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.

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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.

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

World’s Way vs God’s Way

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Jesus came to take away the sins of the world, to heal the sick and save the lost.  I don’t know of another baby born whose life was laid out in such detail ahead of time.  Since the “Fall of Man” a picture emerged of the coming Messiah, written by many different authors over hundreds of years.  It’s like a large canvas stretched and protected for hundreds of years and every so often an artist comes along and places a few strokes on it.  This canvas would have to be huge; it would have names of Jesus on it, scenes from the life of this child through manhood and ultimately showing in graphic detail His death on a cross.  Then this Man walks in this building and is the exact image of the Man in the painting!

“And you shall call His name Emmanuel, God with us”.  When I first accepted the full import of this saying, I was well out of the parochial school upbringing I had.  I did not understand salvation, the Godhood of Jesus or that His death replaced the 10 Commandments.   I was not stupid and this was a Lutheran school, so how did I miss it?  Martin Luther let the common people know the truth of salvation, that it is by faith we are saved and not works.  God’s grace saves us from the penalty of disobeying the 10 commandments and gives us a “New Law” to live by.

I became what is called “legalistic” by my upbringing in the parochial school.  I thought the 10 Commandments were it, the final word.  The seeds of salvation through the sacrificial death of Jesus were planted deeply in me, so it wasn’t all bad.  Jesus said we have the 10 Commandments to make us aware that we fail, so we can repent, ask for and receive His forgiveness and live better lives.  If there were no speed limits, we would not be guilty of breaking the law by driving as fast as we wanted, same idea.  This is not to say that we can do whatever we want, ask forgiveness and everything will be all right.  How many times as kids, or have your kids tried that with you, doing the same wrong things, saying “sorry” and repeating the behavior, doesn’t work for long.  That’s where the repentance comes in, we “turn away from” those behaviors, in other words stop doing the wrong thing.  God gives us the notice that we do wrong and He gives us the ability to stop those behaviors, what a good system, if we use it!

The entire Bible is filled with what we are to do to please God, and what it is He expects from us.  The Bible tells us there are things He hates.  People spend their entire lives trying to please parents that may or may not even appreciate our efforts, why wouldn’t we want to please the God of the entire universe?  We can purposely disobey God’s commands, His desires for us.  He is not waiting to smack us over the head with a 2×4, or punish us in any manner.  We are accountable to Him for our behaviors and there are consequences, sometimes dire for disobeying God.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.  The good life is not an accident, as Christians we are called to a higher calling and as examples of the goodness of God.

If we live like everyone else who has no moral compass and do whatever it is that pleases them, what is the point?  That kind of living is what is referred to in the Bible as living “like the world”. It says in the Bible that, “friendship with the world is enmity with God”, why would I want God as an enemy?  I believe as Christians we are not to talk” like the world”, impressing everyone with the shock value of swear words or the knowledge of pornographic exploits.  With the power of God coursing through us and living in us, the 10 Commandments and all of God’s principles should be a worthy goal and obey-able.

God hates divorce, period.  The illustration of the church (those who accept the salvation God has provided), is of Jesus as the Bridegroom  and the church as the Bride.  This is an eternal condition in this example, we are to be a testimony of this arrangement as Christians in marriage, not as the world does it with serial marriages, but one for life.  When we take our wedding vows, those vows are made to God.  Do what you want, any way you want but there are consequences for not honoring those vows.  Jesus warns us against making vows, He said, “ Let your yes be yes and your no, no”.  So many Christians are like the world (enmity with God),  in how we treat our marriage vows.  Is there forgiveness for divorcing, of course; the supreme sacrifice (Christ crucified), was made to forgive us all our sins.  BUT there are those sometimes dire consequences for disobeying God’s design.

If you are a child of a divorce, even an adult child, you know very well the consequences of divorce in your own life.  I have been divorced once and my second wife wants a divorce from me now.  She can divorce me, but there will be consequences, and that does not make me happy.  I have a hard time when I violate God’s desires and continue to do so, then ask Him for something I need.  We need to make things right as far as we can, as part of our repentance, than we can go to God with a clear conscience.  Again God isn’t waiting to punish us, but as in His physical law, if you step off a building and say you don’t believe in gravity, you’re going down anyway.

