As parents face the difficult reality of a broken home, a sense of being completely overwhelmed can shut down the perspective they need to find restoration. Parents need to know that they can choose to define this season of their lives, instead of becoming defined by circumstances. They can deliberately look toward God and come to a deeper understanding of His true nature, power, and intimate care.As this former Christian music industry executive shares his story of divorce, his seven years as a single father, and his transition to a second marriage and a blended family, he also offers readers some hard-learned lessons and insights on being an effective, empathetic, and empowered single parent, answering crucial questions such as:
- How do I find peace when everything around me is chaos?
- How do I manage meeting needs when I have nothing to give?
- How and where do I begin again?
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Music executive Robert Beeson founded Essential Records in 1992, home to artists Jars of Clay and Third Day. As a senior executive for Provident Music Group, which bought Essential, he worked with Casting Crowns and Michael W. Smith. In 2006, Beeson formed iShine Records, a faith-based music/multimedia company geared to tweens. After seven years as a single parent, Beeson remarried. He lives in Franklin, Tennessee, with his wife, Barbara, and his three daughters and three stepsons.
Read an Excerpt
I think I know you. And I'll bet you know me, too. The fact that you are holding this book means there is a good chance that if you're not brokenhearted, you at least feel broken. Whatever circumstances led you here, the result is brokenness.
So let's be honest. No matter how you view life now, no matter how you keep score of your mistakes, and, despite people saying, "You're better off without him or her" or the opposite, "I thought you two were perfect together," well, here you are. Here we are.
If you went through a divorce as I did, you are probably feeling ...
alone, yet free;
broken, yet hopeful;
angry, yet relieved;
sheer terror, yet strangely numb.
It's all in there spinning inside you — the dizzying array of emotions of feeling a freeing finality from an unbearable and seemingly hopeless situation, all the way to the absolute dread and fear of going through the rest of your life alone.
If you lost a spouse to death, I imagine the thought of finding wholeness again might even trigger a sense of guilt. You may think that moving on might be disrespectful to your late spouse, and part of you may resist returning to the wholeness you once felt.
If you are a parent who has never been married, you may feel the wonder and beauty of the life you brought into the world colliding with the fear and dread of thinking, Who would ever want to date not just one person but a whole package?
For all of us, it's a world of conflicting and overwhelming feelings.
If only it ended there. As if it couldn't get any worse, here's the kicker: You are now a single parent responsible for the life, welfare, care, future, and happiness of some younger souls who are facing just as much pain as you are. But they didn't get a vote in creating the mess.
The tragedy of being a single parent is that your home has been blown apart and you are now expected to be both parents — but, at best, you feel like half a parent, if that. You know you have to be strong, but you feel unable to heal your own wounds, much less piece back together the innocent hearts and souls of your children. Whether the pressure is coming from friends, family, other parents, or even your own kids, the expectations feel undeniable and daunting.
You feel deserted, kicked in the gut, and left for dead. You are going through, or have gone through, a process that points out every flaw you have for the whole world to see. Separation. Divorce. Questions. Judgments. Criticisms. Regrets. Justification. Pain. And more pain.
I know this because I have lived it. Well, survived it. And still am. Every day.
Define the Season
Right out of the gate, I want to make a few things quite clear.
Although it may feel impossible right now, you can get better. Healing can come. There is life on the other side of this. I want to share with you what I discovered in my own pain and show you that hope can be born again in your heart. Life can be fuller; relationships can be richer; you can be happier, satisfied, and content in your soul. You can journey through a transformation that, with the right perspective, will bring more good into your life and overcome all you feel you have lost. This will not be easy; it will take effort and energy. But trust me, it will be worth it. Let's face it, coming out of a marriage wasn't easy. Nothing about this is simple. Whether the divorce or loss was partly or mostly your doing (or none of your doing), or you were as as anyone, there is hope, rest, and restoration, even in your suffering. In fact, what matters right now is what you do with right now.
Either the season will define you, or you will define the season.
When I decided to be intentional about how I navigated this season in my life, I discovered four principles that saved my sanity — maybe even my life. I call them my four Ps:
These are actually choices we make, and we will explore each one as I share my story with you. I believe God shows Himself clearly in the midst of the details of our everyday lives, and these four Ps can be threaded throughout even the mundane moments of our days.
I want to share with you what happened in my own season, not only to identify with the pain you're feeling, but also to illustrate how I walked through that time. While the details of my divorce and entry into single parenting may be quite different from yours, I'm going to bet you find yourself identifying with my feelings and relating to the pain. While I was a music industry executive at the time of my divorce, it really doesn't matter if you are a homemaker or a human resources director, a retail store clerk or a Wall Street broker. Becoming a solo parent is all about what happens within the four walls of your home and in your own heart.
My own story can be compared with a carefully constructed powder keg surrounded by people holding their fingers in their ears awaiting the explosion. Well, everyone except me.
