Response to Former Wife 1 Year Later

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It has been 1 year today since I started this blog. I sorely wanted my marriage to be renewed, saved from divorce. That did not happen despite pouring incredible energy and prayer in the effort. My former wife asked me 2 days ago what my purpose in life is and what I am able to be passionate about. What follows is my reply to which she said, “good luck with that”.

My primary purpose is to be a faithful believer, God demands that He be first in my life and I gladly give Him first place. I am also to be a good father, grandfather and God willing the best husband a woman could have.

I am most passionate about my relationship with God through Jesus and the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am passionate about recovery, redemption, grace, mercy, love, forgiveness and the ministry of reconciliation. I am very passionate about marriage, which is a strange thing being single and all.

How does this flesh itself out? I have accepted God’s grace and understand it like never before. Because I know I have right-standing in God’s eyes through the blood of Christ, I feel whole and am no longer negative or pessimistic about life. I share my discovery and faith in meetings, with family and friends with openness and humility, this helps me and others recover what was lost.

I encourage others in their search for recovery and their sobriety. I encourage others not to take their marriages for granted and not to speak negatively about their marriage or spouse. I encourage others to forgive and accept forgiveness, to not hold records of wrong doing. Anything becomes “too much” if we hang onto and accumulate stuff, slights, or out and out abuse. I speak out against suicide and encourage suicidal people to embrace life, the good and the bad.

I am passionate about my own recovery and about learning the truth about myself. I am no longer suicidal. I have been harassed by suicidal thoughts and been close to succumbing to it but have been saved from it. I reject it as an alternative. I am not a divorcing spouse. I was immature and damaging in my expressions of divorce, but like suicidal talk and thoughts, I reject it and will never do either. People need to separate from harmful situations but not kill themselves or their marriages.

I am passionate about sharing my life with those who want me to be part of their lives. I am extremely blessed to have children, children from other fathers, grandchildren and family who love me. I have participated in more family events and have rekindled friendships and made many new friends. I share my faith openly and for the most part am accepted, respected and not ridiculed for my beliefs. I have learned more of the mercy and love of God and am able to offer that to others.

I purpose not to make decisions as I have in the past…alone. I have totally revamped the way I make decisions, much prayer and counsel goes into it. What God instructs me to do, I pray for His strength and ability to perform it and He is faithful and able to do this.

I desire a soul-mate to share my life with, I love marriage and all the blessings that come with it. I am wanting, willing and with God’s help able to have the kind of marriage God intends His children to have. I am open to new adventures, to travel, to making a home together, to making a house a home. I am blessed to be in a position and with the attitude of complimenting another persons’ life without having competing goals. I am passionate about not being tied down to possessions. I value family, friends and real connection.

What I want most of all is to be of service to God, to share the Good News, to be a pleasing and faithful servant. If I am blessed with a woman who shares the love of God and He sees fit to bless me in this fashion, great, if not, I am fine being single and sanctified to His service.

Bottom line for me, I must continue all day, day in, day out, to be committed to spiritual attention and growth. All the other acquisitions and adventures are secondary and will not happen without the first priorities in place.

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Divorce, a Terrible Thing

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For those of you that have followed this journey through daring to love, the seemingly inevitable happened, Beth’s divorce of me was finalized on June 20th, 2011. I maintain that God’s Will was not done in this situation. That being said, God’s Will was not being done in my conduct towards my wife all the years we were married.

I see the failure in our marriage as a spiritual failing. I was to be the Spiritual Leader in our family and I never developed as that leader. I believe it takes 2 plus God to make a marriage great. A man of God fulfilling his responsibilities to his wife and children would more than likely result in encouraging the wife to live a God designed life also. Pure speculation on my part but I did see glimpses of this dynamic in my marriage.

God forgives and forgets, not so with we mere mortals. I did not know how to cope with the dynamo my wife was and certainly needed spiritual help to live successfully with her. My way of getting along was to go along and 9 times out of 10 this was not a problem. When I did not want to go along, I was pressured so strongly that I did 1 of 3 things, all with anger. I either refused to comply and faced her anger, complied, or left. The leaving was stupid and childish not to mention painful. Each leaving was with the intention of not coming back, then the pain came and I returned on my knees with promises that would be broken over and over again.

