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 12 Love lets the other win II

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I had a conversation with a friend last night. He is of the opinion that there are “no good marriages”. I admitted that most of what I believe concerning having a Bible-based, God-centered marriage is based on faith, not experience. I know a few married people who have good marriages, but they seem to have them by “luck” and not by design. If I consider what makes the marriages I see as successful work, many of the elements outlined in this book are being implemented, not by design, but perhaps through discovery or just due to the individual’s personalities. What this says to me is this Love Dare book is really needed!

We are to glorify God and give honor to Him through our lives. When we do not have marriages that glorify God and bring honor to His Name, it is a terrible testimony and a HUGE missed opportunity to witness to others what the reason for our success is. When we divorce, what does that tell those who look to us as Christians for answers? I can say this about my own failed marriage; it is not God’s fault. It takes two willing people to submit to God’s guidance and live out what He empowers us to live out when we are willing to do His Will in our marriages and lives.

Today’s lesson in “The Love Dare” covers stubbornness, willingness and the ability to lay aside personal “rights” for the good of the relationship. Stubbornness can be good in certain areas, like our belief in God and a refusal to deny those beliefs. In a marriage, a stubborn insistence on our own way and “rights” is detrimental to a good relationship. It only takes one partner to “give in” to diffuse an argument, but ideally both should become willing to cooperate with one another.

I am a stubborn person, my wife is stubborn also and this knowledge causes me much grief. I know my wife is stubborn enough to take her being offended, hurt and disappointed all the way through Divorce Court. I did not file an “Answer” to my wife’s Petition for Dissolution. I told her I could not, would not file an Answer and would not appear in Court. In Minnesota, it only takes one person to file for divorce and if there is no “Answer” filed, all that the person filing for requests is granted by default. I had the “right” to challenge my wife’s settlement requests, but was physically, emotionally and mentally unable to. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6: 1-11 admonishing believers not to take one another to court. I read this after I was unable to file legal papers and felt better about not being able to do so.

Even though this is not the scope or application the author was referring to, I feel like I am allowing my wife to “win”. This is a sickening thought in this application and I pray that God will be able to impress upon my wife that this is not the course to stay on. I am not deluded however to think that if the divorce were stopped and my wife reconciled to me, that our marriage would succeed without professional help and the application of the principles laid out in this book. Without God being first and foremost in our lives and a humble submission to His Will for our lives, we can have no success. Whatever the outcome, I am giving myself wholly to God everyday, to seek His Will for my life and ask for His power to carry that out. I am course corrected and I am very grateful for that, “not my will, but Thy Will be done”.

Day 6 Love is not irritable II

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“He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.” Proverbs 16.32

I received some feedback to a comment I left on a blog post written by two people I greatly admire. They write exclusively about marriage and what it means to become “one flesh” with your spouse. The response included a comment about God opening and closing doors, and to, “go through the open ones with joy and rejoicing and quit knocking your head against the closed ones”. I am a slow learner, stubborn and thick skulled, so I know I knock my head on the closed doors too often. The problem is I am slow to recognize closed doors, the metaphorical ones, I run into real closed ones less frequently. I don’t know if they consider me writing and going through The Love Dare is one of those closed doors.

We are to pray that God’s will be done in our lives and to have “expectant faith”. I think it is helpful to know what God’s Will is, so I can have expectant faith. Problem here is there are almost as many opinions on what God’s Will is concerning divorce as there are Christians. I firmly believe it is not God’s will for Christians to divorce. It is also not God’s will to engage in the activities or manner of conduct that leads to divorce. Being angry and letting your spouse know just how they have disappointed you is not appropriate, nor is being so sensitive that every unkind word is taken as a dagger to your heart.

We are responsible to learn what leads us to being irritable, and it is not the fault of our spouse. We can be stressed and distraught over our present situation, but the best response is to seek God in prayer and study, to learn His solution. I’ll say it again; when I respond in anger it is a lazy approach, letting my feelings dictate how I respond to others and how long I choose to remain in an “off” mood. It takes effort to seek God’s word on the problem, to seek out godly counsel takes humility. God’s solutions are always the best ones! If we pray instead of responding in an angry manner, we will not hurt anyone. Hurting our God given spouse should be the very last thing we should do, but seems to be the first thing we do when irritable.

We must study and pray. If we accept what other Christians are saying, without studying God’s word for ourselves, we will not know if we are given wrong advice. If we do not fellowship with God through prayer, we may miss what He has to say. I have received some excellent counsel and heard some bad counsel from well-meaning Christians (in the past). I am blessed to have several Christians that “rightly divide the Word” giving counsel at this time. The scripture teaches us to establish something “by the words of two or three witnesses”, this applies to scriptures some quote to support their beliefs.

