Friday, April 20, 2012

Beauty & the Beast: The Rejection Letter (Chapter 9)

KIM UPDATE: Kim is recovering well this week. Thanks for your prayers. She does have a hard time sleeping these days because of "hot flashes". Last night we slept with the sliding door to our bedroom open. Thank God for down blankets. The final round begins the middle of next week. We can see the finish line from here and it's time to sprint!
The road to Kim had to go through her cousin Bernie
(If you're joining in late you can read previous chapters HERE.) And so with Celine Dion's song on repeat in my CD player the summer of depression began (1997). It was a cruel, cruel summer. Leaving me here on my own. It was a cruel, cruel summer. Now she's gone. I guess Bananarama songs also took on new meaning for me as well.

Well, a few weeks after my visit to Champaign, I received a five page letter from Kim explaining why she felt like things were not working out. I pulled it out of the archives this morning and read it again for the first time in many years to write this chapter. In it she wrote:
"...I would like to still treat you as a brother in Christ. Thinking back, I don't think we treated each other any other way than a brother and sister and I hope that could still stay true. Peter, I still look at you as a brother and don't regret our friendship at all. I really hope you don't take all this personally - when you asked me that question over the phone about my decision being based more on circumstance or really is more circumstance and timing but yet at the same time i can't say for sure whether I can see things between us working out in the future...despite circumstance. And this is why I had said that I didn't want you to wait - or keep hoping. It isn't fair for you."
Ahhhhh! This was basically the "let's just be friends" cliche ending with the classic "it isn't's me" line slightly altered to " isn't fair for you". Trust me, at that point I already knew life was not "fair". I had three sisters growing up and when you are stuck watching "Gidget" and "Little House in the Prairie" every day of the summer break you quickly realize life is not fair. That said, knowing Kim I knew that this was about as strong a worded rejection as possible - it was her way of saying, "Go away! Leave me alone! You creep!" (Okay, maybe the "creep" part was a little over the top....perhaps "loser" would be more apropos?) She then described her recent conversation with our college pastor. Reading it again this morning gave me chills as I found it to be very prophetic:

Excerpt from my "rejection letter" - great illustrations though!
"He [Pastor Min] pretty much changed the subject...and we talked about how I need to grow so much more. I felt so iddy-bitty small! He was telling me that he had a picture of me as a tree whose roots are sprouted but just sticking out rather than being firmly rooted - DEEPLY in His WORD and PRAYER. He was saying that my "struggles" now are just little "sneezes" compared to what Jesus knows is going to face us in the future. He was saying with a little sneeze I fall - I'm weak! and so unstable. I was sharing with him about this past year and what a struggle it was with studies, small group, etc. He was saying again and again of how I need o prepare myself now for the winds, storms and hurricanes that will come in the future!"

It's amazing to think about how this ordeal was nothing compared to what "Jesus knows is going to face us in the future". Fifteen years before Kim's greatest challenge, God was already planting the seeds in her heart - of the deep roots needed for the storms that lie ahead. (That is, if you don't already consider 11 years of being married to me a "challenge" in itself)

I probably read that letter over 100 times trying to decipher it nine ways to Sunday - looking for any aiota of reason to keep the hope alive....but I could not. The letter didn't contain any questions so I didn't know if she wanted me to respond. To be honest, I didn't know how to respond so I decided it would be best if I just didn't say anything. And so the letter just sat there - untouched.

As each week went by it became harder envisioning even a friendship between us. One month passed. Then two and then three. We did not talk for that entire summer. And I slipped into a depression, mostly due to a serious lack of trust in God in all areas of my life. Despite the fact that I was about to begin an exciting career in public accounting at Coopers & Lybrand LLP (yes, I'm being facetious), I remember dreading having to start at the end of July - so insecure about my future and what God really had in store for me; not just in terms of relationships but my life and calling in this world. I lacked a sense of purpose and direction with everything and everyone around me could tell. And although I did not want to think about it, I found myself always thinking about it. I guess there was always a small part of me that wanted to believe that the door was not completely closed...if I was just patient enough for God to open it...

In His Grace,

Peter & Kim

1 comment:

  1. Love Kim's illustrations...What a great thing to have a record of what Kim was learning and going through in that season of life. Granted, it was in the form of a rejection letter...but Peter, you survived it! :) Hope Pastor Min gets to read this post as I'd think it'd be an encouragement to him. Isn't God compassionate in how He prepares His children to weather the storms of life? What a gracious God we serve! Love you guys! :)