"I'm headed to the Grammy Awards," I told the unassuming, silver-haired gentleman seated next to me in first class. The flight attendant brought me my cocktail, also known as my "preflight ritual." I stirred the drink, sniffed the familiar smell of whiskey, and continued my oratory of résumé reciting.
"Yeah, I think this is the fourth year in a row my projects have been nominated, so I'm headed to LA for the awards. It's fun. I mean the show is long, the seats are uncomfortable, but there are usually one or two good acts. Truthfully, I really go for the after-parties. Those are worth the trip."
I'm not sure he was impressed, but it didn't matter — I was.
The year was 2002. It had been nine years since I'd started my company — Essential Records. Though I wasn't a musician, I was an entrepreneur who loved the entertainment industry. My record label became very successful, very quickly.
For an American missionary kid from South Africa who'd been raised in Zululand and then later attended a prep boarding school, this new life back in the States was like living in Disney World. Seemingly overnight, there were gold and platinum records. Awards. Celebrities. Traveling. Parties. Fine restaurants. Fine wine and liquor. A lot of all of it. To say I was living the high life would be an understatement.
The irony of all I just told you is my record label dealt with Christian music exclusively. Just in case you aren't familiar with this genre, this means the artists sing songs about Jesus. Here's an even stranger detail. Prior to this success in gospel music, I didn't drink alcohol, do drugs, or party. Unfortunately, the Christian music industry can be just like many other organizations run by sinners; people are involved for various reasons. I do want to make it clear, however, that there are many committed and godly people involved in this industry — there were back then and there are today. But I was widely regarded as the rebellious renegade record exec. I wasn't exactly cut from the same cloth as many of my colleagues. I took virtually every opportunity I could to "live it up."
Business and Babies
Let's rewind to 1994, when I met my wife.
While attending a music convention in my home of Nashville, Tennessee, I spotted a woman I'd met a few years earlier when I lived in California. I had not seen her since then. Strangely enough, the night before the event started I had dreamed about her. The next morning I told a friend about what happened.
"I bet she'll be here for the convention," he said. "I know she works in the industry now."
It's crazy, but she was the first person I saw at the convention. I remember thinking, This must be a sign. I felt as if I had been given the keys to the candy store with a predestined road map to pleasure. My company was quickly rising to the top, and now literally "the girl of my dreams" was standing a few feet away.
I told myself this must be God Himself handing me everything I desired. After all, I had spent most of my childhood in Africa as a missionary kid, chasing snakes and building forts with no TV, radio, or phone, cooped up in a boarding school. Now He was unleashing all at once every pleasure I had never had. I was making up for missing the typical American kid's life.
The "dream girl" and I reconnected that evening, and the spark was there. In my nothing-to-ninety-miles-per-hour fashion, we blew right through dating, courtship, and engagement. About three months after we met at that convention, we were married. Imagine a young woman hearing a successful record exec say, "I dreamed about you last night before I saw you here today." While true, it was also a great line to sweep a girl off her feet!
The first few years of our marriage were almost everything I hoped they would be. We lived a charmed life, traveling to Hawaii and Europe. One particular year, we enjoyed ten cruises.
The record company grew increasingly successful, and I received more and more accolades. I hired more staff. We received gold and platinum records, recognizing millions of units sold. All in all, the artists' projects I worked on were nominated for thirteen Grammy Awards, and we won five of those. We also received thirty-eight Dove Awards — the Christian music industry's equivalent to the Grammy Awards.
Money. Fame. Success. What's not to love about such a life? Depending on who you are, it can be a truly blessed journey or a road to disaster.
I can see now that during those years of managing a major record label, there were so many lessons I needed to learn. And I did learn a few of them — just not enough at the time, and not enough in time. Now I know that we often don't grow in maturity when life is going completely our way.
About three years into our marriage, my wife and I found out we were pregnant with our first child. We experienced the overwhelming excitement, along with the common fears, that every couple has with their first. My wife was the most beautiful pregnant woman I had ever seen, and as cliché as this might sound, she really did have a glow of grace and contentment. With new life on the way, we both believed that God was giving us a fresh start in our marriage. I knew I needed one for myself.
During those nine months, I vividly remember coming face-to-face with my shortcomings, coupled with the guilt of my transgressions, all standing in stark contrast to the beauty of new life that was about to bless both our lives.
With all the success also came the trappings and pitfalls of wealth and luxury. I had worked hard and certainly played hard. I acted as if I didn't have a care in the world, but I was always hearing the voices of guilt and shame calling out to me about what I knew were bad choices. My behind-the-scenes partying and living it up were not consistent with the messages of hope and even godliness I had been promoting though our label, and deep inside I knew it. I felt like a self-absorbed counterfeit. And yet even though I often felt like a failure before my family and God, He was about to bless our lives, entrusting us with a child. I thought this could bring a clean slate to our marriage and force us to let go of our past baggage. An innocent beauty would be relying on us, and I wanted to get this right.
