First of all, I apologize for being “missing in action” on this blog throughout the last few weeks. As you may know, I’ve been planning my wedding which is coming up in a couple of weeks, and life has been hectic.
However, I just received an email from a reader who happened across one of my blogs a while back about my divorce a few years ago, and I’d like to address this. Her husband was apparently having an emotional affair with her best friend at church, and even though he is repentant, and has asked her forgiveness and wants to work on their marriage, she is struggling with unforgiveness.
And as God would have it, something happened a few days ago that relates beautifully to this. For those of you who don’t know my history, I was married for 25 years in a largely unhappy marriage, but stuck to it because I believed in commitment and God’s view of marriage. During the last four years of my marriage, my husband was absent from home far too often with either flimsy excuses or no excuse at all. He was very distant from me, and during the best of times, treated me as little more than a roommate. During the worst of times, well, it was the worst of times.
After doing everything I could to get the marriage back on track, all while he flatly denied having an affair, I finally felt the Lord speaking to me and leading me out of the marriage. I’m confident there was only one reason why God would lead me out: infidelity.
I say this only to show that I have been there, and understand what many of you are going through, or have been through. And I have been through all the emotions. I moved out from my home where I lived with my husband 3 years ago, and until 2 days ago, I still carried anger, hurt and resentment from our marriage, even though I had tried time and time again to forgive him and let go.
During this 3-year period (and even a little before that), I’ve watched God’s hand in his life, as God has swiftly and surely humbled him time and time again in regard to his employment, his relationships with his children, and even his financial security. It has been an uphill battle for him, while God has set me on a broad and peaceful place.
And I’ll be honest. I’ve watched all of this happen to him with a smirk in my soul, thinking, yep, you are DEFINITELY reaping what you’ve sown, buckaroo. I was more than satisfied to see God’s hand pressing down upon him.
Still, I carried my anger and resentment around with me like a badge of honor. But on Friday night, as he and I waited in the airport for our oldest daughter to come back from her military academy summer training, he told me how he is struggling to stay afloat financially as he looks for a job. And if something doesn’t happen soon, he has a lot to lose…possibly even his home.
As I listened to him talk, something occurred within my heart. Somewhere, deep within, I heard myself praying, “Enough, Lord. Can it be enough now? He’s been disciplined enough. Can your favor now rest upon him?”
And as that change began to occur in me, I began to feel the anger, resentment and bitterness melt away. It was almost as though the Lord had pressed down on him until I cried out, “OK! OK! He’s paid for it enough.” But that’s truly not the case. God’s consequences in my ex-husband’s life have nothing to do with my own emotions.
Sin brings consequences, and no one escapes. NO ONE. But often, we don’t trust God to have His way with our spouses or ex-spouses. So when our spouses sin against us, we want to be sure they get hurt back. We don’t want them to get off scot-free. So we carry their sins around with us, like war medals, ready to pull them out and display them to anyone who will look at them so we can slander them. Heaven forbid that anyone should think kindly of our ex-es. We believe that people need to KNOW what jerks they were. We say, “See what I got this medal for? He wounded me by having an affair. And see this medal? He yelled at me in front of my best friend and humiliated me. And look, here’s my favorite one. He rejected me in the privacy of our own bedroom and said something very cold and hurtful to me. Yep, that’s my purple heart medal.”
I did that. A lot. But all the while, the hurt and resentment went on and on. And then when I met my wonderful fiance, I didn’t trust him, because I believed he, too, would hurt me like my ex-husband. So I held my ex-husband’s sins between myself and my fiance, afraid to let him get too close in case he should decide to do the same. I don’t know how many times I paraded my war medals from my marriage in front of him, and used them as an excuse not to trust him.
But as I watched God continue to humble my ex-husband, I realized that I hadn’t trusted HIM with my pain. Although I’d tried to forgive my husband many times over, I hadn’t trusted God to handle my ex-husband appropriately. And let me tell you, after what I’ve seen the last few years, God can dole out consequences to your spouse or ex-spouse FAR more creatively and appropriately than you ever could. So let all your hurt, resentment and bitterness go. Forgive them, and trust God to heal you and handle your spouse.
Finally, remember that God’s ultimate goal is for your spouse’s salvation. Sure, His blows might be swift–upon you or your spouse–but He disciplines those whom He loves. And the last thing you want to do is hinder His redemptive work. So forgive, stand back and let God do with your spouse what He does best.
And even if your spouse never turns to Him in repentance, realize that God is not mocked. Not ever. If someone hurts His child, you can be absolutely assured there will be retribution.
And it won’t be pretty.