This chapter in “The Love Dare” is another good one, read it, apply it and let me know what you think.

Pops Might Be “Getting It”

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In the past two weeks I have given away 4 copies of, “The Love Dare” book.  I feel like a fraud giving out what is basically a “How To” book for a great marriage.  I give the book away because I believe it is one of the best marriage books I have read.  I make a disclaimer with each gift, explaining just because my marriage is ending, this does not mean great marriages are not possible.

I continue to get insights into the errors made on my part in my marriage.  When all is said and done, all we can concern ourselves with are our actions.  It is easy to blame someone else for our errors, “they’re too sensitive”.  If you had a child who had an allergy to peanuts, would you keep trying to make them eat food with peanuts in them?  Of course not!  We have to be honest with ourselves, if our spouse is sensitive to criticism, and who isn’t, what is wrong with us when we continue to criticize?  Long before an issue gets to the marriage breakdown point, we know what the general complaints are.

I know myself well enough to realize when I am off the mark, not taking care of myself spiritually, I become critical.  Somehow I got this idea that if I feel bad, everyone around me should feel bad too, so I would say things that were just plain cruel, not witty, and inexcusable.  God places people and more specifically a spouse to help us achieve balance.  I absolutely cannot and do not blame my wife for terminating our relationship.  I do believe divorce, especially amongst Christians is wrong.

I had the opportunity to apologize to my wife for several things this past Saturday.  I wrote what I wanted to say and put that in an Easter card for her (I had the feeling I would not get to verbalize all I wanted to say).  Including what I wrote, this is what I said, “I don’t blame you for anything.  You were right in saying I was a self-righteous, judging and condemning Christian.  You were right to say I didn’t know what the God kind of love is.  I pray for your healing from the harm I have done and for healing from other self-righteous Christians judgment’s.  I ask your forgiveness.  God has placed a tremendous love for you in my heart.  I will love you forever.”

Unbeknownst to me, the letter announcing the court date for the divorce hearing was in the mail.  I received the letter on Monday (it was dated on Good Friday) and the date set for the hearing is June 20th (Summer Solstice), 2011.  I will not be attending this hearing; it’s a formality, a “default divorce”.  Pending a change of heart in Beth, our marriage will be over on June 20th.  Now I don’t have anxiety every time the mail is delivered, I was staggered by this letter.

I wear my wedding ring still, inscribed inside are the words, “Faith, Hope, Love”.  The greatest of these is love, which I still have for Beth.  I have no faith that she will change her mind, no hope, but love abides.  I do have the utmost faith in God, He is the hope of my salvation and the reason I have a tremendous love in my heart towards Beth.

All Avenues Exhausted

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I am grateful for many things, more so since going through this very painful divorce experience. I am grateful that I am a recovering alcoholic in a 12 step program.  Every meeting I attend, I witness the gradual life rebuilding miracle of recovery.  I witness the Love of God towards those of us who have exhausted all humanly possible attempts at changing our lives around.  I see people so bitter towards a God that “abandoned” them years ago, come to believe in the God that never leaves us, nor forsakes us.

Our faith was exhausted, life had no joy for us and many of us contemplated suicide, some actually did kill themselves, cutting short the promise of a new day.  I was blessed to be in a meeting this past Monday, that was the most emotional meeting I have ever been to in my 20 years in AA.  I did not share at this meeting my own suicidal tendencies.  Four people out of the fifteen in the group had spouses that suicided.  Two people had toddlers die on them.  All of us had been at the end of a death march of sorts.  At the close of the meeting, all the women were crying, the men were choking back tears and we were all so glad to be there!  We are a strange family, brought together by an illness that resisted all outside interventions, only God could relieve us of our disease and would if He were sought.

I began writing this post with the frustration of a failed marriage in mind.  I was discouraged, wavering in my faith, and generally at wits end.  I have been here before and it is exactly at this point where I once again lay all my concerns, all my fears, my powerlessness in the very capable hands of God.  I will not lose my faith with this marriage, all I need to do is keep going to meetings and I can see the work that God is doing.

I have been guilty of an idolatry regarding my wife.  My wife stated that, “nothing on earth or in heaven can make me change my mind” of divorcing me.  I believe her, but God is more powerful than my wife.  She may get her divorce, but I do not think it is going to give her what she thinks it will give her.  Everyone, including myself who has had the audacity to stand up to God and challenge Him, has been humbled.

