person. Break-ups are understandable at times. Sometimes some people don’t work well together. However, when you invest years in someone and if you are married or live together, you have done more than that. I don’t approve of living together before marriage, but I do understand it is a step women take when they are hoping to marry often.

I also wanted to make sure you knew something and you shook my hand as you left I think largely because of this. I doubt you will ever read this, but if you do, maybe you’ll remember this. I hope you do.

I told you most importantly, I made it through. What I went through is worse, and I lived through it. There were times I was doubtful, but I made it. I tried to make a vow that I would not be a victim. I only have one chance to play this game and I want to win. I determined that if I wanted to get a revenge, the best revenge is a life well-lived.

You see, I don’t live in a place of hatred for my ex. It doesn’t consume me. I think what she did was awful to me and it is the worst pain I have ever experienced, but I still pray for her well-being and holiness. I pray for mercy on her. I pray for justice and mercy for everyone involved, and that’s a scary prayer since it includes me.

Right now, I am making plans to attend a seminary in Louisiana on-campus. I want to succeed in my life. I want to get a Master’s and then get a PhD. I would love to remarry. I would think it wonderful if there was a woman in New Orleans waiting for me. Of course, she probably doesn’t know she’s waiting for me, but I would love to find a woman who would want someone who wants to bring joy to someone. My own therapist and I talk about this. He does think this is a step I need to take.

But for you for now, I want to tell you what a divorced friend also told me. Today will suck, but tomorrow will suck a little bit less. Another friend added what would suck today is if nothing sucked today. You’re allowed to hurt. It’s okay.

A little over 25 years ago I had back surgery. I had a steel rod placed on my spine. You think that hurts? It definitely does. I took a year to recover. Now, I can go all day without even realizing I have a steel rod back there. I learned how to deal with the pain. Emotional scars are harder, but they do heal.

I urge you to get a woman who has gone through this pain before and meet with her also. One of the greatest blessings I had was men who had been divorced who came alongside of me. My non-divorced friends were helpful, but they cannot help me in the way my divorced friends can. That includes my own therapist and when I told him, he agreed. They mean well, but there are aspects they do not understand, and that’s fine.

I hope no other guy has to go through this, but that’s a pipe dream, but when they do, I want to be there for them as others were for me. Right now, it seems like your world has ended, and in some ways, you’re right. You had plans of the future and hopes and dreams and all of those have been destroyed by that one action. My ex used to talk about how much it hurts to be rejected and told you weren’t good enough. I know how much it hurts, because that’s what I have been told by the action.

But she doesn’t define me. God doesn’t love me either because I’m good enough, whatever that means. He loves me because of who He is. That’s enough for me to rejoice in. Of course, there’s no wrong in seeking other loves, like family, friendship, and yes, remarriage, but if it weren’t for my foundation in God, I don’t think I would have made it.

I don’t think from our interaction that you’re a Christian. If I’m right, I hope you will find Jesus Christ. He’s the ultimate help for you in your suffering. My trust in God sustained me through it all. I had to realize God had some way to still use me for the Kingdom and ultimately, I think if He takes away something, it will often be to eventually give us something better.

For now though, go home and cry. Talk to a friend. Do something that can be just for you. Have some fun. Read a book. Watch a TV show. Go to the movies. Do something to keep you moving. You don’t have to be a victim. That’s ultimately a choice. I am not saying you chose to have someone reject you, but you are responsible for the choice of if their actions define you. A woman is not responsible if her husband beats her, but she is responsible for what she tells herself about the beatings. It can be hard to tell yourself the truth, but it is doable.

Remember you are not alone. Other people have gone through this and they can help you. I am thankful when I went to theological conventions like ETS and DTF, no one looked down on me. I got no indication that I was a pariah because I wear the “Divorced” label. Some even prayed with me there over the situation.

Too many people do look at divorced as a bad label. I had someone share how even decades after when applying for a ministry position they had to explain their divorce and does that stigma ever go away? In many churches, it’s like the unforgivable sin and it’s usually thought you must really be a problematic person if you got divorced.

First off, we’re all problematic people. Second, the church does need to handle this better as we need to have more sympathy for those divorced, especially the wrongfully divorced ones, and I contend I’m one of them. I think many churches would have a murderer take the pulpit before a divorced person. That’s a shame.

Grace covers all sins, including marital and sexual ones.

Young lady. You are precious in the eyes of God, but if you become a Christian, assuming you are not, your ex is also precious too. Pray for his redemption. That can help stop the seed of hate growing in your heart that will do you no good. If my ex has any hatred of me, it doesn’t hurt me a bit. It only hurts her. If I have it, it doesn’t hurt her. It only hurts me. You be the better person. Show love even to those who hurt you as I strive to do.

I have spoken a long time. I doubt you will ever read this, but even if you don’t, someone will who needs to hear this I am sure. I hope they hear it too. Already, your suffering is being used for redemption. If anything, it has helped me to focus again on what I need to focus on.

