Many people carry the painful wound of a divorced heart. The pain can be hard to understand for those of us who have never been through a divorce. It is a wonder to me that you can pray for your future spouse, sacrifice for them and get counsel to help you discover if this person is the one, you can take that leap of faith and let loose your heart to love, only to find, in the end, that your commitment is paid with tragedy, loss, and a divorced heart. I never knew the pain of a divorced heart until I met Joan.
I once worked as a dishwasher at a casino restaurant. It was a hectic and demanding job with plenty of high hopes dashed all around me in the big casino. On weekend concert nights, work was especially hectic.
I worked with four other 20-or-30-somethings for around nine hours of washing dishes. It was high-paced action and I liked it the way I liked exercise. We were a cohesive team that couldn’t be broken, until we got a new member. Our boss hired a sixth dishwasher to join our team. This was a tough job, with plates coming out of the industrial-sized dishwasher 175 degrees hot, and you had to move fast to get them to the racks.
The newly hired dishwasher was named Joan. She was as far away from what we needed as you could get. She was a bitter woman, 60 years old, cold as ice, and hard as steel. She was five feet of ferocious death stares through horn-rimmed glasses, her hand always shaking for her next cigarette. She did her work her way, and if you ventured outside of that, she let out a volley of profanity complete with a promise to get you fired. Few talked to her; none liked her.
One day, I was tired of Joan’s way of doing things and I told her she was way too slow while spraying off the dishes. This was a major-league mistake. She gave me a Medusa death stare and hissed. I knew she could resort to violence at any moment. She punched other employees, why not me? I was frustrated with her not being a team player, and we got into an argument on how best to do things until she finally blew her top and told me where to go.
Later, I felt bad about what had happened. I waited for the other dishwashers to go on break and leave us alone. I tapped her on the shoulder and told her I was sorry. She looked right into my eyes and I saw a lot of things there in that moment. She told me how bad she felt about not working as a team member. She was always in the habit of working alone. She told me how hard her life had been since her husband divorced her 25 years earlier and left her to take care of the kids alone. She was still bitter and hurt by that. She had left the Church and relied on no one, not even God.
We got along a lot better after that talk and I was always impressed by Joan’s unrelenting determination and will of steel. She never quit at anything and I witnessed that every day that she did work that was difficult for even energetic twenty-year-olds to handle. I hugged her and she became a person to me. Inside that prickly shell was a woman with a beating heart; you just had to get through to it. We became friends, and for the life of me, as I got to know her, I couldn’t understand why that guy would leave such an awesome lady. Meeting Joan helped me have compassion for those who carry the wound of a divorced heart, a wound which can be healed in time with plenty of love.
Please pray for Joan to rest in peace.