I remember one night sitting upstairs in our home, listening to songs from the musical Les Misérables. In what remains to be one of my favorite songs of all time, the character of Jean Valjean sings "Bring Him Home." After observing the beautiful love that a young man, Marius, has for his daughter, Jean prays to God on the war-torn barricade, asking Him to save Marius's life — "to let him live" — even if it means that God must take his life instead.
The words moved me deeply, describing the depths of my own soul. As I listened to this song repeatedly, my spirit was singing this song to God, telling Him how I had failed so many times yet was amazed that He would choose to bless me anyway. I asked Him to please not hold my transgressions against my child, to "let her live," and to make only me responsible for the wrongdoings of my life.
I was overwhelmed by the great love that I was experiencing — more love than I had ever understood before. I already loved this child more than anything in my life, and we hadn't even met.
Our first daughter, Zoe, was born in January 1997. As I cut the cord, we heard her first cry. She was healthy and beautiful. We were blessed.
If you are a mother, please forgive me. I know my words pale in comparison to the intense emotions you surely know how to articulate. But as a father, I was experiencing something far deeper and grander than ever before in my life.
Remember the hope for a fresh start and the prayers of pleading and gratitude I mentioned? After experiencing the sacredness of my firstborn's birth, after facing and confessing my own personal failures and shortcomings head-on, any reasonable man would have course-corrected to a new destination. But that's not what I did.
I dove deeper than ever before into my business and industry relationships as my professional success continued. My staff became like family, and I allowed them to compete with my real family.
Over the next four years, we welcomed two more daughters, Skyler and Zara. Each of their births was a spiritual experience — profound and beautiful. Each time I felt as if I were coming up for air after being underwater in a sea of selfishness for far too long, as if God were giving me His breath.
All the while, the work of my hands was turning out rewarding and reverent songs that contributed to one of the best seasons in Christian music history. To this day, I feel privileged to have been involved in those projects and working with those artists.
One of the recordings I had the honor of developing was a worship series entitled City on a Hill, which remains one of my favorite musical endeavors. For the record release, we premiered the project at a legendary musical venue called the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans at the International Christian Retail Show, an annual convention.
During one of the songs, "God of Wonders," which involved various well-known artists all engaged in worship, I remember being so moved and humbled that I went downstairs underneath the stage and wept through the entire song. As I cried, the words and melody moved through the venue's speakers and into my spirit. I was witnessing the beautiful things that God was creating and blessing me with yet pursuing my own self-centered and narcissistic desires. So often, the Father moves and works His will in spite of us.
Unveiling to you the constant thread of God pursuing my heart is crucial to where we take this subject matter. I'm telling you that I was living my life as if it were all about me to help us all understand that life is not about us!
Do you remember when I was bragging about my accomplishments to the guy in first class on my way to the Grammys? Just after takeoff, somewhere around my second drink and after reciting all my accomplishments and successes to this captive audience seated beside me, I decided to take a break and ask him what he did for a living. You know, just to not seem too self-focused.
His answer: "I'm in manure sales."
Wow, I thought. This guy sells poop! My view of my career immediately went up a few notches. Manure sales had to be one of the most laughable jobs I had ever heard of. But this guy was sitting in first class, next to me. That means there had to be at least some money in, uh, poop.
On the heels of that comment, I thought it would be nice to take control of the conversation again. So I fired off that my company had gained about $80 million in revenue the previous year. Without missing a beat and emitting a humble elegance, this man delivered a massive gut-punch of perspective with his response: "Last year, my territory did around half a billion dollars in sales."
I quickly compared his half a billion to my $80 million. He won — I wasn't even close!
No one hands out awards in LA, or anywhere else for that matter, for monetizing manure. No one would think the payout on poop is sexy. But with one sentence, this unassuming guy deflated every sail on my boat. He reminded me of a vital concept that I desperately needed to learn. Perspective is important. There's always someone bigger, faster, and smarter, whether it's your neighbor or your competitor. Things are often not actually as they seem. I know my life certainly wasn't.
Giving Up Control
During the tenth year of our marriage, my wife and I were in regular counseling and I had started to clean up my act. The change came after three dramatic things happened within a six-month period.
Excerpted from "Going Solo"
Copyright © 2018 Robert Beeson.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
A Few Words First … xiii
1 Crazy Times 1
2 Voice of Truth 21
3 I Need a Miracle 33
4 First Steps to a New Life 53
5 Deciding to Dance 71
6 My One Safe Place 93
7 A Firm Place to Stand up 119
8 Finding True North 143
9 Like a City on a Hill 163
10 Carried to the Table 181
What People are Saying About This
Going Solo radiates with something incredibly elusive in the season of solo parentinghope.