I have accepted that this marriage will end in divorce.  I accept it, I do not approve of it.  The filing will probably be done this week, and since we are in a “no-fault divorce state”, that will be the end.  Many strong believers have prayed with me, for the marriage, for my wife, and I am very grateful for that.  Just because we miss God’s plan for our lives, does not mean God’s plan is untrue, or not possible for those who seek it for there lives.

All avenues are exhausted, except for what God chooses to do in this situation.

Is God a Liar?

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Either we believe the word of God is true, or we don’t.  We can trust His word to guide us and show us how to live a life pleasing to God, or we can modify it to fit what we want it to say.  I believe, from experience in both camps, that the very best thing for me to do is to believe God at His word and not complicate scripture in order to make it fit my life choices.  I do not believe that God is waiting to club us down if we disobey Him.  Evil comes our way when we defy God and step out from under His protective covering.

To the “are there any other reasons why my life is difficult, without all the spiritual warfare mumble, jumble?” crowd, yes there are.  For those of us who ever held on to unforgiveness, we know that bitterness sets in and bitterness can lead to all sorts of physical ailments.  Ever seen the book, “Anger Kills….As Seen on Oprah”?  I’ve seen the book, missed the show!  Ever have an “accident” because you are distracted by worry or life business (texting or talking on the cell phone while driving)?  The Bible refers to “the reproofs of life”, simply put, there are consequences for our actions or inactions.

I do not have my concordance, so if you want the scripture references, you’ll have to look it up.  It is always a good practice to search the scriptures when someone quotes it, reading before and after the verses to get a better picture of what is going on around that verse.  “In the mouths of two or three witnesses, a thing shall be established.”  Find supporting scripture so you have two or three, (at minimum) to establish what is being said.  I won’t waste time addressing the “too intelligent” among us who manage to discount every simple command of God by describing why the Bible should not be taken literally.  There are many among us who have had “insights, visions” due to digestive maladies and those visions should be scrutinized by God’s word also.  There are many sick among you (us), because we take the Lord’s Supper in the wrong spirit and by doing so, there are many sick and dying among us.  We are told that if we have anything against a brother, we are to go make it right before we take the Lord’s Supper.

Do you harbor anything against someone and you say, “I just can’t forgive them for that” or, “I forgive you, I just can’t to be married to you anymore”?  The Bible says we are to forgive, so our Father in heaven forgives us our sins.  But didn’t Jesus die for our sins and isn’t that a done deal?  Yes and yes, still the verse about forgiveness stands, why?  Ask God.  I do know that scripture says the world will know we are brothers by our love.  If we won’t forgive our brothers or sisters, let alone strangers, how will the world see Jesus?  What about the “can’t be married to you anymore” statement?  I’m talking about two Christians, vowing to God and each other in covenant, all the promises and pledges in a traditional marriage vow.  What does that say to our children, fellow believers who pray for us, our extended families and to outsiders just looking for hypocrisy amongst believers to sharpen their teeth on?  It says simply, “I have no desire to please God by believing His word, my happiness is more important, my suffering is too much”!

Jesus had all the same physical characteristics as you and I.  He got tired, hungry, sad, felt pain and frustration, even to the point of checking to see if “this cup” could pass by Him, if he could avoid the torment of taking on all our vile sin, getting beaten to a pulp and hung on a cross to die!  I have to ask myself what in my life of “suffering” came close to that of my Lord’s!  God said He would not put anything on us that would be too much for us to bear.  If I quit my marriage or spend all my energy trying to avoid or get out of the “refining fires” of life, I am saying, “God You are a liar”!  That is what it boils down to, if we are honest.  What in our life experience comes close to the Lord’s Passion?  Yet, as He was dying on the cross, He said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they are doing”.  WOW.

I have been criticized for turning to God when my life turns upside down.  Pretty silly criticism, since it is the only way for me to get my life right side up.  The criticism fits for ignoring God and allowing my life to get upside down!  When I do my life on my terms, in my understanding and will power, it goes sour to say the least.  My life is a good example of what happens by living a life that is not pleasing to God.  He does not make my life hard when I don’t follow His word, He doesn’t have to, I MAKE IT HARD.

I am blessed and grateful to belong to a group which believes that without God in their lives, their lives would be unmanageable.  In fact, if this group and I step out and live life like we did, we know it would hasten our death and our life would not be worth living anyway.  When you have this sort of mentality every day, you become grateful for the reprieve and the promise of a better life…in God.

Peace & Blessings

Stan

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