Updated: Dec 27, 2019
In Divorce Care, we learn that we have to take responsibility for our part in the destruction of the marriage, instead of focusing on our ex-spouses. Over time, I've learned what my part was.
In college, I was having sex. I was always raised not to and I believed that my value was contingent on my virginity. When I gave that away and then didn't end up marrying that boy that I was so in love with, I started believing I was worthless and had nothing to bring to a relationship. The enemy pounced and convinced me - the only thing I could bring was sex. I brought that poisoned mindset into my marriage.
When my ex-husband and I started dating, we almost immediately had sex. We moved in together, and after 6 months, we moved to another state. Because he was away from his family and his home, it was very difficult for me when I found out he was cheating. I was emotionally distraught, but more then that, I didn't know what to do. I felt trapped with him as my responsibility, because he was living with me and I didn't want to destroy him.
The enemy crept in and started lying to me in that moment. I had already lost my value by giving myself away sexually, before we were married. The enemy started to tell me that I wasn't enough for him. I wasn't, but maybe me and someone else would be enough for him.
I want to pause here for a moment and explain something. The word tells us that God hates divorce. Yes, that is true. What it doesn't say is "God hates divorce so much that He would prefer you stay in a destructive or abusive relationship at the expense of your soul." What it does say in Matthew 5:29-30 is "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." When we are united to our spouses, the two become one flesh. Therefore, if part of my flesh is causing me to sin, Jesus directly tells us to cut it off and throw it away. I am not trying to give credence to every decision of divorce here. I'm merely trying to explain that if you are pursuing a relationship with the Lord and your spouse is causing you to walk away from that, God would prefer to save one of you then none of you.
Back to the story, before I could even fully comprehend what I had suggested, we were caught in our sin. I got dragged down into this perverse sexual lifestyle that I desperately wanted no part of, but couldn't get out of without losing the love of my life and our family and home and dreams. What was worse was that my ex was enjoying it so much. I begged him could we stop and he said when we were married we would. We didn't. Then when we had our first child it would stop. It didn't. I was getting sucked further and further down the wormhole. What was even worse was the guilt and shame, for the lifestyle, but also for the thoughts in my head. My heart cried and I wanted to die and I felt so trapped. I so clearly remember driving one night with my ex to someone's home and hearing Gods voice loudly in my ear. "Don't do this. It will lead to divorce!" And I answered Him, "I'm never going to let that happen." And we continued forward.
Despite the sinful lifestyle that we were living, my ex still continued to have affairs. This also broke me down even further and made me feel worthless. In April 2015, I couldn't take it anymore. I was driving home listening to K-Love on the radio and something just shattered inside me. It was somewhere between "He knows my name" and "Hello my name is" that I realized God loves me and has better plans for me then this for the rest of my life. Of all the people on this planet, God knows my name. He knows me and has called me for his purposes. My name is child of the one true King. I've been saved and changed and been set free. I don't have to keep choosing this lifestyle. I can choose the Lord. In that moment, I knew it was either suicide or one last shot and give God a chance to fix it. Thank you Lord for breaking through my heart. I gave him another chance. When I got home, I went upstairs and got my Bible and went to sit outside on the porch. Bible in one hand and a cigarette in the other, I opened the word and began reading and it changed everything.
I stumbled across Romans 8:28 "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." It has since then become my life mantra. I know how to live in every circumstance. In that moment, I knew I needed to pray and be patient. God was working. I began going back to church with my kids. On October 11, 2015 an amazing thing happened. Our pastor did an alter call for baptisms. 6 months pregnant with my second child, I found myself at the front of the church being baptized. My path had changed. I was walking towards the Lord and falling in love with him.
It became more and more challenging at home. I told my husband at the time that I was not willing to live in this lifestyle any longer and that I don't care what happens, but I am not going to do it. He told me that I was doing too much and going too far with this Christian thing. I thought about it and told him no, that I don't think you can go too far for the God who created you for His purposes and gave us life to glorify Him. I don't want to waste any more of my life.