My wife was wonderful. Through her wounding she accepted me back dozens of times, only to be heart broken again and again. She forgave me much, so I love her much, ultimately she did not cancel my account of wrongs and states she had 16 years of walking heartbreak. I also held her to account for things that I had no right to hold her to account for. God is the Judge and God forgave us our sins through the sacrifice of Jesus, PERIOD.

The key I believe of a successful life, marriage and relationships is to accept God’s plan for forgiveness, for ourselves and forgive others as we have been forgiven and to turn our wills and life over to Him. There were so many missed opportunities in my marriage to step up to the plate, that if I had a double, I’d give myself a good butt kicking. Was Beth responsible for her conduct in the marriage, of course, but that was God’s job to correct not mine.

The Bible describes marriage as becoming one flesh. In divorce and in all the times I left, there is a tearing of that one flesh and it is excruciatingly painful! Do I blame my wife for wanting to bring this pain to an end? No. Do I wish she would have chosen the path of forgiveness, true forgiveness and trust God to fulfill His promises? I desired that and prayed for that more than you’ll ever know.

So now I’m attending Divorce Care, a Bible based course and support group. It promises healing through the only One who can heal, Jesus.

Day 9 Love makes good impressions II

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The first time I saw my then future wife, she smiled her 1,000 watt smile. If all that ever transpired between us was her smile, we’d both be happier people today.

I have worked through the Love Dare book several times, this is the fourth journey. I cannot perform the “dares” by request of my wife. I do seek God daily, several times a day even, on what I am to do in this difficult situation. Unless my wife has a change of heart, her divorce from me will be finalized in 31 days. I used to say, until just this moment, that unless God intervenes, the divorce will be finalized. I believe God is intervening, in my life as well as hers. God directs, urges, prompts us to do the right thing constantly and it is our choice to follow those promptings or not. We often receive bad counsel from other “well intentioned” Christians and relatives and friends.

One of the reasons I am sold on “The Love Dare” is because it relies heavily on Scripture and gives supporting Scripture for emphasis. There is a danger creeping in to Christian Counseling of “worldly” counsel. As mature Christians we need to be absolutely certain of what God says about divorce. God “allows” divorce due to our hardened hearts. Is that really a place we want to be? There obviously are some serious issues that need to be addressed in a marriage that is heading for divorce, I haven’t heard of anyone divorcing because their marriage was great.

So far in The Love Dare we have been encouraged and shown how to show patience, kindness and encouragement towards our spouse. Christians should recognize these qualities as being “Fruits of the Spirit”. My wife and I both need to grow up in many areas. The ironic and now not surprising thing to me is I embarked on a program for improvement in areas of my life that previously I had resisted. This began in January of 2010, by June of 2010; my wife ejected me from the house and her life. Ironic because we had been struggling for 17 years in the old way of doing things, not surprising because as Joseph Prince teaches, “when God begins a good work in you, the Enemy comes to destroy that work”.

Through all the years and difficulties my wife and I endured, there were times of such incredible joy and goodness, I’d have to be a poet to do the memories justice. I have absolutely no doubt that God has placed a tremendous love in my heart for my wife. I was immature, unforgiving, lacked the grace and mercy to fully develop this love, but it remains. I am not denying that my wife does not have issues also, but I know that with God’s help and submission to His Will, this marriage could be a shining example of what God can do with two willing believers.

As the authors encourage in this reading, greet one another warmly and with love. My memories are filled with the waking smile on my wife’s’ face and the joy she showed when seeing me again after even a brief absence. I am blessed to have many great memories amongst painful memories that are thankfully fading. Forgiveness of our spouse’s sins is an incredibly freeing act; accepting forgiveness through the shed Blood of Jesus is simply indescribable!

Instead of showing “Random Acts of Kindness”, be Purposely Kind! Grace, peace, and blessings…

Day 5 Love is not rude II

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Today’s reading in The Love Dare deals with “rudeness”. “Rudeness is unnecessarily saying or doing things that are unpleasant for another person to be around. To be rude is to act unbecoming, embarrassing, or irritating. In marriage, this could be a foul mouth, poor table manners, or a habit of making sarcastic quips. However you look at it, no one enjoys being around a rude person. Rude behavior may seem insignificant to the person doing it, but it’s unpleasant to those on the receiving end.”

I was raised being shamed into “good manners”, many in my generation will recognize statements like, “kids should be seen and not heard”. We were taught at school, for me a Lutheran Parochial school, and at home, table, and classroom and playground manners. A stern and punishing adult was always present and any infraction was dealt with swiftly and corporeally. My home was a hypocritical teaching experience, “do as I say, not as I do!” and extremely violent in language and action.