You will get through this.

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

A Tribute To Steve

What difference can a life make? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Some of you might have wondered where Deeper Waters has been. I did not do the podcasts these past two weeks due to emergencies that came up and took a break from the blog. On Monday, we received word that our friend Steve who we knew had terminal cancer was on his last legs. We had planned to go back to Knoxville on Thursday, but we went Monday instead. We got back just last Saturday, the longest we’d been away from our home like that.

Let me tell you a bit about Steve first. I met him and his wife Mickey at our church in Knoxville, The Point. We were part of a couples group and in came this couple I’d never seen. This small blond woman and this big guy who looked like a barroom bouncer covered in tattoos.

Okay. This is new.

Now I grew up in a culture where this didn’t fit with me, but I have learned to unthink some things and so I decided to have an open mind. We slowly got to know this couple. At one point, they said they like politics, but they don’t talk about it because it becomes such a heated subject then. I figured “Well we’re in the South and most of us are conservative, so these must be some liberals.”

And as time went on, I found out I was wrong. These two were just as conservative as I am. They are great Reagan conservatives. We formed a good friendship with them. They even came to our house. Steve told us about his story growing up and when Mickey and Allie did some cooking together, we put our time to more beneficial matters.

That’s right. We watched Smallville together!

Some time later, we learned that Steve had stage 4 esophagus cancer. Now I have to tell you Steve is quite likely the toughest guy I know. I was sure if anyone could beat cancer, it would be Steve. We would see him go to the hospital going in and out of chemo. They would try to bring cats for him as well because this big tough guy had a kitten fetish. Even if it was a stuffed kitten, he loved it.

Steve was also a selfless guy. Allie had been going through a hard time before we knew how bad Steve was this month and she called to talk to Mickey and Steve even with his cancer was just asking “Is Allie okay?” She was amazed that he was still focused on helping her with her by comparison small problems. That’s Steve for you.

When we went back a couple of weeks ago, the big tough guy I knew was unrecognizable. I don’t know if he heard anything that I said to him. It was like there was just a shell there at this point and we spent our time with Mickey offering her our comfort and support. At times I would go out to the car alone such as when I had to deliver some clothes to the church for her and just cry a bit on my own before I drove on.

In fact, Mickey wanted to see if Steve’s shoes he’d got would fit me. They didn’t, but honestly, I was kind of relieved they didn’t. I did not think that I was at all worthy to wear Steve’s shoes. I still do not.

In Knoxville, we waited. We knew the time would be soon, and it put us in an odd situation. You see, you always hope that a miracle will take place, while still knowing that the person is in great pain and maybe the best thing to do is to just let it all come to a close.

On August 12th, it did.

We were some of the first to receive the call early in the morning. I was saddened, but at the same time relieved that the battle was over. Still, there was a sense about it that it was unreal. There was a part of me that was always wanting to say “Surely the story is not supposed to be like this.”

C.S. Lewis has written that in the face of evil, it’s not the case that the great fear is that God does not exist. It is the great fear that God exists and you are about to see what He is really like. Why Steve of all people? Why? As I told my pastor that week, there are times I hate being in ministry. Especially since I have to go out and still defend the goodness of God. Don’t take me wrong. I definitely believe that God is good, but sometimes the emotions can seem to overtake the reason.

At the funeral, I was one who came up to speak in the sharing section sharing briefly some things that I’ve shared here. I sat down and from time to time I’d lose it a bit when I saw a picture and had to pull myself together. I remember at one point during a meal time that I went into the room where the body had been and saw nothing there.

It was then that I practically could imagine in my mind a sort of battle taking place. As if I wanted to take on death itself saying that it had come for the wrong person. Is it ridiculous to think one could fight death like that? Yes, but I think we can all understand where I’m coming from with that.

I was also an honorary pallbearer and so I was at the graveside service. Even there, I had to hold things in. I was thankful for the bishop who spoke there in mentioning the resurrection. That is the fact that changes everything. It is a fact also all too often not mentioned at funerals. We talk about Heaven, but we don’t talk about the resurrection. Guess which one Paul talked about the most.

There is an emptiness here always. We still keep in touch with Mickey and plan to do so always. Mickey is still a great encouragement to my wife, but I think the greatest honor we could give Steve would be to live our lives accordingly in honor of the Christ He loves. I’m also often trying to speak of Steve not in past tense but in present tense, because it’s not as if Steve no longer exists. He exists in a different way now. He and Mickey may be separated now, but it is a temporal separation.

If you would like to see Steve and sign his guestbook, for the time being you can go here. On the show, I had meant to do a call for donations if that came up. Since I was not able to do the show, I would ask per request of Mickey that if anyone wanted to send something to help, they would prefer to have something done in Steve’s name for the Disabled Veterans of America.

Steve. We miss you greatly. Even as I write this, there is a great sadness. I hope my life is lived in such a way to honor the Christ you always seek to honor.

(For all interested, my wife Allie’s blog on Steve can be found here.)

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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