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 Care

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I am still handing out praise of and an occasional copy of “The Love Dare” book. I am convinced more than ever that divorce amongst Christians is wrong. I believe Jesus’s teaching on divorce and the elaboration of those teachings by Paul. I also have discovered faulty “Christian” counsel in this area.

Every Christian I have heard that gives a justification for divorcing their spouse is either a “christianization” of the popular cultures’ counsel or just plain ignorance of the teaching in the Bible. We want to be happy and have peace at all cost. We blame our spouses for our own spiritual failings and think that if we get rid of them and their influence on our life, we will be happy. The problems with this mentality is we are missing the focus of the problem and the solution.

I was my wife’s 3rd husband, she my second wife. We both had affairs on our respective spouses and emotional adultery while married to each other. This is a moral failing, sin on both our parts. My wife tells of her dating experiences before even filing for divorce of me. This is adultery, sin in old fashioned terms. I have continued to pray for my wife and myself in this area, the only thing I can do is be willing to follow God in dealing with my moral failings.

I firmly believe that there is spiritual warfare going on against Christians and their marriages are a battlefield where the enemy is making headway. There are influential “Christian” authors who are downplaying the concept of sin and accountability. Yes we are saved and forgiven all our sins by grace through Jesus Christ, but we are not to continue in sin.

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 13 Love fights fair II

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“Like it or not, conflict in marriage is simply inevitable. When you tied the knot as bride and groom, you joined not only your hopes and dreams but also your hurts, fears, imperfections, and emotional baggage. From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another, unpleasantly discovering how sinful and selfish each of you could be.” The Love Dare.

If you have been following my blog, you will notice that I have written about this day in the Love Dare before. I am in an entirely different place emotionally than I was then and that is an encouragement to me. I am faced with the finalization of my wife’s divorce of me, 27 more days. I ask myself why I am writing this blog since I am the only one in my relationship who desires a positive change. I still need the lessons of the Love Dare. The mental fog of emotional pain has lifted to a large extent and this writing is helping me process what went wrong.

I am still waiting to hear from anyone who is applying these principles in their marriage and how that is going. I have learned a lot about myself and am starting to understand a little more about the dynamic of my marriage. The dismay I feel at this time is based on my wife’s determination to end this marriage, her beliefs have undergone a radical shift in the opposite direction. My beliefs have been strengthened in God and I fully believe that a married couple can thrive if they apply the principles in this book.

Please prayerfully read Galations 5, especially when the talk is about the liberty we have in Christ. Many Christians today are exercising their liberty in Christ, but it is in fulfilling the desires of the flesh. We are to live in the Spirit and develop the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. The fruits of the Spirit do not lead us to divorce, but the flesh and our own desires do.

Rules of Engagement as suggested in “The Love Dare”

1. We will never mention divorce.
2. We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past.
3. We will never fight in public or in front of our children.
4. We will call a time out if conflict escalates to a damaging level.
5. We will never touch one another in a harmful way.
6. We will never go to bed angry with one another.
7. Failure is not an option. Whatever it takes, we will work this out.

Pray for God to grow the fruits of the Spirit, Galations 5:22, in you, exercise them in all your dealings with others, especially your spouse.

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 10 Love is unconditional II

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God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8

When I read this verse today, it was if I had read it for the first time, perhaps it is the first time I meditated on the first 5 words. God demonstrating His love, while we cursed Him, ignored him, sinned against Him and denied Him, Christ died for us. Without Jesus, we are at enmity with God, separated from His love; we have no fellowship with Him.

This is somewhat the position I find myself in with my wife. We have no fellowship, we are not at peace with each other, and we are headed for divorce. This separation has been good for me. I think separation is necessary for couples when their problems require professional help. I am absolutely convinced that divorce in a Christian marriage is against God’s Will however.

Think about it, while we were sinners, enemies of God, He laid His life down for us, the supreme sacrifice. Jesus was beaten, spit upon, had His scalp lacerated with a thorny crown, scourged with a cat-of-nine tails, 40 lashes times 9 steel balled ends tearing the flesh off of Him, then nailed to a cross! Who amongst us can claim that extreme abuse? Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing”! Abuse, whether verbal or physical is wrong and must stop and that is where separation until professional help comes to play. We are to forgive, God does not divorce us, and He forgives us.

When you are separated for an extended period of time from your spouse, in my case approaching one year with a short reprieve, you learn what your love is made of. “Phileo”, friendship love is gone as is “eros”, sexual love. If you have forgiven your wife for the wrongs she has done, asked forgiveness for the wrongs you have done against God and your wife, what remains? Good memories? Hopefully. If the love you feel grows during the separation and you get past the hurt, you realize this love is from God and it is unconditional.

“The Scriptures say that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8. 38-39) This is God’s kind of love. And thankfully—by your choice—it can become your kind of love. But first you must receive it and share it.” From “The Love Dare”.

Until yesterday I would say, unless God intervenes, my marriage will be over in “x” number of days. I was corrected, God has intervened, He has given us forgiveness of sins and all the accompanying promises of salvation and that was before we accepted it. In like manner He is intervening in my marriage, my heart has undergone a course correction, He has spoken to my wife through our Pastor, at the bare minimum and has provided her with the same Spirit of truth that all believers have. If my wife chooses to ignore God’s Will and obtains her divorce that is her choice, not God’s Will. If God’s Will was being done on the Earth, Jesus would not have taught us to pray, “Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in heaven”.

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…

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