Needless to say I was not properly equipped for a successful marital relationship, or any other relationship for that manner. I had my fill of physical violence growing up and absolutely did not want to bring that into my adult life. I somehow gave myself permission to have a sharp tongue and be sarcastic. I now believe, since my wife so convincingly, albeit not lovingly, drove into my thinking that sarcasm goes beyond rude behavior.

What I share in this blog is considered by some as poor boundaried, ill-mannered, and to me also, embarrassing. What I have learned though, is that by others sharing their “experience, strength and hope”, I receive healing. I am by nature a shy person, but because I have lived my life a certain way and not concerned myself with consequences to self or others, I feel it is my duty to share what I have learned that is good and healing. My children have their mother’s sensitivity to privacy and they are mortified by what I share.

I know there is value and relief in being able to share even our most painful memories. Complete strangers tell me their life stories after only minutes of conversation. Friends confide in me life stories that they tell no one else, why? I have no idea! Some of these stories are so painful, it is hard to listen to them and at times I fell exhausted after hearing them, but I always feel blessed. It is an honor to be trusted, to be perceived as someone who cares and someone who will not shame you for sharing.

When I was getting to know my wife, she confided in me, we had intertwining relationships, sometimes a good thing, other times not. This is bearable as long as the relationship remains on a friendship level. I was not mature or love-filled enough to handle all that information as we moved into an intimate relationship. I was sarcastic and ill-mannered because I was unforgiving, ungracious, and without mercy. It would be far easier for me to go through this divorce than to be grown by God to handle what I have not handled very well to this point. I am not interested in the easier path however, I want to grow and extend the grace, mercy and forgiveness that God has extended to me to my wife.

I love this quote from the Love Dare, “If you’re thinking that your spouse—not you—is the one who needs work in this area, you’re likely suffering from a bad case of ignorance, with a secondary case of selfishness. Remember, love is not rude, but lifts you to a higher standard”.

“Here are three guiding principles when it comes to practicing etiquette in your marriage:
1. Guard the Golden Rule. Treat your mate the same way you want to be treated (see Luke 6.31).
2. No Double Standards. Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers.
3. Honor Requests. Consider what your husband or wife already asked you to do or not to do. If in doubt, then ask.
All quotes are from “The Love Dare”

Day 4 Love is thoughtful II

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For those who are following along with your own copy of “The Love Dare”, I have a suggestion. You have room to write comments in the book, but as the authors suggest, you may want to go through these “dares” again and again. I started a separate notebook for journaling my way through this book because I filled up the available space at the end of the chapters. You may want to start your separate notebook right away, and then you can share your book with your spouse.

My journey through the Love Dare this time around is a modification of the format. I am still unable to carry out the dares due to the separation from my wife and her expressed wishes that I NOT communicate anything other than business matters. I am praying that healing take place in my wife’s heart and our marriage.

I have deeply wounded my wife with thoughtless words. Those wounds and how she perceives attempts by me to make changes, prevent her from being able to accept what I am doing to change as legitimate. Much of the wounding was unintentional, some was more painful due to wounding done by others in her past, all of it is within her capacity to forgive and grow beyond the wounding. If we do not find a way to truly forgive, as God has forgiven us and the people who have hurt us, there can be no growth, only piled up resentments.

We can build up a sensitivity in the area of our hurts by piling up our resentments. We can become callous and present ourselves as uncaring , or be easily offended, sometimes it is a mixture of the two. We can be hyper-sensitive to perceived, or actual slights and be rude in our dealings with others. God is Love and only the love of God can heal our broken hearts and soften our hardened hearts.

Hardened hearts are wounded hearts that have been “calcified”, covered with a hard crust to protect it and prevent further harm. The only problem is, God can’t heal a hardened heart without first breaking the calcified exterior, and this is very painful! There are things we can do to prevent hardening our heart. We need to become aware of resentments and unforgiveness in our hearts.

It is through understanding God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness towards us and extending that same understanding towards others that allows us to let go of resentments.

Today’s lesson is on thoughtfulness. “Love thinks. It’s not a mindless feeling that rides on waves of emotion and falls asleep mentally. It keeps busy in thought, knowing that loving thoughts precede loving actions”. The paragraph this quote is lifted from continues to remind us of what we were like when we first “fell” in love with our spouse. Our thoughts were taken over with imaginings about what they were doing, how they might respond to places we’d go, what I will say that will find favor from her/him. This was effortless at the beginning, then we often become complacent and the challenge begins.