We were going in two different directions. My walk was toward the cross. My ex's was into the world. He continued to have affairs that I continued to forgive. I fought hard for our marriage and suffered a lot of pain and sadness for it. We went to marriage counseling many times and I told my husband in front of our counselor that if he makes me choose between him and the Lord, I am choosing God. Unfortunately, in 2017 he made me choose.
The final straw began on Sunday September 17, 2017. My ex had been home from his deployment for 3 weeks. I woke up in the night to go to the bathroom and saw my ex's phone lit up and unlocked on the night stand. That just doesn't happen as the phone usually puts itself to sleep, but for some reason it stayed awake. I told myself no though. I am trying very hard to trust this man and I am not going to go snooping where I should be trusting. I went to the bathroom and went back to bed. I woke up again at 7am that morning and walked by the night stand again. The phone was still awake and unlocked. I realize now that it was God allowing that. I took his phone to the bathroom and looked through his open apps. I found messages and pictures to prove that my ex was indeed having another affair with a woman from Thailand that he had met on the deployment. I had finally had enough. I ran into the room and grabbed him by the shirt. I threw him down the stairs. I had never and have never since been so violent with the man, but something in me broke. I couldn't handle being treated like this even one moment longer. And the fact that we had 2 young children now was enough to make me enraged.
He was angry of course. He told me the next morning on Monday that he was going to leave for a few days to figure out what he wants to do with his life. I was sincerely hoping for restoration and prayed for him incessantly. Although he told me he was leaving, Monday night he stayed. We did errands together. We spent time together with our children. Again Tuesday, he told me he was leaving but didn't and we had another nice evening. On Wednesday, he said he is leaving tonight and began packing his bag. I helped him, even though I was really hoping at that point that he was finished being angry with me and that we could try to fix what was broken. I was so sorry for being so aggressive towards him. I was blind at the time and couldn't recognize my value or how what he had been doing was not acceptable. I just saw my wrongs. His signals were so mixed. We had sex that night and he kissed me and told me that he loved me, but when I woke up at 2am, he was gone. That was Thursday morning September 21st.
I didn't hear from him. Saturday morning, I got the scariest text I've ever received. "Hey." It wasn't the message itself that scared me, but the phone number. It was from a Thailand country code. "Who is this?" I texted back. "Who do you think?" was his answer. My heart shattered into a million little pieces. Everything I had worked so hard and put so much work into keeping together turned into dust in that moment. Our entire 8 1/2 years of life together was gone. Our family was gone. Our home, our kids futures, our stability, our dreams for the future. My entire world reduced to wind with just 3 text messages. I broke down. I went to the Lord for strength. Then I went to my family for support. Then I went to a website and got the divorce paperwork together and emailed it to him.
The kids and I moved out for a month while Chris found himself an apartment. We filed October 5, 2017. In November we had a false start that I hoped would mean restoration. Our divorce finalized March 5, 2018 and again we had another false start in May 2018. The incredible thing is God had given me a hope for restoration. I heard him tell me so clearly that he was going to save my ex. If he comes back to God, then he would be convicted to return him to the wife of his youth. I've held on to this hope for many years. I am fully convinced that God still intends to save my ex one day and bring him back to Himself. I do believe that God's desire is always for restoration. I have always said "God can, and He wants to, so He will." There's always been a piece missing to that phrase though and I finally understand it. God will never force himself upon someone. God is all powerful and fully capable of doing anything. He can do it. His desire is that all come to know the Lord. He wants to. A person must submit themselves to Him in order for him to accomplish His desires in their lives. That's our part. It's not something God will override. This is where free will comes in. If we submit ourselves to Him, then He will do what He plans to do in our lives. The new summary is this. He can, He wants to, and if you allow Him, He will.