 

 

 

Pops Resurrection

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I have seen burning bushes, but I have never had God audibly speak to me; I do “hear” from God though.  I believe that everything God has to say about how to please Him, live our lives and have the kind of life He would have us have, is in the Bible.  There are many people who interpret God’s Word to fit their personal beliefs and lifestyles.   That is not how I believe we should hear Gods’ words.

We do have free will and can choose to live our lives any way we choose.  We can claim to hear God and live in accordance to those beliefs.  In the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, this way of living is referred to as, “self will run riot”.  All my best plans and thinking in matters of importance have had disastrous consequences.  That is where I am today, living out the consequences of “doing it my way”.

I posted in the last blog that I felt that my marriage was irrevocably damaged and because my wife has no interest in counseling or the marriage, I was going to file for divorce after the holidays.  That was my best thinking there.  My observation of the marriage is accurate; however my motivation for filing for divorce was wrong.

I have struggled with major depression all my life and suicidal thoughts during the onset of depressive episodes are not uncommon.  I have heard it said that people suicide when they start feeling better, coming out of depression.  I could never figure that one out, even though I was offered an explanation that I now have experienced.  When coming up out of the pit of depression, the slope is very slippery.  If you start feeling better, anything that starts you down that slide causes fear to set in.  You desperately do not want to go down where you just barely escaped with your life, rational thought is hard to hang on to.

I have been experiencing some relief from this last venture to the pit.  I was experiencing fear of what might be in the mail, divorce papers or no?  I was reading and pouring my heart into the Love Dare book and while I was learning, I also became discouraged.  In the book I agreed with the authors Biblical interpretation that divorce is not God’s will.  They went on to refer to marriages that ended in divorce because of the unwillingness of one of the partners; unwilling to forgive, unwilling to humble themselves and erase the record of wrongs suffered.  When discouraged and fearful, the slide begins.

I contacted a pastor friend, whom I trust as “rightly dividing the word of God”.  I told him I couldn’t handle being in limbo anymore and that I was going to file for divorce to end this agonizing situation.  He told me not to do that, that it would not ease my pain, would not give me the resolution I wanted.  He advised letting my wife file, therefore “releasing” me.  He said he would continue to pray for a change of heart in my wife.  Being desperate and irrational, I did not heed his advice and announced my plans for divorce.

Since that time I have had several people support what my pastor friend said.  “Give her time”, to process what she needs to and let her file if that is what she ultimately decides.  I emailed my wife, only means of communication available now, and told her she has all the time she needs and I explained my divorce announcement was made out of fear.  Today my wife told me she wants a divorce and will file as soon as possible.  She had previously said she was waiting to hear from God.  I know there are plenty of people who support her reasoning and may even have encouraged divorce.  Some may have gone as far to say it is God’s will, or God is okay with you divorcing, if you “have peace about it”.  I believe those are lies.

I hear from God by studying His word; He “hates divorce”.  We are allowed to divorce because of the “hardness of our hearts”, it is not His plan.  He uses marriage to describe the relationship that He has had with His people throughout the Bible and as the type of relationship between Jesus and the Church.  There are Bible teachers, who know the Bible way better than I; friends understand scripture and women better than I.  I hear from God, first from His Word and then those who bear witness to that word.  These are not people who add to the scripture, or twist it to meet their needs or desires.

I believe that with God all things are possible.  But we have to submit to His will and teaching.  I have thoroughly examined myself in the light of scripture and been as honest as I can be.  I did much wrong, I have asked God to forgive and believe He has.  My wife would probably say she has forgiven me, but she hasn’t.  God forgives and “holds no record of our wrongs”, my wife has a list a mile long of my wrongs.  Who can live with the list of their sins and hurts inflicted on someone else being held in front of them constantly?

I hold no hope out for this marriage.  I believe in God more strongly than ever.  He has sent people to help and He has been ever present guiding and encouraging me through this valley.  He alone knows my heart, He alone sees me as He has made me to be and He will guide me to realize that life, with or without my wife.