“Thoughtlessness is the silent enemy to a loving relationship”. Applying the principles laid out in this book help us become thoughtful. If we take responsibility for our actions and do what we can, with God’s help, to be thoughtful, loving and forgiving, we will be better off for it, regardless of what our spouse does with it.

I hope you are reading and working your way through The Love Dare, there are so many valuable insights in that book, I cannot say enough about it. Please let me know how you are doing, what you think and are discovering.

All quotes are from “The Love Dare”k

Day 3 Love is not selfish II

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This is the 4th time through “The Love Dare” for me. This time through is a modified version, I am limited in following the “dares”, due to continued separation from my wife. I believe the lessons in this book are invaluable and can be applied to our other relationships, to a degree. If you have this book and are going through it, please share your experiences as an encouragement to those of us faced with a greater challenge in our marriages.

I grateful to be going through The Love Dare as I count down the days until my divorce is finalized. The last time I went through this book, I was an emotional wreck, it’s nice to see recovery in progress and healing, along with growth. I have been praying and hoping for God to intervene and change my wife’s heart. A change of heart is her choice, even if it is God’s Will for it to change. If this divorce is finalized, you will not hear me saying it was God’s Will. Jesus said God allowed divorce in certain situations “because of the hardness of your hearts”.

In today’s lesson we look at selfishness. Selfishness is the opposite of love and we should be aware of our motives and examine them for selfishness. Selfishness is “natural”, selfless love is spiritual. Jesus laid down His life for us out of love for us. We are to do the same, love our imperfect, selfish spouse, even when we don’t think they deserve it. That is called grace, undeserved, ummerited favor.

Pride is the force behind selfishness. God resists the proud, so how can we expect our spouses to be pleased to be around us, if God can’t be near us? Who likes to be around someone who demands their way always be done and keeps a record of every perceived slight or disappointment? If we translate our offenses and being offended into playground language, we see selfishness for what it is…immaturity.

“When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of his wife, that’s a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that’s a sign of selfishness.” 1 Corinthians 13 is referred to as “the love chapter”, a daily reading and meditating on it is a very good thing to do. In verse 5 we read, “love does not seek its own”.

Ideally both couples subscribe to these ideas and will look at this book for guidance. But remember, we love God, because He first loved us!

Day 2 Love is Kind II

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I was tested in patience yesterday, not 1 hour after posting my blog.

My stepson texted me and said his Grandmother and family were upset that I was listed as Garrets’ “father”, so he deleted the listing. “Don’t take it personally”, texts Garret. I did take it personal, I helped raise Garret since he was a baby and his contact with his biological father was minimal. I won’t go in to all the particulars, and I understand the sensitive nature of his dilemma. I would have liked to have Garret say, “he raised me, I consider him a father.” Perhaps if I were not facing this divorce, I would have responded differently. Instead I told Garret I took it personal and as a public humiliation. I did tell him later that I responded poorly, asked forgiveness and told him I love him.

Today the reading is on kindness. The LD breaks kindness down into 4 categories, Gentleness, Helpfulness, Willingness and Initiative. Hopefully you will obtain this book and read all the great stuff in it.

The section on Initiative always stands out to me. Be the first to: greet, smile, serve, forgive and don’t require the other to get his or her act together before showing love.

The whole idea of divorce is so anti-Christian, anti-grace and anti-mercy, that it screams to be recognized as such. God does not divorce us, He did not wait for us to “get it together” before forgiving us and making sure we can have right standing with Him. We are the Bride of Christ, where does divorce fit in with this teaching? “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you”. Ephesians 4.32

The harsh reality is divorce amongst even Christians. Having to deal with the other parents of children now in a combined household is extremely stressful. If there is a parent that is unyielding, uncooperative and spews venom in the mix, it can be hell on earth. Step-parenting can be a thankless job, “the real” parent is primary, even if they are not nice people. “But love in its truest sense is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward”. The Love Dare.

A reminder to anyone just finding this blog: I am in the process of being divorced from my wife. This divorce is her initiative and in 38 days it will be final. This is my 4th time through The Love Dare book. Aside from my failings, I believe the enemy has won a battle in making sure this marriage is not restored. Christians need to get this teaching in The Love Dare.

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