Steve is the kind of guy no one thought divorce could ever find.
“You get the warning signals. You briefly consider whether you should prepare; then you think, No, that couldn’t happen to me.” Then suddenly separation and divorce rips through your life like a tornado, crushing and destroying everything in your life. You feel like a bottomless pit has opened up beneath you and there is no hope. There is not one facet of your life that is left untouched. Every minute in North America, two marriages fail and 2,100 children hear, “We’re separating.”
“I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest, and no one would talk with me or even listen to my fears”. “People kept telling me “Get on with your life… there is someone out there for you.”
When he figured out that a divorce was inevitable, Steve wanted to do something positive, not just sit around and let his thoughts weigh him down. That's when he found Jean's DivorceCare class at the Church of the Nazarene.
Steve decided to go in with an open mind. "You're worried that since you're going through a divorce, you've got this big, black mark on you, but what I found was people going through the same thing I was. There's a fellowship that develops."
DivorceCare, is a 13-week series that addresses all the feelings and emotions people experience when going through separation or divorce, and it equips them with tools to understand and work through these feelings.
Steve calls DivorceCare “the emergency room where people can come to get the help they need in a safe atmosphere”. It is the trauma center for people whose lives have been ripped apart by the divorce tornado.
There are over 30 Christian counselors and ministers who speak on the videos addressing topics such as Anger, Depression, Loneliness, How Divorce Affects the Children, What the Bible Says About Divorce, Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Single Sexuality. “On the videos are real people who have gone through divorce and are expressing their feelings and emotions; there was always someone on the videos that I could relate to”.
"You don't really realize all of the emotions and uncertainty inside you when you start out" he said. "The good thing is that while you're dealing with all of those issues, you can have a place where people understand you."
Westlock’s Church of the Nazarene is one of over 10,000 churches around the world that offer DivorceCare, a non-denominational faith-based program that tries to help people whose marriages have fallen apart.
In the end, the mostly negative experience of his divorce ended up strengthening Steve’s faith. "You sometimes wonder why God would let you go through something like this." "But now, I'm getting to serve other people, and that's wonderful."
Steve has lead 13-week DivorceCare programs for more than five years. "We're very open about having a spiritual approach and for some people, that's a bit of a turnoff, at least at first. We also have strict rules about confidentiality."
Each of the groups Steve has taught has been different ranging in size from three to fifteen people. “The fellowship among participants probably does not form immediately. Participants may be wary of one another, especially depending on the cause of the separation”. DivorceCare allows people to sit down and talk with others who are in the same situation. "People enjoy the way it's set up - the support side, the video side and the Bible study," he said. "You can move as slowly or quickly as needed through each session."
Even if a divorce occurred long ago, the program has been known to help people find solace years later. Steve has faith that the program can be beneficial: "I've seen some real positive results."
DivorceCare will be held every Thursday at the Church of the Nazarene in Westlock starting September 17th at 7:00 p.m.