“An odd by-product of my loss is that I’m aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll ‘say something about it’ or not. I hate it if they do, and if they don’t.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I avoided church for 2 weeks following the break up. Returning was the first major hurdle. I would not be returning to the congregation I came to feel most comfortable in.
Did I want to go back to the same church?
Did would I endure the difficulties and awkwardness?
It was and is the shame speaking.
The deepest feeling of regret that followed from the break up was how it would effect the wider body at church; comprising of friends and others that celebrated our relationship with us. In my head there would be a flow-on effect that would strain relationships and possibly harm certain pursuits. It seems selfish. It probably is. I did have to seek forgiveness with some friends as they had to pick up some of the pieces left from what had happened.
It is hard not to dwell on potentially catastrophic effects and cost in these situations.
The mind is difficult to control. Anyway, back to shame.
C. S. Lewis’s quote is not entirely related to my situation. He was grieving the loss of his wife. I am grieving the loss of a relationship. However, as a companion of grief, it is an all-too-real feeling: that embarrassment of grief that those around you find awkward. It’s a blue elephant in the room. You go on to discussing milder topics like films and music, dancing around the topic you’re both aware of possibly needing to be addressed. This is the embarrassment, the shame of the situation.
Not many people actually knew about our break up and it was a little bit awkward to say that it was over to those that assumed everything was still on. The whole event had been very quiet and I am thankful to God that it was. I think people will probably just feel grief and sadness with us.
One of the kinder and more wonderful things about a situation like this is that some friends show their true care. In a position of feeling shame and forms of isolation, shame can drive us away from welcoming the love of others that care. On one of the days when I felt this way, I received several texts and a phone call from a few guys from church to ask if I was ok and that there was prayer for me. It was strengthening and encouraging and I am thankful to God for that, I really needed it.
Dating within a church context is very risky. One thing I’ve come to recognise acutely through break ups in church is that the body of Christ is incredibly close. If it is working well together, it feels almost everything amongst its members. The church is such a delicate thing that can be ruptured by what looks like the smallest of sins. This is why we are constantly admonished to bear with each others sins and forgive, to not bicker and fight and destroy God’s work.