But you must allow him. And my ex must allow him. I have recently been released from the hope for restoration. Although I know God is still capable of restoring my marriage and He would choose that, my ex will not choose it. He is stubbornly refusing the option that God has presented to him again and again. Because of this, God has released me. He won't put me into the hands of a man who won't care for me and steward me in the way that God intended.
In some cases, restoration is an option. In fact I've personally seen two marriages restored in the two years I stood, as well as heard hundreds of other testimonies of God restoring a marriage by breaking the hard heart and them, being humbled, allowing God to work in their broken places to restore them. In some cases, it is not possible, because of a hard heart. Matthew 19:8-9 describes this. "Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.'" Restoration is an option if hearts are softened and I am grateful to God that I gave it two years. Unfortunately, I have seen his hard heart grow harder and harder through the trials instead of to soften.
Despite the sad ending, I still have hope for a future. Most divorced people will be married again someday. Even if remarriage wasn't in my future, I know God has good plans. I am so grateful for the time I spent healing though. Wait on the Lord. The statistic says that 75% of second marriages also end in divorce. This happens because people aren't willing to wait. If I go to the store and need to buy something and don't see exactly what I want, but see something that's close enough, I might buy it. It shouldn't be this way with marriage. If I were smart in shopping for my spouse, I would go back to the store again and again until a new shipment comes in with the one I really want to purchase and keep for life. Don't grab the first thing off the shelf. The reason this divorce statistic is so high is because people want to just numb their pain and use anything they can to help. They haven't really taken the time to heal. It's like breaking your leg and getting on morphine for the pain. It doesn't mean you can now stand and walk the way you used to, just because you can't feel the pain. You need to cast it and give your break time to heal. A painkiller will definitely help. This happens when God gives you a hope for your future. But the painkiller shouldn't become your focus. If you keep your eyes fixed on the Lord, who is the one who provides the painkiller, you will always have a steady supply of relief and plus healing and blessing to go with it. He takes care of his children, especially those of us who are hurting.
The greatest thing God taught me through this trial was who I am. Think about Psalm 23 for a moment. Psalm 23:1-3 "The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake."
Levi Lusko talks about this in his Rock and Soul series. What is the image that rises in your mind when you hear this Psalm? The typical answer would be a Shepherd with his sheep. But where in this passage does it ever mention sheep? Go back and read it again and you will it never does, so why is that the image. Because of the Shepherd. When you know who your Shepherd is, you know who you are. I am a sheep, because He is my Shepherd. I am valuable, because the God of all the universe created me. I have a purpose given to me by the God of all creation and that makes me important and priceless. He is the King and I am his bride, so that makes me His Queen. And Queen's don't let common people control them.
After two years of standing, I finally let go of the control. I understand fully that if God's plan is for restoration or a new marriage or a different purpose and a future for my life, He is God and He is fully capable of accomplishing everything in my life that He desires for me and that it will bless me and be for my best. The part I play in this is saying "Yes, Lord. Now what is the question?" As long as my will is for His will, I will receive every blessing He has for me and be used for His purposes and see His glory shine through my life. I am taking my hands off of the controls and giving it over to God.
My prayer now is "Lord, make my desires your desires." He has put a new hope for a future in front of me. I didn't rush to snatch it off the shelf. I waited patiently and God has started to reveal a hope for my future. I see God putting me into the hands of someone who sees my value. In the middle of the valley, He gave me hope. He has prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
Psalm 23:4-6 "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
A healthy marriage looks like this. I have my cup and as God pours into it, it overflows. It begins by overflowing over all those around me. People are drawn to the life they see coming out of me, because despite being in the middle of the valley, my cup is still overflowing. My spouse also has a cup that God pours into, and it overflows. It also draws those around him. God puts these two together. Now they are standing side by side, overflowing into one another heavily, but still letting the overflow of both of their cups pour into the lives of those around them. The blessings inside my cup aren't meant to replenish me. They are meant for my spouse and for those around me. A beautiful marriage is one that gives and gives and gives, not one that takes and takes and takes. When I give freely and my spouse gives freely, the marriage is building each other up.